Creative Marketing Ideas

Marketing after the fact: here’s a (sweet) tip!

After a very enjoyable dinner the other night at a local eatery, Café del Rey, I exited the restaurant to wait for my car. Tipping the valet, I got into my car to find, on the passenger seat, a small, Café del Rey – labeled bag.  It was filled with some yummy treats – a few biscotti, cookies and small pastries.  What a nice, unexpected surprise.  I waited until I got home but, not having had dessert with my meal, I indulged as soon as I arrived.

Great idea!

Now, most marketing is used to get people in the door.  Using the example of a restaurant, it may have garnered customers with an ad, an email, a flyer, a coupon, word of mouth, etc.  But to continue that marketing once a satisfied customer has paid and left? 


Café del Rey continued their marketing cycle beyond the sale…in a simple, creative, tasty manner.  The approach was thoughtful and as a customer, I felt that they showed they cared about my experience.  Will I return?  You bet.  Would I have returned without the gift?  Probably.  But I’ll make a point of going there next time I want a special dinner out. 

Because they care.

The message?  Think beyond the primary sales/service transaction.  Give your customer a gift – show that you care.  It doesn’t have to be an actual “gift” or item…but some token of your appreciation. I can only think of one other experience at a restaurant that was an “after the fact” action:  the previous evening’s restaurant called the following day (they had taken my phone number at the time of the reservation) to see if we had enjoyed our meal. 


Martha Spelman is a marketing consultant who builds businesses – creatively.  You can find out more at: You can email her at:

Creative Marketing Ideas

Marketing On The Run

I’m always on the lookout for innovative and creative ways to market a business – especially if its done without spending lots of money. Last weekend, on a run along an Orange County jogging trail, I “ran into” exactly that.


About mile three, I came around the bend to find Amber Raulston, realtor, sitting at a folding table. She offered me her “private label” water (her sticker on store-bought water), her business card and a rolled-up paper offering foreclosed properties in the area.


Talk about a captive audience. Runners and walkers must pass by her spot as they make their way along the trail. She’s far enough from a start point to make one thirsty and her “ploy” is intriguing enough to make many stop.


I grabbed her card and foreclosure list as I ran by (and told her I thought her idea was great).


A few days later, I emailed Amber to get a little more info. She let me know that she had first tried this idea in another location. A competing realtor/kayaker called the cops. He had tried to set up his kayaking business on the beach, sans permit, and was shut down. Amber tried it again and got the same result. Amber is leery about revealing her new location for the same reason. Her main concern is that others, selling their wares, will copy her idea. More vendors and the jig will be up. A sheriff did come by but said he’d look the other way, since she wasn’t technically selling anything, only the option to visit sites for the purpose of buying a foreclosed home.


How’d she get the idea? Amber says she was looking for a good spot with a lot of traffic – maybe tourists or families looking for a second home. As a single mother of four, Amber said that sitting at Open Houses to get new clients means being gone almost the entire day. On a weekend, this would interfere with her kids’ activities. On the trail, she sets up around seven and packs up around eleven.


As for results? She’s already picked up several new clients.


Amber also has found some success doing postcard mailings. She even sets up her own photo shoots! For one postcard, on a bright California day, she had her three teenagers and 11 year-old put on their swim and snorkel gear and get into a plastic wading pool. Add the family cat and everyone looks very uncomfortable. The headline? “Need to expand? I understand!” She said many people have told her they hang on to her postcards – some even keeping them on the refrigerator!


Businesses need to market to potential clients. Competing in a crowded “marketplace” means finding new ways to stand out in that marketplace. If you want someone to “run into” your company, figure out a way to get in front of them. And if your idea is creative, innovative – something out of the ordinary – you’ll get your client’s attention. And hopefully have them “beating a path” to your door!


Martha Spelman is a marketing consultant who builds businesses – creatively. You can find out more at: You can email her at: