Kashi proves its worth with the 2011 REAL Tour

For the last few years, I’ve been a heavy advocate of social media. However, the last few weeks have begun to show me that traditional event participation can be a useful marketing strategy. This came to mind as I planned for the Wayne County Fair in Palmyra, N.Y., where one of my company’s hospitals will have a booth. I’ve really enjoyed preparing for this booth, although it’s a lot of work. Although I’m somewhat of an introvert, I truly believe the best way to attract clients and build a brand is to get your brand’s “face” in the community through events.

This weekend at Rochester’s Park Avenue Festival, Kashi excelled at this type of marketing through their 2011 REAL (Renew Eating And Living) Tour. Other booths gave out free samples. After all, that’s a major part of any summer festival. However, Kashi excelled at combining face-to-face interaction, modern technology, social networking and event marketing.

Here’s what happened. Using a touch screen computer, festival-goers filled out a quick survey with their name, email, zip code and some other information. Then, the person receives a bracelet with a QR code. The person then goes through three tents. The first contains more than 10 different samples of all kinds of food, from cereal to pita chips to granola fruit bars. Then, the visitor scans his or her bracelet after answering which food was his/her favorite.

The second tent is mainly for educational purposes. Although you could choose other sections of the tents, I went with the ingredient-guessing module. On a large touchscreen that reminded me of a TV or a computer, I selected whether certain ingredients were good (and used in Kashi products) or bad (and, therefore, not used in Kashi products). I would say I got about half correct and half incorrect, and then was able to scan my barcode a second time.

The third tent contained mostly Burt’s Bees products. I got a few free samples of lotions before scanning my bracelet for the third time. I was then ready to check out and receive my goody bag!

I scanned my bracelet to for the fourth and final time. I filled out a brief questionnaire, and they offered me to share my participation with my Facebook friends. However, I declined. While this idea sounds good in theory, I didn’t feel like taking the time to log in and also felt that could be a little dangerous if someone got my login information.

I received my goody bag, which contained a few more samples and some coupons, all in a reusable grocery tote bag that I then carried around the festival.

I was already something of a fan of Kashi, but engaging in this event made me like them even more. Not only did I get to try a cereal of theirs I had never had (and really liked), but I got to learn more about the company and the products. And it was literally all in my front yard!

What experiences have you had with event marketing like this? Do you think it works to build brand awareness and strengthen customer/business relationships?

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