Inc.com is running a great piece called small business advice. I was reading it and was taken back by the commentary of George Naddaff of Boston Chicken. If you read the little story he tells, he basically confirms that by putting some people in some character suits out in front of his businesses, he was able to increase sales by 8 percent.
8 percent is a lot! This is attention marketing at its finest. Sure, cheezy, but it works!
George Naddaff, Boston Chicken
Bring Back the Fun
Back in the days of Boston Chicken, we had a very effective promotion for slow periods. We had a chicken suit designed. Boy, that thing was chickenlike. One of the employees would slide into it. And then we would “put the chicken on the street.” The chicken, armed with coupons, would chase women with strollers, flapping its wings. And the street would suddenly pick up. People would start honking their horns at the chicken. Giving the chicken the thumbs-up. It just made everyone more upbeat.
So I was thinking, What can I do to get more people into my new business, UFood Grill? I went to the guy who designed that chicken suit. And I said, “Bob, I want you to design us some French fries” — we call them UnFries — “in a box. And I’ll put a person in the box. And I want you to design a cup that looks like my UBerry yogurt. And I’ll put a person in that. And we’ll put them on the street. We’ll create some action.”
I put these things in front of our store in downtown Boston. People walking by, wanting to shake hands. Drivers raising their hands, calling out: “Hey, fries!” You create something where people are laughing. People don’t laugh today. They’re walking around worrying about their 401(k)s.
The suits cost only $2,500 each. We are getting a real bang for the buck, as they say in the trade. It has produced a good 8 percent increase across the stores. We are using the characters in front of all six of our stores in Boston, and we are going to ship them out to our franchises. We have five franchisees opening a total of 16 units. So we have three fries suits and three yogurt suits, and each unit gets to use one set for a week, and then they pass it on. We like to keep the fries and yogurt together because they get along so well.