TypewriterFrom The Urbach Letter December 2002

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Question MarkFighting "Big Box" Competition

Reader's Question: I just found out that a "big box" discount retailer is opening near my store. What can I do to combat this giant competitor?

My Answer: Here's a strategy I like. I first read about it in a great book by Jeff and Mark Slutsky called "StreetSmart Marketing."

Seems there was a mom 'n pop video store in a little Midwest town. They were doing OK. Not great, but OK. Then one morning, mom opened the daily paper and got smacked in the head with a two-by-four:


For weeks, she fretted about the massive publicity for the upcoming grand opening. Newspapers, radio, Val-Pack mailers... she was sure the end was near.

But she turned it around... applied some "marketing judo" to use her opponent's weight and strength against him.

Here's what she did. On the day of the Blockbuster opening, she rented one of those miniature blimps to fly over her store -- with a big sign attached that read, "GRAND REOPENING." Really stopped traffic, and she took a free ride on all of Blockbuster's advertising.

It was one of her best days ever and gave her the motivation to keep on battling the giant with better service, creative packaging, tie-in's and cross-promotions with other merchants, etc.

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