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To succeed in today's crowded marketplace where most of the products and advertising look exactly the same, a small business owner must stand out, shouting above the din with a message so clear and compelling that prospects stop and take notice. It's a matter of business survival. Unfortunately, most entrepreneurs quickly retreat to the supposed security of sameness, soon to be lost in a sea of anonymity and a tidal wave of frustration. In effect, albeit at a subconscious level, they are saying , "I don't want to be different".
In back room offices and store fronts everywhere, salespeople are telling business owners they should do this or that kind of ad because it worked so great for their competitor. The owners nod and sign on. It's already proven to be a winner, right? WRONG! Change the name, background color and a font style and you've got sameness. Put those ads in the yellow pages, a coupon magazine or a TV commercial cluster and you've got advertising death. Want proof? Get the latest statistics on small business failures.
To make your advertising work, follow the principle if your competition is doing it, don't. Go where they aren't and win the battle without a fight. Resist the urge to get a listing in the phone book because that's where everyone else is. A coupon direct mailer that features 6 or 7 of your competitors is a poor choice too. Look for new opportunities in direct mail and email campaigns. Look at direct response ideas. In short, try to find the biggest number of clients you can find in one spot. Fish in a barrel, not the ocean.
When you've chosen different channels to attract your customers, make sure you overcome the "so-what" factor in your copywriting. An ad for a heating and air conditioning company that says it has certified technicians that will fix your problem quickly is a so-what line. No one is looking for uncertified slackers that will get around to the problem whenever. A moving company that mentions superior insurance coverage makes you think they'll probably break something. Be creative and write copy that will compel prospects to take action.
Consumers are bombarded by thousands of ad messages every day. There is so much overload they tune everything out. To get their attention, look within your business and find all that you do differently and decide which of those elements your customers most want. Decide how to word it best. and where to position it. Decide you really do want to be different. You have to. Your business depends on it.
Brian Grinonneau is the general manager of McMann and Tate advertising, an agency that works with small business owners helping them stand out from the crowd.
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Your Eye Catching Publicity Flyer
Your website is done, your business cards have been delivered, and your brochure has received accolades. In the promoting department you have everything you need, right? Well, there is one item you lack and by having this item in your arsenal it can be a dealmaker for you.
Do Your Business Cards Say Who You REALLY Are?
Here are a couple of tips for creating an eye catching card: Use some color - not too much - just enough to grab someone's attention and make them want to read the card. Use a font that's easy to read. Don't fill the whole card with type - it looks crowded and people don't read it all. Consider using a fold-over card - I have found these to be extremely effective for a number of reasons: a) If a handful of business cards are dropped on a desk only the fold over cards stand up above the rest. b) The fold over card is still unique - not many people use them. c) I use mine as a mini brochure - inside it tells about my qualifications, services I offer and skills I have, the front has my name, phone #'s, email address, URL and postal address. Another popular addition is your photo - this makes you seem more approachable and friendly (if your business is one where you deal directly with the public I suggest you consider adding a photo)--------------------------------------------------------------------------------How to make sure your cards are really working for you? Have a goal to give away AT LEAST 5 CARDS A DAY to build your network: Leave one with a tip for a waitress. When you "check in" at the doctor or dentist reception desk don't spell your name - give your card. Carry them in your pocket when you walk the dog and hand one out to people you stop and chat with. Make sure all your children's friends parents know what you do and have your card. Ask someone else for their card and give them yours (you can build your mailing list and get some exposure at the same time. Enclose your card with each bill you pay. Each time you buy something (even at the drugstore) leave your card and say something simple like "I design Internet websites if you have any questions about how you can make money on the Internet please call me". Put the cards on community bulletin boards. When you attend trade shows drop your card in EVERY box - yes you will get put on lots of mailing lists, but you'll also receive some business too - you'd be surprised. Give a card to the gas station attendant, grocery store clerk, video store worker, hostess at a restaurant when you give your name for a seat reservation. If you overhear a conversation about your industry say "I'm sorry but I couldn't help overhear part of your conversation if you ever need more information on the topic, here's my card". Offer to speak at your school's career day and give each student a card - they do have parents who may need what you have to offer. Leave some cards with your stationery store manager - very often they get requests from small business people for different kinds of help - if you leave your cards you'll be first on the list to be called. If you ever go anywhere there is entertainment leave your card with the entertainer - and tell them how much you've enjoyed their performance. While some of the ideas above may seem "silly" you won't know until you try if they'll work for you - and all of the people listed above may not want what you're offering BUT they all have family, friends and co-workers who just might.
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