Posted by Admin
(This column first appeared on RIMOFTHEWORLD.net on May 8, 2011.)
The TLC show Extreme Couponing kind of freaks me out. I mean, who has 60 hours a week to clip and organize coupons, much less storage for 72 boxes of detergent and 433 tubes of toothpaste, even if the net cost for the items is 12 cents? Don’t get me wrong. I love a bargain as much as any other red-blooded American. But my own forays into the coupon game have proved far less successful.
On the few Sundays a year I actually remember to haphazardly tear coupons from the newspaper, I inevitably leave them at home only to realize the mistake while standing in line at the supermarket. But that doesn’t mean I am throwing in the towel. I’m determined to save money any way I can.
The economy has made it necessary for most of us to carefully measure every single purchase. If it doesn’t cut the mustard, it gets axed. And, in many ways, this is a good thing. After all, why pay for something unless it actively improves the bottom line?
When it comes to marketing, one expense that almost always makes sense is membership in a local chamber of commerce. Services included and fees charged vary from chamber to chamber. So check with your local organization for specifics. But some features are standard:
- Listing in an online and/or printed directory
- Hyperlink from the chamber website to your own
- Networking opportunities at mixers, luncheons and special events
- Advertising partnership opportunities. (The Lake Arrowhead Chamber, for example, allows members to pay a nominal fee for targeted email blasts.)
- Access to accurate contact information for B2B marketing
- Entry to educational classes such as business seminars and economic symposiums
- The ability to contribute to your local business community. Run for an appointment to the board of directors or volunteer to help pull off a big event.
For some, chamber membership can mean the difference between the successful survival of your business and abject failure. Take Lake Arrowhead, for example. Marketing Director for the Lake Arrowhead Chamber of Commerce, Leslie McLellan, maintains that “social media saved Lake Arrowhead.”
In The Social Media Examiner, blogger Casey Hibbard recounts the way McLellan and the Lake Arrowhead Chamber has used social media since 2009 to bolster business activity at a time when advertising budgets were slashed. Since the chamber used social media to promote the Lake Arrowhead area on behalf of member businesses, the entire community benefited.
Whatever your marketing budget, don’t miss out on opportunities to leverage your chamber membership to even greater effect.
Consider combining your own social media efforts with the activities of your local chamber by hosting a social media summit. If the movers and shakers in your community can agree to use common Twitter hashtags for promoting community events, cross-promoting via Facebook Fan Pages and dividing and conquering blog topics to market community events, everyone will benefit.
On a Limited Budget—
Instead of acting as if you live on an island, collaborate with leadership and members of your local chamber to save costs and multiply the effectiveness of your marketing campaigns. Sharing costs for production, printing and distribution of traditional marketing materials for community events will stretch your advertising budget. And, maybe even more importantly, the more creative business minds who gather to brainstorm, the better.
The Sky’s the Limit—
If your business is located in a metropolitan city, take a cue from the Greater Philadelphia Chamber, which recently developed a formal training program they call the Supplier Network, which has business members gushing:
Without this program, I never would have expected to get my foot in the door with a Citizens Bank or Comcast, let alone secure a contract with the Delaware River Port Authority.
I developed an invaluable mentor relationship with an SN instructor from Astra Zeneca.
The series has been indispensable in my company’s development.
If your firm has resources sufficient to sponsor such a program, give it a go. The possibilities are endless. For example, why not host an educational seminar, tweet about it along with your local chamber and share costs to produce discount coupons? I would follow the tweets and might even clip the coupon myself…not that I would remember to bring it with me to the event.
Until next time, I’ll be Bowling for Business.
Posted by Admin
This column first appeared in RimoftheWorld.net on Nov. 29, 2009
I’m not sure how I sliced off a chunk of skin from my left index finger while we were at the drug store the other day. But I couldn’t get the thing to stop bleeding. While I was digging in my purse for tissues, my daughter, Lauren, was scouring the aisles when she came across a new product that speeds coagulation. It’s called Wound-Be-Gone.
“Mom, this would be perfect for you,” she said, reading the fine print on the box. “It’s the only over-the-counter product clinically proven to accelerate healing, decrease inflammation, reduce tenderness, and prevent scar formation with both acute and chronic wounds. And it’s travel size, which is perfect for you since you are always hurting yourself.”
Though she sounded like an infomercial, I have to admit Lauren was right. My left hand looks like a “before” picture for burn cream, eczema medicine, and anti-bacterial ointment. The battle scars are from my curling iron, our oven, and several particularly menacing grocery store rotisserie chicken-heating units. So, to my daughter’s credit, Wound-Be-Gone was a lucky find.
Lauren’s slick salesmanship aside, the primary reason I made the jump from casual browser to paying customer was because the prospect of parting with $19.99 plus tax was less painful to me than the embarrassment and inconvenience of hemorrhaging all over the floor at Rite Aid. The manufacturers of Wound-Be-Gone made the sale because they met me at the point of my pain. And, in the end, every sale does the same.
The rub is how to articulate your ability to meet needs. You can do it with the name of your company, the name of your product, your slogan or your advertising campaign. Or, better yet, with all of the above.
Here are some examples of national brands that do this well:
Pain Point: My house is a disorganized, undecorated mess.
Solution: You can do it. We can help. (Home Depot)
Pain Point: I’m so sick that I can’t sleep.
Solution: The nighttime coughing, achy, sniffling, stuffy head, fever, so you can rest medicine. (Nyquil)
Pain Point: I have to deliver this package right away or I could get fired.
Solution: When it absolutely, positively has to be there overnight. (Federal Express)
Pain Point: I’m fat.
Solution: Slim Quick
To make sure you are addressing your prospective customers’ points of pain, you need to define your Unique Sales Proposition. The reason I recommend creating a USP as a first step is because it will force you to look at your offering from the end user’s point of view instead of from your own. The good news is that you can create and support a good USP no matter your budget.
Ask your friends and business associates for ideas. A jewelry store owner and former member of my networking group developed a slogan by asking us for ideas. He finally decided to go with Everything Fine at Kelly’s on Vine. And while it isn’t necessarily my first choice, because it doesn’t clearly communicate his Unique Sales Proposition, it’s catchy. So he should use it with abandon. Once you settle on your tag, splash it on your business cards, letterhead and website and in your email signature.
On a Budget
If your budget puts you in an either/or situation, spend it to hire someone to define your trademark instead of on the advertising to promote it. With social media marketing and directory listings, there’s never been a better time to advance your brand for free. And when business improves and your budget increases, you’ll be proud of what you’re promoting.
The Sky’s the Limit
Find an agency to help you come up with a strategy to compliment your USP. One of our clients, Sandra, is a doctor of optometry. Before coming up with a tagline for her practice, we reminded her she is selling more than eye exams, glasses or contact lenses. She is offering the promise of clear vision. To accentuate her goal of superior customer service, we came up with a slogan that showcases her USP, Eye Focus on You. And, I’ve got a great spokeswoman on deck if she ever wants to do an infomercial.
Until next week, I’ll be Bowling for Business.
Tags: BNI, Bowling for Business, brands, company slogans, directory listings, drug stores, home depot, logos, national brands, nyquil, rimoftheworld.net, rotisserie chicken burns, slim quick, Social Media, unique sales proposition, USP, wound be gone