Sunday, January 20, 2008

What Barrett-Jackson Affirms About Event Strategy

I have been watching the 2008 edition of the Barrett-Jackson Collector Car Auction in Scottsdale, AZ over the last four days (always an entertaining watch). Running over six days they consistently offer the most sought-after cars in the world for auction with no-reserve bidding. The auction draws huge volumes of rich elite and celebrities from racing, entertainment, and industry. It is a BIG deal!

What has any of this to do with marketing legal or professional services? Well, it is simply an event. A well executed, highly publicized event to be sure, but no different than any conference, seminar or gala.

Certain patterns were still there:
  • The event started slow with crowds building to a zenith on Saturday.
  • Cars brought to the auction block were carefully staged toward the Saturday peak (of highest ticket potential buyers)
  • The events highest "celebrity per frame" value peaked on Saturday.
  • Sunday still offered great cars to auction but to a significantly reduced audience. Most high-rollers were already gone or heading out the door (lots of empty seats).
It is so wonderful to watch a world-class company like Barrett-Jackson dealing with the same event issues as the rest of us. As marketers we are constantly trying to overcome event patterns that have existed forever. Even they cannot overcome the problem of dwindling attendance in the waining moments of a great event.

After watching this event and seeing the patterns I encourage you to stop planning for what happens at the end of your event and instead focus on the middle -- the apex. It is the middle part that will live the longest in the memory of your audience.