From the December 2003 issue of Entrepreneur

Choosing a featured product for your advertising isn't as easy as picking a pretty picture. Greg Jones, vice president of marketing at Nova Marketing, a retail promotion agency in Quincy, Massachusetts, says that smart retailers first look at trends, previous success stories and current inventory.

Jones believes every business should create an identifiable look for its advertising (think Target's bull's-eye pattern). That way, even if you have to use the manufacturer's plain-vanilla product photos, you'll still stand out. Jones also says:

  • Be original. Feature products that are not available from the competition or from large chain stores.
  • Test yourself. Test different products when your advertising budget allows. If one approach is not working, try another.
  • Take stock. Be sure you have enough of the featured product on hand to satisfy demand. "You need to be sure that you can deliver what you promise in your advertising," says Jones.

When a discount menswear store opened across the street from upscale retailer Braddock's in Eatontown, New Jersey, partner Steven Brudner, 45, used strategic product placement as damage control. By creating a billboard campaign that featured lower-end suits, he cultivated a new customer base before the competition's grand opening.

Brudner was pleased with the stealth product placement: "We sold more lower-end suits, and they didn't open up with such a bang."