Guerilla Marketing Fail – What I Learned From The Austin Police
Acrobatic ninjas, the Austin Police and several livid tradeshow executives – a perfect recipe for a reality television show, but not a great combination for Seth Epstein’s startup, Social Stay.
In the interview below, Seth discusses what happened in Austin when he tried to rock the largest hospitality tradeshow of the year and what he learned from this humorous, but stressful experience.
You can watch my interview with Seth below or on YouTube here:
To hear Seth verbally describe this enlightening story, watch the video. Below Seth tells his story in written form. Both the video and Seth’s text are excellent primers regarding how to deal with guerilla marketing gone wrong. I suggest you check out both. Note: the story takes place in Austin, not Dallas, which I incorrectly reference in the video.
Parcours Ninjas Vs. The Austin Police
By: Seth Epstein
As John Greathouse noted in his blog entry, Putting “Trade” Back Into Tradeshows, previously in my career, I pulled off a guerilla marketing coup at a large tradeshow by hiring actors to portray monks. The “monks” paraded around the show floor in a conspicuous, but understated manner. Each day their antics became more animated until the final day, in which they wore large medallions emblazoned with my company’s logo while chanting my company’s name: FUEL, FUEL, FUEL, FUEL…The impact was tremendous, culminating the keynote speaker asking a crowd of 1,200, “Who the heck are these FUEL monks? What’s up with that?” For less than $10,000, we became the talk of the show and closed several new clients directly attributable to our faux monks. If you have not read John’s article, check it out, as it provides an informative contrast to our failed attempt to recreate this impact.
Fast forward to Socialstay, my current mobile start up which allows guest centric venues (hotels, conferences, dorms, etc...) to build and deploy custom mobile apps.
This year, the annual Hospitality Technology conference was held in Austin. As SocialStay is a young company on the rise, I figured that slight twist on the Monk stunt would be a perfect disruption to an otherwise staid industry.
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Here was the idea: Hire a bunch of people to dress up as ninjas - and in a ninja-like way, appear all around the conference center, hiding behind trees, sneaking around, tip toeing across cross walks - you know, stock ninja moves. With each progressive day of the conference, we would reveal that the ninjas were in fact from Socialstay...making a memorable impact.