Marketing Idea #73: The Casual Survey

Marketing Ideas Casual Survey

If you aren’t doing so already, casually survey all clients before they cash out. Kindly request their permission to ask them basic questions about their occupation, their use of time, the reason why they’re in front of you, what they like (and would improve) about their experience, and so on. This will give you a better idea of who comes to your store and why. Train your staff to do the same. Ask the same questions of everyone.

Tip: You don’t have to ask a flurry of questions from every customer that walks through your doors. Ask a single question of every customer one week, another question the next, and so on, and you will begin to shape a picture about the people who shop from you.

Marketing Idea #74: Exit Interviews Are a Must

Marketing Ideas Exit Interviews Are a Must

Conduct exit interviews anytime you have an employee submit his resignation. In conducting this survey, you begin to determine where you’re falling short in keeping your people. Often, you’ll find that money isn’t the top issue. What you’re looking for is how you are able to improve your internal marketing. How do you craft a culture that keeps and nurtures the best employees? How do you build fierce loyalty and pride among your employees? Among your customers? Your vendors? Begin asking the tough questions. The sooner you get the answers, the sooner you’ll be able to emerge as a company people aspire to work for and with.

Marketing Idea #50: Hold a Cooking Contest

Marketing Ideas Hold a Cooking Contest

A restaurant might have a cooking contest for newly graduated local chefs. During the event, the restaurant would charge ten dollars per person to sample all the showcased dishes. Attendees must vote on which dish is the best. The dish that wins gets on the menu (which should tell the story about how the dish came to be). To make the stakes higher, the restaurant might even hire the winning chef.

Tip: This idea also works when you need an event catered and don’t have a large budget.

(Image source: Heinz.)

Marketing Idea #45: The Power of Aroma

Marketing Ideas Power of Aroma

Create an aromatic environment by using vaporizers or oils. Have you ever walked past a restaurant or café and been captured by the rich or appetizing aroma wafting from inside? Studies have shown that customers linger longer in aromatic environments. Our sense of smell is the only sense that isn’t filtered by the brain. (It bypasses the limbic system entirely.) What can you do to appeal to this sense? What scent might coincide with your branding effort?

Better: Coffee and cookies are better than air fresheners. Many people may be allergic (or think they are—same thing) if the wrong scents are used. Some offices ban their use.

Marketing Idea #102: The Great SEO Lie

Marketing Ideas The Great SEO Lie

Question: Your SEO marketer has guaranteed you long-term placement on the front page of Google. Do you believe them?

Answer: I’m amazed at how often I run across customers who have been sold on “guaranteed rankings in Google” only to find out once their PPC (pay per click) campaign ended, their “top-spot” rankings fell away. Of course, they were never told this would happen, so all that money they were putting toward PPC just dried up and blew away with little to show for it.

Whenever possible, focus on improving your natural search engine rankings. This is where the most longevity will be. It will take you longer to achieve a top position in the search engines, but once you stop paying, your site will remain in or around that top position for a while (depending upon how competitive your industry is.)

Would changing your business name help your brand?

Changing your organization’s name to better suit your market can be powerful. So many business owners feel they have built equity into their brand name. While this is true to some extent, the extent of that equity is often over-valued. Changing the name to something that better reflects your mission in the world can yield long-term benefits to the brand you are defining.

Besides, changing the name of your organization is an event that must be publicized, giving you another reason to reach out to your clients, prospects and the marketplace!

Would crafting a new business name help your brand?

It’s Good to be Small Sometimes

Small business owners and start-ups actually have something of an advantage over larger corporations. When a start-up makes a marketing mistake on a shoestring budget, it’s easily corrected as long as it’s dealt with quickly. When a large corporation puts millions of dollars behind a mistake, the mess and long-term damage to their self-image is much more costly to clean up.

Marketing Idea #89: Collect Testimonials

Marketing Ideas Collect Testimonials

Collect testimonials from your best clients as a regular part of your follow-up survey process. Make sure you tell them you’ll be using all or part of their testimonials in your ongoing marketing efforts. Then, incorporate the best testimonials into every touch you have with your clients, such as invoices and marketing collateral (newsletters, ads, and so on). Remember: If you say it about you, it’s bragging; if someone else says it about you, it’s true.

Tip: Do you have a stellar client who would love to write you a testimonial but is always extremely busy? Offer to write it for her, and tell her if she approves, she may simply sign off on it. This allows you to mention the important stuff. The best testimonials state:

  • the problem the client was having,
  • why the client chose you,
  • what you did for the client, and
  • why others should choose you.

Below is a link to a form you can download and revise to help you collect testimonials from your customers. Enjoy!

» Click Here To Download The Testimonial Form «

 

Best Marketing for Realtors? Word-of-Mouth Referrals

Marketing Ideas for Realtors

As a group dedicated to finding people homes, realtors provide a pretty valuable service to others. One of the best ways realtors can drum up extra business is by going above and beyond for their current customers. Word-of-mouth referrals are one of the best forms of advertising and people will talk about their realtor for years; whether good or bad. At the close of a sale, make sure to also ask your clients for a testimonial for you to use in your marketing literature.

Marketing Idea #47: Host a Competition

Marketing Ideas Host a Competition

Host and promote a competition. You can call it “The Great ____________ Race.” Set up a small number of teams, each with a small number of participants. One team wins upon accomplishing the appropriate task you set before them. The entry fee may be the cost (or reduced cost) of your service. The grand prize can be more of your product or service, or you may find a sponsor to provide the prize(s) in exchange for promotion through the event.

Variation: Donate your product or service to a charitable cause in the winner’s name.

Marketing Idea #57: Offer Great Music

Marketing Ideas Offer Great Music

People love to hear great music, so if you would like to offer music at your next event, make sure the band is well-known and worth your audience’s attention. Nothing screams cheap like bad or inappropriate music that is forced upon would-be customers. Your band should understand your business and your clientele and be able to produce music that fits. If you pick the right band, adding it to the list of cool things to see and do at your event will be a draw.

Marketing Idea #22: Be a Panelist

Marketing Ideas Be a Panelist

If you are aware of an annual conference in your industry, offer to be a panelist. If it’s too late for this year’s conference, contact the event coordinators and voice your interest in attending next year’s conference. Anytime you’re able to present valuable ideas on your topic of specialty, you bring value to the effort of marketing yourself as an authority.

Tip: Nervous speaking in front of groups? Join Toastmasters to sharpen your public-speaking skills.

Marketing Ideas #96-101: Be Remembered After Your Next Tradeshow

Marketing Ideas Be Remembered After Your Next Tradeshow

When getting ready to host a booth at a trade show, once you know the size and area dimensions you’ll be working with, the next step is deciding what information and content you want to display. Here are some tips:

#96: Your company name and logo must be visible. If visitors don’t know who and what the display is about in a matter of five seconds or less, their interest will be lost. The company’s name and logo should be easy to see. Remember: Always include your website address.

#97: Don’t make the overall design too distracting. Too much information and clutter will create confusion. Neatness, simplicity, and visibility are some of the most important aspects. Images should be crisp and professional-looking—no low-resolution images. All content should be appropriate and pertain to the rest of the display.

#98: For maximum impact, use color to make a statement, and let your display pop out. Color schemes can help set a specific mood or tone. Pick colors that will correlate with your company’s tone and theme.

#99: Successful trade show booths make it easy for visitors to retrieve information. Pass out flyers or business cards. Consider creating interactive displays, such as games, contests, drawings, or giveaways. Think of anything that will get the visitors intrigued and involved. This is a great way to add some flair to your display!

#100: Prior to a big day of participating in a local trade show, make sure you’ve e-mailed your customers and prospects to let them know 1. of the trade show (in case they hadn’t heard) and 2. of your participation in it. A short e-mail broadcast is a quick, easy, and low-cost way of promoting both the trade show and yourself. The more people who turn out for the trade show, the greater its success; likewise, the more people who stop by your booth, the greater the chance for your success.

#101: Say thank you. Show your appreciation for those who have taken the time to stop by your booth and engage you (when they could have invested their time elsewhere among the hundreds of other booths). This should be viewed as a critical part of your follow-up strategy and can be done over the phone, via e-mail or direct mail, or through a face-to-face visit afterward—just do it. The most powerful showing of gratitude is delivered in person.

Marketing Idea #1: Schedule Your Marketing

Marketing Ideas Schedule Your Marketing

Mark in your calendar a time each day to market yourself. Even as little as fifteen minutes a day of pure focus on marketing activities will offer returns. If you don’t schedule time in for this, it’s possible you will place your focus elsewhere. Remember: They have to know you exist!

Variation: Instead of a mere fifteen minutes, set aside an hour a day for either yourself or a member of your staff to work on marketing activities.

Example: The Blog Editorial Calendar

To create and maintain a truly useful blog you need to create new original content on a regular basis. This is not only great for your readership but it is also a proven way to improve your organic search engine rankings. However, unless your blog is a full time venture you probably have other responsibilities and it is easy to lose track of when and what you last wrote on your blog as well as what you should blog about next. To address this common issue, today’s marketing tip is the use of a blog editorial calendar to implement your content strategy.

An editorial calendar is basically a schedule you use to implement your content strategy. It can help you see what you’ve written about in the past and what topics you need to write about in the future. You can use anything from a physical notebook to an on-line tool, though most users either create their spreadsheet or purchase an editorial calendar application. Fields you may want to include are:

  • Blog or website
  • Due date
  • Topic
  • Industry associated events
  • Keywords
  • Word count
  • Author
  • Notes

The idea is simply to organize your content strategy in such a way that you know what you will be publishing for the next six months to a year. This will help you match your blogs with industry events, you can also request articles far in advance if you are using guest bloggers, and of course you can start outlining your own articles or blogs months in advance instead of the night before you publish.

Editorial calendars also help you make sure you are not writing about topics you previously covered and they are great as an idea scratch pad where you can jot down interesting ideas as they come to you. You can always expand upon them later or simply delete them. Writing definitely becomes less stressful since you can sit down and know exactly what you need to write about.

Will an editorial calendar improve your web site, get you more conversions or more visitors? Indirectly, but the work still needs to be done. An editorial calendar is simply a tool designed to help you organize your content strategy, which should improve both the frequency as well as the quality of your writing, both good SEO practices to follow.

Marketing Idea #48: Hold a Children’s Art Sale

Marketing Ideas Childrens Art Sale

Hold a children’s art sale. It may be as simple as having a local class draw on gift bags then selling those original artwork pieces to raise funds to sponsor a needy family for Christmas.

Better: A less labor-intensive way to get the same thing done would be to scan the artwork, and then create iron-on transfers of it. This allows you to sell more copies of each piece, realize greater profits, and maintain happier artists (and parents.)

Marketing Idea #23: Teach a Class

Marketing Ideas Teach a Class

Teach a class at your local community college. For as little as one or two nights a week, take a few hours and guide a class through the curriculum of your specialty. Students want real-world information from someone who is spending most of his time in the trenches. Bring your successes and failures to them. Let them learn from your experience—and place another feather in your marketing cap while you’re doing it.

Marketing Idea #53: Start a Sidewalk Sale

Marketing Ideas Sidewalk Sales

Just because you provide a service instead of a product, it doesn’t mean you can’t participate in sidewalk sales. Use sidewalk sales to:

  • Get to know your neighborhood and its foot traffic.
  • Educate the public on what you do.
  • Survey the public for what they want. Get suggestions and ideas from people on what they need and how you may best provide it.
  • Conduct free demonstrations of your product or service.

Tip: Don’t worry if you don’t have a sidewalk. Find out when the next big local sidewalk sale is, and work out an arrangement with one of the participating vendors (one that compliments your own offerings would be preferred) to share its space.

Marketing Idea #6: Use Hook Paragraphs in Newsletters

Marketing Ideas Use Hook Paragraphs

In your weekly, monthly, or quarterly e-newsletter, don’t place entire articles. Instead, place only the first few sentences—just enough to generate interest and give an idea about the content. Then, place a link back to your website, where they can continue reading the entire article.

Explanation: This serves two purposes. First, you’re able to save your precious newsletter real estate for packing in more articles, news, or offers. Second, you’ll be able to track the interest in each article (and therefore, each topic being presented) as people click through to your site.

Marketing Ideas #26-29: Name Tags

Marketing Ideas Nametags

Here are some tips for dealing with name tags:

Marketing Idea #26: Go above and beyond the paper name tags you have to wear at many events. Be prepared with your own professional name tag, complete with company logo. They’re inexpensive and stand out in a crowd. Have two or three made, and keep one in your car at all times.

Marketing Idea #27: Name tags with magnet backs instead of pins are easier on your suits. Most promotional products companies can have them made for you.

Marketing Idea #28: You really only need your first name (printed in big letters) on a name tag. Upon meeting you for the first time, people only need to concern themselves with your first name. If they’re interested in meeting with you after your initial introduction, they’ll find your last name on your business card.

Marketing Idea #29: Name Tag Feng Shui: Place your name tag on your right side instead of your left. When you shake someone’s hand, your name will be closer to his eyes.

Marketing Idea #75: Mystery Shoppers

Marketing Ideas Mystery Shopper

Mystery shop your competition. Mystery shopping is shopping with your competition, under the cover of anonymity, with the intent of seeing how they perform. Consider this marketplace espionage. While much less direct than simply introducing yourself and swapping stories about successes and follies, this still gives you vital information about what they’re doing, how they’re doing it, and how you may better leverage your own efforts.

Better: Pay someone to mystery shop you. Look for the good, the bad, and the ugly. Act on what you discover.

Variation: While there are professional mystery-shopping organizations widely available, there is another way. Seek out strategic partners within your network, and arrange to have them shop you. Tutor them on the facets of the customer experience you would like to know most about. This may even be a reciprocal effort, where you shop them in return.

Tip: You must remain open to criticism if you’re going to have yourself shopped. Being closed-minded to the results may render them useless and leave you in the dark.

Marketing Idea #72: Create a Public Service Announcement (PSA)

Marketing Ideas Public Service Announcement PSA

Especially if you’re a nonprofit, public service announcements (PSAs) can go a long way to getting the word out about your latest effort. PSAs are often aired on local radio and TV stations, and often placed in newspapers. They often raise awareness of topics important to their audience through funny, emotional, or compelling thirty- to ninety-second productions. As long as the announcement has benefit to the public, and as long as it’s not gratuitous self-promotion, the media agency will likely mention it to their audience.

Example: “That’s Public Health” PSA (approximately fifteen seconds)

Ever have a vaccination? That’s public health.

Expect the water from your tap to be safe? That’s public health.

Ever taken your baby to a clinic for a checkup? That’s public health.

Think public health has never touched your life?

Think again.

A message from ________________________

(Thank you to the National Association of County and City Health Officials (NACCHO) for their contribution to this idea.)

Marketing Idea #55: Host an Adult Spelling Bee

Marketing Ideas Adult Spelling Bee

Host an adult spelling-bee competition to help raise money for your cause. Much like a walk-a-thon, participants are called upon to gather donations from their support network, based on the number of words they spell correctly, as opposed to donating so much money for each mile walked. Conduct the event on a weekend or evening so kids can attend and see adults sweating in the spotlight.

Tip: Pull in community leaders to make things more interesting. They will also lend wonderful support to the event.

Marketing Idea #12: Accept Credit Cards

Marketing Ideas Accept Credit Cards

Why is it, in this day and age, that there are still some stores and restaurants that don’t accept credit or debit cards? This is the epitome of making it difficult for your customers to do business with you. There is nothing worse than to make it through an entire meal, only to discover the place only accepts cash. At this point, you will either end up washing dishes or hunting around the neighborhood for an ATM. This is ridiculous. If you’re in business, find a way to accept credit cards. Expanding your ability to collect on funds immediately will pay dividends in the long run.

Tip: Some entrepreneurs are deterred from processing credit cards because of things like a 3 percent processing fee, monthly gateway fees, and so on. Here’s a reality check:

I once had a client ask me if he could pay his installment for web design services with a credit card. The payment, the second of four, would have been over $1,000, which was a lot of money for me at the time. I had only begun that week considering the notion of accepting credit cards, so I told the client I had to decline the offer and wait for the check. “The check is in the mail,” the client said.

Well, that check never arrived. Turns out, that would have been the last payment I would have received from him, as his business folded in the weeks to come.

Still concerned about the additional monthly cost of accepting credit cards? A small raise in your rate or your prices will cover the cost. Look at the nature of your business. If you are in retail, offer high-ticket items, or have the need for recurring billing due to subscriptions, memberships, or regular donations, you are a good candidate to accept credit cards.

Marketing Idea #68: How to Write a Press Release

Marketing Ideas How to Write a Press Release

A news or press release about a new program or event is a wonderful way to inform the local media and its audience about your latest efforts. Before you do this, however, you must know exactly what your intent is for your news release. Make sure you can answer the following questions:

  • Who am I trying to reach?
  • What is my message?
  • What am I trying to accomplish by providing this message? (For example, are you trying to educate, motivate to take action, or persuade?)
  • Why should the community care?

Once you’ve answered these questions, you are ready to begin crafting your release. Below is a brief list of steps to take. We have also provided you a press release template and press release sample to assist you in building your own news releases.

Basic Format of a News Release

  • Print the release on your organization’s letterhead.
  • Type “For Immediate Release” and the date along the upper-left or upper-right margin.
  • Directly across from “For Immediate Release,” include the label “Contact for Reporters” and place your contact person’s name, phone number, and e-mail address below.
  • Next, clearly describe the news event with a short, compelling headline. Center your headline on the page, and display it in bold font. Then, position a short sentence below the headline to summarize the release, and type it in italics or bold font, using a smaller font size.
  • Begin the first paragraph with your dateline. The dateline identifies where the news originated. Following the dateline, give a one- or two-sentence summary for your press or news release. Include the date, time, and other time-critical information related to your activities. Concisely summarize the who, what, when, where, and why. For example:

Lansing, Michigan – Best-selling author Matt Schoenherr discusses marketing strategies at a two-day Culture of Success event beginning Wednesday, December 12, 2012, at Madison Square Garden in New York City. Tickets for the event sold out during the first week of sales.

  • In the second paragraph, provide a quote from a leader or key person within your organization. The leader quoted should be closely connected with the event, and his role should be clearly identified.
    • Note: Ensure all quotes add value to your story. Limit the number of quotes captured in your release to one or two people.
  • Type -more- at the bottom of the first page if your release goes beyond one page. Limit your news or press release to no more than two pages; one page is preferred.
  •  The third paragraph may contain additional details on the event or program, as well as information on its history. This is also the place to include contact information for those who are interested in learning more.
  • End your release with information about your company or organization. You can also do the same for a partner or sponsor; however, if you want to list more than two, avoid placing them here. Instead, include the list as a separate attachment. Your goal is to make the news release easy to read and digest for reporters and editors.
  • Finally, typing ### or -30- at the very end indicates the end of the copy.

General Guidelines

  • Use short, explanatory sentences.
  • Avoid the use of jargon. Explain any acronyms at their first appearance, such as, “Public service announcements (PSAs).”
  • Avoid glorifying or demonizing within your release. Your goal is to report news without driving public opinion about it. Avoid judgment words like “very,” “thrilling,” “massive,” and so on. Your descriptions should be as objective as the lens of a camera.
  • Link the facts of the project or event to an important issue or need in your local community. Using real-life examples helps make the human connection. Highlight benefits of your work to the community.
  • Review for clarity and flow, and ensure all words and names are spelled correctly.

(Thank you to the National Association of County and City Health Officials (NACCHO) for their contribution to this idea.)


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Marketing Idea #86: The Fortune Cookie Effect

Marketing Ideas Fortune Cookie Effect

Use the Fortune Cookie Effect. Engage your customers with a collection of cute or hidden messages in your packaging. Chocolates, fortune cookies, ketchup and beer are just some of the products that have successfully used this technique for drawing interest to their branding. The idea is to embed a message into your merchandising to inspire interest and conversation around the message—and therefore the product and, finally, the brand.

Story: When my wife was five months pregnant with our first baby, medical experts told her he was measuring small, and that it was possible he had stopped growing, which of course lent itself to scary self-talk about a myriad potential birth defects. During the course of that day, she was given a Dove chocolate, which came wrapped in purple foil and contained a message inside, as they all do. This message said, “There is greatness in smallness.” The timing being perfect, we took it as a sign, and it helped us relax.

Of course, the happy ending is that the next time she went in for an ultrasound, everything measured fine, and we’re pleased to say that our boy is a happy, healthy, and complete individual. The foil wrapper has been glued to a magnet and now resides on our refrigerator. That little piece of marketing by Dove will now be a part of our family story for many years.

This can be the power of the Fortune Cookie Effect.

P.S.- Below is an example of how Dove has infiltrated popular culture using this marketing technique!

Marketing Ideas Dove Ad

Marketing Ideas #30: Join a Networking Group

Marketing Ideas Join a Networking Group

Join a networking and referral group like Local Business Network (LBN) or Business Networking International (BNI). This may also take the form of joining a local business association, rotary, or other similar group. Joining these groups offers you an opportunity to meet and network with other small-business owners in the spirit of bringing opportunity to one another. By getting to know your fellow entrepreneurs, you broaden your personal network—and therefore the value you bring to your prospects and clients through your ability to refer problem-solvers to them—while maintaining a finger on the pulse of the local market.

Tip: These groups can be wonderful sources of referrals, as well as training in the world of business-to-business relationship building.

Tip: Websites like Meetup.com and LinkedIn.com can also be a great source for meeting and networking with local entrepreneurs.

Marketing Idea #92: Videotape Your Event

Marketing Ideas Video Your Event

Step 1: Get quotes from people at several of the local video shops, interview them, and look at their portfolios. Pick the one that you feel best about.

Step 2: Have them videotape your seminar and make it web-ready. Ask them to send you all raw and edited footage. You should have this in case you want to use it later.

Step 3: Have your video folks send the finished product to your web designer/developer so the video may be added to your website.

Step 4: Put the video in a secure place on your website, and ask visitors to register for the free information. Collect their e-mail addresses for future e-newsletter mailings!

Step 5: Repeat.

Marketing Idea #5: Follow Your Customers

Marketing Ideas Follow Your Customers

In the client database you should already be maintaining, track who ordered what service or product and when. This will assist you when you reach out to those customers again. With this knowledge, you will have a better understanding of what they do as well as what has been important to them in the past. More important, you will be gaining a picture about who buys from you and why.