Jan 31, 2007

Unconventional Marketing on a Budget

There is so much to do during the first few months after the holidays that I rarely have time to pay attention to what’s going on in the news. But a recent news report caught my interest. A six-month test in Los Angeles carried out by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) resulted in the formalization of guidelines for airport security bin advertising. The plan allows companies to pay fees to airports and provide the TSA with trays, tables and other items used at the security checkpoints. In exchange, they receive ad placement at the bottom of the security bins.

I’m not sure how I personally feel about the idea of being bom-barded by ad messages as I struggle to remove my shoes while trying to catch a flight, but one thing is certain—there is no limit to marketing ideas.

Being in a position where I’m able to observe how dealers around the country utilize advertising, I have to say our industry is definitely falling behind other service-based industries. After all, ads for next-day carpet replacement or window treatments frequent prime time television. Yet, water dealers continue to rely mostly on Yellow Page advertisements and word of mouth for lead generation.

It’s a fact that consumer concern about water quality has increased. Because of the undeniable connection between health and drinking water, consumer interest in this area will only continue to grow in the future. But this is not enough to assume that new business will simply roll in through the door.

I think it is important for dealers to ask themselves this question: “How do I capture consumers’ interest, and how do I establish myself and continue to maintain my position in this highly competitive market?”

Small businesses typically have limited marketing budgets; thus, I’m not suggesting purchasing expensive TV ads, but there are many cost-effective promotional ideas.

In a 2006 article, Water Quality Products offered some interesting examples of how some members of the water industry have utilized innovative marketing strategies to promote their brands, products and services. Wisconsin-based Water Right, Inc. demonstrated a great example. The company holds a Water Day celebration in May, inviting the local community to its facility to enjoy free RO water, grilled food, children’s activities and of course, water testing—a great way to generate new business and brand awareness.

So yes, perhaps airport security bin advertising is a bit too much by many people’s standards, but I think locally, strategies such as setting up a booth at a street fair or sponsoring a Little League team, through which you can offer free samples of quality water and display your products and promote your services, are a great way to utilize unconventional advertising without breaking the budget.

About the author

Neda Simeonova can be reached at [email protected].

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