Sunday, September 22, 2013

Why Aren’t Associations Creating Walking Billboards?

Back in October 2012, I posted Are You Using Identity as Association Marketing Strategy.
  • “Sitting in the airport last Saturday, I noticed a huge number of people wearing logoed clothing that identified themselves with their team, cause, city, company. Rather than a team or cause, some were unpaid walking billboards for “cool” apparel companies.”
Back packs, hats, tee shirts, shoes, etc.

Walking through three airports a few weeks ago, I noticed the “walking billboard” phenomena once again. Purposely avoiding branded sports gear (universities, high schools, pro teams), I looked just for non-sports branded wear. Here’s what I saw and recorded (I missed a lot!):

Las Vegas
New York City
Made in Detroit
Under Amour
John Deere
Harley Davidson
Abercrombie & Fitch
LaBlatte Blue
Old Navy
Tommy Bahama
Trail Maker
Panama Jack
Hard Rock
Guess Jeans
American Eagle
Trend Setter
Big Board

Why do people wear gear promoting products, cities, causes?

  • Self identity
  • Show support
  • It’s a free shirt (sometimes)

Why don’t we seek association gear promoting an industry or profession?

After all, it means ...
  • Awareness. 
  • Branding. 
  • Fundraising.
Several years ago, I was on a panel with a marketing person from Missouri Kids First (prevent, intervene and treat child abuse) who told a fascinating story about her efforts to build a Go Blue branding to expand awareness of the organization. It included talking a local Hi Vee grocery store manager into allowing his staff to wear a cause tee shirt. And, how the staff loved it so much that they asked permission to wear them several times. And, how customers asked how they could get one. And, at the end of the month tallying it all up to discover they had sold $30,000 worth of tee shirts!

So, why are associations and nonprofits nonexistent from the “walking billboard” movement?
  • Is it because we are too focused on our association names and not focused enough on the cause, industry or professions we represent?
  • Or, do we see shirts, hats and other gear as “degrading” to our association.
  • Or, we don’t think about this in terms of building support and awareness?
Create a tag line for your organization and/or your cause.  See my post re tag lines.
  • Make it simple and original:
  • Just Do It! and Got Milk? are awesome but do NOT copy them ... create your own.
  • Focus on the cause (the why), not your association
This stuff works! 

It extends your reach beyond your members. It builds member pride. It pays for itself.

So, just do it!

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