Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Lessons on Marketing From Mr. G.

I had the amazing opportunity, this past Independence Day weekend, to visit our nation's capital as a chaperone for my daughter's high school marching band.  It was an incredible experience to be there during this most patriotic time of year.

Mr. G. with some of the band girls
Because we were traveling with such a large group - nearly 150 students and chaperones - we were divided into three smaller touring groups, each with our own bus and tour guide.  I wanted to take just a minute to introduce the man that was our tour guide for the entirety of the five day trip.   Mr. G. was a tiny little man from New York City who demanded attention and respect from the forty-plus teenagers that he was charged with.  In fact, his introduction was this:  "Hello.  My name is Mr. G.  As in God.  And when God talks, you listen."  And he meant it.  When we were on the bus, looking at sites through our tinted windows, Mr. G. made sure that we knew the history and detail behind each of them.  When we were outside the bus, wandering through monument after beautiful monument, Mr. G. held the District of Columbia flag high above his ball-cap covered head so that we could follow him as he navigated through the seemingly endless masses of tourists. We were on a tight schedule, so in order to see everything that we wanted and needed to see, we had to stick with Mr. G.  We couldn't linger at any one destination for too long, because there simply wasn't enough time.  We did get to see everything, though, if only for a moment, and it left us with a strong desire to come back at a later time when the schedule wouldn't be so rigid.

As a marketer, I am constantly on the lookout for lessons that I can take from my daily life that translate into my work life.  In Mr. G., underneath that suit jacket and ball cap, I discovered a vast wealth of marketing strategies.  Here are just a few:

Command Attention and Respect
No matter the size or type of business, your marketing campaign must draw in potential customers in order to keep your Return on Investment (ROI) at a manageably low level.  Using bold colors and fonts is just one way to grab the eye of the consumer.  First impressions are lasting impressions.  Do your marketing materials say, as Mr. G. did, "when I talk, you listen."?

Be Thorough
If it's important to your customer, it should be important to you.  Cover any and all pertinent information as early in the marketing process as possible.  Make sure things like business hours and location are easily accessible from your website's home page.  Just as I was so interested in the history behind the monuments and buildings in Washington D.C., your customers will want to know the history of your company.  An "About Me" page makes the customer/business relationship a little more personal.  Contact information should also be readily available in all marketing materials, from the website to any email correspondence.

Lead the Way
Chances are, your business isn't the only one of its kind.  Sure, as business owners, we all feel that we have that one special idea that makes our business better than all the rest.  The trick is to make the consumer be able to see what we see.  Mr. G. had his flag.  What does your business have that allows people to see you clearly through the masses of other businesses offering the same type of product or service?  Is your "flag" clearly visible throughout your entire marketing campaign?

Keep Them Wanting More
Finally, and perhaps most importantly, Mr. G. taught me that a great amount of (but not all) information can be gathered in a short amount of time.  This is essential to remember, because most customers won't have time to learn everything about your business in one sitting.  Small bits of vital information, along with eye-catching photos and graphics can give them just enough to let them know that your product is important enough for them to spend their valuable time.  Again, the value of the first impression cannot be overstated.  What the potential customer sees during their first interaction with your business needs to be enticing enough that he or she will want to come back again..

Think for a moment about whether or not your business has a proverbial "Mr. G."  Does your marketing campaign guide your customers and potential customers on a tour through your business?  Now is a great time to get started!

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