From the April 2003 issue of Entrepreneur

Toying With New Ideas
Sometimes, the tried and true doesn't work-just ask Edward Roberts, co-founder and CEO (chief excitement officer) of Zoinks!, a 7,700-square-foot toy store in Boston.

Instead of approaching traditional toy customers, Roberts, 34, and his partner, Thomas Brown, 35, decided to bring a new segment into their store: singles. Believing this market was underserved, the partners hosted a successful singles night during the 2002 Christmas season. It was promoted via a guerrilla campaign--students dressed in animal costumes on busy street corners. At the party, guests mingled amidst Lincoln Logs and trivia games-and they shopped.

Since their store is set apart by unique products, the partners also wanted to tap into Boston's robust arts environment and proximity to universities. The store is already a contributing sponsor of the local Phoenix Music Awards. In August, it will be host to a film festival.

Roberts and Brown have found that playing around with unique marketing ideas wins sales and customers. In May, they're opening a 10,000-square-foot store in Providence, Rhode Island.

The Great Outdoors
If you've ignored outdoor advertising, now's the time to take a second look. In today's slowing economy, rates are slightly lower, and premium spaces are finally available. Outdoor advertising, of course, means billboards along highways, but it also includes taxi tops, bus shelters, airport signs and mall kiosks. Although it's the type of message your audience can't zap, discard or even click away from, it does require a little extra thinking on your part in terms of planning:


50%
of Americans belong to at least one customer rewards program. Of those,
56%
say membership influences their purchasing decisions.
SOURCE: InsightExpress

  • In outdoor advertising, it typically takes 30 to 60 days before your ad is displayed vs. the almost instantaneous medium of radio.
  • The maximum number of words you can use is seven. Remember that your reader is usually in transit and can't possibly read a copy-heavy advertisement.
  • Images must be stark and clear-this is not a time to practice subtlety.

According to Ken Becker, author and publisher of the book Marketing Muscle for the Small Business and Start-Up, "Outdoor advertising is the premier reminder medium." It's best used with other media to reinforce your message.


Elizabeth J. Goodgold is author of the monthly newsletter Duh! Marketing. Write her at liz@nuancing.com.