Creative Marketing Ideas
Sunday, November 06, 2011
Posted by: Ester Venouziou
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.
LocalShops1.com checked in recently with some creative entrepreneurs to see how
they’re marketing themselves without spending a ton of money.
• • •
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.
• • •
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
• • •
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.”
• • •
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.'