Driving around the ring road of the French city of Toulouse recently, my two young children spotted an impressive display of balloons hovering about 50m over what looked like a car park in the rapidly approaching distance. It soon became clear that the balloons were attached to new vehicles on display at a car showroom. Ah yes, I thought to myself, it’s nothing more than a slightly more ambitious approach to the old used car balloon trick deployed by car sales managers everywhere.
You know the one: if the inventory isn’t moving quite as fast as you’d like, tie some balloons to the cars and watch the customers flock across the threshold. Better still, open all the tailgates and tie the balloons to those. Then, sit back and watch as your sales figures soar.
Of course, I have no idea if this is in fact the effect of all that crafty car sales ingenuity, but it must be the case because they’re all at it. Then again, perhaps it’s just a colossal waste of time. Given how stunted management thinking at some European car manufacturers is, maybe they’re just acting on orders from higher up (click on the image above if you don’t have an FT subscription).
When it comes to marketing your business, instead of doing the equivalent of attaching a balloon in a desperate bid to make it stand out and appear attractive to buyers, first ask yourself this: have I really done all I can to make it truly better than the alternatives? If the answer’s no, all the rubber and helium in the world are unlikely to make any difference.