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How Two Small Businesses Made Their Marketing Pop

It's tough to stand out as a small company. Every business has been marketing so hard since the economy tanked in 2008, it's like a sea of message-babble out there.

But there are still ways to grab a lot of attention. What if you pulled something so different, it made everyone stop and look?

Here are a couple examples of what I mean:

When you name your business The Big Gay Ice Cream Truck, you obviously have a flair for getting noticed. The New York City rolling ice cream emporium got some press for its use of Twitter to inform Big Apple residents of its specials and current location.

But every food truck in America is doing that. So the mobile company didn't stop there.

It got a theme song. Not only that -- a theme song written by former Go-Go Jane Wiedlin.

Now that got some press. I recently Googled "Big Gay Ice Cream Truck theme song" and got 157,000 results. 

It's not clear whether the Big Gay team had to pay a bundle to Wiedlin, or if she did it just because she was a fan of the business. But even if they made a major investment, it appears to have been worth every dime.

Maybe you want to go even bigger than that, to get your small business noticed.

Biznik did. There are dozens of business-networking organizations out there. But Biznik is the only one that made a movie about its members.

That's right -- Shine, a half-hour short film about entrepreneurs' struggles, was shot in Seattle by Biznik co-founder Dan McComb  and will have its premiere on Feb. 13.

This marketing idea works on so many levels. The filming process involved more than 100 volunteers who served as crew, mostly Biznik members, who got a chance to move offline and bond both with each other and the Biznik organization like never before. More than 250 entrepreneurs were interviewed.

And now Biznik has a movie. They'll be getting media mileage out of this documentary for years. Which networking group are you going to join -- the one with a Website, or the one with a Website that's got a movie on it, all about your hopes and dreams? 

Beginning in March, Biznik will be holding live Shine events around the country, where groups of entrepreneurs will watch the movie and then discuss. Biznik co-founder Lara Feltin told me dates and cities will be announced shortly. Gee, wonder how many new members they'll get from that? I'm betting lots.

It's marketing presented as a media event. It's entertaining, and yet also has the side effect of helping you learn about Biznik. With how affordable it is to make a video these days, I wouldn't be surprised to see other businesses try this strategy once they get a look at how this will raise Biznik's profile.

Done any creative marketing lately? Leave a comment and let us know about your out-of-the-box marketing moves.

Carol Tice, a freelance writer, is chief executive of TiceWrites Inc. in Bainbridge Island, Wash. She blogs about freelance writing at Make a Living Writing. Email her at carol@caroltice.com.

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