I am pleased to say that alert ClickZ readers around the country heeded my call for low-cost yet effective marketing tactics. What follows are some simple, creative, and successful guerrilla techniques that have been proven out there in the real world. Hopefully they will inspire you as you develop your own marketing program.
Carrot Tops the List
As the founder of the Crazy Carrot Juice Bar Inc., a Saint Paul, Minn.-based company that eventually reached five locations and 65 employees before being sold to industry giant Jamba Juice (it was technically sold to Heartland Juice Company LLC, a Jamba Juice regional partner and area developer), I did a lot of public relations and marketing for the company. Several months before our first store opened, I asked my mother to sew together a life-size carrot costume that I could use to promote the company, first at a large Halloween party and later at special events around town.
The “Carrot” was a huge hit and instantly became a recognizable icon for the Crazy Carrot Juice Bar. The Carrot regularly made appearances at Grand Old Day (an annual celebration on Grand Avenue in Saint Paul that regularly attracts 250,000 attendees), at the Uptown Art Fair (one of the Midwest’s largest art fairs, bringing in roughly 350,000 people over a three-day period), and at Saint Paul Saints’ games. (The Saints are Saint Paul’s minor-league baseball team, whose games have been sold out for years.) Over the course of our first year, the Carrot was featured in Corporate Report magazine and in the Saint Paul Pioneer Press, on numerous TV stations, and in on-air interviews for several Twin Cities radio stations. In addition, hundreds of people stopped to be photographed with the Carrot, and the company was even approached by a local co-op to borrow the Carrot for its grand-opening festivities. As an icon, the Carrot was extremely recognizable and brought an unbelievable amount of attention to our juice-bar concept.
Best of all, the entire Carrot costume cost us a mere $73 dollars. I bought the orange and green felt from a local fabric store, purchased cardboard and wood from a hardware store to make the shoulder rest, and asked my mother to sew it together. It was by far the best $73 we ever spent!
Eric P. Strauss
Marketing, Public Relations and
Business Development Consultant
Worth the Wait
I have a new photography business in Johnson City, Tenn., that focuses on outdoor and location portrait photography and landscapes. I’m also a new papa with a 10-month-old daughter. As I sat in the waiting room of the pediatrician’s office with six young moms, lightning struck: “Put prints up in the waiting room with my logo, number and web address!” Already in good with the pediatrician, I had no problem getting permission to put up the prints. I came back a month later, and another photographer had done the same. I’m going to get bigger samples than my competition and “own this channel,” as they say. I’ve gotten quite a few calls from this and also hit the OB/GYN with some cute shots of my daughter at four months. Hitting my target market square in the eye…
Strategic Thinking Pays Off
Being the CEO of a start-up online advertising company myself, I have wrangled with finding the most cost-effective marketing strategy with the largest reach. We have come up with two strategies:
- Deferred cost marketing. As the name implies, we have deferred some of the cost of our marketing. We operate MyRewardsClub.com, a free members-only rewards club where members receive reward points for responding to advertisements, shopping online, and visiting web sites. We are currently testing a new two-tier referral program where members receive $3 worth of reward points for each new member they refer and $2 worth of reward points for every new member that member refers. The catch? You can’t redeem your reward points until November 15, 2000. We are calling it our “Earn Money for Holiday Shopping” campaign. Of course we have to have money in place come November 15, 2000, when members want to redeem their points for cash or products and services through our Shopping Club.
- Strategic marketing alliances. We are negotiating several marketing alliances with sites to drive members to our site. In turn, we give them exclusive placement in MyRewardsClub.com and share the ad revenue we generate through the site. We also plan on cobranding our site for other companies so they can offer a rewards program to their customers and employees. When a customer or employee joins their rewards program, we receive a free member and share part of the ad revenue generated by the member with the referring company.
Michael C. Evans
Roll Out the Welcome Wagon
My favorite lo-fi marketing effort is hiring students, actors, and/or temps to stand at an airport’s baggage gates in full chauffeur garb holding a hand-lettered sign with the dot-com’s name on it. Key: the hand-lettered sign. A logo looks way too contrived. Timing is also key — do it at a trade-show locale, and time your people to be there when the planes are offloading passengers from your big markets.
Vice President of Buzz
Mission Control for Start-ups
(615) 301-8000, ext. 306
Thanks to all of you who made submissions. As you can see, there is a lot of fresh, creative, and cost-effective thinking out there. (And keep those cards and letters coming if you have more — I enjoyed this week’s vacation from writing!)