There was a time back in the fifties when microwave ovens were first seriously marketed. They were marketed to women on the basis of speed. Bad move. Women were afraid of them. Kitchens at the time were small and there was no room. More importantly, housewives thought that they were shirking their duties by using this new fangled gadget. At that time, women were expected to cook. Not to cook fast, but to slave over a hot oven.
So some marketing gurus at the time came up with a creative idea. They sold microwaves to men. Men loved the technology so much, that they talked their wives into buying one. They were first used for defrosting, or reheating leftovers. They soon became a staple of modern culture. They forced their way into the lives of people. Kitchens also became bigger.
So it was creative marketers who created the interest in the device. A similar thing is happening with the insipid Keurig coffee machine that makes only one cup if mediocre coffee at a price that rivals gas. They were first sold to coffee lovers who wanted a new show-offy appliance. But the product is trickling down to mainstream America. Yes, I have one, but I digress.
It was marketing and thinking outside the box that created the demand. Call it creative marketing. Now, I have heard time and time again that small businesses have no time for marketing. Is it more fun to write checks than invoices? The object of creative marketing is to make your product or service a necessary part of daily life. Creative marketing is finding a one sentence solution or mnemonic that turns your product or service into a must have – either emotionally or physically. It’s not that hard, once you find a segment of people you want to sell to and hit their “hot button.”
Since you’re reading this on Businessknowhow.com, I can assume you have a business or are thinking of starting one. Let’s say you have a virtual assistant service. Why are you doing that? The common “wisdom” is that computers reduce or eliminate the need for administrative assistants. But do they? Common wisdom is rarely wise. Here are five ways to position a virtual assistant service.
- Market your service to smaller businesses with a paucity of employees. In a small company, everyone does everything. If someone is typing a letter or proposal, then he or she can’t be doing another task. (I wrote this before Staples started their own commercials saying the same thing.)
- Sell your service as a cost cutting measure. You only pay for what you need. If you use a virtual assistant, you only pay for what you need. It’s cheaper than having another employee on staff.
- Sell it to businesses who hate typing, i.e, you’re too important to type, proofread and check formatting for a letter or proposal.
- Pitch your service to people who have trouble getting their ideas on paper. They can bounce phrases and ideas off you.
- You have to worry about ink. Not them. You are always prepared. I mention that because I always need ink and I need to vent.
If you make contact with a buyer and did it professionally you may have made yourself a vital part of your customer’s life. And that’s your goal.
But maybe you don’t have a service. Maybe you have a product like candles you make on a kitchen table. You’re actually selling a service.
- A pleasant way to scent the air
- A backdrop for a cozy date
- A backdrop for cozy sex
- To make an environment pretty
- As a branding strategy (think about it and get creative)
Okay, you now have a product that’s going to become a part of someone’s life. Do you wait for sales to come in? No you’re proactive, using every means possible to get your product in front of a customer.
- Try social media – there’s a great deal about it on this site
- Do tiny postcard mailings to your prospects
- Get involved in community special events
- Consider using your product as a fundraiser. I do volunteer work for a company that teaches people to read, and non English speakers to speak English. Since they have seen their funding cut, they are always looking for new sources of revenues. That’s common to all non-profits.
Sell your product to the people who seem to have the most need.
Who are those people? Like the microwave oven inventors, you have to figure it out – or at least guess. It’s part of creative marketing. But what does creative marketing actually mean? It’s selling in new ways people haven’t sold before and creating a need that most people don’t know they have.
To whom? To the people who are most likely to buy your product.
But what do you do if you don’t have a product? Find a problem and solve it in a new way. More about that in future columns. So what is there to know about marketing? Here are the ten commandments. Very successful marketers know them or use them subconsciously.
The Ten Commandments of Marketing:
- Thou shalt look at the customers interest before thy own.
- Thou shalt enjoy the thrill of success. And learn lessons from failure.
- Thou shalt listen before thou speaks.
- Thou shalt honor the product (it can be you) and nurture it until it grows.
- Thou shalt immerse thyself in thy customers' wants and needs
- Thou shalt wallow in the beauty of ideas.
- Thou shalt use the tools of emotion in every sale.
- Thou shalt not immerse thyself in self-pity.
- Thou shalt blaze trails to the customer.
- Thou shalt respect thyself and thy abilities.