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Creative Marketing Ideas

Sunday, November 06, 2011   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Ester Venouziou
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Competing with the Big Box stores and their Big Box budgets can be a daunting task, but many local businesses are finding that by thinking, well, outside the box, they can not only survive but thrive. checked in recently with some creative entrepreneurs to see how they’re marketing themselves without spending a ton of money.

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Two Coconuts Swimwear is a custom swimwear/resortwear design in-home studio located on a busy road in St. Pete Beach, near Pass-a-Grille.

About 6,000 cars drive by every day, and the owners, Renee and Kevin Scarborough, came up with a fun way to draw attention to their business.

"We thought about everyone on the beach that had some unique mailboxes (manatees, golf bags, football helmets etc.),” they explain. "So we made a mailbox out of a mannequin! It is a subliminal way of advertising that we love. She is 5'10" and models bikinis for us. She is dressed to coincide with holidays (tastefully).”

The results? The mailbox mannequin, aka "Coco,”  has created a huge buzz and is constantly photographed by people from all over the world, the Scarbororughs say. Coco was even featured on Travelocity in Puerto Rico as well as The Island Reporter magazine. And she has become a local landmark. She’s such a big part of the community that she was named Employee of the Month two months in a row.

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Social media and electronic gadgets can be great marketing tools.  Lukas Pleva, whose parents own St. Pete Bagel, is a big fan of using videos to advertise.

"Flip out a smart phone (most of which have an installed camera) and start recording,” Pleva says. "It doesn't take a lot of time, doesn't cost anything, and will make a fantastic edition to your online advertising arsenal. … Record short (i.e. 90 second max) video interviews of your most loyal customers. Ask them how they found out about your business, what's their favorite item, and, if you have a local competitor, why they choose to come to YOUR store.”

Then upload the videos onto YouTube/Vimeo and provide a link on your website, Facebook page, Google Places page, etc. Send links to the people featured in your videos and ask them to send to their friends, too.

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When St. Petersburg resident Patti Oriot lived in Hawaii she started Maui Markets, a marketing business to help start-up companies on a tight budget.

"Finding creative unique marketing ideas was always a challenge,” Oriot says. But that’s what she did.

One idea that yielded great results in all markets, she says, is a Teddy Bear Bash. The way this works: A business hosts an event and asks guests to bring a new stuffed animal to be donated to a local hospital. Add food and drinks donated by a local restaurant, and you’re all set. Don’t forget to send press releases to all the local reporters and bloggers.

"We started this at a restaurant and five years later they were collecting hundreds of teddy bears and the turnout was bigger and bigger every year,” says Oriot, who now runs Mermaid Minerals, an all-natural skin care and makeup line. "At Easter, we did a Bunny Bash. Just as much fun. You drive attention to your location and help out a well-needed cause.”

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Sometimes the best marketing is when you least expect it. A few months ago, Three Birds Tavern in St. Petersburg hosted a fundraiser for the families of two St. Petersburg killed in the line of duty. The one-day event – which included entertainment and raffles – raised thousands of dollars for the families. And it also exposed the restaurant to a whole new group of people.

"Not only were we able to support a deserving cause that was meaningful to us personally, but we were able to get our staff involved in something that made that feel good to be a part of,” says Robin King, who owns the restaurant with her husband, Jack. "We raised nearly $3,000 for the families, and made dozens of new, loyal customers.'


Two Coconuts
(727) 367-8435

Three Birds Tavern
1492 4th St. N., St. Pete
(727) 895-2049

Mermaid Minerals

St. Pete Bagel
7043 4th St. N., St. Pete
(727) 522-3377