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Oktoberfest: 3 Surprising Marketing Tips Gleaned from the Festival

OktoberfestYou might not think that marketing has much in common with a German festival that's over 200 years old, but in fact, there are a number of things marketers can learn from the annual Oktoberfest tradition. Not convinced? Here are three surprising similarities that might change your mind.

1. It's All About Perception

Did you know that the famous festival isn't actually about beer? Although thirsty travelers come from around the world for a pint of Oktoberfestbier, this tradition, known to locals simply as "Wiesn," celebrates the anniversary of the wedding between Bavarian Crown Prince Ludwig and Princess Therese of Saxony-Hildburghausen. The roots of the festival are in commemorating a historic event, but the popular perception of it as the "ultimate worldwide beer festival" has served it well — year after year, tourists pour into the city.

Marketers can similarly harness the power of perception to boost their brand. A fabric store might not seem very hip or trendy, but the business can target crafty, young individuals by holding "parties" that feature costume-making sessions, classes on practical alterations and more, in addition to providing food and drink. A reputation for hosting fun social events could draw in customers who wouldn't otherwise be interested in visiting a fabric store.

2. Testimonials Are Key

It sounds crazy to travel across the world to grab a pint, but according to The Oktoberfest International Guide, 7.2 million people make the pilgrimage to Munich each year to drink the festival beer, which is specially crafted within the city and can only be served there. If you ask someone who's been, they'll likely tell you that the trip was well worth it for this legendary brew.

While marketers might not have 200 years of tradition on their side, they can also use the power of testimonials to convince customers that the business they're promoting is unlike any other. Customers expect businesses to promote themselves, but testimonials from fellow customers carry a lot more weight as can help build your brand's reputation.

3. Encouraging Relationships Actually Works

If you've ever been to the famous festival (and even if you don't speak German) you might have heard the term "Wiesn Bekanntschaft." The phrase is only used during this event, and means "Oktoberfest acquaintance." Locals and tourists alike know that meeting at this world-renowned festival and drinking inside tents that are full of people who speak dozens of different languages is an experience like no other. Strong bonds can form among people who would have never been likely to meet elsewhere in their lives.

The uniting factors of Oktoberfest can serve as an inspiration to marketers in their campaigns. Prior to the 2016 Summer Olympics, Apple launched a campaign that focused on technology's ability to unite people from diverse backgrounds. No matter what you sell, chances are good that a wide variety of customers can start a conversation around your product. As a marketer, there's hardly a better goal.

As the time-honored German festival wraps up its 2017 celebration, there's plenty marketers can learn from this annual tradition when it comes to promoting their own brands.

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