'Two great tastes that taste great together'

The unlikely (and smart) pairing of local businesses and artists

Mon, 01/14/2013 - 3:15pm

    ROCKLAND — Guerrilla Marketing seems like one of those hipster terms, but it's been around since 1984, coined by author Jay Conrad Levison. It is all about promoting a product or service through unconventional, low-cost means. Several Rockland businesses have been successfully using one of its principles, called fusion marketing (whether they realize it or not) by sharing their space with artists/craftspeople.

    Sweets and Meats Market, a bakery and deli in Rockland, for example, set up shelf space to feature handmade Trillium Soaps. Peter DiGirolamo, owner of Trillium Soaps, said that Sweets and Meats owner Julia McClure approached him several years ago when both shops opened to see if he wanted to include some of his soaps in her deli. "It was totally her idea and to me it sounded kind of crazy," said DiGirolamo, "but it worked. We're right next door. People can buy from us if we're open. But we're only open four days a week, so when we're closed, they come over here and buy some. It takes an extra step out of shopping for people who are already here in the cafe."

    "And then I get to come over here and get lunch," said DiGirolamo, picking up a coffee and scone.

    "That's how he pays for lunch--from the sales of his soaps," laughed Rick Solomon, co-manager of Sweets and Meats.

    Sweets and Meats also features local artists' artwork on its walls, something Cafe Miranda in Rockland does as well. Last month, Belfast artist Eric Leppanen worked out an arrangement with Kerry Alterio, owner of Cafe Miranda to feature his artwork on the restaurant's walls. "I thought Eric's work would really fit in here. I looked at it online and it blew me away," said Alterio."I love the three-dimensional aspect of it and the really cool thing is that if you want to touch it, Eric says, 'Go touch it. Get some energy out of it.' "

    "And I love this restaurant," said Leppanen. "My parents were always regulars here. It's got that high energy, diverse clientele going on. . ."

    "And quirky charm," prompted Alterio.

    "Yes, quirky charm. Sometimes galleries can be intimidating for people, so when you're able to sit at your own table and look up at the artwork, you're more relaxed and can get a better appreciation for it," said Leppanen.

    In yet another unlikely pairing of two local businesses using the "fusion" concept,  all four Historic Inns of Rockland, Maine teamed up with FIORE Artisan Olive Oils And Vinegars, also in Rockland, when inn owners began offering samples of FIORE's olive oils and vinegars in every guest room. "The FIORE/Historic Inns of Rockland alliance has been hugely successful," said Frank Isganitis, co-owner of the LimeRock Inn.  "I can assure you that our guests visit their store too and make purchases.  We've seensome guests spend several hundreds of dollars for holiday gifts and for other occasions. They really love it."

    More small to medium businesses in the Midcoast could take advantage of this fusion concept, as a way to not only mututally generate wider exposure, but to also solidify tighter business and personal connections — the very thing that draws countless people to this area. It's not just the shops and restaurants they come for. It's that sense of "community" that provides an irresistible draw.  "We've always been community-minded since the day we opened, whether it's working with young folks or charitable organizations, and I often say, 'it's all about the local'," said Alterio. "The thing is, this is nothing new. It's the way it always used to be. In Maine, I think we're all a little less removed from the way it used to be."

    Almost every business in the Midcoast has a potential fusion partner or a potential tie-in. And every artist and craftsperson has a need for visibility. What's that old Reese's Peanut Butter Cups' slogan in the '70s and '80s? "Two great tastes that taste great together." Work it.

    For more guerrilla marketing ideas check out: tweakyourbiz.com

    Kay Stephens can be reached at news@penbaypilot.com.