Traditional media, online and charity came together in this week's episode of How I Met Your Mother. The show used the story line to help drive traffic to an online charity auction. The episode goes something like this - to raise money to help combat financial woes, Lily and Marshall start selling their stuff online. Then Lily tries to sell her paintings instead to try to keep her clothing from hitting the auction block. At the end of the episode Lily and Marshall tell the audience that they really are selling some of "their stuff" online at www.lilyandmarshallselltheirstuff.com to help raise money for Children's Hospital Los Angeles.
The tie-in was great. The execution was not. Charity Folks, the hosting site for the auction couldn't bear the traffic. It was over an hour and a half before I finally got in. And the only reason I persisted was because I was interested in seeing it from a marketing standpoint. Once in, I got kicked off when I wanted to view all the items up for auction. Had I been a regular browser I would have given up after receiving the first yellow triangle of exclamation. After finally getting to see all of the items I was met with disappointment with the lack of inventory (a mere 24 items).
My point in all of this? One of the most important aspects of any online promotion is to make sure you estimate traffic ahead of time, bump up that estimate and be prepared with extra web hosting capacity. There's nothing more frustrating to a potential customer than to be met with the error loading page.
Image taken from cbs.com and adapted with a yellow triangle of exclamation.