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Marketing CE: A Sitting Failure

Marketing CE: A Sitting Failure
While university-branded chairs can be seen out and about town, very few new enrollees have pointed to the chairs as a reference to the institution.
Our city of roughly 50,000 has a yearly Christmas parade and, predictably, a majority of residents join the festivities. Over the years, I’ve noticed many people bring folding chairs — the same style I’ve seen with logos plastered all over them.

As community members spend hours in tight quarters and are often friendly, I thought about finding a way to put our university’s logo on the chairs in hopes of getting folks to talk about their local educational institution. The chairs literally support the students and would, hopefully, figuratively support the local university.

Besides, word-of-mouth marketing is one of the most cost-effective means of marketing.

After ordering a few boxes of folding chairs (at a cost of roughly $15 per chair) with our logo printed across the back, I quietly provided chairs to positive, vocal students I had noticed in our non-credit classes over the year.

At the next parade, I walked the route and spotted a few of our folding chairs. Over the next year, a few new students told us they had heard of us from friends or family, but not specifically as a result of the chair. (Truth be told, I had not expected people to remember us from a logo on the back of a chair on a sunny December day.)

Marketing CE: A Sitting Failure
Though great during daylight hours, at night the information on the chair us impossible to see.
The following year, the parade was trial run as an evening event with a festival of lights. By the time the parade started, you couldn’t see the logo on our chairs. The evening parade was deemed a success by the organizers, and my chair logos have since faded into the sunset. Perhaps folding chairs with small LED lights installed, or reflective material embedded in the logo, would have worked, but both of these modifications seem too extreme for a simple marketing item.

Once or twice a year I’ll see a chair with our logo at the 4th of July celebration, or at local Little League fields. But, for the most part, this marketing idea failed in the long run.

I haven’t taken this failure sitting down, though. Many more marketing and promotion ideas are still being used and new ideas are under consideration.

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