Smart Marketing for Small Businesses

Smart Marketing for Small Businesses from The Write Effect Unlimited, Inc.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Rx for Your Hospital Marketing

Had the great privilege to work with a wonderful group of authors editing a new book that's just out!
Written for the marketer in the field using everyday language, examples, and case studies that will help all members of a hospital marketing department do their jobs better while spending marketing dollars wisely. The Thought Leaders Project: Hospital Marketing, is co-written by a tea...

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Don't have the ability? Then GET it!

Many of us believe that our intelligence, our personality, and our physical aptitudes are fixed — that no matter what we do, we won't improve. As a result, we focus on goals that are all about proving ourselves, rather than developing and acquiring new skills.

Harvard Business Review

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

How to Start Smart and End up with All Kinds of Cash

Coming up with great ads for your company begins long before you write web copy or design a brochure.

You can start smart by considering the identity of your audience, your own brand message, and the strategy in which you want to deliver it.

Target Market

Know Thine Customer!

Seems like a no brainer, but you’d be surprised by how much advertising is incorrectly targeted to the wrong audience.

Before you even begin writing those ads, creating that brochure or developing web content, find out the answers to some critical questions.

Who is your customer?

Are they male or female?

How old?

Do they have kids or are they childless by choice?

What do they do for a living?

What drives them to purchase?

Is it economics? (And who isn’t driven by price these days?)

Is it fear of failure? (Look at some classic 1960s ads to see what Mad Ave determined was the driver behind purchases made by women—the desire to be a perfect wife and mother by way of a clean oven, a sparkling toilet and the perfect oven in which to cook their roast beef dinner.)

Most importantly, what is your target’s problem and how are you going to solve it for them?

Put yourself in their position. See life from their perspective. The better you know your target, the more easily you’ll be able to craft your marketing message.

Unique Selling Proposition (USP)

Know Thine Self!

Your USP is what distinguishes you from the competition. It is the characteristic of your brand that makes you stand out in the marketplace.

It is the reason, for example, that someone will choose to purchase your foot fungus powder over the other 378 brands of foot fungus powder on the market.

To determine your USP, ask yourself the following:

What can my company offer my target that no one else can?

Are our services new?

Do we offer products/services that are an improvement over what the competition is currently offering?

Are our services somehow more convenient to use either in contracting or in fulfillment?

Do we specialize in an area that others don’t offer?

Is the quality of our service better than the competition?

Viral Marketing

Know What's Catchy!

Viral marketing is just like that cold you had last week that you got from your kid, who got it from his classmate, who passed it on to her teacher, and on and on and on. It's a phenomenon that works exceptionally well with Facebook, Twitter and YouTube and other social networking platforms.

When you create a message that’s fun, fascinating, provocative or amusing, your core audience is more likely to pass it on to their friends, who will forward it to their family, who will send it on to co-workers, etc., etc., etc.

From the original Hotmail viral campaign (those clickable email sig files attached to every email sent from a Hotmail account--“Get your free email at Hotmail”) to more complex, professionally produced videos, like the John West Salmon Bear Fight ads (with more than 1,182,953 views on YouTube at viral marketing works.

If you can create a great viral marketing strategy, your target audience will be doing the marketing for you, and you won’t even have to put them on your payroll.

How’s that for smart?

Want to Know a Secret?

Ask me anything (about marketing your small biz, that is.) I'll reveal any and all marketing secrets ...kind of like those magicians who let people in on the secret of their magic tricks, much to the annoyance of all other magicians. Click on FOLLOW ME to find out the insider info stuff that others want to charge you for before they'll reveal.

Photo credit: Salvatore Vuono--

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Did you make any new friends today?

Over the course of fifteen years, I have purchased five Saturn compact cars. In that same time frame, I bought four Gateway computers. Setting aside for the moment my incredible talent for choosing brands destined for extinction (perhaps Kellogg should take note…I do love their cereals and my patronage seems to be a kind of kiss of death), I think the bigger picture here is about brand loyalty. For me and Saturn and Gateway, that all began with relationship-building.

No matter how big or small your business, your success is dependent on relationships, e.g. with existing customers, with potential customers, with vendors, with contractors, with your employees, with your partners. The cigar-chewing, acid-tongued executive may foster fear, but he also nurtures contempt. And in the end, everyone with whom he does business knows that he just doesn’t care.

The proof of all this for me is that if Saturn and Gateway hadn’t gone the way of the Triceratops, I wouldn’t be buying their brands anymore anyway. Why? Because they were like the small town yokels that hit it big on Broadway and then forgot about their roots and the folks back home. Too busy to care, only interested in making a buck, they never called, they never wrote, they never sent flowers anymore. (Actually, they never sent flowers at all, but they both used to offer free services and perks and promos that evaporated as soon as success sullied their souls.)

The lesson then is to never stop working on those relationships because you want your customers, your loyal employees, your dependable contractors and vendors to be around for a long, long time.

Today’s vocab will help you begin to build those important relationships.

Questionnaire –Never underestimate the power of this simple document. Use it to gather clients’ demographic information, their motivation for buying, products they’d like to see developed, complaints they might have. Then post it to your website, shoot it out in an email, throw it on a postcard and into a mailbox. Never stop information gathering. It will keep you connected and show you care.

Referral—It’s time to start naming names, imposing on relationships and just generally making a pest of yourself (at least with your family.) With current clients, offer an incentive for referrals—a bonus, a reward, a gift. Tell family members they’re out of the will if they don’t give you at least three names, then follow up, and ask those three for more referrals. Always remember to ask for a referral or three and you’ll be amazed at how quickly your network and customer base will grow. interest in the product.

Social media—Okay, if you don’t know what social media is, may I be the first to welcome you to the planet earth. That aside, just because you know what it is , doesn’t necessarily mean you’re using it or taking advantage of its fantastic capability to build your business. If not, then it is time. Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, YouTube, etc. We’re going to look at them and you WILL learn how to use them.

Finally, remember when you used to come home from school and your mother would ask you, “Did you make any new friends today?” When you’re operating your small business, you need to ask yourself that question everyday. (Quite likely, it won’t annoy you as much as it did when mom asked you.)

Photo credit: Louisa Stokes,

Monday, December 27, 2010

Are You Getting Enough Of It?

You have the greatest small business in the world. But if no one knows you’re there, does it really matter? In order to get your customers’ business, you need to first grab their attention. Fortunately, there are a multitude of ways to make sure your business is getting enough of it.

Today’s vocab focuses on three proven attention-getting methods. We’ll only review them briefly here, but in the weeks ahead, we’ll examine them in-depth to demonstrate how they work and how you can make the most of each one:

Newsletter. Distribute your newsletter to your customer base and fill it with all kinds of information they’ll find useful. That means, no matter how interesting your cat, how cute your kids, or how delicious your Aunt Joan’s eggplant/fig/nacho chip dip is, your audience probably won’t be interested. (That is of course, unless your business has something to do with cats, kids or chip dips.) But if your target market isn’t interested, they won’t read your newsletter. And if they won’t read it, you’ve just wasted a lot of time and money putting it together and distributing it. Instead, send out a low-cost online newsletter filled with the latest info about your industry, upcoming promotions or discounts you’re featuring, the latest breakthroughs or products on the market and more. Remember, your newsletter should provide value to your customers so that when they receive it, they will read it, not delete it.

Optimized. When you optimize your website with carefully chosen keywords, you increase the volume and quality of traffic coming to your site via search engines. Of course, just like a brick and mortar store, once you get your customer through the front door, you exponentially increase the chance that they’ll convert to a paying customer. Optimizing your website is no minor task. It’s hard work, it’s on-going and if you contract the work out to a professional (which I highly recommend you do, because how much do you really know about algorithms?) it can be expensive. However, the payback can be substantial and well worth the investment.

PromotionAccording to the Promotion Marketing Association Coupon Council, almost 80 percent of Americans use coupons. That means there are a whole lot of folks out there looking for a great deal. It’s up to you to give them an offer they can’t refuse. Promotions include everything from temporary discounts to contests to sweepstakes to give-away’s. Spend some time thinking about what you can afford to give away. By offering a promotion to your customers such as a free consultation, a discount or a rebate, you can potentially increase your customer base and your sales, while spending a minimal amount on the actual promotion itself.

Make sure your business gets enough attention by testing one of the methods mentioned above. By applying even one of these strategies to your own biz, you could be getting all the attention your heart (and business) desires.

Photo credit: Federico Stevanin,