I’m driving to an appointment and fly past hundreds of signs for local businesses. Billboards, store signage and small yard signs on corners covering the landscape, all begging for my attention.
On my passenger seat, resting on the leather as if to beg for my attention like a puppy, is the mail from my office with a local coupon magazine filled with the names of businesses in my area.
As I nestle into my chair and prepare to do research online I’m punched in the retina by ads of all kinds. It’s unavoidable.
I don’t care. I ignore them all. Not on purpose as much as a psychological reaction.
My mind simply filters them out for me.
I don’t care. The truth is, no one really cares. Why should they?
As a marketer I take an interest from time to time and go all CSI on this stuff to uncover why these companies are doing what they are doing. What’s the goal? Who’s behind the company? Why do they think they will succeed or even thrive in this market? What makes them different from all the other businesses just like them?
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Have you ever asked yourself as a business owner why anyone should care that you exist?
Now before you go all megaphone crazy on me here, I understand marketing is supposed to make the phone ring and there are some, albeit limited, merits to the idea of brand building for a small business.
I understand there are a fractional percentage of people who are thinking about and ready to buy now.
It makes perfect sense that a grand opening at a new location will bring interest and probably everyone reading this will list word of mouth as his or her number one source of new customers. I Get It.
But for a business to rise to the level of a market leader it must become more than just a business. There must be an emotional level of appreciation to take someone from customer to loyal fan.
The companies who become household names, even in the tiniest towns across the country, do so because of their story.
Where the Magic Is
By now you have inevitably heard Simon Sinek who, as his Ted talk summary explains, “Has a simple but powerful model for inspirational leadership, starting with a golden circle and the question, « Why? ».
From a marketing and sales perspective your why is equally important. People want to support one another. Customers in your market are hungry for a story to share with their friends about a business or leader whom they are proud to support.
But if They Don’t Know, They Don’t Know
What if you began to invite people in? What if curious people, like me, could meet your team and discover all of the remarkable things about your story?
What if you could turn me into a fan before I ever spent a dime with you or prior to me ever stepping foot in your establishment? What if you could make the community want to see you succeed?
Do you know why shows like Extreme Home Makeover, Biggest Loser, The Ultimate Fighter and Showtime All Access Boxing are so successful?
We view these shows and become emotionally invested in the people and the stories.
Biggest Loser becomes less about a person losing weight and more about cheering for, Lauren, a single mother who has been overweight most of her life and who was bullied and teased as a child and so turned to food for comfort, overcome these challenges and win the battle for a better future.
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We stay tuned in because we want the people to succeed. We become fans. It’s not the weight loss, or the remodel or the battle in the octagon itself that makes us interested and keeps our attention.
It’s the bigger picture. It’s the real life, real people, and real circumstances behind the finished product that creates raving fans.
Small businesses have some of the most fascinating stories behind them. As a consultant I’m always amazed by things I discover.
I’m always excited to share what I know, the inside story behind that little hole in the wall eatery over there or the way the fourth generation mechanic worked on cars when he was in third grade before building what now appears to be “just another” auto shop.
I’m equally fascinated by how this information stays under lock and key while the product or service takes center stage.
There is one marketing tool in the local business tool kit that can raise you up above the commoditization inevitably occurring in your market and in the minds of consumers. There is one tool that can take you from “just another” to “the only”.
Let people in. Build a community of raving fans who support you, appreciate you and feel like they know you well in advance of ever even meeting you in person.
Share your history, process, passion, knowledge and team that make up the finished product or service. Share your why.
If you want to gain an unfair advantage, it’s time to take a very serious look at video marketing.
The next time you embark on a marketing campaign I would ask you to try something new. Instead of focusing on the product, shine a light on the story.
And who knows, maybe you’ll begin to grow something far more valuable than customers. You’ll begin to build a following of raving fans.
I look forward to discovering more about you and I hope to become one of your raving fans, whomever you are.