The Latest Web Idea: A Virtual Fleet
November 23, 1999
The Web makes online marketers extremely nimble. Unburdened by the bricks and mortar investment which limits traditional marketers, these virtual shops can offer goods at lower prices and spend more on promotion than on equipment lease payments.
Of course, this is also a double-edged sword. Since the barriers of entry (coughing up some serious money to invest in infrastructure) are gone, every Tom, Dick, and Harry can get into the business easily. Which means online marketers have to get very good at standing out above the crowd.
One company has come up with a novel way to do that: A virtual truck fleet.
The Wall Street Journal reports that New York-based BigStar Entertainment, a start-up selling video tapes and DVDs online, has 23 delivery trucks plastered with its name cruising the streets of the Big Apple every day.
Yet the trucks are not owned by BigStar. They don't even haul BigStar products. In the back, you'll find general freight which the fleet owner has been contracted to haul for other companies.
BigStar took the ruse even further. It trained the truck drivers to answer questions about BigStar's business and hand out coupons, even though they don't work for the company.
The campaign has worked so well, BigStar is planning to expand its fake fleet to other cities (Dallas, San Francisco, and Los Angeles) and increase total vehicles to 203.
If you thought trucks were only useful for actually hauling freight, think again.