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Is Your Company A Member Of The Community?

One particularly hot south Texas day, I was making a routine sales call to a family Mexican restaurant. Angela, with whom I had an appointment, is a real "hands on" lady. She can't sit still in her restaurant and let others do all the work. Therefore, it's always a bit of a wait to talk to her, but this place has great iced tea, so I didn't mind the wait. I finally got some of her time, where she sat down, covered in flour as usual. I have a strong amount of respect for Angela. She's such a strong entrepreneur, and she makes a great glass of iced tea. I really wanted to provide her with specifically the right kind of marketing that she was looking for. I asked her if there was anything she had in mind for her marketing efforts. She barely hesitated, and said, "I want to be common knowledge that my restaurant is a member of this community!"

Apparently, most of her restaurant's business was from local truckers passing by. This Mexican restaurant is in a small town, bordering the very big town of San Antonio. Angela was happy with the number of customers from San Antonio who were passing by on mostly work related missions. But she was a little disappointed that there were only a small handful of "locals" stopping in. Angela presented me with a unique problem. This was the first time I had ever heard this particular request. My mind started racing, as I took sips of my iced tea to buy me some time. I thought about the local periodicals, which I'd already knew she advertised in and, being in the promotional product advertising sales business, of course I tried hard to think of something, anything I had available that met her needs. Luckily for me, Angela had to get up and spend about 10 or 15 minutes working out something, and speaking in Spanish to the cook. Okay, this is good. It gives me time to think of something.

I wish I could describe some divine-like epiphany, and the hallelujah chorus playing in the background, but that's not what happened. I did have a new idea that I was quite proud of, but that's validated only if Angela liked it well enough to buy into it.

Since football season is just around the corner for high schools all over the country, my idea was for Angela to buy some foam hands holding up the "number 1" sign, fairly common at sporting events. They would support the local high school, with big bold letters saying "GO BULLDOGS" on it, and in much smaller print below it, "brought to you by," and the restaurant name. Schools don't usually trademark their logos, mascots, or name, so there's no additional cost. Always a good thing when you want to make a sale. I also suggested that they be distributed in two different ways. One, sold at cost ($1.25 each) when your ticket is over 20 dollars. The second way was to sell them for $2.50 each, no purchase necessary.

Angela loved the idea, because she saw it for what it was. Free advertising! Promotional product advertising focused specifically at the market where she aims. By supporting the local high school football team, she's making the statement that she is in fact a supportive member of the local community. She gets a few thousand people seeing her ad every Friday for the next few months, and she gets "the locals" to come in and try her food. I just hope this doesn't mean I have to wait too long in my stops for iced tea. "My only bummer," Angela revealed, "is that I have to wait the month or so before football season starts!"

Is your business viewed by "the locals" as a member of the community? It will be of value to you, to reflect on this, and pay strict attention to your customers. My idea paid off quite well for Angela. Once people in the area tasted her food, she was just as competitive in the local market as she was with passers by.

Article by Kirk Otto of - a premiere source for promotional product advertising.

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