Marketing In Tough Times

Don’t eliminate your marketing budget
In a tough business market, you don’t eliminate your marketing budget, but you look at different and new ways of standing out.

Too many people are doing the same thing as everyone in their business category and are not standing out.

I recommend buying the book by Seth Godin, called “Purple Cow”. He talks about being remarkable in our businesses.

Stand out: Be Remarkable

There are many creative ways to stand out – including unique selling strategies, advertising concepts and plain simple genuinely helpful customer service.

Here is a list of great ideas that companies have utilized in the last few months to stand out, and be different WITHOUT DISCOUNTING.

Freedom Furniture stores - In the local newspaper offered a decorator seminar, with a note that bookings are essential and the cost is $10. How about that, you actually pay to go to a retail store to get ideas, but I imagine that the ideas centre around the product that is available throughout that store. They provide a delicious “high tea” and prizes.

Kia car company - have launched their Kia Assurance. In these tough times, they say, you buy a new Kia and if you lose your job in the next 12 months you can return the car no worries. What a great way to take away the fear of taking the car away from the purchaser. Most people do not like providing a guarantee of this nature, but history shows few people return the cars, and probably they can cover it by insurance anyway. Few people ever return products that have a guarantee.

Super Cheap Auto - I noticed a television commercial offering customers who came and bought a car light bulb -that they would install it for free. They would probably send one of the young guys out to replace the bulb while you go inside and relax. Obviously while you are inside a mega store you will be tempted to buy all types of things for your car.

Heinz foods - an Ad recently running in the newspapers, shows two cans of Heinz product - one of baked beans and one of tomato soup. Two very economical and traditional food products. The headline: Experts agree, now is a great time to invest in spoons. This is a great way to tap into the current market!

Local Plumber - I noticed before Christmas, a young man (probably a student) was standing with a sandwich board on a major roundabout. His board advertised a plumber’s service - to get those leaking taps fixed. The key line was “no call out fee - have your leaking taps fixed for Christmas”.

Frontline flea and tick treatment for cats and dogs – This is a commercial that runs regularly on television featuring well known vet, Dr Harry. Every month you can receive a text message on your mobile reminding you to use frontline tick and flea treatment so that your dogs and cats never have the problem again. What a great way to get people to not only buy, but be reminded to use your product every month.

Lexus Motor cars - In recent times Lexus have offered finance at 0 interest rate. I know of one dealer in November 2008 that sold 63 Lexus in that month, based on that particular offer. I believe it was so successful that Lexus extended the offer.

Gloria Jean’s Coffees – I have always encouraged franchisees when I visit the stores to have either a coffee appreciation night or bring your coffee equipment from home and learn how to use it. You can provide a limit to the number of people to this program and you can even suggest that they pay $10 or $20 as a commitment, which could be donated to a local charity. A coffee appreciation night allows people to come and taste the coffees from various parts of the world. They then see what the offering is available in terms of merchandise and coffee and they become regular customers. The other option is to come and learn how to use your coffee equipment at home. Most people have a piece of coffee equipment at home, a plunger, a filter machine, or an espresso machine sitting idle in a cupboard. Although simple to use, the instructions are not always clear and many people want to be able to make a good cup of coffee at home. We get customers who regularly buy from our bean selection from that point onwards.

Bunnings Warehouse – Now offer free BBQ’s for tradies at 7am every Friday. What a great way to bring trades people into the store, and while they’re there….!

Haircuts – I recently heard the story of a hairdresser who was doing $20 haircuts and doing a roaring trade. Sometime later, a new hairdresser opened on the opposite side of the road, and offered $6 haircuts. The first hairdresser, rather than discounting put up a sign that said “Haircuts $20, we fix $6 haircuts

Cosco – A major American discount chain store which has clothing, grocery products, white goods and so on. It is extremely popular in the US and uses large retail floor space. Cosco are ready to set up in Australia, the first one will open in Melbourne in August in the Docklands area. I was down near the new store and noticed that they already had a stand and are signing up people for approx. $55/year to become a member  - just for the privilege to go and shop! Already they had 1,000 people signed up with more coming all the time.

No need to discount

Notice that none of these examples discount their products. They are maintaining and even adding to the value of the product or service for their customers. You just need a different mindset - provide something that excites and gets your customers passionately involved, then price is not always an issue. So go out there and think differently about your product, your company or your service.

Peter Irvine
Peter is Co-Founder of Gloria Jean’s Coffees, author of "Win In Business", speaker and business consultant.

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