Think Outside the Marketing Box: 10 Quick, New Ideas for 2017

The holidays are upon us again. It’s the time of year for good cheer and some creative marketing ideas to end your year right.

If you’ve been in a marketing slump through the fall, try a few new and interesting ways to get a little more business for your small business:

  1. Create a personalized calendar to gift your clients. You can include inspirational quotes or advice for each month. Staying in front of them will solidify your brand in their minds for years and years to come.
  2. Give your customers a small gift of appreciation, like a customized sticky screen cleaner or promo handout. If you happen to give something that is useful and is well made, your customers won’t just thank you, they will be more interested in giving you referrals to other potential clients. Offer gift cards to give customers more flexibility for gifts. Be sure to place them near your checkout to encourage impulse buys. Starbucks or Amazon gift cards tend to be consistently well received.
  3. Take clients to a more personal lunch or brunch instead of throwing a larger, impersonal holiday party. Focus on having a good time and building rapport through not talking about business. They will take the gesture and thank you by becoming your biggest cheerleader.
  4. Host a day with Santa at your business where you provide free photos with the jolly old man. If your target market has kids, this will be a huge hit.
  5. Give holiday shoppers a free shoulder massage by hiring a masseuse for a few hours.
  6. Partner with other local businesses to give a package of coupons in each shopping bag. This is also a way to encourage sharing business ideas with your neighbors or setting up referral incentives with them.
  7. Sponsor a local event. This time of year many run clubs and other organizations hold holiday runs or New Year’s Day resolution runs or other events. Pick one you enjoy and sponsor it to get your name out. Pair with a local charity. Schedule an event where you and your staff volunteer with the organization. Offer discounts to your customers who volunteer their time with the same organization.
  8. Hold a customer appreciation sale during hours when you are normally closed to show your customers how much you appreciate their loyalty. Create a special invitation and think about giving them door prizes and small gifts for patronizing your business.
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Are You at Risk of Being “Uberized”?

If you’re like many Business Owners and Leaders you probably feel pretty good about the position you hold in your market… so did the taxi cab companies and drivers before Uber became a reality. Now they are scrambling and trying to find a way to survive… even to the point of trying to get political help in different cities to stay afloat.

Disruption and Commoditization have impacted virtually every industry today. There probably isn’t a single industry that hasn’t been impacted by a disruptive organization entering their market and stealing some of their market share. Uber is an excellent example but there are many others that have been equally disruptive. Companies such as LegalZoom have taken billions of dollars away from attorneys over the past several years. They captured and disrupted a document and transaction-based business and turned it into a commodity by substantially lowering the pricing of document preparation… impacting attorneys all over the country.

Amazon was an early disruptor to the entire book business… taking significant market share away from Barnes and Noble and Borders who were recognized giants in the book industry. And we certainly can’t forget about Blockbuster’s demise when Netflix entered the market. They were the unquestioned dominant leader in video rental and were virtually replaced overnight by an unknown company with a new disruptive business model that matched the needs of customers at substantial savings.

Even though these examples are in completely different industries there is one common thread that runs through all of them… they didn’t believe anyone could disrupt their dominance in their market. While it’s awesome to believe in your product or service, it’s dangerous to think there isn’t someone waiting in the wings to take away your position. Unlike any other time in history, we are now seeing new companies coming into traditional industries from many unrelated areas and establishing a disruptive model and capturing significant market share. This trend is only going to continue now that it has shown massive success over the past few years. So what can you do, as the leader of your business, to either avoid or minimize the impact of this potential disruption?

While commoditization is difficult to combat with products and services over a long period of time, there is at least one alternative that appears to withstand the test of time and delivers differentiation in the market… your CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE.

It is difficult to continually come up with new products and services to satisfy the ravenous appetite customers have today. Just when you think you have the best and leading edge product or newest service, someone comes in and “one-ups” you and takes away the leading spot. While you might remain there for some period of time, it is difficult to remain at the top for extended periods of time. Apple is one of the few that has been successful at this… but it took them many years of living in the shadow of Microsoft and others before they became the dominant leader. Today, Microsoft is in this unenviable position and trying to fight their way back to the top… especially in the race for the Cloud.

But these are behemoth companies… not the SMB market. They can throw billions of dollars at innovation and products and hope they find a winner. The small and mid-sized business (SMB) can’t be this frivolous with their cash and making too many product/service mistakes can wipe out a business before anything comes to fruition. The proven alternative to this madness is to focus on the ONE THING that is completely in their control to design and deliver… their CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE.

Customer Experience has both short and long term advantages. It is something that can be created and implemented within the year but last for many decades to come when implemented properly. And by properly I’m not talking about telling all your employees they need to be nicer to the customer… that never works for the long term… every company can be nice to their customers if they try. This isn’t the answer… this isn’t the differentiator… but it’s on the right track.

Creating a customized CUSTOMER JOURNEY that is built upon a very well defined Customer Experience Process (something we call Customer Experience Mapping) is what allows companies to reap these rewards for many years into the future. Think Disney… they created “the happiest place on earth” and continue to deliver this experience year after year after year. This didn’t happen by holding a meeting and telling all their employees and characters to be nicer to their guests… it happened because they have a very well defined Customer Journey that is built on a foundation of a well-designed and executed Customer Experience.

Nordstrom did the same thing many decades ago. They started selling shoes… then clothing… all at high prices. But they started with a very distinct process inside the organization for delivering an incredible customer experience day in and day out. Zappos followed this same model… sold shoes… one of the ultimate commodities in the clothing industry… and they dominate today. They don’t give discounts and silly things like “one day only” sales (every day)… they simply deliver a remarkable Customer Experience to every customer every day… and their customers love to buy from Zappos. And it has worked out pretty well when you consider they went from zero to over $1 Billion in revenues in less than 10 years and were sold to Amazon for more than a billion dollars. Not a bad model if you ask me.

One way to avoid being COMMODITIZED and losing customers is to design something even new entrants can’t copy… the experience you offer. If your Customer Experience is so incredibly amazing and remarkable… WOW… every single day with every interaction, this creates immediate differentiation and a long tail of success. It is the ultimate weapon against commoditization or even new entrants into a market. For a new disruptive entrant to take away market share they would need to be so much better and cheaper than anything you offered… which is difficult to do today. And for those of you that are saying to yourself right now, “Yea but we’re different, we do a good quality job and treat our customers well so we aren’t at risk,” I would offer you some instant advice… take the blinders off and get real with looking at your business. This is living in a fantasy world… this isn’t looking at your company from the eyes of your customer… they are seeing something very different. And if someone came into your market today and offered a completely different (and awesome) experience to your customers at or below your price they would be gone in a heartbeat.

Achieving long-term dominance doesn’t happen by “being nicer to your customers” and thinking you have created differentiation… you haven’t. Being CUSTOMER OBSESSED and creating a process based CUSTOMER JOURNEY that has a well laid out and documented CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE PROCESS at the heart of it is what will help you avoid being “Uberized.” This strategy gives you differentiation, uniqueness, and a special place in your customers heart and mind… it gives you the “long tail” of success.

I would strongly and passionately encourage you to learn more about why and how this is completely different than what you are probably doing today. If there was ONE THING TO FOCUS ON IN 2017 it would be to create a strategy based around a well-planned Customer Journey which incorporated an incredibly awesome Customer Experience by Mapping out all the experiences your customer will receive when they interact with your business (there are usually over 20 for most companies in the SMB market). If this is of interest and you want to learn more, let’s grab coffee and I can share how some of the best companies in the world have followed this path… for decades… and still dominate in their industries. I think you will find it a fascinating discussion…

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How Does the Ford GT Stack Up?

How will it compare to the competition?

The GT is by no means a Shelby GT 350 R, not even close. Besides the over $350,000 jump in price and the additional 100 or more horsepower. The new GT is even more track-focused then the previous ones. And the mid-engine layout, combined with the GT’s carbon-fiber construction it much more than a muscle car and more of a Super car.

Even though Ford has not decided on a specific horse power, the new GT with 3.5-liter twin-turbo V6 will produce more than 600 horsepower. Standing up well to the Corvette Z 06 and its’ 650 horses. Now Ford says it is working on the power-to-weight ratios to be the best of any production car. Even if they can’t hit the ratio of the Koenigsegg One with its 2.2 lbs / hp and make it to the range of the McLauren P1 with its 3.5 lbs / hp. Even with its aerodynamics the approx. 3500-lb Corvette Z06 may be a little overweight to held ground with the new GT Priced like a Lamborghini Aventador

Knowing it’s expected price range points to the real competition of the new 2017 GT. Granted the Lamborghini Aventador is packing 691 horse power, but outweighing the Corvette Z06 in curb weight by another 500 pounds, it may have a hard time keeping up with the new GT on the track. When you consider the Aventador holds twice the cylinders as the GT’s twin-turbo V6, and the fact that the Aventador is a naturally aspirated V12 all wheel drive, you can expect it to be faster off the line.

It will be interesting to see how the GT compares to the McLaren 657LT the car that feels like a competition vehicle. Weighing in at less than 3000 lbs, the 657 is pretty light, but the GT will probably weigh less. The Mc Laren 675LT is also a limited-production car, with only 500 units slated to built and cost about $50,000 less than the Lamborghini.

Then there is the Ferrari F12tdf with a price point just under $500,000 with a substantial increase in power. Touting a 6.3-liter V12 with 770 horsepower hitting 0 to 60 in under 3 seconds. The Ferrari will be a head over the GT by more than 100 horsepower, but the based on Fords claims the GT should be much more light weight. With Ford skipping a hybrid-electric system, it will be something to pit the new and severely less expensive Acura NSX with its hybrid tech and all-wheel drive against the new GT and its focus on light weight. With the NSX and its 573 horsepower will it be enough to hold its own against the GT? Time will tell.

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Caribbean Travel – Why Visit ?

Barbados is a beautiful tropical island, with plenty of cultures around to satisfy all kinds of travelers. The location is so beautiful that you will instantly fall in love with it. The turquoise waters of the Caribbean, the budding Port of Bridgetown, secluded quaint and beaches, British communities with past times ranging from mid-afternoon tea sessions up to the on-going games of cricket. But apart from this, many travelers want to know what are some of the other things which one can enjoy at this beautiful location. Here are some reasons why I feel Barbados is the best place to spend a quality vacation.

The Turquoise Beaches There is no doubt in this fact that Barbados is home to some of the most amazing beaches in the world. As an island, this location is surrounded by water and has the most fascinating beaches in the world, which is it’s most loved attraction. It is something that must be experienced by all as there is something for everyone. Those who love to surf can head to the East Coast of the island, and those who want to relax or go for a swim can head to the South and West coast beaches.

The Food Is Delicious

Barbados has earned the title of “culinary capital of the Caribbean”, and it has earned it rightfully. This place is a heaven for food lovers, from street food to fine dining you can experience it all here. You can stop at rum shop for ham, cheese cutters or fish cakes, or you can head to a nice restaurant enjoy best fish dishes on the island along with sidelines like macaroni pie.

The Locals Are Friendly

The locals are one of the most priced treasures of this destination. They are popular in the world as the friendliest people, who will always help in making your vacations enjoyable. They love sharing stories about the island’s culture and teaching others about how things work in their country Things To Do

You will never get bored in Barbados! There are a lot of fun activities to do here, like the ones mentioned below:

• Explore Harrisons Cave.

• Go on a boat trip to explore the island’s reefs and swim with the fishes and turtles.

• Go for safari tour, glass bottom tours and The Boat Yard.

• Make sure you also check out the nightlife.

The Weather

The weather here stays warm all year round. The temperature here is usually around 85 degrees with steady and fresh tropical breezes.

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4 Steps to Choosing the Best Promotional Products for Your Business

When investing your marketing dollars in custom branded promotional products, you want to ensure that you are getting your best return on investment. You want to look for products that serve more than one purpose and provide continued brand exposure.

1. Choose products that provide your company with good visibility.

The more your products are seen, the more promotional benefit your company receives. The best promotional products are prominently placed on everyday items, such as screen cleaners attached to mobile devices.

2. Give away products that will be used every day.

How many times have you received a piece of schwag that you threw in a drawer or even the trash? For your promotional products to be effective, you need to choose items that people will use over and over again. Products that are used often and in public places will gain your brand the most exposure for your investment. A great example would be screen cleaner stickers for phones and tablets, that are custom branded with your logo but people can use to clean their electronic devices. Another example are portable USB chargers, that have your logo on them but people can use in an emergency to charge their devices. These are useful products that people will carry with them, hence, increasing the amount of times your logo gets flashed around.

3. Reflect your business’s reputation with high quality products.

We’ve all received a branded pen or notepad that fell apart in our bag before we even left the exhibit hall. Handing out cheap promotional products gives the impression that your company is just as cheap. Make sure that the freebies you give away are representative of the high quality of the products and services you provide in your business.

The best way to test a product before you decide to pull the trigger and make an order for your event would be to get samples. Reputable promo product companies will provide free samples and stand behind their production. It should be crystal clear once you compare samples whether the promo product will be a hit or a miss.

4. Think versatility.

Choose promotional products that are versatile enough to fit every occasion you need. Whether you need giveaways for a trade show, gifts for your employees, or tokens of appreciation for customers who visit your office, having an appropriate product available for all occasions is key to getting the best results for your marketing dollars.

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