Live Action

Savvy ideas to boost sales.
Magazine Contributor
4 min read

This story appears in the December 1997 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

If your direct-mail or publicity efforts could use a little juice, consider the power of video. Changes in the industry are prompting video producers to go after the corporate market more aggressively than ever. The upshot for entrepreneurs: lower prices and better service.

What makes video desirable? "Videos have a much higher perceived value [than printed materials]," says Sharron Ames of Technicolor, a Camarillo, California, packaged media company. "Videos are intriguing. They're able to convey information clearly. And we're such an entertainment-based culture that video simply does a better job of reaching people."

Adds media and business communications expert Douglas Simon, president of D S Simon Productions in New York City, "Another compelling reason to use video is to get TV exposure." A well-crafted video news release can win you widespread coverage on TV stations around the country at a starting cost of less than $20,000 for filming and distribution. "That's not wildly expensive compared to the cost of a television ad campaign," says Simon.

To save money, shop around for promotional offers; many companies offer introductory packages designed to encourage new clients to give video a try. Also, look for ways to reuse your material. Footage from the same shoots can be used for direct mail, sales training, video news releases, sales presentations, trade shows and in-store events.

Gayle Sato Stodder covers entrepreneurship for various publications. She lives and works in Redondo Beach, California.

Flipping Out

Let's get right to the point. Even a spectacular sign and an eye-catching storefront start blending with the scenery over time. As promotional innovator Phil Ramsden, owner of Eventz Extraordinaire in Irvine, California, puts it, "We all get in our ruts, driving down the same streets day after day, until we don't even notice what we're seeing anymore."

Unless, of course, you see 6-foot arrows flying through the air. Unless you see signs flipping and spinning and grooving around. We're not talking about a hallucination here. We're talking human directionals--men and women who use large, arrow-shaped signs to point the way toward new housing developments, grocery stores, car dealerships or any other business that can use a visible boost.

The human arrows may not be high-tech, but they are high-energy, dancing with their signs and tossing them high. "They generate a lot of excitement and smiles," says Ramsden, whose business supports a database of close to 800 professional arrow pointers.

Worried that paying for one of these marketers could be pointless? Ramsden maintains that human pointers take their job very seriously. Says Ramsden, "We look for people who project a positive attitude," to say nothing of raw energy. Then there's training and constant drive-by supervision to ensure that no arrow goes astray--or at least that each one's pointed in the right direction.

Downward, Ho!

Forget the yuppies. If you want to reach a market that's vast yet overlooked by competition both large and small, check out the downscale market.

According to the Census Bureau's Annual Demographic Survey, more than 36 million American households brought in less than $25,000 in 1996. Yet relatively few businesses target these lower-income consumers. "This market is at the short end of the stick when it comes to media planning," says Arthur Schiff, publisher of New York City-based City Family and La Familia de la Ciudad, free magazines that are distributed bimonthly to more than 150,000 lower-income households in the New York City-area.

"[Lower-income consumers] are denigrated or taken for granted, yet they're powerful consumers," Schiff says. "Their [demographic] numbers are very strong. And in these communities, you see the very essence of optimism and enthusiasm for the American dream."

In other words, you don't have to be a Starbucks groupie to want and need basic goods and services. Though downscale consumers are often shunned, their economic clout can be considerable. Dan Bonfiglio, co-owner of Pacific Partners Mortgage Corp. in Woodland Hills, California, reports that a substantial percentage of his home-loan business comes from low- to moderate-income clients. Says Bonfiglio, "We're able to tap into a market that very few competitors are serving effectively."

Contact Sources

City Family, 444 Park Ave. S., #402, New York, NY 10016, (212) 252-0698

D S Simon Productions, 307 Seventh Ave., #2103, New York, NY 10001, (212) 727-7770

Eventz Extraordinaire, (888) 276-0888, (714) 460-0888

Pacific Partners Mortgage Corp., (800) 607-1794,

Technicolor, 3233 E. Mission Oaks Blvd., Camarillo, CA 93010, (800) 732-4555


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