From the May 2002 issue of Entrepreneur

New Alternative

Are you missing out on a potentially lucrative market right under your nose? Maybe you should focus on gay and lesbian consumers, many of whom have high discretionary incomes.

"Gay and lesbian consumers have a strong preference for advertising that reflects who they are and portrays how they live their lives," says Howard Buford, CEO of Prime Access Inc., a marketing firm that specializes in reaching the gay, lesbian, Latino and African American markets.

But do your research. Make sure the market wants your product or service, find an advisor who's familiar with the gay and lesbian community, and be sensitive in your efforts. "You really have to understand the unique issues that [gays] and lesbians have," says Debra Neiman, co-founder of Neiman-Maloy Financial Group Inc., a financial planning company in Wakefield, Massachusetts.

After realizing that many of her clients were gay and lesbian couples seeking financial advice, Neiman, 38, decided to specifically reach out to this demographic by placing a few ads in gay-friendly publications and sponsoring community events. The efforts boosted her roster of clients, and she says much of her business now stems from referrals.

Back in the Day . . .

What is it about nostalgic advertisements that makes people feel so warm and cozy? It seems that consumers across America are warming up to old, familiar brands and embracing all things that evoke a traditional, homey feeling.

"It actually started well before 9/11 with a return to more traditional values," says T. Scott Gross, author of MicroBranding: How to Create a Powerful, Personal Brand & Beat Your Competition (Leading Authorities Press). "It comes from being overwhelmed by the pace of life as we know it." A return to the good old days is just what PostMark Press Inc. in Watertown, Massachusetts, promises with its nostalgia-themed greeting cards. Turn-of-the-century-inspired cards have proved very lucrative for founder Kathy Alpert, 50, who projects 2002 sales into the six-figure range. "The image markets itself," she says. "It makes [people] feel good, reminds them of the good old days or just evokes memories from childhood."

But you don't have to sell vintage antique products to ride the trend. You can also capture that nostalgic feeling with your company's marketing campaign by studying old advertisements from the 1920s, '30s, '40s and even through the '60s and '70s. As Gross explains, "You want to position it as an old feeling--not an old product."