Is there one thing that you can do can that can help you find gold for your business?
Back in 2001 I had this crazy idea for an event – how about getting the best models in Ireland, with the best fashion brands, adding in a beauty exhibition area, spicing it up with some entertainment and then taking this on tour to the best hotels in the country in major locations?
I woke in the early hours of the morning with this crazy idea, insisted that I explained it to Dee before I forgot it and then I turned around and went back to sleep.
Soon after that we met Michael Doherty the owner of VIP magazine who liked the idea – if we went ahead with the event he would come on board as a Media Partner.
That was the last piece of encouragement we needed and from that conversation “Catwalks” was born. Both Dee and I had the job of bringing Ireland’s most glamourous fashion and beauty event on tour around the country.
We met model agencies, we chose models, we chose a fashion show producer, we met staging companies, we booked hotels, we chose menus. we set up a lo-call number, we developed a brand and we sold the idea to top national brands and before we knew it we had six dates booked around Ireland – all we needed now was to sell tickets to the women around the country. Simple!
We went back to Michael Doherty and sure enough as promised he agreed to be our media partner. He believed in our event but he also agreed that it was a great fit for VIP magazine and it’s readers. He boldly predicted that the very first double page advert in VIP magazine, would effectively sell out the event.
When we heard this we were delighted – if that was the case our events would be a huge success, we would make money and there would be little need for all the other planned promotional activity.
The day that issue of VIP magazine hit the shelves across the country we braced ourselves. Our phone was manned and we waited for the avalanche of women booking tickets for this first of it’s kind event. We’ll never forget the name Marie Carroll, a hairdresser from Tralee who rang and booked two tickets – Yes, we were up and running!
And that was it ….nothing for another two weeks.
Panic started to set in big time. Was this great idea such a great idea after all?
Our other advertising started including local radio and newspapers. We ran competitions, we managed to get media coverage through Dee’s PR skills including a great piece on TV. We sent flyers and posters to each of the participating hotels who promised to distribute them.
Slowly but surely we started to get bookings but not enough to take away that awful sense of panic.
We made a decision to hit the road and visit each of the locations where we were holding our events. When we went to a town we distributed large quantities of flyers and posters – we went into the boutiques, the hair salons, the beauty salons and any place where we felt we could grab the attention of our target audience.
We handed out our flyers and posters and we could see the reaction of the women we handed these to. What was this event all about? We stopped and we chatted and we explained what it was all about. Boutiques asked could they participate – “If you buy a table at the event we will give you a segment of the fashion show” was our response. We shifted a lot of tickets through this simple mechanism.
We got a call from our girl manning the phones. “Where are you?” she asked “I’m getting lots of calls for tickets from Limerick“. We had just spent four hours hard slog in Limerick and were totally exhausted. My shoulder was nearly broken from the weight of the promotional material I had been carrying around the place.
This was the day we learnt some big lessons:
There is no one thing that will make the promotion of your event, initiative, product or service a success – It is the combination of everything.
The one absolutely essential ingredient for success was us working our socks off!
The events turned out to be a huge success and in total over a four year period we ran 72 separate shows with our final event being in Killarney with Tony Hadley of Spandau Ballet fame closing it with an incredible version of “Gold“.
Gold….it is never easy to find!