Graham McGregor 's Opinion

A weekly marketing column by Graham McGregor

Graham McGregor: Outrageous marketing

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Photo / Thinkstock
Photo / Thinkstock

One of the most interesting marketing strategies I've ever come across was shared with me by Dave Garofalo.

Dave has been in the premium cigar business for over 27 years. He started his business in 1985 and it was just two guys, Dave and a friend.

So they called their business Two Guys Smoke Shop.

When I interviewed Dave for my 'Unfair Business Advantage Report' he told me he was the highest volume cigar retailer in the United States.

Dave explained that for he had been doing one outrageous marketing promotion every year for the past 17 years.

And this one outrageous promotion was the key to his amazing business results.

It all started in the 1990's when Dave and his partner decided to hold an annual party on the anniversary of their retail store.

However they wanted to make this anniversary party the 'hottest ticket in town' as it were.

They wanted it to be something 'over the top' and so much value that the people who attended would be saying 'You should have been there. It was unbelievable'. And the people who weren't there would ask 'How could we get there next time. We want to be part of it? '

Well the way to be part of it is to be a customer of Dave's retail store and they would then be the first to hear about the next anniversary dinner.

Dave explained that they charge an entry fee of around $200 for the anniversary dinner and a typical event sells out in a few days. There are normally around 500 people at the dinner and even though $200 is a lot of money, the people attending know they will get far more value than the money they pay. There is an elaborate five course sit down meal along with live entertainment, such as a 12 piece show band, comedians and more.

Dave flies in movie star and celebrities and makes the whole evening a glorious night of entertainment. The people who get tickets to his anniversary dinner get to experience the finest things in life that night and the door prizes are simply unbelievable.

There will be many prizes given away but the top prize of the night will be highlighted for months in advance.

At their 25th anniversary dinner Dave gave away a brand new Rolls Royce Silver Spur.

And included with the Rolls Royce automobile in the boot they also had 250 silver bars, minted just for that occasion. (Each bar was 4 oz of solid silver.)

Dave runs the night a bit like a game show. Dave has all his cigar manufacturer suppliers involved in the dinner and they each have a group of people in their team. These people are eliminated one by one and eventually there is a grand winner.

Each person that's eliminated early still stays on all night long to watch the fun because the excitement goes not only all night but actually carries on for days and weeks and even years afterwards.

Dave gets millions of dollars of publicity for this outrageous anniversary dinner long before and after it is held.

Best of all, Dave gets his suppliers involved and a lot of the time he actually manages to break even on the costs of holding this outrageous promotion.

There are many ways to do an outrageous or over the top promotion in your business. And as Dave has found, it is surprising how well this can work to grow your sales and profits.

'There is only one thing worse than being talked about and that is not being talked about.' - Oscar Wilde

Action Exercise:

Brainstorm with the people in your own business about how you could do an 'outrageous promotion' that would have your customers and suppliers queuing up to a part of. Make your promotion a truly 'wow' experience and something that you can only get an invitation to by being a customer of your business.


Graham McGregor is a marketing consultant and the creator of the 396 page 'Unfair Business Advantage Report.' www.theunfairbusinessadvantage.com (This is free and has now been read by business owners from 27 countries.) You can email him at the link above.

Graham McGregor

A weekly marketing column by Graham McGregor

Graham has had 36 years 'hands on' experience in sales and marketing. He has sold a range of services including advertising, sales training, personal development, life insurance, IT services, investment property and business consulting services.

Read more by Graham McGregor

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