If your business doesn’t stand out in today’s hyper-competitive market place there’s a good chance that you won’t be in business very long. There are countless others vying for the same slice of the pie that you are.
There are dozens of competitors just up the road doing all they can to get the attention of your customers and take money out of your pockets.
It’s called “marketing,” and some are probably doing a better job of it than you are and some probably worse.
What can you do to position your business as the one customers notice? The secret to effective marketing is: think creatively.
Case in point: like every other struggling writer on the planet, I’ve written a book that I would like to see on the shelves at Barnes & Nobles.
Now I know that the only way I can get my book in front of a big time publisher is to have it submitted by an equally big time agent. And the chances of convincing a big time agent to represent me are about one in a bazillion. Most writers have a better chance of getting eaten by a shark in the Sahara than signing with an agent who gets them a big publishing deal. Being one to never let made up statistics stop me, I forged a creative marketing plan to make sure my book (my business) was noticed.
First thought: what’s the best way to get face time with a big time agent? I knew that the normal rules of marketing would do me no good. I couldn’t run a few radio spots or buy ads in the newspaper. I had to go where the agents were; in this case a book publishing convention in Orlando, Florida. I bought my ticket, booked my plane and hotel, and waited for the time to go to Orlando and pitch my book to every agent I could find. I was prepared to pitch them standing outside a bathroom stall door if necessary (no pride here).
Then it hit me: I’d probably have less than a minute to give these agents my elevator pitch. They would be swamped with every hack writer within a ten mile radius. I had to do something different. I had to market creatively.
I knew that every other Tom, Dick and John Grisham would be shoving business cards and tattered manuscripts at these guys, so I opted to do something different. I created a business card CD that had my picture on the outside and my manuscript on the inside. It looked like a business card, but when they popped it in their computer it brought up a nice presentation starring the work of yours truly.
Did my creative marketing work? Every agent that I gave one of my handy dandy business card CDs to said the same thing,”That’s the coolest thing I’ve ever seen! Tell me more!” Instead of having 30 seconds to pitch them, I suddenly had their attention for five, ten, fifteen minutes. They wanted to hear more about my amazing little CD and what it contained. By marketing creatively I not only stood out from the crowd, I caught their attention; I piqued their interest, I engaged them in actual conversation instead of the fluff conversation they were saving for less creative marketers.
What was the result of my creative marketing? I signed with an agent who popped the CD in his computer on the flight home and liked what he saw. Will my book ever grace the shelves of bookstores? Who knows, but when it comes out I guarantee you that I will think of all kind of creative ways to market it.
P.T. Barnum was the father of creative marketing. Many people mistakenly think that Barnum’s claim to fame was the circus that bears his name. Actually, Barnum got into the circus business late in life, years after he had established himself as one of the most creative marketers on the planet.
Barnum’s pride and joy was his American Museum in New York City. And his passion was finding creative ways to market it. He took a young midget, dubbed him Tom Thumb and made him a national sensation. He brought a pair of Siamese twins to speak at the museum who grew famous and rich from Barnum’s efforts. He had an elephant plow the field on his property because there was a railroad nearby and he knew that every passenger on the train would tell everyone they knew about seeing the elephant plowing his field. Barnum received nationwide coverage of the event and some agricultural societies even wrote to ask his advice on training elephants to farm. Barnum knew that the only way to keep his museum in business was to market creatively.
How can you use creative marketing in your business? What can you do Rostand out from your competition? What can you do to grab the attention of potential customers and mesmerize them with your message? Elephant farming may be a stretch, but I bet if you put your brain to it, you can think of something.