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Name Game

Kid Stuff

Customers love feeling appreciated and involved. So why not let them help you name new products, services or promotions?

John R. Larsen not only liked this idea, but he took it a step further: He let his customers name his business. He and three partners purchased a Sparks, Nevada, sandwich shop in 1975 that had been called The Sub Shop since it opened in 1972. "The name was too generic," says Larsen. So, in a moment of inspiration, the owners decided to sponsor a communitywide contest to rename the shop and set it apart from its competitors, offering $500 to the winner.

Out of 10,000 suggestions--among them multiple "Subway" submissions--they chose the name "Port of Subs." They're glad they did: The 84-store franchise chain reaped sales of $24 million last year.

Depending on the type of business you own, here are a few ideas for getting customers involved in the creative process: If you run a restaurant, consider letting your customers name new menu items; if your service business is running a promotion or contest, let customers decide its name. Adopting a mascot? You guessed it--get customers' ideas.

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This article was originally published in the July 1997 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Name Game.

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