7 Secrets of Successful Neighborhood Marketing


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John's first print book, 7 Secrets of Successful Neighborhood Marketing, was published in 2006. Based on the concepts developed for John’s well-received 2005-06 Neighborhood Marketing seminar series, the book mixes anecdotes, case studies, “guerilla-style” tactics and John’s wry sense of humor in a work that is as much fun to read as it is informative. 

Paperback, 293 pages

This book is no longer available from the writer. Used copies may be available on EBay.


Chapter 1 - Secrets of Neighborhood Marketing

A marketing executive once remarked, “I know I’m wasting half of my advertising budget, but I don’t know which half.” Most business people would probably agree with this, but while that 50 percent may have been true a few years ago, today the percentage of wasted advertising dollars is more likely in the 75-90 percent range. 

Advertising and promotion cost more and deliver less. Television rates soar in the face of declining and fragmented viewership. Newspaper rates skyrocket as readership falls. According to The Wall Street Journal, corporations, big and small, are panicking because their advertising and marketing are just not working for them. Advertising agencies are in a frenzy trying to figure out alternative ways to give their clients a better return on their advertising dollars. 

Consumers are not responding to mass advertising as they once did. Perhaps this is because their tastes have become more regionalized, individualized, and personalized. Corporations are only just learning how to appeal to the individual tastes of consumers, but they are still at a loss when it comes to marketing to them. 

The authors of best selling books, including In Search of Excellence, Passion for Excellence, and Hug Your Customer, have pleaded for corporations to get in touch with their customers. Major companies are using new, more interactive approaches to advertising; viral marketing, social networking sites, and blogs, to name just a few. 

This is, perhaps, a step in the right direction, but many businesses are still missing a tremendous opportunity. Now is the time to outthink your competition instead of out-spending them. The problem is that thinking is a time-consuming process. While I would not presume to think for you, I would suggest that I can bring next generation business thinking to your organization, and help you grow your business in the process. 

It took me more than 20 years to develop the Neighborhood Marketing approach. Much of that time was spent at a major national consulting firm working with clients ranging from Fortune 500 companies to  2 bootstrap start-ups. Any corporation or small business can adapt this program to create marketing and advertising that generates results. One simple underlying principle makes all the difference in the world. This principle is explained in the following example of a marketing program for a fast food unit that was in trouble. 

A well-known fast-food restaurant was having trouble with one of its stores in a little town in Ohio, about 60 miles from Columbus. In this small town, the restaurant had always done a brisk business, until the summer of 1985. That spring, a second store in the chain opened on the other side of town near the interstate. Management expected some sales loss at their older location, but they didn't count on competing chains also opening up in the same small town. 

Despite running a tight ship and turning out a super product, sales dropped. The pie could only be divided into so many pieces. At the time, I was interning with the chain’s parent company, and was part of the team that was dispatched to the store and given three months to work on the problem. We trained one employee, who was both a crew member and a breakfast hostess, to set up several customer generating promotions in the community. Using the marketing techniques we developed, she arranged with 14 of the 15 major employers in the town to give each one of their employees a special Employee VIP Card. The local Chamber of Commerce mailed out, at their own expense, 12,000 of these VIP cards to its members and their employees. Dozens of area merchants distributed the restaurant’s advertising to their customers for free. Even the local elementary school distributed special invitations for the students to visit the restaurant with their parents. In just 90 days, and this was documented by their Regional Supervisor, sales increased by 21 percent. This was better than they had ever dreamed possible under the competitive circumstances. While I cannot much of the credit for this amazing turnaround—my role as an intern was mostly limited to fetching and copying—I learned two very important lessons that would one day be the genesis of my own program for performing marketing miracles: 

1. You get more results from your advertising and marketing efforts if you carry those efforts all the way to the final point of distribution, whether it be a store, dealer, agent, or office. 

2. In order to be truly effective, the execution of these programs must take place on the neighborhood level by the person or persons who run the operation in that neighborhood. If execution comes from  3 any form of supervisory level, the impact and ability to dominate the neighborhood is lost.