By Barry Vogel – Executive Director of MERA & President of the Ultimate Edge

OSWEGO, NY – At the Ultimate Edge, we have dedicated Saturday’s to connect with our customers in new ways.

For the last few weeks, I have been talking about, writing about, and interviewing about what I have referred to as MERA’s ‘Back to Basics’ initiative. B2B is all about revitalizing and freshening up a concept as old as the car audio industry itself. I am referring to the parking lot promotions that many veterans of the 80’s and 90’s are very familiar with.

The parking lot began to fill up early for the Ultimate Edge Saturday event.

The parking lot began to fill up early for the Ultimate Edge Saturday event.

We are now 3 Saturday’s into our plan. The first event on April 25th really got the ball rolling. Just through our local and word of mouth campaign work we had a busy Saturday afternoon. Dominicks, a local restaurant set up a cooker in our parking lot and at the end of the day they had served over 200 pieces of great tasting chicken.

Our second and third Saturday events were hampered by heavy rain – always a possibility with parking lot events. The second Saturday event featured a car wash by the cheerleaders of Oswego College. Clad in shorts and T-shirts the girls washed lots of cars – some in the rain.

Our third event, featuring a Girl Scout bake event, was a total wash out, Strong winds and a heavy downpour all day washed out the event. The rain lead to virtually no traffic so we finished up a big job we had in the bay.

Just three weeks into our Saturday program we are definitely seeing new faces in the store throughout the week. That gives the staff and me a real sense that this concept will work.

“I am definitely practicing what I preach to MERA members as the Executive director of the organization” Barry Vogel as told to 12voltnews.com.

Here is what we did:
1) We started getting the word out that on Saturday’s there would be a place for car enthusiasts to hang out. An area will be provided to wash cars. Hang out. Socialize. That’s it.
2) It was posted on our web site, on MySpace and signs were posted at our shop as well as our outdoor message board.
3) We approached area independent businesses about forming a cooperative effort. We invited them to come to our business to promote their business, and we would do the same at their business. Because the businesses we approached were totally unrelated to ours, there was no threat to anyone. No money would change hands. All we were looking for is activity in our parking lot. We received a commitment from a restaurant to sell barbeque chicken dinners, and a candy/ice cream shop to sell ice cream.
4) We contacted some of our core customers to invite them to come down, and bring friends. When they asked; “Is it a sale?” NO! “Is it a sound off?” NO! “What’s it about?” “Hanging out with friends, looking at some cool vehicles, and just chillin’.”

Cooks from Dominick's Restaurant put over 200 Chickens on the smoker.

Cooks from Dominick's Restaurant put over 200 Chickens on the smoker.

Please allow me to reiterate that we spent not one dime on this. There was significant time and effort spent mostly in networking and talking to other businesses, but no money! It has been a long time since I have been this excited about a promotion. I truly believe that this can be built upon, and become a “stimulus package” for our industry. I am not excited because of the dollars I made today. I am excited because I perceive that a continued effort can revitalize consumer interest in our products and services. This is social networking with a purpose. Face to face relationship building. What a concept! It is too soon to tell if this will accomplish my ultimate goal – Bring fresh faces and new interest to core car audio products. But as beginnings go, I’ll take it! The traditional “sale” is dead. Long live the “social promotion”.

Barry, MERA, and 12VoltNews.com are looking to hear about your Saturday Parking lot event.