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posted: 11/5/2012 7:00 AM

Atypical promotional approach works for search firm

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Like most of us, Russ Riendeau is a small-business owner, senior partner at East Wing Group Inc., a retained search firm in Barrington.

But Riendeau doesn't do things like most of us do. He also is a musician, composer, motivational speaker, and creator of both traditional and audio books who combines these additional passions with a deep well of entrepreneurial energy that helps make East Wing successful.

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For example:

• Riendeau will happily send you a copy of his firm's new brochure -- or you can read it yourself, online, page-by-page at www.eastwingsearchgroup.com. Take a look: East Wing's home page is a brochure.

"The old site needed revamping," Riendeau explains. "There was way too much text -- and no video." Now the East Wing website includes a two-minute video pitch -- black-and-white for authenticity and to pay homage to Apple's highly successful graphic approach.

However, the primary reason the video is on the East Wing site is because "Search engines like video," Riendeau says.

The video works. "When people call us, they don't talk about the brochure. They say, 'I saw your video.'"

• Riendeau's most recent venture is an audio book. (Click the audio book on the brochure cover.) The book, "First, Hide the Poison Arrows," focuses on the sales and leadership tenets that are the core of East Wing Group's executive search business, and is available at iTunes and Amazon.

There was no book manuscript. "I wrote an outline and went into the booth and recorded the book spontaneously," says Riendeau. He also recorded a soundtrack that is available separately from Eyecatcher Press Music, a Riendeau holding that with the word "music" out of the corporate name also has published Riendeau's books.

• Music CDs work, too, at least those produced by Eyecatcher Press Music. The music, written and performed by Riendeau, ranges from classical piano and guitar to folk rock and jazz, and includes audio soundscapes. (Click Soundscapes.)

Riendeau uses music CDs primarily as promotional giveaways, a result of research that, he says, indicates companies seeking to build brand recognition with giveaways fail with coffee mugs and similar items.

"Over 70 percent of the stuff you get at a trade show is in the trash bin by the time you get to your car," Riendeau says. "But music CDs are an exception. People keep -- and listen to -- the CDs.

"(The CDs) have a high perceived value, are associated with positive feelings, and people remember where they came from."

Riendeau also sells his CDs to noncompeting businesses as "a unique gift for clients" that can be especially effective with, for example, a sticker that has your company ID on the package.

Riendeau clearly thinks differently about small business promotion. He's also successful. The interesting discussion might be whether a version of Riendeau's approach could work for our businesses, too.

• Jim Kendall welcomes comments at JKendall@121MarketingResources.com

2012 121 Marketing Resources Inc.

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