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14 CRAIN’S CLEVELAND BUSINESS

WWW.CRAINSCLEVELAND.COM

MARCH 11 -17, 2013

SMALL BUSINESS

Benefits: Social media increases possibilities continued from PAGE 11

In the case of the Brooklyn Zoo, PMK took the Air Jordan 1 and gave it a makeover with nine exotic animal skins: stingray, elephant, boa, python, ostrich, crocodile, alligator, lizard and calf. (To avoid any trouble with the original shoe company, its logo remains.) The company generally sells shoes within the $150 to $500 range; Mr. Scott estimates it sells about 15 to 20 pairs per week. At $2,500, the Brooklyn Zoo is the most expensive shoe PMK has designed to date. Only 10 pairs were made, and they sold out in just over a day after being released at Unknwn, LeBron James’ boutique in the Miami area. People still are inquiring about the shoe, but PMK is committed to keeping it exclusive and will not produce beyond the initial 10. “I know that when we drop our next shoe it’s going to be off the Richter scale. Now people really know who PMK Customs is, things really spiked overnight for us,” he said.

A slice of celebrity

akron/canton

Celebrity endorsements have been brand components for a very long time, and Northeast Ohio businesses are no stranger to benefiting from star power. According to Elad Granot, an associate professor of marketing and the director of the executive, accelerated and mobile MBA programs at Cleveland State, unsolicited endorsements absolutely carry more weight than solicited ones. “The clutter in the marketplace has become so massive and consumers have become so jaded and also quite knowledgeable about what they’re being sold that authenticity goes a long

way,” he said. Before Twitter and Facebook, a company could better control the connection between the celebrity and the brand. Social media, however, directly connects celebrities and consumers, giving stars a more personal identity that can enhance, or in some cases detract, their value as a company spokesperson. “Today you expect, as a consumer, public figures to have lives and to communicate about these lives,” Dr. Granot said. “It’s much more complicated, but there is a lot more promise to deliver messages more organically through various spokespeople.” Northeast Ohio’s Antonio’s Pizza received one of the most organic endorsements possible: a regular customer. Drew Carey was a frequent visitor to Antonio’s restaurant in Parma during the late ’80s and early 1990s. He mentioned the pizza company in his autobiography “Dirty Jokes and Beer: Stories of the Unrefined,” would regularly talk about Antonio’s on “The Drew Carey Show” and even did a segment that took place in a mocked-up set of Antonio’s. “It was huge, that was when Parmatown was in its prime,” said Fred LoSchiavo, the owner of Antonio’s Pizza. “It was awesome; he definitely generated a crowd any time he would come up to the mall or to our restaurant.” But Mr. Carey really gave Antonio’s publicity in 2008 after his first season hosting “The Price is Right.” He ordered 43 pizzas from Antonio’s for a year-end party in California. The cost for the pizzas plus cross-country shipment totaled $1,800. Mr. LoSchiavo said Antonio’s website hits spiked from 10,000 per week to

100,000 in a day and nearly half-a-million the week after the story.

Tire Source’s new logo was designed by Kleidon & Associates.

Creating buzz

IN BRIEF

The fruits of a celebrity partnership don’t always show in web hits or sales figures, though. Bedford-based Beecology reached out to Cleveland-area native and musician Jim Brickman in 2010 to partner for a promotion during the release of his newest CD. Mr. Brickman was intrigued by the offer and the company wound up giving him 1,000 “Brick Balms,” a spinoff its popular lip balm “Buzz Balm.” Mr. Brickman gave them away for free to the first 1,000 who bought his CD from his website. “It was a very simple promotion,” said David Rzepka, owner of Beecology. “From what I recall they went pretty quick. It was a really good thing. They’ve also given away our lip balms and packs on his cruises.” The promotion didn’t spike the company’s sales significantly, but Beecology picked up a new distributor as a result of the partnership. According to Mr. Rzepka, Beecology’s product caught the attention of MarketShare Distribution, by way of one of its clients Greenhill Music, which also partners with Mr. Brickman. As a result, the distributor offered to bring Beecology to gift and specialty stores all over the country. As for PMK, despite its 10 minutes of fame, it still will continue to produce only about 10 to 20 pairs of a particular shoe — like it did with the Brooklyn Zoo. “People are waiting for our next drop so they can cop that one because they know we put hot stuff out there,” CEO Mr. Scott said. ■

■ WHAT THEY’RE ALL ABOUT: Tire Source’s five locally owned auto service centers have a new identity, designed by Akron marketing communications firm Kleidon & Associates. Under the same ownership, the new look aims to help consumers better understand Tire Source’s offerings, according to owners Drew Dawson and Tom White. The company’s new trademark, logo and tagline — “Neighborhood Car Care” — strives to communicate the core message, while reading more clearly at any size. The new symbol is a stylized wrench within a circle, alluding to the range of auto maintenance and repair services available at the tire retailers.

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■ UNDER NEW OWNERSHIP: Sims-Lohman Fine Kitchens and Granite in February acquired the cabinet and countertop division of Babin Building Solutions. Sims-Lohman currently serves the Cincinnati, Columbus, Dayton, Indianapolis and Lafayette, Ind., markets, and this acquisition allows the company to provide service to the Cleveland market. Sims-Lohman will continue to operate the former Babin showroom at 4101 Royalton Road in Broadview Heights. The Elyria showroom at 5240 Detroit Road will re-open in March after the completion of renovations. It also is evaluating options for an East Side showroom, which would be targeted to open this summer. ■ A LOFTY IDEA: Salon Lofts has targeted the Greater Cleveland market for an expansion of its salon concept, which gives beauty professionals the location, tools and support to operate their own businesses. The Columbus-based company currently has 31 locations nationwide, with more than 700 loft owners operating independent businesses within the stores. Loft owners rent space and are given access to software tools and platforms for scheduling, marketing and growing their businesses. Two Cleveland locations opened in late 2012, one in Mentor and the second in Woodmere. The following locations are slated to open in April 2013: Shaker Town Center; Corporate Park of Beachwood; and Acme Montrose Plaza in Bath. The Cleveland locations will have on average 23 lofts each. All Cleveland locations have a limited level of availability for loft space. Cleveland is one of five markets in which Salon Lofts operates. The others include Columbus and Cincinnati; Tampa Bay; and Indianapolis. Including Cleveland, the company expects to open 15 to 20 new stores in 2013.

Crain's Cleveland Business  

March 11 -17, 2013 issue

Crain's Cleveland Business  

March 11 -17, 2013 issue

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