Proximity Marketing: Get to Know Your Neighbors

I found out about National Donut Day at Dunkin' Donuts not because of a TV commercial, a magazine ad or an e-newsletter; but rather, because a friend sent an e-mail about it to my inbox. When it comes to freebies, word of mouth travels like, well, high-speed cable. On Friday, June 4, the Dunkin' Donuts in Harrison was hoppin' — from regulars to people who love getting something for free, everyone enjoyed picking out a tasty treat that came free with the purchase of any size beverage.

The amount of small-town foot traffic this special deal generated got me thinking: What if surrounding small businesses had taken advantage of their proximity to this franchise to get people to come into their own stores?

For example, a deli across the street from Dunkin' Donuts that sells milk could have put up a sign on that day saying something like:



Since Dunkin' Donuts doesn't sell 1/2 gallons of milk, this isn't direct competition — it's complementary thinking. You're capitalizing on the marketing of a complementary service because it happens to be adjacent or nearby to your own business. It doesn't matter if it's a small business or a national franchise. The latter can be a great opportunity because you can benefit not only from that franchise's established store traffic, but also from their national ad campaigns and store promotions.

It's like when a local hair salon partners with a fashion designer to host a fashion show for its grand opening. Hair and fashion go oh so beautifully together.

Another example: Say your business is a wine store and you are adjacent to an art gallery; what a perfect pairing for an exhibit opening! There is a terrific frame shop in Harrison called Masterpiece Framing. The shop's owner, Igor Annopolsky, also houses an art gallery in the shop, where he hosts local artist exhibits, photo contests, art lessons for children and adults, and also wine-and-cheese events. Local wine stores, no matter if they are nearby, should take advantage of this logical pairing and link up with Igor to promote their business conjointly. Or perhaps a local deli could provide the cheese. The possibilities are indeed there.

Basically, it comes down to getting to know your neighbors. You are not alone as a small-business owner. Join your area's Chamber of Commerce, advertise in local publications, say hello to your neighbors as you enter and leave your shop, and most importantly, pay attention to what those around you are promoting.

What logical business pairings come to mind for you? Comment and let me know.

Thanks for reading,


To get fresh ideas for your marketing plan, e-mail me.