Marketing Idea #4: Note Those Hot Ideas

Marketing Ideas Hot Ideas

You probably already have ideas and future plans for your company in your head. Put these ideas down in print somewhere. Include a section for collecting marketing ideas and opportunity information. You’ll be amazed at the great ideas you lose track of as you get caught up in your day-to-day efforts. Make it a point to review this file quarterly and delegate the best ideas if you can’t tackle them yourself.

How to Market a New Business


Marketing Ideas for Small Business

As a small business owner or entrepreneur, by now you’ve hopefully come to the conclusion you don’t want to compete with folks selling their services for $5. So then, how to market a new business and build a brand? Here are a few ideas:

First, I would consider your story. Why do you do what you do? Why are you personally invested in your clients’ success? Why have you chosen to make this your personal mission and what can you tell us about your personal mission? What is your ‘why’?

Further, what sets you apart from the other guy or gal? Why would people pick you? What makes you so special? Something does, so what is it? By answering these questions, you are beginning to develop your value proposition.

Testimonials are another useful tool. Go to past clients and ask them why they chose to work with you, what problem they were seeking to solve and how you provided the solution. There is a template here that helps with that:

Marketing Idea #89: Collect Testimonials

 
Don’t have any past clients yet? You may want to do some free work to build up your client porfolio. Once people can see others have trusted you in the past, it becomes easier for them to trust you. Think of this as building social proof.

Case studies are very similar to well-constructed testimonials in that they offer a description of the problem and then tell how you provided the solution and finally communicate the happy result.

Best recommendation: Share before-and-after stories. If you’re a writer, show the ad copy in its prior miserable state and then show the revised ad copy after you’ve finished with it. (“Feel the difference?  Here is how we saw conversion rates improve…” P.S. If you’re not tracking this yet, you need to start!) Another example could be for an orthodontist; here is the patient’s mouth before we fixed their snaggle-teeth, and here is the patient’s sparkling smile after the procedures were completed.

Finally, since we’re on the topic of building a brand, you may want to work through this short brand archetype quiz:

Branding 101: Discover Your Brand Archetype (Quiz)

 
The quiz results will provide you with three archetypes, listed in order of relevance. This will definitely help you determine the “flavor” you want your brand to exude. For instance, if you are a rough and tumble pioneer type, the Explorer archetype may be the archetype you identify with most. Once you know your archetype, you can ensure your ad copy, imagery and brand all align with that archetype, which strengthens your position in the mind of the consumer.

Okay, this should keep you busy for a while. If you have more ideas to share or have questions about applying any of these marketing tactics, leave a comment below!

In support of your efforts,

Matt

Marketing Idea #44: Showcase Local Artists

Marketing Ideas Local Artists

Display artwork for sale from local artists. In doing so, you support the local artist community, gain word-of-mouth through the artists, and bring more interest to your walls. This can be done by writing up an offer and presenting it to a local art gallery. You may want to bring focus to the display either by centering on a specific artist or by having the showing coincide with a particular (and appropriate) event.

Marketing Idea #7: Start Joking Around

Marketing Ideas Use Humor

Use humor in regard to your product or service. Poke fun at yourself and get your message across at the same time. Humor relaxes us. It invites us to let down our guard and have fun. If you associate your brand with a Jester brand archetype (also known as the Fool or Joker archetype,) you are likely already doing this.

Example: Dental offices are famous for providing dental floss during Halloween trick-or-treating fun. Instead, why not send your clients fake hillbilly teeth as a reminder to maintain good dental hygiene during sweet holidays? For promotional thrust, have your office’s logo and contact info printed on any giveaways.

For Your Entertainment

Marketing Idea #19: Perfect Your Powers of Persuasion

Marketing Ideas Public Speaking

Hone your public-speaking skills. Join Toastmasters (www.toastmasters.org). As you move onward and upward into the business community, you will be called upon to give presentations before groups (one of the best ways to be perceived as an authority on your topic). Being proficient and persuasive in communicating ideas and stories before an audience is a huge asset. If you’re petrified by the thought of public-speaking, take solace: The point isn’t to get rid of the butterflies, it’s to get them flying in formation.

Rebuttal: Free Samples

Marketing Ideas Free Samples

In response to Seth Godin’s “Free Samples” post, May 11, 2012:

marketing ideas ebook divider

Free samples

It bothers me to watch the hordes at the farmer’s market, swooping in to each booth, grabbing a sample and walking away. The thin slices of handmade rye bread, or the perfect strawberries or the little glasses of juice—all of them disappear into the hands of people who have no intention of buying.

Sure, someone stops and buys now and then, which is why the farmers keep offering the samples. To them, it’s merely a cost of doing business, a relatively inexpensive way to keep prospective customers coming. I’m not sure I could do it—the people afraid to look me in the eye, all that slinking around, and most of all, the profits walking out the door, over and over again. Enough thin slices makes a loaf.

This is vexing, even to someone who merely makes ideas. Watching people sneak endless tastes with no intention of making a purchase—sometimes I gasp at the audacity.

The distinction in the digital world is profound. In the digital world, the more free samples you give away, the better you do. The miserly mindset that afflicts the merchant watching inventory walk out the door at the market is counterproductive in the digital world. That’s because more free samples cost you nothing.

The scarce resources in the connection revolution are connection, attention and trust, not molecules, atoms or strawberries.

marketing ideas ebook divider

Free Sample Double-Take

While I see great value in most of Seth Godin’s marketing ideas, I will respectfully cry foul on this one. I would have placed this comment on his blog, however—at the time of this writing—Mr. Godin has turned the commenting feature off. Curious, for someone who reports engagement is a primary vehicle for building a trusting, loyal following?

People are People

Though I agree things may be different in the digital world, I would also say the contrast is not so stark. People are people, no matter where we draw the lines on a map, and no matter whether that map is of the real or digital world. In fact, free samples probably work just as well in the flesh; they simply exhibit different properties.

Let’s Compare

Yes, your reach is broader online. You can reach anyone with a computer and an Internet connection (so long as they can find you.) This means greater volume, greater exposure, and—hopefully—greater opportunity for sales. It also means greater exposure to vultures and trolls. In the digital world, your free samples can be snapped up by people who never read them, or worse, repackage them as their own. C’est la vi.

Marketing Ideas Free SampleIn the real world, free samples also entice—same as their online counterparts. Accepting a free sample in the real world carries less anonymity, however. In a crowded farmer’s market, you can’t use a fictitious name or a junk email address to grab that succulent sample; you or your minions (maybe you send in your child, eh?) must get close enough to the purveyor to risk being greeted. As a shop owner, immediately your connection is stronger and your ability to engage the potential customer (face-to-face) is dramatically increased.

The same time and effort that went into crafting that piece of digital brilliance may also be the same time and effort that went into crafting that bread. Sure, digital assets can be downloaded and reproduced over and over. It’s the “do it once, replicate over and over” model. Yet, while many of us don’t need the latest, greatest marketing book, we all need to eat. Now we’re moving into differences in product selection, which has precious little to do with whether free samples work in the real world (which they do.)

Example: Used car dealerships employ a variation of the free sample concept all the time. Have you ever test-driven a car but needed to get buy-in from your spouse or parents before signing your life away? Has the salesperson ever told you to take the car home overnight to get a feeling for it? That’s known as the “puppy dog close” and it works wonderfully. The “free sample” is in the chance to try the vehicle on, wear it and show it off. The dealership is banking (literally) on you becoming emotionally bonded with the vehicle. The more connection you feel to that vehicle, the more likely you will adopt it and the sizable loan or lease that accompanies it.

Afterglow

Maybe Mr. Godin was simply searching for something to critique so he could segue into his final point about connection, attention and trust. He obviously must understand the ancient, time-proven concept of free samples, even though he finds himself “vexed” and “gasping” at the “audacity” of it all.

What about you? Do you believe free samples work? Have you used them in your own business? Have they compelled you to buy more yourself?

marketing ideas ebook divider

Reference

Godin, S. Free Samples. Retrieved from http://sethgodin.typepad.com/seths_blog/2012/05/free-samples.html on 05/11/2012.

Marketing Idea #8: Selling Online (Do It)

Marketing Ideas Order Online

Make sure your customers can order from you online. If they can’t order from you online, make sure they can order by phone or by fax. You’re in the business of making it easier for your customers to do business with you! Your challenge is to analyze how easy it is for customers to get what they want from you. Have you ever tried to buy something from yourself? Go through the process. Have your staff go through the process. Survey your customers; how did they feel about their first experience with you? Compile your notes and discuss your findings. Then, fix what’s broken.

Target Marketing: Speak Directly to Your Target Audience

The other day, I stumbled across an ad that caught my attention. The ad was for Careers 2.0, a site dedicated to programmers and the programming industry. What I found remarkable about this ad was the laser-fine focus it possessed. This ad was so specific about its target audience, there could be no mistake. Before I continue further, here is the ad:

Marketing Ideas Careers Ad

Now, I don’t know about you, but when I saw this ad, I arrived at several conclusions:

  1. Its message has something to do with your job; thus the “Your Job.”
  2. It’s an ad promoting a job website of some kind. Maybe that’s what “Careers 2.0” is supposed to mean, right?
  3. The ad is written in HTML code; the basic markup language of the Internet. This is deduced by the use of the paragraph open and close tags (e.g. <p>, </p>).
  4. Now—and maybe this is a reflection on me—but my first assumption is that they’re saying something profane. I imagined something that rhymed with “Crew Your Job” or “Muck Your Job” written in the ASCII version of cartoon curse-squigglies. (Yes, it’s a technical term, “curse-squigglies”.)
  5. The ad is targeting programmers (who may still have to look up “&#x2665;”). Sure, other web folk may be caught like I was. This is definitely geek speak for something, but what?

The ad presented a mystery! To solve the puzzle, it was easy enough; just do a Google search on

&#x2665; html codes

and you’ll be able to discern very quickly that the ad actually reads:

♥ Your Job

As in, “Love Your Job”.

Awww. That was much better than what I was thinking. (Maybe I should talk to a professional about this?)

Afterglow

There you have it: an ad so targeted, you actually have to decode it to read it. In fact, you not only have to decode it, but you have to recognize it as code to begin with, which will be a barrier for a good-sized segment of the population. Of course, if it’s a barrier, it’s a good bet those folks are not the target market.

Not only did this ad compel me to stop what I was doing and research its meaning, but now I’m writing about it and sharing my experience with you. Obviously, this ad appeals to the web-oriented problem-solvers among us. If you like conquering riddles like a pirate on a treasure hunt, this ad was meant for you.

Marketing Challenge

What can you do to communicate with your target market on such a core level that you’re able to speak their native language to the exclusion of the rest of the world?

Marketing Idea #103: Selling to Salons

Marketing Ideas Selling to Salons

Are you in the business of helping small business owners market themselves? A good place to start could be hair salons and spas. They tend to be a little more “cutting edge” (heh.. pun intended..) and may see the vision you paint more clearly.

Before introducing yourself through a form letter, cold call or face-to-face meeting, get the owner’s name first! If I’m a business owner and I get a form letter addressed to “To Whom It May Concern”, I’ll pitch it into the trash and likely forget about you within 10 seconds. If you actually do show up–and if I actually remember you–I’ll see you as the lout that sent the form letter.

You can get the owner’s name easily enough. In many places, business entity registrations are public record and often available online; you just need to know where to look.

Worst case: Call up the salon and simply ask the front desk for their mailing address. You need it in order to mail them a package (if they ask, it’s regarding their marketing plan.) Once they give you the mailing address, your question is “Whose attention do I send this to?” which you can follow up with “Are they the owner?” If they’re not, simply ask for the owner’s name. Most folks will give you that information by this point in the dialog. I definitely would not send anything without getting the owner’s name. You may as well throw your stamps and envelopes into the trash yourself and save everyone the time, effort and interruption.

Better: Get your hair cut there. (Think of this as a marketing expense.) The owner is also often working in the business. Call up to make the appointment and when asked who you would like to have cut your hair, simply respond with, “The owner.” Then get their name, of course. Show up to your appointment on time and dressed for success. Get a simple trim or whatever is appropriate. Make friendly chit-chat (stylists are artisans at making small talk) and–if the question of what you do for work hasn’t come up yet–eventually ask about how business is going. Most small businesses can handle more business and since you’re in the business of helping achieve that, you use that as your segue into, “Have you ever thought about ___________?” Have some case studies and stories to tell. Whatever you do, don’t pitch them. Your mission is to ask questions and tell stories. If they’re interested, they’ll say so and it will be a reflection on the value in your dialog; not in a sneaky pitch.

By doing this, you’ve skipped the cold, cheesy form letter, brought value to your time with them, gotten their undivided attention and, hopefully, gotten a good haircut in the process.

Marketing Ideas #13-17: Provide Value First

Marketing Ideas Provide Value First

One of the best ways to stay in front of your audience or market is to provide value first. One of the best ways to provide this value is to deliver great information, especially important in today’s information-based society. Pulling together information and knowledge for people accomplishes a few things:

  • First, it helps you clarify your thoughts. Taking even a small amount of time to write on matters important to your industry will greatly assist you in those instances where you’re called upon to speak on such topics.
  • Secondly, in providing useful information to others, you make yourself a resource, which is paramount in gaining credibility.
  • Third, in writing or compiling information, you are furthering your own education.

Marketing Ideas Boy with FlowerExamples: Here are a number of ways you might deliver valuable information to others:

#13: Write an instructional brochure.

#14: Start a quarterly, monthly, or weekly newsletter.

#15: Submit an article to local newspapers or business magazines.

#16: Produce and distribute an audio or video presentation on a topic in your industry. Deliver this valuable information through an interactive CD or via the Internet.

#17: Publish a book.

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 #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 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 #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.

Marketing Idea #11: Tell Your Story

Marketing Ideas Tell Your Story

Tell your story. Oftentimes, in our attempt to be consummate professionals, we are leery of telling our story (why you do what you do, what makes you tick, what ticks you off, and so on). As any seasoned public speaker will tell you, stories have a way of intimating us with our audience. A good story can work wonders for an ailing brand.

Tip: A good story is often sacrificed in lieu of political correctness, making it stale and dull. You can help your employees tell those inspiring, slightly off-center stories by encouraging a culture that assumes the best intent.

Example: Family values win. By the cash register, the store owners show a picture of their three beautiful children grinning at the customer. Below is a handwritten note that says, This is why our hours are what they are. The story is brief and clear, tells the customer about the values of the owners, and inspires loyalty through this intimacy.

How can you accomplish the same through use of story?