Name Game

Kid Stuff
Magazine Contributor
3 min read

This story appears in the July 1997 issue of Business Start-Ups magazine. Subscribe »

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.

In A Flash

It was just a matter of time before someone thought of another place to sell ads. The venue this time? ATM screens. After all, during those 10 to 15 seconds when customers are waiting for their transactions to be processed, you might as well get your message in front of them. Plus, people usually leave ATMs armed with more money than they arrived with--ideally, to spend on your product or service.

Pioneering the concept is Vaska Media Inc., an advertising firm in New York City that has already secured a deal with Apple Bank's 56 locations in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut to sell ATM advertising and is working on recruiting larger banks.

"[This type of advertising] provides exclusivity that no other advertising medium can offer," says Vaska's president Steven J. Carino. "With television, you're going to see a commercial with 400 others; when you read a magazine, you see a lot of other ads. But when you're at the ATM, you see one ad and one ad only."

Exclusivity has its price, however: about $25,000 a month, in Vaska's case. But keep in mind that price includes about 370,000 impressions per month per bank network. Multiply that times 12, and you've got a year's worth of great exposure. Entrepreneurs who want to go whole hog can generate a coupon that is dispensed just above--and at the same time as--the customer's withdrawal. Talk about perfect timing.

Kid Stuff

Marketers pitching products and services to kids might be surprised to know just how much youngsters read. Even in this age of virtual everything, large numbers of young kids still love good, old-fashioned magazines. According to the 1996 Roper Youth Report, published by Roper Starch Worldwide Inc., a market research firm in New York City, 8 percent of kids as young as age 6 cited Highlights for Children as their favorite magazine. Other winners for older kids (ages 8 to 12) were Sports Illustrated for Kids, TV Guide, National Geographic and Nickelodeon. Even better news: Magazine readership generally increases with age, and boys and girls show similar preferences for publications up to the age of 12.

Contact Sources

Port of Subs Inc., (702) 747-0555, fax: (702) 747-1510;

Vaska Media Inc., (212) 687-7799, fax: (212) 986-1924.

Page 32: Management Smarts

Automatic Data Processing, 1 ADP Blvd., Roseland, NJ 07068, (201) 994-5000;

Economic Development Corp., 215 S. State St., #850, Salt Lake City, UT 84111, (801) 328-8824;

The Guardian Life Insurance Company of America, 201 Park Ave. S., New York, NY 10003, (212) 598-8365;

Hello Direct Inc., 5893 Rue Ferrari, San Jose, CA 95138, (800) HI-HELLO;

Performance Enhancement Group, (301) 654-8449, fax: (301) 654-2039.

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