Robin Carlisle: Tried and tested

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When organising a roadshow, how do you know which venue to choose? Should you always consider the “safe” option? Robin Carlisle, managing director of Mobile Promotions, explains…

Roadshows are only as effective as the agency’s research into its target events, brand fit, their footfall and the changing landscape of each event in the current economic and social climates We all understand that weather has a dramatic effect on events, but you need to consider the way a show is marketed and the fluctuations on different days of the week.

Don’t write off all the events that fall under the “traditional” category, some county shows still achieve a loyal following, all in the browsing frame of mind and specific brands looking for the older, brand loyal and higher spend demographic should still be considering the likes of the CLA Game Fair and the RIAT International Air Tattoo.

Many agencies look at shopping centres as a sure thing. Pay your money for a good spot and enjoy guaranteed numbers… or so you think. In a couple of isolated cases this year I have experienced centre’s whose footfall counters have been “in need of maintenance” and turned off while the client’s campaigns are running. The misleading nature of this and the recession has completely changed the landscape of events in some shopping centres, so my advice is to check, check and check again, and get creative… consider targeted smaller events and venues, or work with the centres like the Trafford Centre where you can build a relationship and the footfall figures are completely up to date and accurate to the period you’re looking at.

The argument between ticketed and free events, ie. guaranteed footfall versus non-guaranteed is also an interesting one. Free events such as the Bristol Balloon Fiesta have always turned out excellent numbers regardless of weather, however agencies have cottoned onto this, so be aware you’ll be one of a number of brand experiences. However the Bristol Harbour Festival, one weekend before and boasting 250,000 is not known on the brand experience circuit. The larger footfall events and festivals can be a red herring, very expensive and with many visitors are there for the music, not the peripherals. You need to be more selective and remember that boutique events often deliver excellent results.