small business marketing

By Karen Axelton

Sometimes, the best marketing ideas are the simplest. I was reminded of this recently when I saw local realtor Joe Sopo’s U-Haul-sized van. Decked with can’t-miss graphics, including a larger-than-life-size image of Joe Sopo, the van prominently features his name, his website URL and the message, “Buy or sell with me, use this truck for free!”

“What a great idea,” I thought. When people are moving to a new house, they’re excited and thrilled with their purchase. Whether they’re packing up and leaving the old house, or pulling into the driveway of the new one, they’re going to be excited to talk up their helpful realtor to anyone who asks.

Not only does Sopo let customers use the truck, he also lends it out to community groups, nonprofit organizations and others–with no cost or obligation. In fact, I saw the truck when my son’s school borrowed it to transport equipment for an after-school activity. The parents were trying to figure out who had a big enough vehicle to handle the job, when someone suggested Joe Sopo. There were nods of recognition all around. Even though none of us had bought or sold a home lately, we all knew Joe Sopo’s name because he parks his truck near a busy intersection on the way to the school–we drive by it twice a day, five times a week, on the way to drop off and pick up our kids.

What’s the lesson from Joe Sopo? If you’re looking for a way to get name recognition, yes, you can and should use social media, online marketing and all the other tactics at your disposal. But sometimes the plans that work the best are the simplest–like creating an eye-catching business vehicle and parking it where your target customers can’t help but see it.

Photo Courtesy: Joe Sopo