I’ve always prided myself on my creative marketing solutions. I scoffed at people who owned franchises. What possible challenge could there be in taking your franchise marketing out of a box and putting it up?
Truly I felt the same about a franchise business as a whole. I built Egg Marketing from the keyboard up, and a “turnkey solution” just never appealed to my entrepreneur spirit.
Enter my husband. Entrepreneur, lover of all opportunities, big or small. He convinced me to buy a Marble Slab Creamery near our home (not really: 20-minute commute) in Orlando. I was skeptical, but I love ice cream, so hey, how bad could it be? And since I am a Marketing Eggspert, I would handle the take-out-of-the-box marketing.
I’m so sorry it’s been a while since I’ve written! Last week I had the Plague, and it’s taken me a while to get back up and running (we won’t even talk about how long it’s been since I went to yoga). There’s always an excuse to get off track, isn’t there?
Speaking of getting off track, how’s your business marketing plan? It’s just February, but are you still being diligent about reaching your marketing goals?
Let me guess, you’ve been swamped. You’ve been out of town. Your dog ate your marketing plan.
Whatever the excuse, it’s time to get back on track before your excuses spin out of control. Here are some tips to get you focused.
Today, becoming an expert in your field is easy. What’s difficult is becoming a brand. Recently I was contacted by an individual who wants to brand himself as a real estate expert. It got me thinking about better branding myself as The Marketing Eggspert.
- Relate why you are the superior brand to competitors
- Create an overall depiction of what your brand has to offer (are you funny? professional? approachable?)
- Promote yourself at every opportunity
Marketing is cyclical. Where direct mail became passe a few years ago in favor of email (and then mobile marketing), it’s now a great way to have a big impact on getting your audience’s attention. But it can’t be just any direct marketing mail. A carefully planned out campaign is the only one sure to get the recipient’s attention.
I have a client who launched a Thanksgiving direct mail campaign. Why? It beats the influx of Christmas cards and gifts, and because it stands out. We sent three mailings, each with its own Thanksgiving-related item (a corn cob, candle, and a toy turkey). The goal was to make the recipient smile, and let their guard down, so that my client could follow up with an appointment to meet them.
We could have just done a postcard campaign, but the recipients are a highly targeted bunch, and we wanted to step outside the proverbial box. So we’re sending lumpy mail, which is a surefire way to get the mail open.
Last week I wrote about viral marketing. It’s everywhere. Then I read an article on Problogger about John Gerard, a man who is determined to become famous in 31 days. His ultimate goal is to get on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno. He’s trekking across the country, from New York to L.A., telling everyone he meets about his mission. It’s a little a la “My Date with Drew.” That, I thought, is viral marketing at its finest. So I had to interview him to get his take on his viral campaign and get viral marketing tips from him.
EM: How are you marketing yourself on this project?
JG: Every way possible. The web. E-mail blasts. Business Cards. Promotional T-shirts. Car Advertising. Word of mouth. Media.
EM: Did you create a marketing plan or are you winging it?
JG: Winging it. Just like my itinerary.
EM: You’ve gotten a lot of media coverage already. Is that something you put effort into, or is it more the effect of viral marketing?
JG: Yes! Both! I’m putting enormous effort in to this! And viral is amazing too! You can’t do without it!
EM: Viral marketing interests me in the fact that the public decides what is worthy of attention (who gets to be famous). What do you think about the probability of a normal guy with a crazy idea becoming a celebrity?
I find myself watching commercials lately, not fast forwarding through them. The difference is, I’m doing it on my computer, and I choose the ones I want to watch. Marketing 2.0 at its best.
Anyway, the commercial I’m watching is from Burger King. The company, which has changed hands several times (as well as marketing firms) in the past few years, seems to be onto something with its bizarre Burger King showing up in bed with people and dancing in the desert. Whopper eaters mysteriously grow handlebar mustaches. It’s a crazy burger world.
The company must be doing something right. While its stock bottomed out last August at $12.41, it has now doubled since then. You used to not have any particular image in mind when you thought of Burger King a few years ago.
Now they have rebranded to become something funky that people want to be a part of. Even back in 2004, when the Subservient Chicken came out, people spread the viral marketing campaign like wildfire. (Many an hour did I spend trying to figure out if it was live or manual. Didn’t that chicken ever need to use the bathroom??)
The point is, sometimes you have to step back and look at your brand. You may like it, but if sales are dropping faster than, well, Subservient Chicken droppings, you may need to consider a rebrand.
On a road trip recently, my family stopped at a Ruby Tuesday restaurant. I don’t have any particularly strong affiliation to the restaurant. To me, it’s a lot like Chili’s and Applebee’s. A good place to get a hot meal, nothing more, nothing less.
I hadn’t been in a Ruby Tuesday in a few years, but right away I noticed a difference. The plates were square. And the tables were clear of the drink special clutter. The menu was basically the same, but there was a slight air of sophistication that I took note of, highlighted by fewer items on the menu, large colorful pictures, and elegant text. And now, that is what separates Ruby Tuesday from other restaurants for me.
If you’re not getting the business you want, and you’re constantly discussing marketing to no avail, your small business marketing strategy sucks.
Here are some clues to look for:
1. You don’t have a marketing budget.
Budget? What’s that? If you think setting aside money for marketing is a waste of time, you’ll soon be looking for employment.
2. You don’t have a small business marketing plan.
Flying by the seat of your pants is not an option when you’re an entrepreneur. Being flexible is, however. You need to have a marketing plan that lays out what activities you will engage in each year, quarter, and month, and how much will be allocated (see point 1).
I recently interviewed marketing guru Kim T. Gordon. Gordon is the author of what I consider the best book on shoestring marketing that I have read (Maximum Marketing, Minimum Dollars). She is also the president of National Marketing Federation, Inc., and provides marketing consultation for businesses.
I recently was fortunate enough to sit in on a Disney Institute session on loyalty. Not knowing what to expect, I was shocked and delighted when a fairy godmother descended on the room (or rather burst through the doors) and began spouting off interesting information about Disney.
Of all the meetings I have ever attended, I have to say, this is the one that I will always remember.
But aside from all the wing and bling she spread around the room, I learned a lot about how Disney does marketing. My respect for the company has grown tenfold since the meeting.