The third episode of Comedy Central's TV series Nathan For You opens with business "expert" Nathan Fielder pitching a bizarre and borderline insulting marketing idea to a pet store called Pet Mania.
Pet Mania owner Jennifer Berardini historically has advertised via traditional methods, including placing ads online, in print mail, and in the local newspaper. Fielder proposes breaking new ground and advertising somewhere no pet store owner would ever expect: a pet cemetery.
"When someone has a pet and the pet dies, they want to get a new one, so I would think the best place for you to advertise would be at a pet cemetery," Fielder says. The problem, he explains, is that most pet cemeteries don't allow advertisements.
But Fielder, of course, has a workaround for that. There's no rule against using the gravestones themselves to market to mourners! Berardini resists the idea at first, but agrees when Fielder promises the ad will be "tasteful."
After burying a pet fly "Buzz"--and agreeing to pay the cemetery owner an additional $2,000 for an oversized gravestone--Fielder unveils the advertisement on a six-foot slap of solid granite featuring Pet Mania's address and phone number. There's even a promotion offering a 15 percent discount to customers who mention the ad.
"It's certainly going to bring people into the store," Berardini says, after nearly keeling over at the sheer size of the gravestone.
As usual, the main question is: Why would any small business owner agree to such a crazy idea? Fielder addressed this question recently in a Reddit Ask-Me-Anything thread.
In general, he explained most reality show participants know they won't get all the details about what's going to happen so that the camera can capture authentic emotions. "Often in the casting process we'll encounter business owners that have lots of specific questions about the show and exactly what we're planning to do with them," Fielder wrote.
"Because going into a shoot we don't want participants knowing any of that--or that it's a comedy show (as this would take away from them acting naturally)--we usually end up avoiding these more controlling/protective personality types, as the chances they're going to get very upset by an experience they aren't prepared for is much higher. And the goal is never to get people upset."
As you've probably figured out by now, the goal isn't to help small business owners, either.
In another segment from episode three, Fielder devises a strategy to help a maid service speed up the amount of time it takes to clean clients' homes. If two maids take two hours, Fielder reasons, 40 maids could clean a house in six minutes. Again, the owner is hesitant at first, explaining that no customer has ever asked for a "turbo clean" before, but Fielder brings the idea home with a quick one-liner.
"No one knows to ask for something that hasn't been invented yet."
Fielder charters a bus to transport 40 maids to the job, where they manage to clean a one bedroom apartment in just over eight minutes. Never mind the cost of the operation, the important thing is that the customer is happy.
"It hasn't looked this good since I moved in," the owner says.
Turbocharging your business just takes some simple math. For more of Nathan's sage business advice, stay tuned for another recap next week.