Updated: Jul 11, 2020
As I was sitting in Starbucks sipping a latte reading Seth Godin's Book, Small is the New Big, my attention was diverted to two girls walking in the door, each with one crutch. People had been going in and out the whole time without catching my attention, why did these two girls? Because they were different, they both used a crutch to help them walk, they weren't crippled, they were probably recovering from a broken leg, same side. This of course got me wondering about their story, you don't usually see two people walking around with the same injury.
Afterwards, everything about my morning latte was drawing my attention to what was different. Starbucks customized gift cards enabling the purchaser to create a unique gift card to give as a gift. Seth's Blog about Christmas Card Emails and how they were causing Christmas Spam. Being different, standing out, isn't that what advertisers and marketers get paid to figure out?
So, how can you stand out in your business, after all you don't have an advertising budget the size of Starbucks. If you are a small business person, probably working from home you probably can't afford to hire a marketing or advertising expert..
Ideas kept flooding me, one that stood out though is a result of Seth Godin's ranting about the Christmas Card Spam dilemma. Christmas is an extremely busy time and lots of sales staff and businesses send out Christmas Cards to thank their customers for their patronage.
First, people are too busy to care if you sent them a card, especially when their mailboxes and emails are flooded with them. When I started in marketing small entrepreneurs in 1997, the first thing I got rid of was Christmas Cards, we sent Thanksgiving Cards instead. Thanksgiving was in the spirit of thanking clients for their business and it would be the only card they received as a thank you.
Well other marketing people caught on to this idea and more are doing it. So, I started to think what would be the next best holiday to send out a Thank you, then it came to me.... Any day I felt like it. I'd make my own Thank You day and send out a card just because I wanted to say thank you, not because it was a holiday, catching my customer off guard and getting their attention.
The key to sending out cards to say thank you is to hand write them. I know sounds like too much work - too bad. Think about it, if you receive a card that is printed out, emailed or mass produced do you really appreciate the thought? If you receive a special handwritten card does it make an impact on you more than a mass produced one? The same for direct mail, do you open the envelopes with the labels or computer generated addresses or the envelopes that have handwritten addresses on them first? Stand out, do something different to get their attention. It means hard work, but you'll see better results.
This post was from 2007, before people stopped sending cards all together because of email, social media, and ecards.
Would a mailed handwritten note make a difference in 2019?
I don't know. I don't like checking my snail mail box, it's always stuffed with flyers, junk, and Canada Revenue Agency correspondence. What if I got a card, something different? I have. I've have a few unopened Christmas cards in with a pile of unopened CRA notices. Cards aren't enough.
Packages? Not really. e-commerce has resulted in people receiving packages from Amazon on a daily basis.
Seminars? Those are out now too. People don't want to come and listen to speakers. They are too busy looking at their smartphones.
Online marketing is noisy and over crowded, so how are you going to get a client or prospect's attention without spending a bundle of money?
If you are a small business, the best way is to show up and give it 110% for your client's everytime. Reward 'good' clients with small gifts and recognition. Little special extras they wouldn't receive elsewhere. Make your clients feel 'good,' appreciated, and they will become your salesforce. It takes time, persistence, and the tenacity to keep showing up.
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Shannon Peel is a Professional Marketing Manager and Storyteller. She has authored three novels in three different genres. Her company, MarketAPeel, helps Professionals define their personal brands and tell their story through different channels, including writing their book.