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Susan Ann Darley: Creative Marketing a Perfect Fit for Fashion Giant Kenneth Cole

One of the most brilliant marketing ideas ever executed was by fashion giant Kenneth Cole when he was just a startup.

He wanted to open a shoe company but had limited funds. He knew to move quickly as new companies can quickly run out of cash, some even before they have the chance to conduct business.

Because it was easier to get credit from factories in Europe that needed the business instead of American banks that didn’t, he lined up factories, went to Europe and returned with a collection of 40,000 pairs of shoes.

Next dilemma: How do you sell them? He could get a room at the New York Hilton and be one of 1,100 other companies selling shoes or get a fancy showroom close by, which would cost a fortune.

This innovative entrepreneur decided there was a better way. He asked a friend if he could borrow his 40-foot trailer truck. His friend said yes but good luck getting permission to park it as the city only gives parking permits to production companies shooting full-length motion pictures or utility companies.

He went directly to the stationery store and changed his company letterhead to read Kenneth Cole Productions Inc. and the next day applied for a permit to shoot a full-length film titled The Birth of a Shoe Company. He then painted Kenneth Cole Productions on the side of the truck and parked it across form the Hilton the day of the shoe show and opened for business.

Two doormen, compliments of Mayor Ed Koch, welcomed guests into the 40-foot truck furnished with director, camera and models as actresses. Did I mention shoes? In 2½ days, they sold 40,000 pairs.

In an interview with Newswire.FM, Cole says his “company serves as a reminder that the best solution is usually not the most expensive but almost always the most creative.”

This once-hungry young entrepreneur filled with a passionate dream, the courage to take a risk and the imagination to think creatively built a company that has been included in Forbes’200 Best Small Companies four times with a reported net worth in 2012 of $100 million.

Kenneth Cole Productions Inc. is a socially conscious company that publicly supports AIDS education and research, is a fur-free clothing manufacturer and generously donates to organizations devoted to ending poverty and homelessness each year.

One person, one company helping to make the world a better place. What is your dream, and what are you willing to risk?

Susan Ann Darley is a creativity coach and writer of marketing material for businesses, entrepreneurs and artists. Click here for more information, or contact her at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) or 805.845.3036. Click here to read previous columns. The opinions expressed are her own.

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