Lucky 13 List Off-The-Wall Marketing Ideas

Thirteen has always been my lucky number. Friday the 13th is an especially good day, and I anticipate and relish each of them – although it comes too infrequently if you ask me.

For this reason, I am resurrecting the number 13 in a new and positive form by providing you with 13 concepts, beliefs or ideas that will help you become distinct in your own right. The ideas below come from my newly released book that I co-authored with Debbi J. Karpowicz, Off-The-Wall Marketing Ideas, Jumpstart Your Sales Without Busting Your Budget published by Adams Media.

Here they are:

1. Take A Cab To Nowhere (page 112)
Having no money for advertising and publicity when starting his Gold Coast Dogs, owner Barry Potekin began taking daily cab rides around the block on which his restaurant was located. During the ride, he would talk the drivers’ ears off about his Gold Coast Dogs. Upon arriving back at the restaurant, Potekin would give each driver a $5 tip to spend on a meal at Gold Coast Dogs. Today business is booming and the cabbies have the answer for every out-of-towner who asks, “Where’s a good place to go for lunch around here?”

2. Burn Your Stationary (page 11)
An inspired example of consistent corporate image that creates an immediate visual identity comes from Marci Blaze of the Blaze Company in Venice, California. She had her graphic designer husband create a uniquely memorable letterhead --- stationary whose edges are burned with a torch to create the burned, “blaze” effect. Blaze says though it is expensive and time-consuming, it is well worth the effort and expense because of the attention that it draws.

3. Create Conversation Business Cards (page 14)
In announcing herself as the “Bean Queen”, Jill Smith used her business card to make herself memorable. Opting for an unusual color, typeface, message or design will help make your business card a conversation piece ---something that will achieve the goal of attracting attention. Along with your company name and logo, include a brief business description of no more than five words so that people can remember what you do.

4. Create Your Own Cable TV Show --- With Leis! (page 90)
When Steve Latour of Washington, DC was looking for an inexpensive way to advertise his leis, he lucked out with his own public-access TV show, Lei Man’s World on which he and friends review wine, food, and films while wearing Steve’s leis. Those who call to give comments are asked if they want to order leis as well.

5. Stage A Parade (Page 79)
Victoria Mackenzie-Childs understands that getting noticed is the name of the game and so she staged a parade down Madison and Fifth Avenues. To attract attention for her offbeat store of whimsical housewares, Mackenzie-Childs outfitted her staff in outrageously fanciful costumes; they were transformed into giant plates, vases, tassels, acrobats, nymphs, and cheerleaders. “The promenade” piqued tremendous interest in her store.

6. Send An Inflatable Globe (page 122)
When Cerie Segal, a Plano, Texas-based broadcaster wanted to move her show to a bigger station, she hand delivered to several radio stations packages containing an inflated globe printed beach ball, her demo tape, and a message that said, “Let me bring the world to your listeners”. The ploy made an impression and helped her land her current on air job.

7. Design Humorous Menus (page 114)
The owners of Layla Restaurant in New York City devised a humorous method to market its Middle Eastern food and its unconventional wines to customers. They let the restaurant’s unique atmosphere of music and belly dancing inspire them to create a witty wine list with categories including, “What to drink when lost in the desert?” The humor served to put their customers at ease and made their patrons less intimidated and more comfortable with their wine list. When people were less tentative about ordering a bottle of wine, wine sales increased.

8. Use Rubber Duckies (page 123)
Hotel Triton in San Francisco has successfully incorporated unique amenities into its marketing campaign. Guests at the Triton are given “Leave Me Alone” placards instead of the typical, “Do Not Disturb” signs. Another example of unique amenities include little yellow rubber duck toys, which are standard in all of the hotel’s bathrooms and are also given away as marketing tools to clients and journalists.

9. Wear A Noteworthy Nametag (page 132)
Graphic designer Linda Patterson of Needham, Massachusetts is remembered as the lady with the unique nametag. She took two of the brochure covers she designed, shrunk them, and put them on her nametag. It not only draws attention, it highlights the fact that the wearer of the nametag has creative ideas.

10. Send A Provocative Telegram (page 189)
Tiffany James of UndercoverWear in Tewksbury, Massachusetts won a long alluded feature spot on Donahue by sending an unsigned telegram to Phil Donahue’s home address. The telegram was sent on the day that the Evening Magazine show was to feature UndercoverWear and simply said, “Watch Evening Magazine Tonight.”

11. Stage Lipstick-imprinted Coffee Cups (page 26)
Manicurist Gerri Civitano of New Rochelle, New York adopted a smart tactic to project a successful image for her newly opened business. On her first day open to customers, Civitano gave her home the appearance of a busy place of business by planting several coffee cups with different colored lipstick imprints on each one. She gave the impression of success before she actually achieved it.

12. Create An Army Of Walking Signs (page 11)
When beginning her interior-design company, Alexandra Stoddard invested $3,000 in geranium red stationary and business cards from Tiffany & Company. She knew that her clients would expect to pay for quality and innovative ideas. Stoddard also had bright red shopping bags enblazoned with her logo and gave them to all of her friends to carry around New York City.

13. Get ‘em Where They Eat (page 30)
Boston pawnbroker Michael Goldstein provides homemade Breakfast goodies at his store every day from Thanksgiving to Christmas. Having offered this service for several years, Goldstein gets “Where’s the Danish?” inquiries from hungry customers as early as October.

14. Drive A Purple Winnebago Across The Country (page 113)
Nantucket Nectars owners Tom Scott and Tom First didn’t stop at hanging “Tom & Tom For Senate” banners from highway overpasses. They also sent promoters across the country in purple Winnebagos handing out free samples. Today Nantucket Nectars has established markets in more than 30 states plus Canada, Europe, Korea, and South and Central America.

15. Send Frozen Camel Manure And Some Yogurt (page 113)
Stonyfield Farm entrepreneur Gary Hirshberg once showed up at a Boston radio station, frozen camel manure and some yogurt in hand. The radio show host at the station had once claimed that he would rather eat camel manure than natural foods. With his outrageous stunt, Hirshberg gained immediate attention as well as an endorsement for Stonyfield.

16. Play The Violin In Your Birthday Suit (page 126)
Violinist Lara St. John found a provocative way to promote herself and her debut album. She appeared on the cover wearing only her fiddle. At this writing, St. John has sold more than 20,000 copies.

17. Advertise Your Autopsies (page 128)
Vidal Herrera, owner of a Los Angeles-based autopsy business, makes his car a moving billboard with his vanity license plate YSPOTUA. When seen through a rear view mirror, it spells “AUTOPSY”. The 1-800-AUTOPSY phone number on his van has earned his business even more publicity and has been mentioned in Newsweek. Herrera says he drives in traffic on purpose.

18. Misspell Your Product Name (page 130)
Anthony and Lauren Raissen made their BreathAsure breath freshener memorable by misspelling the “assure” in the product name. “It makes people think.” Says Anthony “People remember it – and you.” They also picked an extremely opportune event to launch their breath freshener---the Los Angeles Garlic Festival. If BreathAsure can work there, it can work anywhere!

19. Celebrate Good Hair Week (page 133)
Award winning Belmont, Massachusetts salon, Leon & Company reaped great success with its proclamation of the third week in March as “Good Hair Week in Massachusetts.” The week-long event, complete with promotional and charitable tie-ins, not only attracted new customers and boosted retail sales, it also generated positive press coverage.

20. Give Your Customers Thanks For Nothing (page 136)
The Cape Cod Potato Chip Company in Hyannis, Massachusetts launched a “Thanks for Nothing” promotion designed to tie in with the final episode of Seinfeld - the show about nothing. They asked customers to send in nothing---nothing except their name and address---to receive a free bag of chips.

21. Send Out Tape Recorders (page 127)
Rick McKenna of Concord, Massachusetts zeroed in on his audience’s response when he was searching for his first public relations’ job. He sent out inexpensive tape recorders paired with a six-minute cassette on which he introduced himself. For less than $20, McKenna guaranteed himself an interview. He also found that his interviewers often appreciated his aggressiveness as well as welcomed a change from the usual resumes and e-mail.


Copyright© 2007, Nancy Michaels. All right reserved. Nancy Michaels, of Impression Impact, works with companies that want to reach the small business community and with small business owners who want to sell more products and services. For information, contact the FrogPond at 800.704.FROG(3764) or email

No comments: