This weekend was just delightful. Perfect fall weather; crystal clear with a bit of a bite in the air, but not so much that jackets were needed until the sun went down. As we turn from the carefree days of summer to the more mundane fall and winter months, I tend to look at business a bit more seriously.
Part of any good businessperson’s repertoire is seeing what others are doing that is successful and finding a way to capitalize on it, make it your own and spread the word. One of the most popular of the recent crazes is the croissant donut. The “cronut” began in New York and immediately sparked a mass craving for the flaky pastry.
Like all good crazes, it is a feel-good story that blends an entrepreneur, a “new” item and good public relations spin. My favorite of these, and the one that I think will go down in history as the best marketing ploy of all time, the one that should win Phineas T. Barnum Lifetime Achievement Award for chutzpah, is the Pet Rock.
I remember as a kid wanting one because the other kids had one. My mother thought it was absurd and, of course, she was correct. But that doesn’t change the fact that a good PR strategy and unique packaging leads to product sales and someone making a ton of money.
These days it is easier than ever to hit a home run in the marketing/PR world of absurd products. The advent of Facebook and blogging has made the whole world a marketplace for mashups of “new” ideas and fun products. For just $100 you can build a website to sell whatever product you can create. If you build a Facebook page for your product and find a way to make people “like” you, your product can be seen globally and suddenly you find yourself shipping products all over the place.
For example, there’s Sockdreams.com, just in case you need to buy some sock garters or petticoats. Should your knight need some new armor, there’s TheKnightArmor.com.
The reason I bring this up is that our local donut house, DK’s Donuts on Santa Monica Boulevard, has created the ‘Onut. It’s a flaky pastry filled with 21 different flavors of pastry creams and delights. By capitalizing on the cronut craze and making their own unique variety, they have been able to widen their market wedge.
I’ve been going to DK’s for years. Usually it is an early morning run for a bran muffin and some coffee, but this past Sunday I stopped by just to grab a quick coffee. What I found was a store that had a line out the door at 3:30 in the afternoon.
The crowd made me curious. This is not a traditional time for a donut shop to be busy, so I was perplexed. While I stood around sipping my coffee I watched as people picked out their favorite ‘Onut. Nutella is a popular choice, as is the maple bacon. I saw grandmothers buying a dozen of these pastry delights, which at $5 apiece is no small dessert, presumably for their Sunday family dinner.
I asked the charming young lady behind the counter if this is normal and she said it has become that way thanks to the publicity and their Facebook presence. People can’t come during the week to get their ‘Onuts, so they have to come on the weekend from as far away as Montebello. To pull clients from that far away and to charge a premium price for it is quite an accomplishment for what would traditionally be a local purchase.
But that is the value of making something that is unique. By creating a “new” product and generating buzz around it with good publicity and then promoting it on a social network like Facebook, the recipe for success is fulfilled.
David Pisarra is a Los Angeles divorce and child custody lawyer specializing in father’s and men’s rights with the Santa Monica firm of Pisarra & Grist. He welcomes your questions and comments. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (310) 664-9969. You can follow him on Twitter @davidpisarra