Marketing Buzz 07/04

Creating a memorable atmosphere, a marketing treasure chest and more
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This story appears in the July 2004 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

Businesses Gone Wild?

Stop for a bite at one of the six California Tortilla restaurants in the Washington, DC, area, and you may have to sing for your supper-lliterally.

When the eatery first opened its doors in 1995, business was dismal. Partner Pam Felix, who is also part owner of The Improv Comedy Club, decided laughter would be the best medicine. So she started asking customers to do silly things to get free food, like making jungle noises or gathering friends to do a cha-cha into the restaurant.

"We found that the goofier we were, the more money we made," says Felix, 43. "Shared laughter is a binding experience. It kept people talking about us and coming back."

While customers want fast and easy service, you also have to get them to remember you, says Maribeth Kuzmeski, author of Red Zone Marketing: A Playbook for Winning All the Business You Want. Kuzmeski says that creating a fun atmosphere makes these wacky stunts less likely to backfire. Make sure, though, that such zaniness is appropriate for your type of business.

"If you're selling tortillas, getting customers to dance through the door is not a problem," Kuzmeski explains. "If someone tried to do that in a more conservative business, like a CPA firm, red flags would go up."

Quick Pick
Don't strain your brain looking for the next big marketing idea for your business. Instead, point your browser to Idea Site for Business ( Chock-full of more than 600 tips, tactics and ideas on marketing, advertising, PR, signage, sales, prospecting and more, each is yours for the taking. The site also offers two free newsletters-Marketing Ideas by Email and Creative Ideas by Email-that will deliver another 300-plus tips per year to your inbox. Full of "aha" moments (like using an imprinted telephone calling card as a business card to make an impression with VIPs), Idea Site for Business is a great place to find inspiration.

of middle-market executives say customers expect faster turnaround time for product/service delivery.
SOURCE:Grant Thornton's "Survey of Middle-Market Business Leaders"

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