Talk about creative expression – we are living in the middle of a vast creative entrepreneurship where unique ideas drive business. When it comes to direct marketing, there seems to be no limit to where ideas can take you. Think of dinner in a box direct-shipped to the home, curbside grocery pick-ups, pizza portals and pop-up fresh food cafes. Even farmers markets, U-pick operations and farm-gate retail outlets are launching new and innovative marketing techniques to create a following and build a solid customer base.

What is it about your own unique operation – the “U in You” – that sparks creativity to market your product or service with an entrepreneurial blast? Location, product, customer spirit, events, cooperative sales opportunities, tourism, social media influencers and demographics all play a part in developing successful creative marketing ideas.

Before you get swept away in dreaming up the next great idea, though, anchor yourself to a few important components of any marketing strategy. What is the overall benefit to the customer? What effect will the strategy have on my business, both in the short-term and long-range? Do I have the capacity and resources to sustain such a project over a given period of time?

Great creative marketing doesn’t always happen overnight (although these days it appears to). Often the successful ideas are products of lead-up research and testing. Pop-ups may spontaneously occur and offer insight into consumer trends, but should they represent your entire marketing plan? You have to ask yourself about the risk and reward of short-term gain versus building a loyal customer base which follows you, believes in your brand and is willing to adapt to a changing sales environment. If you develop a fresh food café or launch a food truck, but still retain a farmers market point of sale, will you dilute your resources, or are you prepared with product, labor, and finances to support both enterprises?

Labor is one of the most pressing issues with unique marketing strategies. Owners and managers must look at employee availability both from the back-end (production, harvesting and processing phases) as well as front-end distribution and sales. Do you have enough well-trained employees to staff your direct marketing site as well as handle outside sales and special events? Be careful about expecting employees to do a lot of multi-tasking or work outside regular hours – unless you’ve proven that this works well for your team, it is the breaking point for many great entrepreneurial ideas.

What about sufficient financial resources not only to launch but sustain a new project? Are you prepared for the unexpected? What if you need more product, supplies, people, trucks, equipment or packaging? Are your supply chains strong enough to provide back-up when and where you may need it? If so, how long will it take?

Overall, what is the benefit to the consumer? Is the new product, service or special marketing strategy something that will surprise, delight and satisfy your key target audiences? You have to ask yourself what your customers will gain from this experience, and if it will lead to increased sales and repeat visits.

What seemed like impossible marketing strategies just a short while ago represent the norm in today’s marketplace. When you understand what is unique and great about your business and create ways to market it, you give yourself a leg up on the competition and carve out a prominent role in your industry. But in doing so, you must also evaluate and accept the risks and rewards that go along with a spontaneous creative project.

Today’s entrepreneurs have shown it is not only possible, but rewardingly probable, to sell the “U in You” and reap the rewards!

The above information is provided for educational purposes and should not be substituted for professional business and legal counseling.