Friday, July 13, 2007

Port Dover & Friday 13th

Port Dover – Viral Marketing

Port Dover & Friday 13th. What image does that stir up in your mind? Port Dover, Ontario is a sleepy little cottage town on the northern shores of Lake Erie.

If you are a motorcycle rider then you might know that Port Dover is the place to be on Friday the 13th. This week Friday the 13th falls on July 13, 2007. Port Dover expects to receive up to 100,000 visitors. Many of them will arrive on motorcycles. Some will stay for the day and many will stay for a few days. For the town of Port Dover that means a huge influx of business. There is an important marketing lesson in this.

Port Dover used to be a sleepy little fishing village on Lake Erie. Lake Erie Perch makes a delicious meal. Port Dover still has a small fishing industry. When you are in Port Dover you might eat at the Arbor which is famous for its foot long hotdogs and fries. (The fries are not a foot long.)

How did this Port Dover Friday the 13th thing start?

From Wikipedia
“Since 1981, there has been a tradition of motorcycle enthusiasts gathering in the town of Port Dover on Friday the 13th. Chris Simons and approximately 25 friends, through word of mouth, got together at the Commercial Hotel, now known as Angelos of Dover. It was in November and it was Friday the 13th. They decided they should do it every Friday the 13th. On May 13, 2005, an estimated 75,000 bikers and spectators crammed into Port Dover.”

This is a great example of viral marketing in action. Because a group of 25 motorcycle riders got together on Friday the 13th in 1981 a tradition has blossomed. Twenty-five blossomed into tens of thousands. That’s how viral marketing works. Word of mouth and it takes time. Predictions are for 100,000 visitors this Friday 13th in Port Dover.

I often advise my clients to claim one day of the year for their annual promotion. This is even better because Port Dover claims Friday the 13th which comes up two or three times a year.

George Torok
Marketing Expert
Motorcycle rider
Port Dover Friday 13


Anonymous said...

Don;t think it will work for your clients as analogy drawn is not valid at the root of it - PD13 was started without money as a goal.

best of luck,
one rider

George Torok said...

It's true that the Friday 13 Port Dover event was started without the idea of making money.

Hovever it now makes alot of money. There are many examples of successful products that started without a clear plan to make money. FaceBook might be one.

The important thing to note is the lessons that business or non-profits can learn, adapt and use.

There are some good marketing lessons in the Port Dover Friday 13 story.