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Guerrilla marketing attracts attention, keeps costs down
by Jessica Mosebach
Apr 03, 2008 | 1076 views | 0 0 comments | 14 14 recommendations | email to a friend | print
<a href=>Tribune/Tony Contini</a> Guerrilla marketing expert, Al Lautenslager gives a presentation on his expertise at the Sparks Chamer of Commerce meeting.
Tribune/Tony Contini Guerrilla marketing expert, Al Lautenslager gives a presentation on his expertise at the Sparks Chamer of Commerce meeting.
Al Lautenslager’s printing and mailing business, the Ink Well, based in Wheaton, Ill., caused a media frenzy when the Boeing Company’s corporate headquarters was considering a move to Dallas, Denver or Chicago.

Lautenslager knew how to dangle the bait when he announced in a press release that he would offer Boeing’s employees free business cards if they chose the Windy City. After two newspapers picked up the story and Boeing ended up going to Chicago, Lautenslager encouraged other businesses to do the same as part of their marketing tactics.

Essentially, the Ink Well generated a media buzz for itself after newspapers questioned whether the company decided on Chicago because of the millions of dollars in city and state tax breaks, about $78 million, or because it was bribed by a small printing company’s offer of free business cards — all at no expense to Lautenslager.

“It takes a little time, energy and imagination,” said Lautenslager, the guest speaker at the Sparks Chamber of Commerce monthly function luncheon on Wednesday.

Time, energy and imagination are the focus of the business coach and co-author’s book in a marketing series, “Guerrilla Marketing in 30 Days.” Lautenslager offered insight and advice for small business owners and employees to promote their services with minimal impact to their checking accounts. He talked about concepts he’s learned from personal experience and recorded in his book, from targeting customers to positioning to networking.

“Try to meet 10 new people today,” Lautenslager said. “If you receive about eight business cards, note something of interest and try to call about three of them. From those three, you’ll get about two (you can build a relationship with). Those are the typical numbers for networking.”

The term “guerrilla marketing” refers to everything the business owner does or says to attract the customer’s attention, which often involves unconventional methods of promotion. Lautenslager showed ads with various attention-grabbing displays, such as Sonic Drive-In’s ploy of gluing magnets to the bottom of cups and attaching them to cars so that they wouldn’t fall off. He also highlighted a dental company that created an ad depicting several bowling lanes, above which at the end of the lanes were mouths with pins serving as teeth that appeared to be “knocked out.”

It’s all done on a very low budget but makes the business stand out above the rest, Lautenslager said.

“The goals and purpose of marketing are common sense, but it’s not a common practice,” he said.

He also recommended being aware of what the company is actually selling.

“In my company, I don’t sell ink and paper. I sell communication,” he said.

“If you sell eyeglasses, you don’t sell lens and glasses; you sell vision.”

Simple tips for attracting attention can be very effective, he said, including:

• Create a tagline to accompany your logo and to use when answering your telephone. This helps leave a lasting, specific impression of what the business does.

• Send press releases to the media to get free publicity on new services or products. If a reporter picks up the story, getting quoted can get a business noticed.

• Identify “power partners,” or similar prospects within your industry but are not your competitors.

• Participate in business networking and plan events.

• Tell customers what to do by leaving contact information, such as a phone number and Web address, on anything that catches the eye.

Lautenslager’s speech made an impression on those who attended, even while he was giving advice. Reno business owners Kristen and Chalmer Dillard started their business, Velocity Sports Performance, about a year and a half ago. Velocity is a center that offers athletic training facilities for young and adult athletes in the Reno-Sparks area. They also offer preventative programs to help with injuries and rehabilitation.

The Dillards target their services to the 12- to 18-year-old demographic to help them train in basketball, football and other sports. Kristen said they learned some great ideas to incorporate in their marketing strategies to reach that target.

“It made me step out of the box,” Kristen noted, mentioning that Lautenslager’s talk about having a tagline inspired her and Chalmer to come up with one right there at the luncheon.

The Dillards had signed a franchise agreement with Nike to create what is called “SPARQ training,” or Speed Power Agility Reaction Quickness.

Now their tagline will say, “Velocity Sports Performance — Reno’s only SPARQ.”

“It showed me it doesn’t have to be expensive and that you take the responsibility on yourself,” Kristen said.
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