Yesterday we had the opportunity to be part of a Chamber Networking Night, a night put on by a city chamber that brings together local businesses to set up flashy booths, give away free goodies and interact with other visitors, clients, and businesses.
For some, it's an opportunity to gain new clients and promote your business to the world. For us however, it's more than a networking event, it's an opportunity to do what we do best: have fun with customers, businesses, and clients.
This year at our booth we brought blackjack to the chamber networking night with a JM2 twist. Instead of simply being dealt a hand and getting a blackjack, guests truly had the opportunity to earn their hand by way of marksmanship and a few foam darts.
We created a full sized poster of a full deck of cards and gave each guest a loaded NERF gun to try and get a blackjack by shooting each of the corresponding cards. Simple and quick to learn but required some steady arms and a willingness to have fun.
While this may seem like an ineffective way to market a business at first, it is actually one of the most effective methods we have ever done at a chamber networking event. We let people learn about our brand in a memorable way. We simply let them have fun.
Part of any successful business comes from effective marketing. This does not always mean selling a product or service but letting others know about your brand and your overall company philosophy. It puts your businesses' name out there where it did not exist before. Now people know about you, they have heard about you, and are aware of what you can do for them. You may not make a sale that day but the important thing is that they remember you, in their world, you now exist for potential future reach out.
And as silly as it sounds, shooting NERF guns to get a blackjack is exactly who we are. We strongly believe that business and life should be fun and extend this philosophy to everyone we serve. We laugh with our clients, we invite them to visit our office any day of the week and we mix Skittles, M & Ms, and Reese Pieces together just for the fun of it. We are different, but we embrace that difference.
As for the results of the night, it was a complete success in all areas. Not only did we speak to businesses seeking our services, but we engaged with current clients, got to play with guests (who had a blast trying to hit 21) and even gained new clients as well. It was a fun, laughter filled night but one that proved more valuable than any marketing campaign could have.
The power of interacting with your audience is never a gamble, but rather a strong way to increase your business and brand awareness. Be true to yourself, true to your clients and true to your business. Don't feel the pressure to fall in line, be different, embrace it and achieve great things.
Kyle Hovanec was born in South Korea and adopted by parents, Richard and Debra when he was three months old. He attended elementary school briefly at Winfield Elementary before moving to the Valparaiso community and finished his elementary, middle and high school education with the Wheeler school system.
Kyle attended Ball State University and majored in Magazine Journalism with a minor in Digital Storytelling. It was after his university career that he spent three years living abroad and working in both Japan and South Korea as a teacher, writer and global media marketer.