For Bryan and Jordan Silverman, brothers and co-founders of Star Toilet Paper, inspiration came from the place many people get their best ideas--the bathroom. During the summer of 2010, the two brothers embarked upon their journey to bring advertisements, like those from the applications on one's phone, to life in physical form via toilet paper. Based on the notion that many are looking to read while in the restroom, the brothers recognized this untapped opportunity, inevitably bringing their concept to market in December 2011, developing the company's Facebook and Twitter presence in the process.At the beginning, the Silverman brothers engaged in cold calls to attract clients. "Because our product is unique, there is often an initial hesitation in business owners' minds that they do not want to market via our platform," says Bryan Silverman, co-founder. "However, once they realize the captive audience, mobile capabilities, reach, and frequency we can offer, we are able to work with one another." Starting at the local level, it took the brothers two-and-a-half months to acquire their first client. However, within 14-16 months, Star Toilet Paper obtained nearly 70 clients, proving the concept's viability and gaining more distribution along the way.
The journey began with seven local venues, including bars, restaurants, and dance studios, across Michigan, North Carolina, and New York, of which some are still clients today. However, as the concept gains momentum, Star Toilet Paper has begun setting its sights on national and regional venues, including San Jose City College, for which it's currently filling advertising slots. Venues receive a number of benefits, such as free toilet paper for the agreed upon amount of time--generally 12 months. For San Jose City College, the 12-month supply of toilet paper will save the institution about $15,000. Star Toilet Paper also gives each venue a free ad on every roll that can be used differently for the type of venue. Colleges can use their ad as a branding message or to let students know what is going on around campus, while stadiums may offer coupons for concessions or merchandise.
"We can partner up with the venues to leverage their built-in marketing connections and actually profit share so the venue can turn what was an expense into a revenue stream," adds Silverman.
The paper is custom-manufactured for each venue, including everything from simple branding messages with a company name or slogan, to ads that can connect to social media via QR codes and SMS, to coupons that can be redeemed and used right on people's smartphones. Each roll features six companies, and Star Toilet Paper guarantees that none of the featured companies are director competitors with the given venue. Currently, the company's two biggest capabilities are QR codes and SMS text messaging, as these tools allow consumers to interact and engage immediately.
"This allows companies to not only capture the attention of a potential consumer, but also have the customer interact with their brand and learn more about them," Silverman emphasizes. "On our end, it helps prove the effectiveness of our product as we are able to track scans and text opt-ins, as well as tweak the offerings to make it as effective as possible."
One client, The Blue Note Grill in Durham, NC, has seen record-breaking dessert sales since advertising with Star Toilet Paper. The Jazz BBQ bar and grill has seen an increase in dessert sales, which their coupon advertised with a QR code. The Blue Note Grill, which typically sees sales slow down during the summer, has, week-over-week, also seen a nearly 75 percent increase in restaurant sales overall, truly representing the power and meaning of Star Toilet Paper's slogan: "Changing the way people do their business."