Seven cool ideas to stand out in a crowd | submitted by Susan Thomson

Ever hear a marketing strategy that takes you by surprise and really gets your attention? Here, in Madison?

Everything starts with the basics, and then it’s time to get creative:

  • Understand what really makes your product or company unique (your USP).
  • Have a clear target market (everyone in Dane County doesn’t count).
  • Know what you’re trying to accomplish (find new leads, get repeat business, increase your sales).

Here’s my list of seven of the coolest strategies out there:

1. A hair salon calls its female clients’ husbands/partners to let them know that “Susan was in for a haircut and style today – she looks dynamite (and you might want to notice!)”

2. A supplier of Earth-friendly, recycled toner cartridges offers 24-hour service to accounting firms during tax season. (Really! Even at 3 a.m.!)

3. Three local health clubs facing a significant threat from a national health club that entered the Madison market as a loss leader band together to offer a three-way membership and benefits – and each gains new customers with no erosion of profits.

4. A Creative Gun for Hire (aka a really good marketing consultant) hosts a “Beer for Brains” focus group at The Great Dane and taps the minds of some of Madison’s great tech leaders (and users) for a new product.

5. Keva Sports Center, where 250,000 adults and kids play, plans to host an event on May 12 called “Canstruction” – a community competition that brings architects and kids together to build structures out of donated canned goods. (All the cans will be donated to Middleton Outreach Ministry.)

6. A local radio station switches from awarding “caller number 10” with a prize to awarding text message number 100. Instead of nine hang-ups and one contact, it now has 100-plus (usually two to 300) contacts that it can text promotions to at any time.

7. A Lexus dealer takes five of its coolest cars to a private club and lends them to patrons for the weekend (irrespective of what the patron currently drives) while it does a 50-point safety inspection and washes the current car. Tough to go back to your “old” car after driving a brand-new one for three days – sales are up 40%.

So, what cool ideas have you seen out there?

Susan Thomson is a partner and licensed business coach at ActionCOACH.

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