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Host a foolish party

A local independent hardware store is looking for a new ad agency because the one they've used for a dozen years "doesn't have any new ideas." A gigantic Home Depot just moved into town and the local guy knows he needs to step up and turn loyal customers into evangelists.

    What if? -- the local guy looked through his database of 50,000 shoppers and found the top 5 purchasers of GARDEN SUPPLIES and helped them host a "Garden Party" for 20 of their friends?

    What if? -- they looked through local building permit files, found 5 people who had recently installed a new deck, and helped them organize a "How To Stain Your Deck" clinic - complete with BBQ and expert training?

    What if? -- they reminded local folks of the Free Popcorn they serve every weekend in the store by offering to buy ALL the popcorn for theater movie goers on Friday night - and offered a discount to anyone who came in Saturday with a movie ticket stub?

I was sparked to these ideas by a story written by Jeff Lang on URBANintelligence about a similar program hosted by the New Jersey Nets.

Competing with Home Depot for a franchise in the minds of local folks is going to take more than better radio ads. The hometown guy will never be able to out spend the category killer - but they can out maneuver 'em and take the idea of customer care to wonderfully foolish levels.

For more ideas of taking ridiculous ideas to their extremes (TRITE) see my entry from September 7.

Exercise: Read this to your marketing staff. Ask them to suggest similar ideas for a local restaurant. Car repair shop. Independent bookstore. YOUR company.

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