February 1, 2023

Dona Abbott

Leading The Charge In [Industry]

How to Market Your Small Business With an Event

We have all seen the news stories involving something happening at a local small business. Every news bulletin needs a “fluffy animal” story at the end and they all look hard to find one. Most small businesses can create an event that will capture the attention of news outlets to some degree. And let me stress here that local papers are the easiest to get on board and the most effective for local small businesses.

I remember in the 70’s there was a medium size business in Sydney called Dick Smith Electronics. Dick started as a small operation fixing radios and small electrical goods. He grew to a shop or two or three or more and was doing quite nicely as a medium sized business. In 1979 Evel Knievel had visited Australia to jump buses on his motor cycle. Dick Smith thought it might be fun to see how many motor cycles he could jump with a double Decker bus!

The story goes that he hired the Sydney Cricket ground for a day, lined up fifteen motorcycles, got an old Double Decker bus and lined up Hans Tholstrup, an adventurer of the day to drive it. At the last minute Dick decided to jump on board as conductor. In subsequent interviews some years later Dick has said the whole event cost around $1500 which even in 1980 wasn’t a huge amount. Needless to say it made every 6pm news service and became a part of the Dick Smith story.

He pulled a couple of other practical joke type stunts like floating an fake ice berg into Sydney Harbour and while everyone was enjoying his antics on the news and in the papers his business was growing and he sold it to Woolworths for a reported $20 million.