I tried a new auto mechanic this week. The auto shop I had gone to for years switched ownership and I wasn’t thrilled with the new management. Plus, I needed a shop closer to work. So I tried one of the many near the office and one highly recommended by my boss.
When I walked into the Finishline front office, I was immediately struck by the framed thank you notes hung on the walls. Many of these notes were handwritten. It was incredible to me that people had actually taken the time to handwrite a note to their mechanic. I’ve written online reviews for my mechanic, but a handwritten note? That beast of a task is reserved for friends and family. As I started to read the testimonials, it became clear that John, the owner, wasn’t just a mechanic. He was a friend, a friend people trusted with one of their most important worldly possessions.
I was feeling pretty good about my decision to come to Finishline. John gave a me a detailed quote before starting the work. He charged a fair price. He got the job done quickly. He was kind, respectful, and friendly.
Everything John did was worthy of a 5 Star Yelp Review. But I still wasn’t understanding the handwritten thank you notes. But at the end of the transaction, John handed me the keys and mentioned that he had noticed that one of the tires on the stroller in the back of the car was flat, and he filled it up. I couldn’t believe he had even noticed the flat tire, much less taken the time to refill it. Talk about going above and beyond. Right there, he earned a lifelong customer and a handwritten thank you note.
Service is the most important part of your brand. Make sure it’s excellent!
Amid the hustle and bustle of the holidays, don’t forget to keep the work hustle going. There are only 16 days left in 2017, and here are five things you can easily do in the next two weeks to ensure 2018 starts strong!
Create a marketing budget and strategy. Marketing should be something you do throughout the year, not just when you get a listing. Check out our detailed post on how to create a successful marketing strategy.
Clean your contact lists. Every direct mail piece, every email, every phone call, every door knock costs time and money. Stop wasting money on emails sent to bad addresses, postcards sent to people who no longer live at that address, or cold calling people who are not part of your target audience. Now is a great time to go through your lists and get rid of bad contacts, as well as add new ones you’ve made over the years.
Ask for testimonials. Ideally, you should be asking for testimonials after every closing. But if you’ve fallen behind, no worries, now is a great time to catch up. Reach out to everyone you helped sell or buy a house for in 2017. Consider a video testimonial in addition to a written one.
Consider your brand. Take at a look at your visual brand and your messaging. Does it still reflect your values and uniqueness? Is it still appealing to your target audience? Does it convey the message you strive to live out in every transaction? If not, now is a great time to tweak it, or revamp it altogether.
Schedule your January marketing pieces. Order your direct mail postcards, write your email newsletter, schedule your social media posts and get that newspaper ad submitted. When everyone else is scrambling to get their stuff out that first week of January, you’ll already be done and strategizing for the next month.
These 2018 calendars are great for direct mail marketing or as walk and drop pieces. They provide a great return on investment because they are “sticky” meaning they stick around houses for a while and recipients refer back to them multiple times, therefore getting repeat exposure to your brand, your name and your message. Each design is available in two sizes, 4×9 and 8.5×11.
Download 2018Calendar Order Form
Contests are a great way to engage your audience. Whether you are trying make connections with current clientele, or you are trying to build a list of potentials, a contest is a fun way to get people to notice your brand and take action. Of course, there are hundreds of different types of contests. Below I’ve detailed the four most popular contests you can easily run through direct mail.
Audience: Typically families. Usually kids will want to do the coloring but you need the parents to give permission and fill out the entry form.
Execution: You mail a coloring page with an attached submission form that asks for basic contact information. Participants can make the form back or drop it off at a predetermined location. You pick the winner on a designated date. Typically, there are a few different winners, one for each age group. You can mail the prize or drop it off. Do not make the recipients claim the prize. The idea is to make entering and redeeming as easy as possible.
Your Benefit: You can collect contact information for leads and follow up with emails and/or phone calls.
Execution: This is a very popular one with our real estate clients. They mail out a flyer that details the prize, which is large and relevant to motivate participation. $500 gift cards to theme parks, grocery stores, and home improvement stores are common. The flyer also has a tear off portion that asks for contact information and also asks for a bit more information about the participant (are they interested in selling, do they want a free market update, etc). Participants can mail the tear off portion back, or drop it off at a local office
Your Benefit: You get more information about people on your mailing list, which you can use for follow up emails and phone calls.
Execution: My son subscribes to a children’s magazine. On one edition, he received a postcard with three spaces to scratch off. He did so, and won a small prize which he claimed by mailing the postcard back to the magazine company. This contest works well if you have a lot of small prizes to give away. If you have many winners, you’ll get lots of great response but you have to be sure you’ve got enough prizes and an inexpensive way to get them to the participants.
Your Benefit: You can take the opportunity to gather more information, or keep it simple and just engage your audience in a positive way that builds brand trust and recognition.
Audience: People that live near your brick and mortar business.
Execution: I’ve seen this one done at restaurants a lot, but it could work for any brick and mortar business. Send participants a scratcher or sealed envelope. Assure them that there is a prize voucher inside but that they have to open or scratch it off in the store in order to redeem. Make sure the prize is something they can use while in the store that day, like a discount or free product.
Your Benefit: Brings people into your store and motivates them to purchase that day. You don’t have to pay for return postage.
One Step can help facilitate any of these contests for you by designing, printing and mailing the entry forms. Just give us a call at 949-587-5301 or email email@example.com to get started.
- You have changed the products and services you offer. An IT company went from focusing on niche services to offering a full range of IT services. We updated their brand to communicate that change.
- You are targeting a different audience. When a real estate agent moved her business, her target audience changed. We updated her brand to appeal to the new audience, but kept enough of the original elements so as not to alienate her loyal long time clients.
- Your brand is simply too old. Neon colors were all the rage in the 80s, but now those colors come across as obnoxious and juvenile. If your brand has outdated elements, its time to give it a modern look that will appeal to a modern audience.
Need a new look?
At One Step Services, we specialize in visual branding. Come in today and let us give your brand a facelift so that it better communicates what your business is really all about. To set up an appointment, call 949-587-5301 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
During the holidays, the hares of the business world take a break. They know they are bigger, faster, and stronger than the competition, so why not relax a little and enjoy the fruits of their labor? But all it takes is one determined, unrelenting tortoise to break ahead and push the hares back. come January, the tortoise has a strategic marketing plan in place and is already seeing an increase in business, while the hare is scrambling to get back in the race.
Update your brand– One Step Services’ designers will update your logo and overall brand so that it fits your new goals and business plan, without being so different that your current client base doesn’t recognize you anymore.
Set up a campaign– It takes a little bit of time, effort and brain power to create an effective direct marketing campaign. Get started on your direct mail and/or direct email campaign in December, and the whole thing will be ready to launch first week of January.
Try new marketing pieces– Did you know that at One Step Services we can create and print listing presentations, pre listing brochures, trade show displays, storefront signs, stationery, die cut printed pieces, booklets, magazines, and so much more? If you are looking to spice up your marketing, we can give you some great marketing ideas.
Come in for an appointment with our Director of Client Relations to discuss your small business marketing needs and get set up for success in January. Schedule your FREE 90 minute consultation by calling 949-587-5301 or emailing email@example.com
Over the past two months, I’ve been fascinated by the outrage and controversy surrounding comments made by Abercrombie and Fitch CEO Mike Jeffries. If you haven’t heard about this, I encourage you to look it up for full details. But here it is in a nutshell. Back in 2006, Jeffries made the following statement in a Salon article:
“In every school there are the cool and popular kids, and then there are the not-so-cool kids,” he says. “Candidly, we go after the cool kids. We go after the attractive all-American kid with a great attitude and a lot of friends. A lot of people don’t belong [in our clothes], and they can’t belong. Are we exclusionary? Absolutely. Those companies that are in trouble are trying to target everybody: young, old, fat, skinny. But then you become totally vanilla. You don’t alienate anybody, but you don’t excite anybody, either.”
Understandably, people didn’t appreciate his straightforward, exclusionary branding philosophy. But, amidst all the name calling, protests and social movements, there is a lesson that is invaluable to all brand marketers: there is a fine line between targeting certain audiences and excluding others. Marketers who walk that line successfully have powerhouse brands.
People exclude brands, brands don’t exclude people.
Abercrombie and Fitch was very popular when I was in high school, back in the good old days before I was in marketing and could watch a simple commercial without analyzing it to death. Before I knew anything about brand identity, and before Jeffries made those outlandish comments, I knew that there were certain kids that wore A&F, and certain kids that didn’t. I was firmly in the camp that did not. Their prices were too high for my families modest income, their ads to racy for our conservative beliefs, and the strong scent of cologne too overwhelming. Plus, there was always that weird wall at every store entrance that made me feel like I was entering some sort of cultish cool kid club. The whole thing was just unnerving.
So, was I upset that I wasn’t one of the cool Abercrombie kids? Not at all. Why? Because that was a choice that I made. I didn’t feel that the brand excluded me, I felt that I made a personal choice not to shop there. There were other stores that I liked better and that better fit my budget, style and personality, so that’s where I shopped. I was the one excluding Abercrombie, not the other way around.
However, when Jeffries made those comments in the Salon article, he let the whole world in on the company secret. They were intentionally excluding people. It’s one thing to create a brand that targets certain people. It’s a whole different story when you start to exclude people.
The difference between targeting and excluding.
Think of it this way. As a company, your marketing is like an invitation to a party. You don’t have the money or resources to send invitations to everyone, so you do some market research, define a target audience, and create invitations that will appeal to that audience. However, if someone not in your target audience hears about your “party,” do you turn them away at the door because they don’t have an invite? Of course not. Not only is that rude, it’s bad business. You lose money and create bad press yourself. Plus, you lose out on a potentially beneficial business relationship. By letting members outside of the target audience in, you may discover a new audience that will help expand your business.
I feel that Nordstrom is a great example of a retailer who markets to a target audience, but not at the cost of excluding anyone. Their prices, high quality products and sophisticated brand make them most appealing to people in an upper socioeconomic class, whose high powered jobs and elite social lives demand a certain kind of wardrobe. However, what Nordstrom’s is most known for is their extraordinary customer service, which is extended to everyone who walks through the doors. Their elite product line, combined with accessible customer service, means they have created a core customer base that fits a certain profile and upholds a certain image, and yet they do not exclude customers who don’t fit their target profile. They are elite, but not elitist.
One the one hand, Jeffries was right. If you appeal to everyone, you become uninteresting and don’t stand out from the competition. As a company, you must sell a unique product or service that targets the specific needs/desires of a specific audience. You must invest your limited marketing dollars into getting the attention of that specific target audience. When you do that, you will naturally attract the type of customers you want. You don’t need to talk about it, you don’t need to be rude or exclusionary. Just let the branding speak for itself. And so what if you happen to attract some people outside of your target audience? Like I said before, they may give you some fresh ideas for expanding your business and your audience.