Thursday, October 27, 2016

Humor Can Make a Commercial Presentation Sizzle

As a multi-year member of various professional and business networking groups it has been my privilege and entertainment to study the craft of the personal presentation.  I have seen hundreds of "commercials" that span the spectrum from ultra-professional to bumbling.

In choosing a style, the business owner/ presenter should bear some things in mind.  One is that there are usually a lot of commercials to hear and in time many of them blur together in the mind of the listener.  Two is that it's hard to hide lack of confidence.  Three is that there are usually competitors in the room.  And four is that the typical listener is easily distracted and sometimes isn't even interested in other presentations.

Getting past these considerations means one thing only:  Standing Out.  A presentation that is memorable in some way is more likely to put the speaker ahead of competitors and foremost in listeners' minds.

I've noticed that humor is a common technique in the more successful presentations.  That brings a certain vividness that is easy to remember.  And humor doesn't need to displace indications of competence or expertise.  Think about the strong broadcast commercials that engage funny moments, or a little self-deprecation, or silly characters and yet answer questions about consumer needs and wants and how the advertiser can help.

Bottom Line:  Do you present?  review your own "commercials" and how they can be boosted and achieve added memorability through the use of good humor.  Watch others and take notes, and then step forward for success!

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

The Pokemon Go Model of Marketing

One of the craziest new fads these days is Pokemon Go, in which smartphone-wielding "hunters" pursue animated quarry in public places.  Great stock is placed on the number of different "pokemons" "captured".  For those of us who have escaped the trend, there is great amusement watching the hunters at work.  I marvel at how close to the Zombie Apocalypse this can get in heavily trafficked places.

Pokemon Go has also reminded me powerfully of modern marketing.  How?  I've been watching with great interest as small businesses "collect" marketing channels, especially in the form of online and social media, to promote themselves.  It almost becomes a game to see how many places a business can appear.  But they're not all equal, and definitely not all collectible, because target customers differ so much.

What is more, there seems (in many cases) to be more value placed on the relationship with an online tool than in what it delivers.  By this I mean that the "collector" expresses the breezy optimism that the one additional property will be seen by "someone" and therefore worth the trouble.

Bottom Line:  Marketing can be fun, but it isn't a game like Pokemon Go.  The small business owner ought to look at potential channels on the basis of their return and acquire them for use only if that return is significant and fits the profile of the target market.  Leave the pocket monsters for someone else!

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Paths to Success in 2016 and 2017

Occasionally I am invited to share thoughts on the future of small business marketing (and in this case, very small business). 

The world of the early 21st century is very different from the one even a decade ago.  There is ever more marketing power available to use, especially in terms of technology, and there is more complication and confusion.  Every week I see peers struggle with the current "normal." 

There are paths out of the thicket that will become more important to us small businesses.

I think alliances will become critical to the success of small business.  The current model (BNI, leads networking) is based on mutualism: one business striving to help another, but otherwise fully independent and unconnected.  This has all of the limitations one person can have, especially in how effective a person is, what time and resources are available, and so on.  I am seeing signs that these "solopreneurs" especially are entertaining more active partnering to leverage resources and opportunities.  It will most often take the form of related businesses or whatever yields natural synergies.  And the businesses will market in a united framework giving equal weight to each participant.

The other path will take the form of increased use of video.  Small businesses are not finding success in print nor even in flat digital publishing (i.e. standard text-based websites or social media posts.  It is incredibly hard to personalize and stand out in traditional ways.  Video lets a prospect see us, hear about what we do in our words and with our own emotions.  It has become very inexpensive to produce video and video can easily be disseminated online.  And it lends itself beautiful to mobile devices.  Even those who are bashful about being "seen" can speak into a microphone while text and graphics amplify the message.

Bottom Line:  The marketplace is complicated and frustrating but we are seeing clearly how some new ways of organizing and displaying can change our game.  Think about how you can pair up with a logical ally and use video to stand out.

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

A Plea to End "Memorable" Advertising

Today I must vent.  Be patient, gentle reader, but in so doing please consider your advertising messages.

I don't know how many times a day I am exposed to advertising that pushes the envelope in terms of bad taste, hyperbole, creepiness, silliness, and much more.  A recent example is a misbegotten TV campaign promoting an "extra crispy" personality who would seem to belong on any number of neighborhood watch lists.  In my early days in this business I learned that these gimmicks were intended to make ads "memorable."

Well, maybe.

The real danger of memorability advertising is that it risks offending and alienating customers.  Your message may be entirely memorable but the customer will associate you with poor taste, poor judgment, and other vices.  Or just as bad, switch off your ad and move along.

You work so hard on your business and the quality of your offerings.  Why throw that away with nonsense in hopes of getting noticed more quickly?  The tried and true is to message consistently, emphasizing strengths, and being honest.  A little humor never hurts, either.

Bottom Line:  Are your ads sending a message that actually demeans you?  Take a good hard look at the awful stuff out there and learn from it what not to do!