Diving for Dollars

Diving for Dollars

So is jumping out of planes really a good way to promote a business? And would such dramatic tactics work for other companies? SmallBiz asked two marketing gurus, Geoff Vuleta, chief executive of Fahrenheit 212, and Beau Fraser, managing director of The Gate Worldwide, for their take on this unusual marketing strategy and what lessons other entrepreneurs can learn from it.

Vuleta: Stealing a marketing idea from another business, in this case the U.S. Army, is "a great way to stop being myopic about your strategy," says Vuleta. And pushing the skydiving imagery in its human resource seminar helps brand the company more deeply. Selection.com offers the seminar, which uses skydiving as a team-building exercise, at HR conventions nationally, emphasizing trust and knowing your team. "This is an amazing metaphor for the business," says Vuleta. "It really helps clarify what Selection.com is and connect it to the skydiving." But Vuleta doesn't think the marketing partnership is scalable, because the Selection.com banners flying in the sky at a football game won't necessarily resonate with viewers. "I don't think that this is going to help make Selection.com go from a $10 million business to a $100 million business," he says.

Fraser: Fraser also applauds the out-of-the-box thinking, but he warns that just because a unique marketing strategy works in one category doesn't mean it will work in yours. While jumping out of planes is a good, cheap way to build brand awareness—Hart says the Selection.com name was seen by 13 million people at events last year—and works well in the short term, the thousands of attendees at a NASCAR event who see the Selection.com banner may not be the decision-makers that a background check company is targeting. Unless there are other educational materials readily available, people still may not know what Selection.com is, says Fraser. To really see if this is effective, he suggests asking people as they're leaving a skydiving event what Selection.com does. Still, allows Fraser, "It's working for him. This is one of the perks of being small and entrepreneurial."

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