Thursday, September 29, 2016

A Marvelous Application of Video Marketing

A recent conversation with a business owner yielded a perfect application of video to enhance marketing efforts.

The business owner in question performs very specific home renovation services.  This is a field in which word of mouth and referrals are critical.  But these are time consuming and can only go so far.  However, there is a way for him to demonstrate the quality of his work and his business ethics, and that is photography and videography.  A set of brief videos can showcase work the business owner is doing, how he approaches and solves problems, and best of all, his warm personality.  Combined with a list of referrals and endorsements, a curious prospect can visit the business owner's web site and see exactly what they can contract for.

Video has wider application as well.  It is a fantastic way to provide value-added by sharing pieces of information, answering frequently asked questions, or explaining particular products and services.  And for even the most bashful business owner video can warm up their presentation.

One concern:  While videos are extremely easy to create today, consider contracting with a professional rather than upload shaky or otherwise inferior videos.

Bottom Line: look at videos to amplify marketing that can do so much on a 24/7 basis and which greatly benefits the customer and prospect.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Gimmicks May Hurt More Than Help

Yesterday I drove past a business that had put up a large inflatable duck in front of the business, along the road.  The utter incongruousness of the duck and the business struck me, but I remembered all of the other inflatables, and other gimmicks (e.g. people waving signs while in costume, walking sandwich boards, etc.) I have seen over the years and that's what brought on a frown for the rest of the day.

As with so much in life, there is a point where you can go right over the wall.  Let's take these inflatables, as they are relatively popular.  On the one hand, I can almost see some value in a person hired to, say, wear a Statue of Liberty costume and wave at people to promote a business called "Liberty Tax Preparation".  It's a silly come-on but I did remember the business later and there was some (albeit limited) connection with the brand equity of the business.  But let's say you are a realty office and you decide to put out an inflatable dancing person.  Is this "look at me!!!!" impact overwhelmed by the brand misfit? or the chance it made the realty company look cheesy and "low rent"?  I am a person very sensitive to brand equity and anything that could enhance or damage the same.

Let's put this another way.  The business I passed may have spent a great deal of time and money cultivating a brand that conveyed an image of professionalism, knowledge, and class.  And then one day they put out an inflatable duck.  This guy now suspects the managers of that company of being fools: they certainly thought so little of their target customer that they supposed an inflatable duck would attract new business.

Bottom Line: I urge any small business owner to use gimmicks like this with extreme care.  Be wary of what subconscious message is broadcast that could impair your precious brand.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

When Traffic is Light

Some of the business owners I know and work with have classic "brick and mortar" situations: i.e. doing business from a single physical location.  And some of them have had difficulties creating foot traffic to their location.  As is so often the case, affordability and availability dictate unusually difficult circumstances where the business may as well be invisible.  That, tied with limited advertising budget, begs the question: how to generate traffic in such cases?

In such cases, I like "guerrilla marketing" strategies.  Some of these might include:

(1) Build word of mouth by giving something away.  A strategy I like and use is the free seminar.  These can often be held for nothing at libraries and allow you to talk about something you do, with ideas for the interested, in the space of an hour or 90 minutes.  Leave plenty of take away literature with some special in-store offer for attendees.

(2) Let's face it: social media is a marketing reality.  Use boosted ad features to send a message to the communities where you operate.  And build engagement with continuing customers and prospects.  Use the social media properties to share information and ideas, never to "hard sell", and to announce regular special events at your location.

(3) Groupon (and similar programs) are designed to build awareness.  Used judiciously they can bring in more people for just the cost of a discount.

(4) Give existing customers incentive to bring in new guests!  Can you devise a special discount or offer for referrals?

There are many ways to overcome a location with a possible handicap that don't cost a fortune to implement.  Use some creative strategies or see what some others in the same situation are doing.  You can make a change in your traffic!