Tuesday, September 15, 2009

A Dozen Plus 1 Tips

Recently I was asked by the Fort Wayne Chamber of Commerce to write an article for their newsletter, Emphasis, which is sent to 5000 local business people as a special supplement in the Greater Fort Wayne Business Weekly.

See if you can find all 12 tips (plus 1):

The answer to all your advertising and marketing questions:


Whether you are selling burgers, automobiles, health care or clothing; what really matters is the relationship between your business and your customers. This relationship lives in the hearts and minds of your current, previous and potential customers. And the first reality that you need to accept is that your customer doesn’t care about you and your business unless you truly show in a demonstrable way that you care about them, their needs and wants.

Instead of bragging about how good you are, focus on how you can meet their needs. That is the heart of a successful marketing campaign.

So, what goes into a marketing campaign?

For starters, here's a quick check list of 12 things that you can use as you examine how to improve the marketing of your business and improve relationships:


  1. Is your phone answered by a real person within the first 3 rings? People prefer talking to other people instead of an automated attendant.
  2. Does the person answering your phone speak in such a manner that he/she is clear and understandable? Rushing through the name of your business is a common mistake.
  3. Voicemail...When you leave a message, do you speak clearly and slow enough that someone can write down your number so they can call you back? Better yet, leave the number at the beginning and end of your message at a pace you would give, if you were face to face with someone.


  1. Does your establishment need a good top to bottom cleaning? Once a month, schedule a thorough cleaning, including dusting, vacuuming, taking inventory off the shelves, wiping everything down, washing windows, making it sparkle. You may even need to repaint each year, especially if smoking is allowed in your establishment.
  2. Speaking of smoking, Do any of your employees smell like smoke? This can be a real turn off and most smokers are unaware of the smell that permeates their clothing.
  3. Are there any unpleasant odors anywhere? When I walk into a restaurant, I expect to smell the aroma of delicious food. Ask someone that has a stronger sense of smell than you to do a walk-thru of your establishment.
  4. Parking lot and entrances: Is there trash or litter that needs picking up? Make it a part of the daily routine to clean this up. Also be sure to provide trash cans so people will have a place to put their trash instead of the ground. And empty them before they are overflowing!
  5. Are your restrooms clean? All the time? I know several places have a check list for hourly restroom inspections, but even those are not being followed all the time.


  1. Do your employees reflect the level of professionalism that your business should demand? I'm talking about clothing, manners, habits, language, etc. Take it up a notch.
  2. Do you empower your employees to resolve problems or do they have to ask permission to contradict a policy? Examine your policies and eliminate those that are not customer friendly.

Public Relations:

  1. Are you involved in giving back to your community? Not just money but time and service are needed and create an excellent reputation for you and your company.
  2. Are you and your employees branding your company outside of business hours? Do you have shirts with logos that they are encouraged to wear, for example? (You need to hire employees that are a good reflection of your company even in their off hours).

Even if you tackle each of these dozen items successfully, there is another extremely important and necessary part of your marketing that you must do to be successful:

Invite people to do business with you.

Advertising is a part of your marketing.

Advertising is a paid form of marketing that you can control.

It's the invitation for people to do business with you.

I sometimes use the invitation comparison like this:

What if you decided to have a party. It was going to be one BIG Extravaganza! You hired a band, a caterer, rented a reception hall, spent tons of money on getting everything all set for 500 people but you left out one key element: You never sent any invitations with the details.

No matter how much planning you put into your party, if you don't invite anyone, no one will show up.

Same thing with your business. Even if you have fine tuned those previous 12 marketing tips, you need to send out the invitations. That's the purpose of advertising. To get peoples attention to what you have to offer.

Before you decide which advertising venue to use, keep in mind the following timeless principles:

  • The very best marketing method mimics human relationship principles.
  • In order to build relationships, you need to have positive contact repeatedly.
  • Anything that does not follow these two principles should be examined very carefully before you decide to invest your time or money in it.

For centuries, men and women have gone through a courtship stage in their relationships. Many times, this leads to marriage. And that is one of the ultimate examples of how advertising and marketing works. Very few people get married after just one date!

Commit to steady, consistent relationship oriented advertising to invite people to do business with you and back it up with improvements to relationship building marketing and repeat forever.

For more information contact:

Scott Howard at Scott@ScLoHo.net

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