When Bob Smith's Colorado Springs, Colo.-based marketing firm was hired by a small computer software company to get the attention of top executives of computer giants that were potential customers, he could have just produced a slick brochure and sales kit.
But "normal" isn't exactly how one might describe Smith's typical approach to marketing challenges.
For Smith, the only logical way to the computer giants' hearts was through, well, computers. So his team purchased a bunch of laptop computers and packed them tightly into secretive-looking metal attache cases, complete with combination codes hidden behind provocative labels. As the recipients followed very specific directions, they ultimately found themselves facing multimedia presentations with a "cool" message.
Adding to the creative messages was the fact that the team sent them directly to the executives' assistants, asking for their feedback on just how cool those kits were. And if they felt they were cool enough, they were asked, could they simply pass them along to their bosses?
Smith says the cost of the marketing campaign -- roughly $5,000 for each complete kit -- may seem a bit steep, but the result was millions of dollars of new business for the small software firm.
This was the general message from Smith at Duquesne University's second annual Entrepreneur's Growth Conference, where he was the morning keynote speaker. Smith, armed with a rain forest full of jungle props, says he ventured head-first into such creativity out of necessity. Blessed with the less-than-unique name of Bob Smith, coupled with Communications, Smith says his marketing communications firm almost went broke before he decided he needed something to make him stand out.
That's when he decided to rename his company Jungle Marketing Inc. and build his consulting and speaking businesses around the jungle theme. He's been swinging from vine to successful vine ever since.
His message to the masses: "High-impact, relationship-based marketing is the key to the future success of all small businesses. We need to connect on an emotional level with our customers."
The approach, he says, has to begin with the passion that drives the entrepreneur into a particular business.
"What happened is we have forgotten why we have started it in the first place," Smith says.
Then there's what he calls reasonability, which restricts one's thinking.
"You have to break the rules," he says. " ... Reasonability does not work in a small business. You have to reinvent yourself. Are you on the edge?"
To reinvent your company, start with your Unique Selling Proposition, which, according to Smith, has four goals:
- To motivate the prospect.
- To attract attention.
- To distinguish you from the competition.
- To fulfill an industry gap.
"But don't show your lawyer your USP," Smith jokes, given the aggressive nature of the selling proposition.
Then you have to create an attention-getting marketing campaign around the USP. Creating a campaign, Smith says, is all about building what he calls your "magic story." Here's how to do it:
1. Use headlines. "Ninety percent of your story is written after you have established a powerful headline," he says.
2. Harness the point of WIIFM, or What's In It For Me? "You have to understand the emotional buying criteria of your customers," he says, along with what motivates them.
3. Employ power words such as free, new, money, discover, introducing, suddenly, health, easy, proven, guarantee, you, your, save, love and how to.
4. Package it uniquely. For instance, Smith worked with a dry-cleaning company to find ways to promote its customer service. During a discussion, they realized customers probably don't even notice that the company replaces missing buttons -- for free. So they launched a marketing campaign with smiley stickers and a note that tells customers when a button has been replaced. Sales increased substantially, Smith says.
5. Reverse the risk of buying the product. Include some kind of guarantee, perceived or otherwise, to assure customers that they take a very little risk in buying your product. In the end, Smith advises, remember this: "People will almost never remember what you say. But people will always remember how you make them feel." How to reach: Jungle Marketing Inc., (800) 444-4094
SBN was a proud sponsor of the 2000 Entrepreneur's Growth Conference. Daniel Bates (email@example.com) is editor of SBN magazine.