A man I know is a restaurant consultant-he helps people plan and build them.
How does he find clients? He puts ads in the paper to sell merchandise he doesn't have, such as stoves and refrigerators that a new restaurant would need. When people call to buy them, this man has his live leads for jobs helping to get the places get started.
Smart thinking. At a showcase for speakers run by Five Star Speakers of Kansas City, I gleaned several more examples:
A man set up a small pizza parlor and took out a quarter-page ad in the yellow pages. Things went well until the next year, when a Domino's opened up in the same town and took out a full-page ad in the yellow pages.
The local man's solution: a newspaper ad proclaiming, "Bring in the yellow pages ad for Domino's and we will give you two pizzas for the price of one."
People tore out the Domino's ads from their own phone books and all the others they could find. The result: For the 11-and-a-half months, until the new book appeared, there were none in town with a Domino's ad.
A barber charged $15 and saw that a new shop across the street had put up a sign, "Haircuts $6."
His solution: He put up a sign, "$6 Haircuts Repaired."
A speaker on diversity training had valuable tidbits on recognizing how cultures differ. Ads for Chevrolet's Nova cars had been a laughingstock in some Latin American countries, she recalled, because in Spanish "no va" means "it doesn't go."
She also told of a Pepsi billboard that had three pictures: First was a thirsty man in the desert. Second, he drinks a can of Pepsi. Third, he walks away happy.
Unfortunately, in the Middle Eastern country where the ad was displayed people read from right to left. To them the ad showed a man happy until he drank Pepsi, but parched afterward.
Now back to some smart thinking. (I've used the first in my column before, but it is a favorite story of mine, so I'll tell it again.)
To help speed processing and depositing of customer payments, a bank's cash manager had this advice for the old New Jersey Bell:
Step 1: Give customers who normally spend $100 a month or more on phone service a blue envelope, and give the others a red envelope.
Step 2: Open the blue ones first.
And here's a famous case of not-so-smart. A bank refused to validate a parking-lot ticket for a man with $1 million on deposit. Why not? Because he was not making a deposit on that visit. He withdrew his funds-but said he would return them if the bank changed its policy. A week later, the bank still had not made a decision on this weighty matter.
But banks aren't the only businesses that sometimes have bone-headed policies. Here's another story from the Five Star Speakers showcase:
A man turned in a discount coupon for a hamburger at a fast-food restaurant. No good, he was told; you can use it only at the drive-through.
He canceled the order and walked up to the drive-through. No good, he was told. You have to have a car.
End result: No sale.