Whether you peddle hot sauce or high-technology hardware, an effective way to promote and sell products is to set up exhibits in airport terminals or shopping malls.
For a monthly fee, you can rent space in an airport through an advertising agency or by contacting the airport. Brochures and order forms called Take Ones can be provided by the ad agency or ordered from an outside printer, and are attached to the display booth. Shopping malls generally don't allow permanent displays but will rent space on a daily basis for live demonstrations. If your product has to be seen to be fully appreciated, you might want to consider both of these proven promotional alternatives.
Classic Motor Carriages Inc. of Miami, Fla., displays its 1929 Gazelle and '54 Porsche Speedster classic cars in almost 30 airports nationwide. The $10-million car manufacturer spends about $45,000 a month on display advertising that generates about 1,000 Take Ones a week for around 5% of sales. Customers send in $1 for a brochure from which they order assembly kits costing $6,995 or finished cars for $26,995.
"The conversion rate is low, but the displays also generate a huge amount of product awareness," says Richard Cozier, marketing director for Classic. "And, we use airports because there's a steady flow of upscale customers. The people in airports are in higher income brackets with a propensity to spend. They have disposable cash for an antique sports car, and seeing it right there, all nice and shiny, makes them act on impulse."
Cozier recounts how a doctor bought a car right off the floor at Boston's Logan International Airport last summer. He mailed a check to Classic, and the company in turn sent him ownership papers, removed the car, and delivered it to his door.
Ackerley Airport Advertising Inc., a Seattle-based communications agency, holds the display concession at Logan and 85 other airports, a majority of the market. Products displayed at airports range from leather luggage to personal computers to Tabasco sauce. Companies such as Ackerley typically charge clients $400 to $1,000 a month, depending on the airport, for a standard display case -- that is, 45 1/2" x 33" x 33". Ackerley charges Classic Car $750 to $3,300 a month for a special 10' x 25' exhibit area, depending on the airport. Fees for exhibits vary, depending on the location and the number of people expected to pass by.
R&K Supply Co. in Cleveland displays its tool kits at about 25 airports. The company's in-house art department creates the lighting, color schemes, and backdrops. About once a year it asks its agency to relocate the displays to a different terminal.
"Our Take Ones bring in 50 leads a week," says R&K president Robert Jones Jr. "Airports are great for us because our tools are geared for field service. The displays attract the attention of repair people on the road, such as technicians flying places to fix computers.
Not all companies seek the demographics of an airport terminal. Shopsmith Inc. of Vandalia, Ohio, a $80-million woodworking toolmaker, firids shoppingmall demonstrations an appropriate medium for promoting its Mark V, a five-in-one woodworking machine. Shopsmith pays about $100 a day for a 20' x 20' space for five days to show the Mark V in action. Local newspaper and television advertising, each costing $1,500 to $2,000, is run for the duration of the shows to lure people to the mall demos.
Shopsmith holds about 800 mall demonstrations every year, and the turnout is almost always healthy. It is also one of the few small companies that exhibited last year at the World's Fair in Knoxville, Tenn.
"As many as 3,000 to 4,000 people have come to a single show," says Ben Jones, director of sales and marketing for Shopsmith." People impressed by the machine sign a mailing list to receive a brochure and order form.
To hawk your wares at an airport, contact the airport manager and ask for the name of the ad agency holding the concession. To receive rental rates for demonstration space at a shopping mall, call the mall manager.