More on the place of “gimmicks” in ministry

Some have suggested that “positive interactions” is a better way to frame this than “gimmicks” (which I used previously) but thinking in a PR/branding framework is a blessing, and a curse, that I am unfortunate enough to carry.

Mikey has posted a great post pondering about how such gimmicks, or “goodwill exercises” can be used on campus to promote his AFES group at a university market day (when everybody is giving out stuff).

He shared in the comments that he’s started reading blogs about how to stand out at trade-shows to think through the issue. Here are a couple of the tips he picked up.

“1. “Market outside of what you paid for: A big mistake that many exhibitors make at tradeshows is sticking to what they believe they have paid for. This means only marketing from a booth, following all the rules of the event and not venturing out. This is the easy path, and one that is often taken because the staff at a booth is not incentivized to do more. If you think about the tradeshows that you have been to, the brands that stand out most are the ones that are wandering the halls, attending and asking questions at sessions, and generally taking a more proactive and guerilla approach to marketing.”

2 “Spend on the giveaways, not the booth. Everyone knows that nothing spreads faster at the tradeshow than a brand with a really big or valuable giveaway. ”

Both are good advice in my experience helping brainstorm trade show presence (and presents). But it’s not just about picking a big or valuable giveaway – the big or valuable giveaway needs to tie in to your key message, or your brand, in some way. The tradeshow idea is brilliant. We used to try to come up with really memorable tradeshow gifts that tied into our messages – you don’t just want it to be good. You want it to be good and relevant.

A few years ago, when we were marketing North Queensland in Brisbane I wanted to give people compasses and tell them to follow their way to paradise (but getting them to stop in Townsville would have involved purchasing a massive magnet (which, incidentally, is how Magnetic Island got its name)). Then, when water restrictions were biting I wanted to give people empty shower egg timers and water pistols (which would have been fun at trade shows). We ended up going with water bottles with North Queensland’s average annual rainfall printed on the label.

I think there’s something to thinking about how we can use a good gimmick as a hook for our message, not just in the university context but in the work of promoting our churches.