A couple weeks back, I got a call from a marketing manager of En Point Technologies- a tech company based in Southern California. They had heard about The Chai Cart and asked if they could sponsor my cart at an event. I looked up the address they gave me on Google Maps and it looked like there was a courtyard in front of the building 150 Spear St. We discussed it would be best for me to set up in the courtyard where I would hand the attendees a dinCloud branded commuter cup of chai before they entered the building.
Sounds simple, right? Except when I got there at 7:45am on Tuesday, I realized the courtyard was in fact next to the building, in front of 160 Spear St. To add clutter to the confusion, there was construction going on in front of 150 Spear St. One of En Point’s employees, Shirley, who lives in the Bay Area, had come out to help with the event. She too had the same information I did (she was roped in last minute to oversee this event) and was equally unaware of the logistics. I asked if we could set up in the lobby instead….I had a 5ft table, it was a small footprint and the lobby had plenty of space.
This is when I was told the back-story. En Point Tech. owns a Cloud Service Provider called dinCloud. Forrester Research was hosting this event on Cloud Sourcing, but En Point couldn’t be part of it. This was their way to make their presence felt at the event. So, clearly we were not welcome to not crash the event and set up a table in the lobby.
I had 180 cups of chai in my car and I didn’t want to throw it all out. Thinking quickly, I told Shirley that I would set up on the sidewalk in front of the building. We were giving stuff for free, who could object to that? She was game. At first it seemed awkward, soliciting people to come get free chai and cookies, but soon Shirley looked like a pro at peddling chai and cookies. We stood there for about an hour, like street hawkers, but talking Cloud (and not the white fluff in the sky).
Would you think this was unusual? Well, one person did and he happened to be an analyst at Forrester Research. Two days later, I was cc-ed on an email from En Pointe’s Senior Marketing Manager sent to their CEO and rest of the Marketing staff. It included a tweet from the Forrester Analyst @Staten7
#dinCloud crashes #Forr sourcing workshop in SF. Providing free chai and cookies in front of our bldg. Nice guerilla mktg.
The team was excited that they got noticed. I had a hearty laugh. To be quite honest, I was feeling a bit bad the previous day. I was thinking En Point had spent money on this event and it had been wasted, as the logistics didn’t work out as planned. So, it amused me when I read that it actually worked in our favor! In all the years I spent as a Marketing professional (prior to Chai Cart), I must say, this was surely the most unconventional marketing tactic I’ve seen. Much kudos to the team at En Pointe for thinking out of the box and being bold to execute something not many companies would!