I went out to pick the morning paper out of the bushes (why is it no delivery person can ever fling it from their moving vehicle and hit the driveway?) There at my front door was a small cinnamon Teddy Bear refrigerator magnet with a note attached.
It was from Duncan Roofs and it read, in part: Tomorrow morning we will be replacing the roof at. . . . (a house one block over from mine.) Our crew will begin work at 7:00 A.M. They will be as quiet as possible. However, by nature, our work is somewhat noisy. Please accept this cinnamon Teddy Bear refrigerator magnet as our apology for any inconvenience we might cause you. We hope you will use Teddy to hold notes on your refrigerator and think of us when you or someone you know needs a new roof.
Well, this obviously got my attention. While I dont need a new roof (or a Teddy Bear magnet, for that matter), I found myself admiring the imaginative marketing idea represented by the note and Teddy. The soft sell of the note went on to say:
Perhaps you will have an opportunity to observe us at work. If so, I trust you will be favorably impressed with our efficient and professional work habits. And, if you have any questions about our work, our foreman or myself will be happy to answer them.
Of course, the author, Mr. R.L. Duncan, president of Duncan Roofs, smartly took the opportunity to offer me a free estimate if or when I need a roof. And, I liked his closing line, too: Place your trust in a third generation business that has been serving this area since 1918 . . .
I suspect the roofing business may be experiencing some tough times these days, what with housing starts down, home improvement loans or home equity lines hard to come by, and so on. But, to his credit, Mr. Duncan hasnt stopped marketing. He may not be shelling out big bucks for big ads these days but he has found an obviously inexpensive and clever way to make sure his service is noticed in the areas in which hes working. Moreover, its a simple idea that could be modified and adapted for use, for example, by the service side of the boat and marina business.
Unfortunately, in tough economic times, marketing expenses are most often the first cut from the budget. Its not that such cuts arent necessary. They are, at least in some proportion. But, that shouldnt cause failure to continually seek out, create and adapt ways to promote without the big ad budget. In fact, these are the times when you can be clever and do some things you likely would not take time to do when business is good.
And, yes, the Teddy Bear magnet is now on my refrigerator. Gotta hand it to Mr. Duncan -- he got his name into my home!