Success in marketing isn’t about finding the one thing that works; it’s about cultivating a range of activities that, cumulatively, bring in the customers you need. Some of the best activities cost little and exploit your own interests.
Here are examples from 3 Cleveland Heights businesses that do a good job at making themselves seen, known and remembered:
Community involvement: Every year on New Year’s Day, Tommy’s Restaurant hosts a fundraiser for HeightsArts. Owner Tommy Fello donates the food and the entire facility, and a handful of his key staffers donate their time to cook. But that’s just the most visible of many local causes the restaurant supports – usually by providing the food. The result: Samples of his food showing up all over town, an immense amount of goodwill and 40 years in business.
You can’t give away goods and services to everyone who asks, but if you pick good causes and make sure to get reasonable recognition for your support, you’ll work your way into the hearts of the people in the community – the very people your business exists to serve.
Leverage small partnerships: Not quite 2 years old, The Winespot has quickly evolved into more than a store. Through a partnership with the Cleveland Institute of Art, its walls showcase (and sell) student art. It hosts a couple “openings” a year to introduce the next round of artists. It also has a small seating area and a location appropriate for small music combos to perform.
Launching from that, owners Adam and Susan Fleisher have focused on extending the store’s productive hours by establishing it as a venue for special events – and offering corkage to allow customers to enjoy wine and beer purchases on premises.
Now they’ve added dinner to the mix; the store keeps menus on-hand from 5 nearby restaurants. You can buy a bottle of wine or beer, pay a corkage fee and call in a food order. The restaurants will bring the meal to you – no surcharge.
It’s not likely to be the most important source of business for anyone involved. But it’s clever, cheap and just different enough to bring in some incremental business for everyone.
Exploit undermarketed venues: Before opening Sweetie Fry’s storefront location, owner Keith Logan sold his craft-made ice cream from a portable food cart. Last fall – looking to keep the food cart busy – he tried to swing a deal to sell ice cream at Heights High football games.
While that proved unworkable, he and the school created a sponsorship program that brought in money for the athletic department and promoted Sweetie Fry during games. Several times throughout each home game, the PA announcer would ask a local trivia question. The prize? A certificate for free Sweetie Fry ice cream.
The contests were a hit. Sweetie Fry’s name became unforgettable among those in attendance. And a small business quickly earned and outsized reputation.
Each of these companies could serve as the source for more such examples, because all of them layer their marketing through multiple activities.
There’s bound to be something your business can do too that doesn’t cost much money, plays off your strengths and interests, delivers positive results and can be replicated for success. The trick is to find it.