Much of today’s marketing to college students and millennials has been centered on leveraging the latest technologies to forge connections. While some marketers have found success with that approach, Bradley Taylor, owner of Sssdude-nutz Doughnut Shop in Minneapolis, is taking a much different, hands on approach.
Taylor’s doughnut shop is located in Dinkytown, an area almost entirely populated by students attending the nearby University of Minnesota, where Taylor himself attended school. In order to have success in this area, any new business must ingratiate themselves with the college population. In the past, many businesses have resorted to the traditional methods of handing out flyers, or hosting student events at their stores. Taylor has taken that approach a step further, managing to have some fun with it at the same time.
As the weather in Minneapolis warms up and students begin to take their party activities outside, Taylor makes his move. He hops on his tricycle (yes, that’s not a typo) and cruises around different parties, handing out sample doughnut holes from his shop, and pausing to have a little fun as well. “I’m out in these streets with everyone, shot-gunning beers, that’s something other business lack,” Taylor said. “People are like, ‘You’re the guy who runs the shop?’ and it’s just like yeah, I’m just here partying with you.”
As juvenile as that may sound, this marketing tactic allows Taylor to form a more personal relationship between the college students of the area and his brand. “Dinkytown has a great history of independent retailers that people think are nowadays going away,” said John Stavig, director of the Gary S. Holmes Center for Entrepreneurship. “Being creative and coming up with guerilla-style tactics fits into what would catch the attention of the students. It supports the perception that they aren’t a big chain. It shows their brand is very unique and distinct.”
This past year, Taylor even went so far as to sponsor his own party for University of Minnesota students. He worked together with the authorities from the city of Dinkytown to ensure that he could hold a safe and fun event for students, without fear of penalty. This further forged the bond he had created with the college students.
Taylor’s unique approach to marketing his shop is proof that there are multiple ways to achieve a marketing goal. The key is to know one’s audience and work to establish a legitimate relationship with it. Sssdude-nutz Doughnut Shop seems well on its way to doing so in Minneapolis.
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