Blending intelligence with creativity to help small businesses in a marketing capacity has been my passion for over 15 years.
Let me share a story with you...
In 1995, I met the new owners of a historical bed and breakfast located in North Carolina. It was amazing and spectacular; the kind of B&B that could easily be featured on the cover of magazines and postcards. In addition to the main house, there were little cottages, a well-kept English garden, and décor that would take your breath away.
Being in a coastal town, they had a great amount of seasonal tourist business which enabled them to break even with a small profit but not enough to meet their future personal financial goals. On the off-season, the owners wanted to have this very elegant facility booked for corporate meetings, special events, retreats, gifts for clients, and employee incentives. With the Hampton Roads, VA region just a few hours north, they knew that introducing themselves to corporate executives and decision makers would be the key to this expansion.
However, they had two issues: (1) like most businesses, they were on a very tight budget - all they could spare for marketing efforts was a meager $200, and (2) capturing the attention of C-Level executives is a challenge even with the highest of budgets.
Putting on my creative hat, this is what I did:
I had the owners create a list of the top 12 executives they wanted to meet. Using some of the B&B’s fine china and silverware to create a full formal setting, I used epoxy to glue the items to a hard placemat for stability. On the plate, I placed a round napkin ring holder that held a personalized invitation for a complimentary weekend at the B&B for the executive and a guest, compliments of the owners. The display was placed in a gift box and elaborately yet elegantly wrapped it. A tag on the outside only read the name of the person to whom this was intended, not indicating who it was from to create curiosity and excitement.
Each package was hand delivered to the executive’s office, which was well-received by the gatekeeper (executive assistant). Think about it: no matter what kind of day the executive was having, there was excitement generated by this gift on his/her desk. The office was abuzz full of curiosity and wonder about what this could be, and who it was from.
Each and every recipient took advantage of the free weekend. The result of this unique marketing strategy: the owners repeated this method monthly to reach out to more executives. Within several months, this little bed & breakfast was completely booked several weeks in advance.
This little B&B was willing to step out of the box with this unique marketing strategy, and by doing so, enjoyed the benefits of the results.