Tag Archives: Inexpensive marketing

The Little Things Make A Big Difference

When a company does the little things to make your interaction more enjoyable, it goes a long way.

Over the Christmas break I spent some time in Chattanooga, TN at the Doubletree Hotel.

While Doubletree is best known for its warm chocolate chip cookies, it was some of the other things they did that really made the difference:

–   They called a nearby hotel with an indoor pool so my kids could go swimming.

–   The clock radio had pre-set stations listed as rock, news, pop and sports, so I didn’t have to navigate unfamiliar stations.

–   Even the language they used for the ever-present room signage made me appreciate the experience that much more.

Current economic trends might be preventing you from increasing your marketing spend, but that doesn’t mean you can’t make a positive impact on your customers by making small, positive changes in how you do business.

  • I’ve seen home service companies bring the newspaper to the door or clear cobwebs from around the house.
  • Publix employees still bring your groceries to your car and they are not allowed to accept tips.
  • I’ve received a personal note from my Nordstrom’s sales person.
  • Zappo’s typically upgrades shipping to next day air.

In this day of social media – where anyone can make their opinion known to millions – doing the little things to make a positive impact can go far. And often these little things don’t cost you anything.

As you look at 2010, share what you are doing to make a difference with your customers.

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Don’t Get Lost In The Words

1191600_lost_in_wordsToo many times great ideas go undiscovered because they are not communicated well.

Think about your web site.  Are you so worried about search engine optimization and loading your content with key words that your company’s point of difference is lost in the words?

I spend a lot of time with clients helping them hone their unique point of difference, only to watch it get lost when they try to communicate it through their web site, blogs, brochures and other forms of communications.

So how do you ensure your ideas are communicated in a way that makes them stand out?

  1. Edit – a good idea should be able to stand on its own, so keep copy simple and direct
  2. Share – have uninvolved parties who will give you honest feedback read your communications to make sure your point is expressed well
  3. Hand-Off – if you are not a strong writer, find someone who is and have them write or at least edit your content

SHAMELESS PLUG:

In an effort to help clients enhance their communications tools, I have expanded M is for Marketing’s services to include editing and writing services.  I call the service Idea Assurance – helping ensure your idea is communicated as you intended.

We are having a new service special in which we will edit 10 pages of web copy for $475.

Clear, concise communication is as important as the idea itself.  Take your time when writing; it will help position your company more effectively.

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Recession Continues To Breed New Thinking

Toys R UsIn today’s Wall Street Journal, Toys R Us announced they are opening 350 temporary stores in traditional shopping malls and other locations to take advantage of the holiday season.   This strategy is borne out of two market changes:

  • KB Toys, traditionally a mall-only toy retailer, going out of business
  • Sears expanding their toy department to help grab share from the KB Toys deficit

Holiday sales were down 3.4% last year for Toys R Us. Anticipating similar results for the 2009 holiday season, the national toy retailer realized they could not rely on the same approach to reach customers and drive sales.

Toys R Us is leveraging three key areas:

  • Inexpensive rents – With retail sales down and retailers going out of business, there is excess capacity in shopping malls.
  • Lower pricing – Higher rents were baked into KB Toys’ pricing (so much that they weren’t competitive). Since rents are lower, TRU can keep pricing on par with freestanding stores.
  • Convenience – The convenience of a mall location should attract people who are already shopping versus having to go to another location.

Toys R Us stopped looking at their business the same way.

You should to and see where opportunities might exist to change how you do business.  There has never been a better time to do it.

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Rethinking iPhone Apps As A Branding Tool

iphoneWhat if every time someone picked up their iPhone (or other mobile device) they saw your logo?

It’s possible through mobile phone applications  or apps.

Apps range from the helpful like The Weather Channel, to the ridiculous like Pee Monkey (and no, I did not make that up).

They have transformed how we judge and use mobile devices.

Apps are also becoming big business.  In fact, Apple apps are fast approaching 1 billion downloads.

So how does the average business benefit from apps and justify development costs?

The answer: top of mind awareness.

Let’s just say a pest control company creates an app that lets you identify common household pests. The downloadable app is handy when those little black bugs are swarming in your kitchen, and a reminder of a company’s brand when the user sees your logo on his phone 20x per day. More importantly, when you have a pest control problem, what company would be top of mind?

This can work for so many industries: electricians, attorneys, plumbers, fitness centers, etc. And chances are, creating an app is more affordable than a sustained advertising campaign. (One company I recommend for iPhone app development is A Clever Twist.)

An app can be a valuable – and unique – tool for building your brand, so consider it as one aspect of your overall branding efforts to keep your name out in front of potential customers.

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Filed under Marketing Tactics

Brand Consistency on LinkedIn

LinkedIn is a popular social network for businesses and professionals.  Use the site’s search engine for your company and you may be surprised at the number of employees using LinkedIn.

While mainly used for networking and business development, LinkedIn can be a great brand building tool when used properly.

Each person on LinkedIn has a profile.  Look at your employees’ LinkedIn profiles, do they describe your company in a consistent manner?

If not two things come to mind.

1) If they aren’t describing your company on a consistent basis on LinkedIn you can be confident they are describing it consistently in person either.  Which may mean they do not have a clear understanding of your brand.

2) You are missing out on a simple, free branding opportunity.

Help your company maintain a consistent message in the market by making sure your employees use LinkedIn (Plaxo and Spoke are other business networks) and describe your company in the same manner.

Just like any marketing tool your presence on these business social networks needs to be consistent and you can’t leave it to chance.

Using LinkedIn to support your brand position is a simple way to help you market smarter.

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Creative Ideas For Smaller Budgets

While marketing topics are seemingly endless, I wanted to hear what topics were top of mind for small business owners so I posted a link on Peter Shankman’s Help a Reporter Out (HARO).  I have received numerous responses and a common theme – especially in today’s economic climate – is how do I market my business without a marketing budget?

Social sites like Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, YouTube etc can certainly help.  Email marketing is also a great tool. Word-of-Mouth is incredibly powerful.  And we’ll discuss those in more detail in future posts.

In the mean time to market yourself in a way that doesn’t require much money you have to be creative and take advantage of your resources.

When I worked with a poker chip company the best point of difference was the chips themselves.  They were actual clay chips not the composite ones.  You could tell the difference the minute felt the chip in your hands.  The client didn’t have a huge marketing budget, but they did have an endless supply of chips.  

The solution:  We printed a unique URL (so we could track the success of this program) on stickers which we then adhered to the back of the poker chips.  We then would leave single chips in bars, casinos,poker tournaments, retail stores where other chips were sold – pretty much anywhere our target audience frequented.  

The result:  We generated almost $900,000 in revenue from a program that cost less than $100.

Another idea is finding someone like Jason Sadler who offers “the top part” of his wardrobe to promote your business.  Sadler of I Wear Your Shirt sells himself to advertisers and his rate increases a dollar a day.  If you want him to wear your shirt on January 1, it will cost you $1.  January 2, it will cost $2, etc.  He then posts photos on Flickr, provides status updates on Facebook and Twitter and even posts videos and podcasts on YouTube.  All you do is choose your day and send him a shirt.

Contests are another great ways to generate awareness.

A few years ago, an Atlanta furniture store hosted the ugliest couch contest where the winner received a new couch.  The new couch cost them nothing, but the PR it garnered was incredible.

Threadless builds awareness by having monthly t-shirt design contests and then turning the winning design into t-shirts they sell on the site.

Another idea is advertise where there aren’t currently ads.  

Remember when you got your first Starbucks with that cardboard “collar” around it and how it quickly became an ad venue?    Who would have thought that individuals would wrap their cars to become rolling billboards?    And ads in a bar’s restroom?   When people first looked to these as ad tactics, they were very inexpensive and people noticed.

We will certainly visit this topic throughout the year, but the key to working with small or non-existent budgets is being creative.  Anyone can market with large budgets, but being able to make small budgets work demonstrates the ability to market smarter.

If you have other ideas please post them here so that everyone can learn from your experience.

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Why Sharing Customers Is A Good Thing.

A client posed a question to me: “Customers are your most valuable asset, so why in the world would you share them with another company”?  

My answer is simple – to get more customers.  

If you can partner with non-competing, complementary businesses who have a similar customer base, you can have access to a huge group of potential new customers at virtually no cost. In exchange for letting them market to your customer base, you get to market to their customer base.

For example, if you provide pest control services – find companies who also provide home services like electricians, plumbers, etc.  If you own a retailer that sells athletic gear, find a fitness center in which to partner.

If you think about it, you’ll be amazed at the opportunities.

Before you jump in, there are some important steps to remember.

1. Reputation – Make sure the company you partner with has a reputation you want to be associated with.

2. Courtesy – Let the company you are partnering with make the introduction to their customers and vice-versa.  It’s just good customer etiquette.

3. Incentive – Provide an exclusive offer to these new customers to encourage them to try your services. 

4. Recognition – If you are going to market directly to their customers, make sure you merge your customer information so you don’t market to their customers who may also be your customers.

5. Tracking – Make sure you are able to track which new customers come from their customer base so you know if the partnership is equitable. 

Sharing customers can be a great, inexpensive source for growth.  Just another way to help you market smarter.

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