In the gravel-spattered roadway of life, windshield fix-it shops exist to meet the needs of drivers. A cracked windshield could pose a danger; it’s imperative it be repaired. Thus, this service is pretty much a “must.”
On the contrary, cupcake bakeries offer optional fare. There’s really no “must” about a$3, 3-bite confection; this delectable is truly a “lust.”
“Must” businesses often focus on advertising’s frequency more so than its creativity, knowing their messages must align with the steady stream of potential customers’ needs. When that cracked windshield happens, customers will zone in on the most prominent, present advertiser and call the shop that’s top of mind.
Promoting a “lust” business—goods or services that are truly optional in the course of life—is a different endeavor. Generally, these businesses have to be creative in order to get attention and very convincing to motivate consumers to make the next move. The art is to turn a “lust” into a “must,” and this can be challenging, especially in a beleaguered economy in which consumers are trying to stifle their desires for trifles.
How can a “must” business such as windshield repair earn and hold position as the first-dial when customers have a need? How can a cupcake purveyor elicit the budget-conscious to part with three hard-earned dollars for such a fleeting pleasure?
Here are some ideas.
Meet your potential customers where they are.
In person or online, find ways to be meet and greet the people who may love your product or service. For example, consider my present fascination with cupcakes.
I recently attended a networking event at which gourmet cupcakes were served. Though I’d normally ration my cupcake intake, these delights had me revisiting the dessert table two…okay…three times. Let’s just say I had my cupcake and ate yours, too! And frugal as I try to be these days, I gotta admit I’d plunk down $3 for such yumminess. This is a new “lust” I’ve personally decreed a “must.”
However, I’ve since searched for the cupcakery online, to little avail. They don’t use Twitter or Facebook, and their website is a one-page digital business card. They’re highly praised on Yelp! and other review sites. But if I could follow these bake masters on Twitter, I’d easily be lured by daily updates about fresh flavors. If they had a Facebook fan page, I’d sign up without hesitation and rally pals to join as well. This business “met me” at the event, but how can I ever really get to know them now?
Offer incentives to motivate response.
Even if you succeed in being where your customers are, you’ll likely need to do something to be heard over a cacophony of competitive marketing messages. You have to stand out from the pack, differentiating your company by motivating consumers to take action. Value savings, buyer advantages, special status, premium service—no matter what you offer, you need to show customers there’s something in it for them.
Have you ever gotten something that looked like a coupon, yet it had no discount or saving offer? I get those duds every now and then in the stack of auto-generated coupons that are printed at the the end of my grocery store check-out or even in those Valupaks that are mailed to the house. Why would a business invest to be included in the Valupak or in the store coupon program and not give potential customers a nudge? No matter how great your biz may be, customers will ere on the side of “discount” or “incentive” if given the choice.
The aforementioned cupcakery contributed a buy-one-get-one-free coupon in the swag bag for the event I attended. That was a smart move, as that offer provided the extra nudge I’d need to go from ‘event groupie’ to ‘paying customer.’
Be consistent to stay ‘top of mind’ and ‘front of the line.’
Frequency and positioning matter in this message-a-minute world. That’s why advertisers run repetitive campaigns with brain-burning jingles, celebrities show up for flashing cameras at every premiere and charity event and media moguls chime in on all the issues or tweet their most fleeting opinions 20 times a day. Businesses or personalities that want to have last word often ceaselessly strive to stay top of mind and hold position at the front of the line.
For small business owners, being consistent doesn’t have to also mean being outlandish, brash or intrusive. It’s simply a matter of being present on a regular basis. Customers who are busy with work, family and life in general are constantly rattled and riddled with marketing messages. Any business or service provider that becomes a voice of consistency can earn and hold top position in customers’ minds and benefit from being first in line when those customers need what the business has to offer.
That’s the beauty of social media. Customers elect to participate in social media, and they exercise their right to select connections within those networks, sites and forums. A business has an open door to create ongoing relationships, illicit interaction and become part of their customers’ daily lives. The key is to be the steadfast voice in a sea of hit-or-miss messages. That’ll help make a “lust” product a “must” purchase.
Again, if that newly beloved cupcakery were to join in the conversations on Twitter or Facebook, I’d definitely welcome them into my circles. However, if I don’t hear from them soon, there will be another flavor to steal my attention. I’ll get busy and diverted, and I’ll inevitably file the fact that I loved those cupcakes deep in my overloaded brain. It’s in their court to remind me how wonderful they are.
Whether promoting something people want or need, social media, mixed with a strategic blend of traditional advertising and marketing methods, can be the icing on the (cup)cake for small businesses.
More bite-size ideas coming soon…