Top 10 Marketing Best Practices from GrowSmart Part I

Top 10 Marketing Best Practices from GrowSmart

We spend one full day in the GrowSmart program on Marketing. We could spend a week. So much to discuss in so little time. Trends in marketing. Social Media. Market research. Branding. Competitive Advantage. Pricing. Measuring ROI…

My favorite part of the program is when the program participants brainstorm Best Practices in Marketing. What’s working for small businesses in today’s marketplace? Here’s a list of my top ten from 2014.

#1. Event Marketing. You are a “Tribal” leader. The “Mayor” of your own village. What are you doing to bring your followers (clients) together? Examples include conferences, workshops, and parties. Any opportunity to bring your key stakeholders together to connect them, educate them, and reinforce your connection to them is a marketing best practice.

#2. Free Demo. Buyers today are more skeptical than ever. We can brag all day about the virtues of our product or service and they will still doubt whether we can deliver on our promises. One of the the best ways to overcome buyer-reluctance is to provide the prospective customer an opportunity to try out our product. A test drive. A free sample. Give them a taste of what they can expect as a result of being one of your best customers.

I love going to Costco for a number of reasons. One of which I get to taste lots of different foods and drinks. Practically a meal in itself. It’s not unusual that I end up buying a year’s worth of that product as a result of that free sample.

#3. Offer a Guarantee. Once again, in today’s world we are dealing with increasingly skeptical buyers whether it’s B2B, B2C, or even B2G. How do they know that you will deliver on your promise? Your brand? They’ve gotten burnt before by other product or service providers like you. There is still a lingering taste of disappointment. One way to overcome this sales obstacle is to offer your customer a guarantee. A promise that if they don’t receive what you promised them, they will receive something back in return. Money back. A free replacement. A do-over.

Hyundai offered a great guarantee during the last recession. One of a car buyer’s greatest fears at that time was to buy a car, take on a car loan, and than lose their job. Remember what Hyundai offered car buyers as a guarantee at the time? They promised to take the car back if the buyer ever lost their job. No questions asked. Great marketing!

#4. Customer Advisory Group. One of my Vistage members established such a group several years ago. Six clients in the group. Met once a quarter for dinner. Discussed my client’s business, market dynamics, industry stuff, etc. Over time, my client noticed something he did not anticipate from his advisory group. They started referring new clients to him. They became an extension of his sales force. All for the cost of four quarterly dinners. Guerrilla marketing at it’s best.

#5. Become the Expert. You are already the expert in whatever your company sells. You must be. You know more about your widgets than almost anyone else. How are you leveraging that expertise in your marketing? Writing articles or blogs? Speaking at conferences or local events? Being quoted by the local newspaper? I suggest you find a good publicist for this one. The ROI will be very high if done well. Becoming the expert builds your credibility in the marketplace. Promotes your company and personal brand.

Next month I will provide you the last five Best Practices in Marketing. Stay tuned…

Candy Chang: “Before I die…”

In her New Orleans neighborhood, artist and TED Fellow Candy Chang turned an abandoned house into a giant chalkboard asking a fill-in-the-blank question: “Before I die, I want to ____.” Her neighbors’ answers – surprisingly, poignant, funny – became an unexpected mirror for the community. What’s your answer?

The Happiness of Pursuit

Have you ever wondered what motivates someone to do something that seems almost impossible? Run a marathon. Set a Guinness World record. Climb the tallest mountain. Stop eating at Chick-Fil-A (that would be mine).

Best-selling author Chris Guillebeau did considerable research on this topic and wrote a book on his findings, “The Happiness of Pursuit”. The author interviewed dozens of individuals; all had accomplished something near impossible. Examples include a DJ who produced the world’s largest symphony, a teenager who crossed the entire ocean by herself, and a suburban mom who cooked a meal from every country on the planet.

Guillebeau found ordinary people working on extraordinary goals. He refers to these goals in his book as “quests”. His own personal quest was to visit each country on the planet before the age of thirty-five. He was successful despite having to overcome incredible obstacles in some not-so-friendly countries.

The most important finding of the author in his research for the book of these “questers” was the direct link between their quest and their long-term happiness. Guillebeau found that going after something very difficult in a methodical way enriches our lives in ways that we would never expect. We become much happier.

In his interviews with the questers, the author discovers their motivations, their selection criteria, the role played by friends and family, and the importance of documentation. His telling of their stories in the book makes for very entertaining reading.

This summer I am pursuing my own personal quest. I plan to walk over 500 miles on the Camino de Santiago starting in western France and finishing very near the western coast of Spain. It is the most popular Christian pilgrim route in the world. Very exciting. What will be your “quest” this year?

I very much enjoyed reading this book and highly recommend it to all who aspire to greater levels of happiness.


The Best Kiss-Cam Moments Ever