Well, maybe not, but if I’ve managed to pull you in…read on!

P.T. Barnum was a legend popularizing such amusements as museums, musical concerts, and the three-ring circus.  His success hinged on the power of promotion, and he was widely credited for his advertising savvy, using innovative tactics to get patrons through the doors. 

“Without promotion, something terrible happens…nothing!”  – P.T. Barnum.

Barnum used oversized banners outside his museums to showcase new exhibits. He created publicity stunts to attract newspaper coverage of his museum and events. And he’s considered one of the first people to use advertising on vehicles. And his tactics worked! His museums attracted more than 400,000 visitors annually in the late 19th century. 

P.T. Barnum’s promotional success can be attributed to a basic marketing strategy taught today in business schools called AIDA. 

AIDA stands for:

  • A: Awareness
  • I: Interest 
  • D: Desire 
  • A: Action 

Barnum wasn’t following a strategy that he read or learned about; he just did what he thought would draw the public into his events. He was quoted saying he wanted to “excite the interest or awaken the curiosity of the public.”

Many of Barnum’s promotions were extreme, touting oddities of the human and animal kingdom. Without these promotions, most people would never know what was waiting for them just beyond the doors of his museum or the flap of his tents. He had to make them aware of what was in store for his patrons.

Some of the headlines and images were unbelievable, piquing potential customers’ interest. Once he had their interest, they couldn’t resist the once-in-a-lifetime chance to see it…whatever “it” was. 

This desire led them to his exhibits to see for themselves. After that, the final step was easy.  For just a small fee, they could see these oddities and experience this once-in-a-lifetime experience…so they took action.

You’re probably not selling circus-like exhibits, but we can all learn something from P.T. Barnum. Regardless of your product or service, Barnum is right; nothing happens without promotion. 

It’s important to drive awareness about your business, create interest in the right kinds of customers, develop a desire for them to buy from you, and get them to ultimately make a purchase. If you’re wondering how to create better promotions for your business, let’s have a conversation…we can chat about mermaids and menageries after.