"Get someone else to blow your horn and the sound will carry twice as far."
--- Will Rogers
Advertising and marketing budgets for many businesses have been sliced and diced so thinly that there is hardly anything left. Getting the word out on a shoestring budget has taken on new meaning and many businesses are coming up with creative ways to market.
You may have noticed in your community people holding signs advertising local businesses and waving frantically at the cars that pass by. Some of these people are wearing various costumes from gorilla suits to oversized chickens to dressing up like clowns.
The concept is not new and it does draw attention from passing motorists. The motive is simple: get people in the door to buy our pizzas, cell phones, houses, etc. But, the real motivator is money. People holding a large sign standing on the sidewalk costs just a fraction of a permanent billboard or other sign and doesn't have to meet hardly any of the sign ordinances.
"Statistics suggest that when customers complain, business owners and managers ought to get excited about it. The complaining customer represents a huge opportunity for more business."
--- Zig Ziglar
Another idea that is becoming more important now that advertising money is not so abundant is the concept of using existing customer base as a voice for new business. It may have crossed your mind before and the simplicity of it also makes it easy to forget. Our customers talk. They talk to their friends, peers in the industry, your competition, your other customers, and your future customers. Their chatter is your advertisement. What is it that you would like them to say?
"The interesting thing is when we design and architect a server, we don't design it for Windows or Linux, we design it for both. We don't really care, as long as we're selling the one the customer wants."
--- Michael Dell
Do you remember the Seinfeld episode with the soup Nazi? The owner of the deli would only serve his soup the way he wanted it served and only to who he wanted to serve to. That worked great for him because he had a line of customers out the door waiting for his popular soups. However, if your customers are not lining up for what you are producing or for the service that you are providing, perhaps you should find out what it is that they want.
Not always the easiest thing to do, but there are tools such as surveys and questionnaires that can give you an idea. Another good way to find out what your customers want is to build relationships with them and get them to open up. Do what it takes to put your finger on the pulse of your target market.
"Customers today want the very most and the very best for the very least amount of money, and on the best terms. Only the individuals and companies that provide absolutely excellent products and services at absolutely excellent prices will survive."
--- Brain Tracy
After discovering what it is that customers want, build for them, service for them, and/or provide for them the best that you can. Refuse to cut corners. Make it a priority to be the best (fill in the blank) in your area. Your customers will talk you up. They will be the walking billboard waving and shouting at traffic. They will be the energized neon or LED flashing your name to future customers.
"Our mission statement about treating people with respect and dignity is not just words but a creed we live by every day. You can't expect your employees to exceed the expectations of your customers if you don't exceed the employees' expectations of management."
--- Howard Schultz
Finally, be sure to communicate to your team the importance of customer satisfaction. Team members need to be you when you're not around. They can only convey your passion for excellence if you communicate it to them.
Then, with the money you are saving in advertising and marketing because of great customer service, be sure to reward your people well. They deserve it.
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Billboard for Daisy Outdoor Products:
"Daisy Air Rifles: Keeping Kids Off Your Lawn Since 1886!"
A billboard for Exxon:
"Where are all the news crews when we're NOT spilling anything?"
At a country diner in Georgia:
"If we weren't meant to eat animals then why are they made of meat?"
We know those funny signs are out there. Take a moment and send them in to us and we'll share them with the world. Send all hysterical observations to: email@example.com.