This weekend I attended the Chicago Tribune LitFest to promote our TV program “Authors Showcase” which is broadcast on Chicago Cable Channel 25 at 8PM every Thursday. If you do not live in Chicago and have RCN or Comcast you can watch it online at http://www.authorsbroadcast.com . I also spent some time representing Midwest Writers Association at their table.
Though my primary reason for this exercise was to promote the show I also wanted to do a somewhat scientific study of event distribution. We came very near accomplishing our goal of distributing 4,000 business cards in 2 days. I was curious to know if this was even possible. We actually manged 3,750 plus maybe another 100 that I distributed. The tribune claims an attendance of 135,000 book lovers over the two day event, plus 200 exhibitors. I had two young ladies who managed to give out 1,000 cards over a 6 hour period each day (including breaks). I mention “young ladies” because it is a reality that people will accept an unsolicited offer more readily from a young woman then they will from, well let’s say me.
The event is out doors on a city street and has a kind of carnival-like atmosphere. If the Trib’s numbers are correct we managed to capture somewhere around 3% of the crowd. The girls reported that it was relatively easy to distribute 1,000 cards each on Saturday though they encountered the same people periodically. So we can say that the 1,000 cards over 6 hours was the limit of one person’s ability to distribute and might conclude that another one or two more people may have been able to distribute a similar amount if the attendance is near accurate.
Interestingly it was my observation that Sunday’s attendance was about 50% slower than Saturday’s and the girls reported that it took a bit more effort on Sunday to accomplish their goal and in fact they fell short by 250 or 125 cards each. What we cannot say for sure is whether they were just slowing down as a result of fatigue or whether passing out the maximum is somehow reliant on some critical mass of people available; or maybe the attendance was not as high as stated and we really manged to saturate the crowd. This all requires further study. But what I think we might conclude is this: If you have a large enough event, one person can be expected to distribute approximately 1,000 cards over a 6 hour period giving an earnest effort.