Category Archives: Creative Business Ideas

Superhero Marketing

Superhero Marketing(Photo by Lane Pearman)

From comic books to television shows and movies, superheros are more popular than ever. Who wouldn’t want to have superpowers and the ability to save the day (or planet)? In your marketing, when you tell the story of how you helped your clients become successful, who do you make the superhero – you or your client?

If you take the mantle, then that means that you claim the the spotlight, the exclusive success, and therefore the exclusive blame should your client have have a bad experience with working with you.

Instead, let your client be the superhero. They paid for your services, they responded to the calls/emails, and helped others succeed. If you’re part of their secret sauce – shine in their reflected glory. It’ll show prospective clients that you really care about THEIR success, not just your own.

Up, up, and away!

Stop Speaking Nounsense

Don’t Speak Nounsense in Marketing(Photo by Steve Rotman)

Seen any of these buzzwords anywhere (everywhere)?

Disruptive, groundbreaking, ninja, revolutionary, cross-channel, inbound, agile, growth hacking, stakeholder, mission critical, bandwidth, low-hanging fruit, unicorn, or pivot?

Buzzwords are handy to show you’re part of the “in-crowd”, but in trying to impress you’re likely to distance yourself from others. Buzzwords also come-and-go quickly, so it’s easy to look dated in the eyes of leaders. Nouns and adjectives are also used to describe things. But things aren’t what people are searching for.

Use verbs to connect with people’s emotions. Verbs tease, entice, motivate, satisfy, enlighten, and transform lives. People are searching for better life and business experiences that evoke life-long memories.

The next time you’re writing a newsletter or an advertisement, start with the emotion you’re trying to evoke in the reader/viewer, and build your message around that with juicy verbs.


Beware of Tunnel Thinking

Tunnel Thinking Dangers in Marketing(Photo by jugbo)

If you’re a perfectionist, you’re likely overwhelmed daily with all the various things you are trying to keep up with: technology, emails, phone calls, marketing campaigns, outreach, your competition, and opportunities. With a 24/7 world economy, you are frequently finding yourself working harder just to keep up with your goals. Be very careful.

Going fast feels good. It’s adrenalizing. It shrinks your to-do list. Everyone around you is in awe of what you’re juggling. But your single-focus on getting things done likely means you’re not paying attention to peripheral issues (and opportunities).

Instead of always going fast to make things perfect, experiment with solutions that are good enough. Good enough doesn’t mean that you deliver sub-par solutions or shabby products. It means that your solution does the job better than others, but it doesn’t have to be perfect. In fact, you likely don’t know what perfect really means in the eyes of your target audience. Good enough will attract attention, and with a long-term relationship, you can fine-tune your offering.

Remember: The light at the end of the tunnel can be an oncoming train.

Layering Your Business Marketing

The Layers of Marketing(Photo by Sidney San Martín)

A mature business owner knows instinctively that marketing isn’t all about the business owner and it’s also not all about the prospective customer. It’s a delicate balance between the two. In fact there are four layers to your business marketing that you need to clearly understand, articulate, and authentically connect with:

  1. Mission.  This is your (branding) promise for your organization (or non-profit). It states who you serve, how, and why. It’s not laden with gobbledygook words or phrases that you think people should hear. It’s clear and logical.
  2. Passion. Why you (and your team) do what they do? If you don’t have passion, you don’t have fire, which your prospects can detect. Knowing why people are passionate inside your organization, you can better match skills/needs (what do your people want their organization to do for them?).
  3. Strategy/goals. What you want to achieve and how will you achieve it? If your goals don’t pass your “mission filter” you probably shouldn’t be doing it – it dilutes your mission/brand promise. Clearly measurable and transparent goals need to be regularly examined and updated.
  4. Actions. What will you do about the plans? Ideally, match actions with passions. This layer is about what people can do for the organization. Without action, you get no results.

Your customer wants to know the key benefit of your product or service to their needs. But emotionally, they want to connect to your mission, passion, and goals (so they feel that they can trust your work). Done well this strategy produces sweet rewards.

Enthusiastic Marketing

How To Keep Your Marketing Enthusiasm(Photo by David Goehring)

If you have been in business for a while, you have no doubt fielded the same questions over-and-over-and-over. The person asking (a prospective client, perhaps) is sincere. But you have heard the same questions and your been giving the same answers year-after-year. And if you are not careful, your frustration at hearing the same question is likely to seep into your response, and you risk alienating your prospective client.

The secret is to improve your empathic listening skills.

Concierges in hotels face this exact challenge daily. Each guest is experiencing things for their first time, and they want to know the answer to their (familiar) question. The best concierges project an air of enthusiastic curiosity and willingness to help because they (try to) remember what it’s like not to be an expert, and to know that their answers have the potential to create powerful lasting memories for their guests.

The next time someone asks the question you have anticipated, stop, breathe, and see if you can make someone feel very special. That single act could create a lifetime of good will.

New Is Sexy

New Is Sexy In Marketing

Want to get people to pay attention to what you’re offering? Make what you’re selling new, and highlight your new offering as sexy.

We’re programmed to see new as exotic, special, limited, better, healthier, etc. New also commands a higher price and more attention – since getting the newest thing first is a status symbol (the lines to buy a new iPhone, for example).

However, when you introduce new that means by definition your old has just dropped in value or stature. So, be sure not to cannibalize your product line in search of new is better. You old still can command a high value – to the right audience.

New is ideal for the trend-setters or cutting-edge early adopters. They are on the leading quest to find new, to prove to that they are worth following. New is great in its own sake.

But those that are looking for trusted solutions still want the old. In fact, you may have increased the value in their eyes since you’ve invested in a new version of what people still want.

Everything Old Is New Again

When trumpets were mellow
And every gal only had one fellow
No need to remember when
‘Cause everything old is new again

Dancin’ at your, Long Island, jazz age parties
Waiter bring us some more Baccardis
We’ll order now, what they ordered then
‘Cause everything old is new again

Get out your white suit, your tap shoes and tails
Let’s go backwards when forward fails
And movie stars you thought were long dead
Now are framed beside your bed

Don’t throw the past away
You might need it some rainy day
Dreams can come true again
When everything old is new again

Get out your white suit, your tap shoes and tails
Put it on backwards when forward fails
Better leave Greta Garbo alone
Be a movie star on your own

And don’t throw the past away
You might need it some other rainy day
Dreams can come true again
When everything old is new again

I might fall in love with you again

Songwriters: Peter W. Allen and Carole Bayer Sager

Marketing: It’s All In The Details

Marketing is all about details(Photo by Meena Kadri)

Your product is the best. Or it’s the first. Or it’s the newest. Or it’s the cheapest.
Your services are fast. Or they are efficient. Or they are highly creative.
Do any of these statements sound like your marketing message? If so, no one’s likely to believe you (or even pay attention to you).

Stop talking in generalities (everyone else is). Talk in specifics. Here’s how to create a statement (and supporting story) of specific achievements:

  1. Identify the problems, situation, goals, or opportunity that your previous clients  faced.
  2. What did you do to help your clients overcome these problems?
  3. What quantitative or qualitative results did your clients see?

Let’s say you are a caterer. Thinking back to clients that you wow’ed, you might remember Ms. Frances, who hired you at the last minute because their caterer decided to instead cater a wedding reception for a local celebrity. Ms. Frances needed last-minute help, and you were able to create a menu that was also better tailored to the bride and groom’s special dietary needs. So you could say, “Specializing in last-minute tricky catering needs“. But rather than being seen as the “fall-back” caterer, you want to position yourself as the caterer that won’t cancel and will delight. So instead say, “Ensure your catered event will be delicious, highly-customized, and on-budget … Guaranteed!” Your specific story of Ms. Frances will be just one tangible example of how you exceeded expectation, reduced fear, and made your clients successful.

Boost Your Product Marketing

Improve Your Product Marketing(Photo by VFS Digital Design)

What’s the best way to improve your product marketing (Hint: it’s not about typography, images, size, or color choice)?

Your packaging is important, but it’s not primary. Underneath the packaging is the promise. You need to convince someone to actually want the type of thing you’re offering first, then convince them that your specific offering is their best option.

Imagine you’re a personal trainer trying to gain more women clientele to subscribe to your online video library.

Let’s say I’m a 30-50 year old woman, somewhere in the world. I’m looking to get a little more fit. What are my options? Classes. Personal trainers. Books. Videos. Different people like different ways of learning. But ultimately, changing one’s habit is hard. And staying motivated to do so doubly so. This is well studied.

In your packaging you need to unlock the answer to the question: Who regularly pays to watch online yoga videos? The second question is then: Why would someone choose your videos?

Getting to the root of this issue can be time-consuming and frustrating, and often you’re blind to the motivation of your target audience. That’s why you’re better off working with someone outside your business to help you better understand what others see.

Marketing Uniqueness En Masse

Selling Uniqueness To Everyone(Photo by Rod)

The old expression “if you have a hammer, everything looks like a nail” may apply to your marketing. If you’re selling a product that’s mass-produced, how do you convey that your product will solve the unique needs of a wide variety of prospective customers? The short answer is “you don’t”.

Don’t try to be everything for everyone. (No one will buy it.)

Instead, focus on clusters of people who have similar needs.

For example, if you’re selling a new type of wrench, your potential market may include: homeowners, mechanics, contractors, handy persons, or shop owners. While each of these markets may truly appreciate what you’re offering, you likely don’t have the budget to reach out to everyone and articulate how it meets their needs.

Instead, focus on a specific market first. Learn what they value, how they evaluate a new offering, and why/when they would consider switching from their current solution. Then approach them with a better way to do what they do.

If this works, you’ll have the budget to approach another niche (and if you have something a LOT better, people in other niches will likely be approaching you as they’ve heard from others how wonderful it is for their business). If it doesn’t work, try another niche before considering to pivot into a different offering (licensing your product to another company, for example).

Are You The Brand?

Are You The Brand(Photo by bark)

When marketing your business, are you better off showcasing yourself or your customer’s needs? It all depends on what your target audience knows and thinks about you.

Are you well-known and beloved? If so, leverage the social trust you’ve built up to showcase your new offering. If people liked what you’ve showed them previously, they’re more likely to be interested in what you’re showing them now. But be careful – if your prospective customers sense you’re “cashing out” on your name without something of benefit for them, they’ll (slowly) stop listening to you. That’s why smart celebrities are careful about lending their name for new offerings. Too many missteps and their brand value declines.

If you’re not well-known, don’t start by announcing yourself to the world. That creates a double problem for your business: first you need to educate people who you and then you need to show why people should care about what you’re saying. Instead, focus your marketing on convincing people of what you’re selling (as validated independently). Done repeatedly, you’ll then be able to step into the limelight to show why your wisdom that matters.

Here today and gone tomorrow. Make sure that your marketing leads with how people would react if you were gone tomorrow. Would they miss you or what you can do for them?