How to Make a Million Bucks (one idea at least)

The past few weeks has been stressful. I’ve dealt with finding a new job, packing our home, trying to find a new home for our cat, finishing up projects, etc. It doesn’t sound like much, but I’m kinda stressed.

To top it off, I’m going to give up on an idea that I think someone can use to make a bundle. Right now, I just don’t have the ability to execute it. But, for someone who’s hungrier than I am, this could make a pretty penny.

A few months ago I was reading Business 2.0 (the magazine, not online), and noticed a very short little blurb about a painter who painted a Target rooftop with a bright red Target logo on it (with a white background). I thought, this guy (and Target) is super smart! Brilliant in fact! Paint the rooftops with advertisements so that when someone searches Google and finds a map of the location, your ad comes up with the map! I love it.

Target Google Maps

So, I told my wife about it. I told her there was something bigger in that little blurb than what I just read. There’s a bigger business plan than painting rooftops.


She said, well, why don’t you do it?

Well, honey, I’m not a painter… but I could very easily be a broker. Which leads me to the idea. Rather than advertising on your own big building, why not be the broker, and get other companies to advertise on someone else’s big building.

Materials Needed

  1. The timing of the satellites who are selling their images to Google, MSN, Yahoo, etc.
  2. An exclusivity contract that spells out what you’ll do for the building owner (you’ll sell the space and give them money from the deal)
  3. A marketing gunslinger (you?)
  4. A salesman (you?)
  5. Instructions

    Go get about 6 exclusive contracts with building owners or managers that say that only you can sell their rooftops. When they ask why they would want to do that, you tell them you have a very fast way to get their money for them, but you’ll need 6 exclusive contracts before you’ll activate it. When they ask why they should do this, you simply ask them if they’re making any money off their rooftop, or if they are paying for it to be painted.

    Once you have 6 in the same area (I was going to do Seattle), you press release it to death and then wait about 1-2 days. Then, put the spaces up on eBay and keep pushing the PR and marketing hard. All the while, make sure you’re still gathering contracts because this should blow up big pretty quickly.

    Why wait till you have 6 contracts? Because anyone else could do this too, and if you tell people about this too early (like the other 4000ish people who will read this before the end of the month), you’ve lost your marketshare to someone who has connections or a better marketer. But, once you gain a foothold in the area/industry, you’re starting to gain momentum.

    Brilliant! But why aren’t you doing it?

    Well, I’m kinda stressed out at the moment doing other things. But, I didn’t want this idea to get wasted entirely. Someone will do it, and I hope it’s you. Why? Because it needs to be done, and if you don’t do it, someone else will.

    This one is for free.

    Other resources:

    [tags]target, google, maps, advertising, ad, rooftops, roof[/tags]

Nate Ritter lives in the Pacific Northwest (U.S.), popularized the #hashtag and creates web applications for a living. He also does miles and point hacking to enable cheap travel for his family. More here →

8 Comments on "How to Make a Million Bucks (one idea at least)"

  1. Amber Ideagirl says:

    Nate, you’re a genius. However, the target on top of that building seems eerie. And I don’t know if you could sell the concept in Iran right now. But how about crop circle advertising?

    Also sand art advertising….

    How I wish I owned a decent lawn. Or a good beach. I could rent it out and use the proceeds to fund third world development.

    Or perhaps we could bring the solution to the people. Africa has a lot of land… we could start small, maybe with dirt circles – and make enough money to drill wells and start irrigation, and then sell crop circle advertising. Voila! Economic independence! The world sings in perfect harmony…

  2. nate says:

    That’s great! I really like the sand art because it’s not destroying actual crops that could be used to feed those 3rd world countries.

    I think the biggest issue is the timing of the satellites. Once people know that, it’s advertising craziness time.

  3. john says:

    that’s totally retarded. No one will advertise that way because there’s no way to measure the effect. Advertising is about delivering measurable results. You can’t convince a business to spend $ on shot-in-the-dark advertising.

  4. nate says:

    Really? Is that why all the big names don’t spend money on radio, tv, and newspaper ads?

    Wow, I must be missing something.

    Exit last 100 years.

  5. Amber says:

    John has a point, advertisers do like measurable results, and so do board members. However, a lot of times when we’ve utilized all standard media options and still need to meet revenue goals, sometimes we will choose an advertising method that isn’t easily measured. For example, the impact of word of mouth advertising or guerilla marketing can be hard to quantify. In that case, we settle for monitoring an increase of sales or site visits after we launch non-traditional advertising.

  6. nate says:

    Oh, yea. I don’t doubt that they like measurable results. My comment was to the point that there is plenty of money in advertising that does not come back with measurable results. It’s not that metrics-based isn’t better. Of course it is.

    “retarded”? Not at all. There is plenty of media advertising that does not have measurable results other than the hope that a particular advertising blitz corresponds to a change in sales numbers directly after that blitz occurs. It’s not quite as measurable, but simply looking at traditional advertising shows that advertisers DO in fact use these methods.

    Thanks for the comment Amber.

  7. Ann Jordan says:

    I like the idea to a point, but I also don’t like the idea of having roof tops look like junkyards from up in the air. Don’t people see enough ads everywhere? Well, I guess it was just a matter of time. Pretty soon even regular landscaping and trees will be used to advertise. It won’t be pretty. In the end, I suppose money is more important to folks then trying to maintain some type of balance. Didn’t somebody once say, “Moderation is the key…”

    Anyhow, my newest blog is a great place to advertise such a new endeavor. It’s called, A Million Blogs – A Million Bucks. It’s my attempt at earning enough to retire in a few years and pay for my kid’s college education without having to paint rooftops. :)

  8. nate says:

    Good point Ann. Well, they don’t have to look junky from the air for long. By knowing the satellite timing, you could just paint it, then repaint over it once the satellite has gone over. Or, you could just do it in tarps and not paint the roof at all. I wouldn’t want to dirty up what we already see, and the point is just for the internet. An easier route would be for Google to just change the files on their servers…. but that would negate the big perceived cost that you’d put forth to get something done (thus the big cost you could charge).

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