Category Archives: Creative Business Ideas

Don’t Miss The (Marketing) Boat!

Do not miss the marketing boat(Photo by Nahid V)

If you’re like many business owners, your mailing list isn’t well-segmented. That means that you can’t simply send a email blast to just women, or just people that have purchased from you in the last 3 months, or just people who live in a 10 mile radius of your store. But you have a new offer that you want to ensure the “right people” see. What can you do?

You make sure that the offer contains the magic words: “…For you, or for someone-you-know-who-is-the-right-person…“.

The key is that the reader of your message is likely to immediately make a judgement about your offer. If you’re selling a product to women, and the reader is a man, they’ll likely stop reading as soon as they figure out the message is not for them. Therefore, make the message apply to them as well (“For you…or for the woman that you love/know…”). That will help to frame the message as as “beneficial gift” for someone they know, which may elevate their own status.

Ideally, segment your list so you can market directly to your target market with images, language, and an offer that resonates for them. But until then, try to be logically and emotionally inclusive.

Building Your B2B Marketing

How To Build Your B2B Marketing(Photo by Andrew Ashton)

If your business is marketing its services to another business (B2B = Business-To-Business), it is vital to know that B2B’s needs are very different from B2C’s (Business-To-Consumer) emotional issues. Do you know the top 6 B2B needs?

  1. Increased Profitability. While obvious, it’s important to remember that businesses exist to make money.
  2. Increased Power. Business want power (influence) over their markets. Business employees seek power within their company.
  3. Decreased Risk. Businesses seek a “sure thing” to minimize wasted resources.
  4. Decreased Hassle. An business opportunity may be a sure thing that’s highly profitable, but the amount of effort to break into that market may be cost prohibitive.
  5. Increased Praise. While praise comes from individuals, it’s a core group individuals that create a target market. That’s why it’s important for a business to both focus on top-down (leadership/management) as well as bottom-up strategies.
  6. Increased Fun. Building a business takes time. The long-term motivation of money and power isn’t generally enough to guide a business owner through short-term problems. That’s why in the midst of all the work, there needs to be a vision for why people choose to come together to do great things.

Be sure that your B2B marketing is conveyed using facts (see: Marketing Foreplay), and touches upon many of a business’ “pain points”.

Interview Your Customers

Interviewing is a Specialized Skill(Photo by studio tdes)

To build your social credibility, you’ll need to interview your customers for testimonials. But how do you do that?

First, consider letting someone other than you do it. As a business owner, you’re naturally passionate about your business and therefore naturally defensive of criticism. Someone not in leadership will likely to better ask questions dispassionately and record responses accurately.

Second, since testimonials generally convey the emotional experience of working together, it’s important to create mini-case studies about the work – not simply “How wonderful was it working with us?“. Get the details:

  • Their demographic information
  • What have they tried?
  • What worked?
  • Why did they come to you?
  • How did they find you?
  • How long have they been with you? What’s worked? What hasn’t?
  • Who would they recommend your programs to? Why? Have they?

Finally, feature these mini-case studies throughout the year in all your marketing. See which case study works best for different types of clients, and continue to fine-tune your social credibility.

Marketing “Bigger is Better”

Bigger Is Better Marketing(Photo by Kevin Dinkel)

Want to impress your clients – or have your clients impress their friends? Think bigger!

Psychologically speaking, bigger things are perceived to be more powerful, and therefore higher in social status.  That’s why many people search for larger homes, larger cars, larger offerings, and larger office spaces. While smaller things can be more intricate, made of higher quality materials, and more personalized to oneself – the smaller things are generally not seen by others.

So, if your goal is to impress others with your good taste, budget, or style – you want to go big. Be sure in your offerings you give the option for a larger impression – to allow people to advertise themselves.

Marketing To Millennials

Marketing To Millennials(Photo by Merlijn Hoek)

What’s so different about marketing to Millennials? Born between 1981 and 1997, these 75 million young adults grew up as digital natives: online-purchasing, instant-messaging, cellphone-using, and social media-immersed. What marketing strategies work best to connect with them?

Visuals. Images matter even more to Millennials than previous generations, since social media posts of images are quicker to “see” (with lots of social media postings, great images stand out).

Stories. It’s not sufficient to describe how well a product looks or a service works. It’s vital to explain how the product or service enhances their life. Use stories to make an emotional connection.

Pre-digital Nostalgia. Modern digital life is fast-paced, and can be exhausting to keep up with. Therefore, Millennials yearn for a “simpler” life, full of quirky handmade goods to showcase uniqueness.

Off-the-beaten path. Because Millennials have a harder time finding meaningful employment, low-budget travel is another avenue to highlight their uniqueness and to expand their connection to the world.

DIY. The extreme way to reject major brands and highlight your uniqueness is to create something yourself. Instead of only showing turnkey solutions, allow your customers to customize your offering to better suit their needs.

By showcasing how you can help Millennials improve their lives, you’ll naturally be part of their lives.

The Power of “About Us”

About Us and Your Website(Photo by Dita Margarita)

No doubt you’ve spent a lot of time optimizing your home page: it’s attractive, it has a clearly stated benefit and a strong value, and is search engine optimized. Your “About Us” web page, however,  is likely to be an afterthought. It’s a commonly missed huge opportunity.

When someone is thinking of purchasing from you, before clicking the “buy” button or calling for a consultation, they’ll want to feel confident in you and your company. So, they’ll look at “About Us” to build trust. Think of this page as an interview, where you answer their concerns so they think “Okay, I believe in you”.

Here are a few of the questions that your web site visitor is likely to want to have answered:

  • Are you an expert?
  • What are you an expert in?
  • What else about yourself is “interesting”?
  • What are your plans for the future?
  • Who is your ideal customer?

Don’t try to sell your product or services on your “About Us”. By focusing on why your customer can trust your skills and advice, you’ll move your sale from “possible” to “likely”.

Love/Hate Your Marketing

Love Your Marketing(Photo by jonhoward)

We focus so much of our marketing efforts to get people to “like” us. But it’s not enough. It’s too safe. It’s not memorable.  But what else is there?

Your goal is to have your clients immediately love or hate your marketing.

If they love it, they’ll buy from you (and recommend that others do so as well).
If they hate it, then they won’t come back (and not bother you again).

What we too often do is focus in the middle-ground, those that can “take-it-or-leave-it”. But these people often don’t become your customers, because by the time it comes to purchase a product or service like one you offer, you’ve been forgotten. Instead, people remember those that they loved (that’s why Yelp uses the phrase “People Love Us On Yelp”)

You can’t be all things to all people, and you can’t convey passion for everything. Instead, focus on sharing your passion, engaging your customers and build a clear emotional response to your offering.

Show Your Customers

Show Your Customers In Your Marketing(Photo by utpal)

Does your marketing clearly state who your customers are likely to be? If not, be specific in stating who is likely interested in what you’re selling. Once stated, the next step is to build social credibility. Can your prospective customer see themselves in your offering?

Since numerous psychological studies have shown that people have a propensity for preferring to look at people “like me”, make sure you don’t simply say who your target audience is, show them. Where possible, show your (prospective) customer demographics. What is their gender? Their age? Their race? Their weight? Their attire? The more people can imagine themselves with your offering, the easier it’ll be to sway them to buy from you (all other things being equal).

A picture (or two) can be worth a 1000 sales.

The Power Of 3

Prove Your Marketing Worth(Photo by Sarah Witherby)

If you say “I’m the best Realtor”, why should someone trust you? Maybe you even have a long list of testimonials, where everyone writes, “She’s the best!” – is that enough to convince someone to trust you? In a world where anyone can publish their thoughts and beliefs and get followers, how can you prove what you say is true?

Use the power of three to triangulate your proof.

The power of three means you need three distinct types of information to make your case. Having three testimonials is great, but not enough – since you may be good at influencing people to write you testimonials, but bad at producing results. So, besides testimonials, what other proof can you highlight?

Statistics showing your results is more proof. If you’re a Realtor, you might show how your closings are 25% faster than average or you’ve sold more properties than your competition. But since statistics can be manipulated (remember the quotation “Lies, damned lies, and statistics“?),  statistics alone isn’t enough. But testimonials + statistics paints a stronger case, but still not an airtight one.

What other “angle” of your efforts can showcase that you get the work done, as promised, and with integrity? You might showcase how you help those that have no vested interest in your work, but whose lives you’ve changed. For example, you might showcase charities you actively volunteer for or non-profit organizations that you have leadership responsibility for. Showcasing volunteering alone shows a caring spirit, but not necessarily an effective one. Showcasing volunteering and testimonials shows that you’re a “people person”, but not necessarily a bottom-line producer. But showcasing volunteering + testimonials + statistics proves your point.

The power of three won’t suddenly bring clients to your doorstep. But it will remove all doubt of what you can do for them, and allow you to convert prospective customers into future testimonial-writing clients.

“…You know, if one person, just one person does it they may think he’s really sick and they won’t take him. And if two people, two people do it, in harmony, they may think they’re both faggots and they won’t take either of them. And three people do it, three, can you imagine, three people walking in singin’ a bar of Alice’s Restaurant and walking out. They may think it’s an organization. And can you, can you imagine fifty people a day, I said fifty people a day walking in singin’ a bar of Alice’s Restaurant and walking out. And friends they may thinks it’s a movement….”

– Arlo Guthrie, “Alice’s Restaurant”

Burst Their Bubble!

Get Target Market Attention for Your Marketing(Photo by Martin Thomas)

Everyone is truly in their own world. People are focused on their needs & their problems. Online, this is exacerbated with search engine filter bubbles (search engines that show information that the searcher is likely to be interested in and agrees with their viewpoints). So, how can you burst people’s attention bubbles?

First, you need to appear within their bubbles.

With social media more prevalent, people are self-publishing their thoughts all the time, but not interacting as much. That means that people are literally telling you what you need to know to reach them: start a dialogue about the things that they are interested in.

Next, you need to give them a reason to continue the dialogue.

Start your marketing with their problems and gradually shift to your solutions. While your solution may be obvious to you, it’s clearly not obvious to your target audience (otherwise, they wouldn’t have the problem). Explain that your solution is well-tested, safe, guaranteed, and validated by lots of people like them.

The solution to attracting new clients is at your fingertips.