Thursday, May 31, 2012

Review: AMA Detroit Event: Trevor Tkach & Susan Wilcox Olson: National Cherry Festival: Marketing on a Dime

Last night, Trevor Tkach & Susan Wilcox Olson of the National Cherry Festival (Traverse City Cherry Festival) came to visit the American Marketing Association of Detroit (AMA Detroit).

They came to talk about how they market a nationwide festival without having any marketing budget. Their presentation was titled, "The Cherry Festival: Marketing on a Dime."

Trevor Tkach recently took over the Executive Director position, but he brings a wealth of experience from working there for four (4) years. Plus, he worked with the West Michigan Whitecaps minor league baseball team.

Susan Wilcox Olson has worked with the Cherry Festival for 23 years, and she has a load of war stories.

Susan Wilcox Olson (left) and Trevor Tkach (right) gave a talk at the AMA Detroit on 5/30/12.

During their talk, they told us a lot of different things, but these were the main focal points.
  • Persistence: They have to pound on a lot of doors each year.  They need to give their story and make that story compelling.  They also need to have something unique, either within the story or what they bring to the person they are pitching.  For example, they will sometimes bring an OVERSIZED cherry pie to places, like WJR Radio Station in Detroit.
  • Partnerships: Since they have no money in their marketing budget, they have to use other currencies.  Sometimes, they will connect two different businesses to trade favors for each other.
  • Relationships: They follow up with their connections, but it is important to connect often enough to keep you in their minds without burning out your welcome.
  • Reinvest in the Product: Instead of using raised money on marketing, they insist on spending that money to improve the event--making the event MORE marketable.
The National Cherry Festival in Traverse City has been happening for 86 years.  They still keep the basic mission in place:
  • Celebrate & Promote Cherries ("The Cherry Message")
  • Tourism
  • Community Involvement
Trevor Tkach and Susan Wilcox Olson combined to share a lot of information and experiences, including how they handle their marketing interns.

The AMA Detroit hosted "Cherry Festival: Marketing on a Dime" at their May 2012 event.

The AMA Detroit hosted a wonderful event at the University of Michigan-Dearborn campus.

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