“We haven’t the money, so we’ve got to think” is a famous quote ascribed to Sir Ernest Rutherford, the New Zealand born physicist who laid the groundwork for the development of nuclear physics.
More recently and in a marketing context, it should perhaps be re-ascribed to Jo Malone who recalled the clever and extremely cheap stunt she used when launching her brand in the USA saying, “When you are an entrepreneur and you have no money you have to think and you have to turn on a sixpence.”
Following the success of her first store in the Walton Street, an early fan Dawn Mello, president of luxe Manhattan retailer Bergdorf Goodman, offered a deal to open a concession in the Fifth Avenue store in 1998.
Speaking to an audience at the Cheltenham Literature Festival she explained she had arrived with only “1,000 bags and product” and real no marketing budget. “I sat there in a hotel room thinking: ‘I am going to fail, what am I going to do?”
It was time to start thinking.
Luckily, she and husband, Gary Wilcox, came up with an ingenious idea about how to create some noise without actually spending any money on advertising. “We called it walking the dogs.”
Malone contacted 50 people she knew through friends and asked them to take one of her bags for a “walk” every time they left their homes and went out and around the fashionable districts with her bags every time.
A simple strategy that paid off.
“These bags started to be recognised in really savvy parts of New York City, so when we opened the store people thought there was already a store somewhere. There wasn’t. There were empty bags wandering around New York City.”
A year later, Estée Lauder bought the brand. Malone stayed on as creative director until 2006, when she stepped down after recovering from breast cancer.
She launched her second perfume business, Jo Loves, in 2011 but didn’t need to rely on an empty bas stunt to gain publicity.
And the moral is if you can’t out-spend your competition, out-think them