Happy Cinco de Mayo, everyone!
Millions across the northern hemisphere are celebrating Mexico’s 1862 victory over France in what has become one of the Latino community’s most popular family and community annual events.
Colorful festivals, parades and parties start today and stretch through the weekend – and if you’ve got a brand to promote, you’ve probably got your eye on a couple hundred thousand potential customers at one of these fantastic events.
If you haven’t already secured a spot at a Cinco festival near you, there may still be time – get with the party! If you want to connect with Latinos, it’s absolutely impossible to even consider skipping a Cinco celebration!
If you’ve already figured that out, there are always a few last-minute things you can do to bump up those chances of success.
Either way, Mercury Mambo’s Director of Events Marketing Carmen Murcia is here to share five (get it?) things you should know to make the most of your community Cinco!
1) Booth space vs. banner. At this point, it’s probably too late to buy a banner on the stage behind the band, and that’s actually just fine. Unless you’re a beer company, chances are you’ll be paying between $1000 and $5000 for a banner as small as 2×5, and it’ll get buried between the dozen other brands that got the same deal you did. As a marketing return on investment, Carmen says, “personally, I don’t recommend it.” “It’s worth more to invest in premiums and the booth space and things that you can give away or the ability to talk to the consumer,” she says, “versus one simple banner on stage that people will see once.”
Instead, negotiate (or pay) for the opportunity to choose your own booth space – sometimes you can trade part of the sponsor package, like fliers, for that. Then put it in a high traffic area that’s far enough away from the music to where you can create your own space.
2) Turn that booth space into a party place! Remember that festivals are really for showing that you’re part of the community – so make your booth a place for families to have fun and get to know you and your brand, rather than a place for hard sells. Put up a fun inflatable banner. Bring your own music, sound system and microphone, and put your booth far enough from the stage that you’re not drowned out by the band. Have dance contests, and games that attract the kids (parents will be more inclined to stand in line for them if the children want to play!).
“You have to have a great staff to do this,” Carmen says. “Pick a staffer who can be the emcee and the clown, call out to people as they walk by, entertain them. Sometimes I ask my staff, ‘Hey, can you guys put together a show?’ They enjoy what they do, and they’ll put together something fun. A great staff is important to this.” Which brings us to …
3) A fun-loving staff – and message. Today is not the day to make heavy sales spiels. This is not a convention or trade show. So make sure your staff of six to 12 is fully trained, in a uniform with your logo, and in full-on festival mode. Cinco de Mayo festivals are for having fun, eating food, hanging with the family, and celebrating a joyful occasion. So the last thing your potential buyers are going to want to do is sit and listen to some lady give them a sales pitch while the breeze is blowing in their hair, the grass is rustling beneath their sandals, Tejano music is thrumming in their ears and their children are tugging on their hands, wanting more cotton candy. Instead, train your staff to give them a three-second message that communicates their hope that the celebrating masses are having a great time, will come visit the booth, and maybe grab some of your Product X.
“Happy Cinco de Mayo! Hope you’re enjoying your day! Stop by the booth for the dance contest, and enjoy some free Product X!” Carmen says, by way of example. “The staff will have a message that is creative and friendly, and the families will see the uniform, too. I always do that. They’ll have much less than ten seconds with your staff. The families will be grabbing things and walking by, and eating food, and they’re just doing that all day. Don’t pretend that they’ll stop and talk to your people about your product.”
4) Give them what they want. Remember that most of the Cinco festivals will be outside – and it’s May, so chances are it’ll be warm. The best idea for premiums and giveaway items, in that case, are fans and visors with your logo.
“People will use the fans, it’s summertime, and they’re walking around outside,” Carmen says. “Why not give them what they need?”
Also, feel free to give away anything your budget allows during games and contests – but for mass appeal, the fans and hats work every time, especially at Cinco festivals. Don’t bother with a raffle unless you’re ready to put up with a hassle. Particularly at very large events, which characterize a lot of Cinco de Mayo parties, people almost never bother to come back and claim the prize (which is basically the point of the raffle.) Instead, stick with games and premium giveaways that you can hand out right on the spot. Don’t make them work too hard to take home your brand.
5) Salute Mexico! It’s Cinco de Mayo, after all. So go ahead, and fly that Mexican flag. Just don’t put your logo on it – that can get you into legal trouble, or at the very least, annoy some patriotic purists who don’t like the idea of the national flag being used to sell something. A safer bet is to incorporate the colors of La Bandera Mexicana – red, white and green – into your logo or on the booth.
Remember that you’re celebrating a specific national and historic event that’s dear to the hearts of Latinos all over – so don’t hesitate to join the party and fly the colors!
Finally – and this is a free bonus tip from Carmen Murcia and Mercury Mambo – DON’T FORGET TO HAVE FUN!
Happy Cinco de Mayo!
Photo courtesy of Bisayan lady