The Street Fighter Fishbowl


By Jeff & Marc Slutsky 

Knowing who your customers are allows you to update your customer base and grow your business. Many businesses attempt to acquire a customer list but fail to take full advantage of that list once they get it.

One of the easiest Street Fighter ways to find out who your customers are is by offering a business card drawing when they visit your store. What you can do is put a fishbowl on your counter, and anybody who comes into your place of business can place their business card in there for a chance to win a prize. According to Patrick Stein the general manager of a Chi Chi's restaurant in Maumee, Ohio, who has been using the fishbowl for several years, says, "The fishbowl is instrumental in building our data base which allowed us to increase our sales through direct mail."

The following process can increase your chance of collecting the cards and take full advantage of the names you collect.

  • Have an attractive bowl - Too many companies use a cardboard box or a cheap piece of plastic to collect the cards. Spend a few dollars and find a bowl that will look good on your counter.

  • Create a professional looking sign - To draw attention to your fishbowl create a sign which explains what prize the customer will win by having his business card picked from the fishbowl.

  • Train your employees - Make sure your employees are trained so they know how to respond to your customers and remind them to drop their business card in the fishbowl. That will ensure more of your customers participate in the drawing. Be sure to keep it out in the open so the customer can see it and it becomes a constant reminder to your employee to get more participation.

  • Incorporate in your database - When the fishbowl starts to fill up, take the names and add them to your database. Over a period of time your database of names will grow to a substantial number.

  • Keep in contact - Now that you have a growing list of names, it is critical to think like a Street Fighter and keep in contact with everyone in your database. Not only does this allow you to remind your customers about you, but also it makes it more difficult for that customer to go to a competitor. Also, make sure you are consistent in keeping in contact. Try to do it at least once a quarter. This can be accomplished by a direct mail piece, phone call or a newsletter.

  • Special offer - When you contact people in your database, have some kind of special offer for that customer to visit your store in the near future. Remember, it is less expensive to get a regular customer to buy from you again, than it is to find a new customer.


Street Fighter Action Plan

  1. Get a fishbowl on your counter to collect business cards.

  2. Create an attractive sign to let the customer know what prize they could win.

  3. Train your employees so they constantly ask your customers to drop their business cards in the fishbowl.

  4. Once you collect the business cards add those names to your data base.

  5. Make sure you keep in constant contact with the names in your data base.

  6. Create a special offer when you contact those customers.

The Street Fighter Marketing Calendar


By Jeff & Marc Slutsky 

Keeping your business name on the top of the minds of your customers and prospects on a regular basis is very important. We advise our clients to create a Street Fighter Marketing Calendar to help plan and organize promotional efforts throughout the year. Here’s what we recommend:

  1. Get A Big “Year-At-A-Glance” Type Calendar - Select a calendar where the space for each day of the month is large enough to write enough details about each promotional. Also, get the kind that works with erasable markers so you can make changes easily. Use this calendar for outlining your promotional year.

  2. Get A “Month At A Glance” Type Calendar - This calendar allows for more detail and will focus on the implementation elements of each promotion outlined in your “yearly” calendar. Types of implementation may include the details involved in mailing postcards, newsletters, brochures, samples, phone calls, visits, events, sales, or even participating in trade shows. It’s all part of the planning stage. The other part is the implementation. A specific time should be allocated for making your Street Fighter marketing ideas come to life.

  3. Develop An Idea Bank - As you get organized and create your calendar of events, list Street Fighter marketing ideas that you can use throughout the year. Start with the events or holidays that are paramount to your business. For example, businesses selling flowers, candy, jewelry and cards need to prepare far in advance of Valentine’s Day. If you know that the peak purchasing time leading up to February 14th starts in late January, you need to have your plan together two to three weeks before you want your advertising to hit.

  4. Make Impact Every Four to Six Weeks - Supplement those key marketing event windows with additional promotions so that you are consistently on the minds of your customers every four to six weeks. For example, Speaker’s Bureau is a key client list for us. To this key list of about 350 account execs, during the next six months, we’ll mail several post cards, a video CD-ROM, our new book plus make individual phone calls.

  5. Create Your Customer Hit List - Prioritize your Street Fighter customer list. Some you’ll want to contact every time, while others may only warrant a few efforts annually. In our case, we know that about half of our Speaker Bureau list have never booked us, therefore, they won’t be getting the new book, which is a more expensive promotional effort for us.

  6. Evaluate And Modify - Remember, nothing is set in stone. If something is not working be flexible enough to modify your calendar to make it work for you.


Street Fighter Action Plan

  1. Get a calendar that displays the entire year.

  2. Plan ways to contact your key customer base every 4 to 6 weeks.

  3. Use a variety of contact methods including advertising, mail, phone, fax, email, etc.

  4. Create an idea bank of programs that you can use for various events or holidays.

  5. Modify your approach and think of ways to improve your response.

For six years I wrote a nationally syndicated business column for the Knight-Ridder News Service. Here are several examples of some of those articles.  

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Article BizSmart Backyard Burger.jpg