We call it a success story when customers steal our product!

May 21 2010

It’s an amazing world of new media, high tech marketing strategies today. Yet, Richard Branson of Virgin Atlantic brought to our attention a low tech, surprising one that made us chuckle—how Virgin turned a theft problem into a smart, fun and viral marketing strategy. Branson video clip.

Something similar happened with a simple, low cost promotion Strothman Associates did for a great client in Pittsburgh—The Park House tavern.  Customers stole it… and we called it a nice compliment!  Find out more about this amusing, insightful story… plus the power of Google Calendar.


Last winter a small team of Associates completed a pretty cool website for The Park House—a site that has great hidden features to save the owner time with 3 kinds of online promotions. (find out what in this blog) This new low cost, 24/7 small business marketing strategy has paid off well, especially for the big nights when bands are playing. With this new tool in his marketing toolkit, the owner asked what else we could do to boost business.

Park House promotion conceptNew ‘marketing lite’ efforts

A simple idea that came out of brainstorming was to create “mini billboards” for in the tavern.  No customer should leave there without knowing about the great, free, live band music he books for weekends—when profits jump.  So Randy drafted a simple concept for a small table top display and a poster… and then turned it over to the amazingly creative illustrator, Dan Wintermantel.

Dan came back with 3 designs that were great! Tough choice.  In an email the owner said: “Houston we have problem. They’re all freaking awesome!”

So Randy suggested surveying his customers in the pub… and one design clearly stood out from the rest.  Time to go into production…

Success = they steal it!

Posters went up in the bathrooms and at the bar.  Thirteen two-sided, laminated table top cards went into stands and onto the tables on Tuesday. We joked that fans might like them so much that they’d steal them… and help spread the word virally among friends.  Like Virgin Atlantic.

The next morning the owner called to say that 3 of the 10 table tops were missing. At least one woman asked “Could I take this for a bookmark?”  That day we produced 6 more… and the next day 2 more were missing.

Our take on this is that:  1) customers like the promo enough to steal it and carry it out into their world for us and 2) this simple traditional strategy has taken on viral quality, much like social media can.  And 3) we’re flattered that people are taking them!

Drive them to social media too

drive people to Facebook with traditional mediaAn important part of the strategy here was to build additional fans on The Park House Facebook page and get more people signed up on the website for the weekly e-newsletter—i.e. traditional media supporting the growth of new and social media.

Google Calendar:  another value-added strategy

At the same time that the designer was working on the table tops, associate Don Orkoskey was installing a Google Calendar on the website. This would complement the weekly blog and emails the owner sends out announcing his weekend bands, new beers and new menu items.  (Note: every time he sends these out his website traffic spikes up immediately).

The Google Calendar is up and running and is providing The Park House three valuable marketing services 24/7… 

Park House website map feature

Calendar also provides map

First, people can now see out into the future what bands are coming and plan for it, even 3 months out.  Second, with one click the Calendar can add dates and events to people’s desktop or mobile electronic calendars. Third, the Calendar also provides Google Map directions to the tavern by simply clicking on “map” in each of the event descriptions. Cool.

This simple web marketing tool gives The Park House a marketing reach long into the future with very little cost or investment of time.

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