I have several clients that are in the housing industry (brokers, title company, movers and remodelers) that are still pursuing their marketing efforts in this dismal economy. I have to give them a lot of credit because they still are positive and they continue to advertise/market their business.
Unfortunately, they are like artists. It usually is the last place that you look to buy (or spend money on). I know because I have two studio partners that are artists. One is a young kid (Terrance is 37) that is very positive and gets his name out in places that others would not have the energy to invest. A couple of months ago he was featured in Art Collector's magazine (http://www.americanartcollector.com/issues.php?issue=47#1666). I have to give him a lot of credit he has gotten into a couple of galleries across the US and has put together strategic relationships with an interior designer and a contractor. He is hungry and he finds that he has to take some risks. But with all that he is staying afloat.
I guess the moral of the story is that you don't have to dump a life savings into marketing but you do have to be creative (do what your competitors aren't doing).
I recently was over at Lasko Printing (one of my clients) and I was talking to Derek about his calendar promotions. I noticed that he was folding a newsletter and he said that the bank where his company does business wrote a feature article in their newsletter about Lasko Printing. I thought that was a wonderful touch by Lewis & Clark bank.
That is cool. . .especially to help out marketing for their small business clients (and they had them print it as well).
Currently, I have a personal account at a credit union that we have belonged to for 15 years and my business account is at another bank. My credit union has just started a small business program and I have thought about joining but have been dragging my heels (just because of the inconvenience).
But if they made it more attractive I would jump in a heartbeat. I am thinking that alot of others would do the same at my Credit Union. So I got a wild hair and sent a general email through their main site to talk to someone in the marketing department.
Joan replied with her email and phone number. I called her and told her that I had some great marketing ideas to promote their Small Business program. She acted very skeptical and said that they have a lot of people try to get the Credit Union's marketing business. I told her that I may be "barking up the wrong tree" but I had some ideas that could help a lot of other small businesses (like myself) make the change. These are some of the suggestions that I provided to her:
1. Create a local small business board that makes recommendations for the needs of the small business members.
2. Have monthly meetings that (a) presentation by a local businesses (b) give QuickBooks™ assistance (c) Tax preparation (d) creating business plan (e) creating line of credit, etc.
3. Have one office designated for small business. Have a staff member that specializes in that area run it.
4. Have a bulletin board with members business cards that the Credit Union endorses.
5. Have a small business website that has all information and it directed at the Credit Union clients. You can probably get members to volunteer creating and developing for exchange of ad space.
6. Have newsletters for small businesses printed that can also be formatted for the web.
Joan told me that she would run these ideas through management to see what they thought about this. It has been a week and Joan has not been in touch with me. Another great opportunity wasted away. . .
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To help Joe create his personal brand and identity. I researched Joe's competitors and their websites. After we established his corporate logo I began to design and layout his business cards. I thought about a different direction that would make his clients remember him and his company because nothing really stuck out (company is Hall Manufacturing Solutions). But then, I thought what is so different about Joe?
Joe is a skilled woodworker (he created custom furniture for his home in Fairview) and a knowledgeable salesperson with large woodworking machinery. Beyond all that, he enters Ironman Triathlons. One of his friends is Ken Wheeler who has a company, Renovobikes, here in Portland, OR. Ken's company produces these award winning, beautiful frames from various imported hardwoods.
When Joe makes a sales call he tells his clients about these incredible wooden frames that are all made with the CNC machines that he sells. Joe's clients are all in disbelief until he takes them out into the parking lot and pulls out a wooden bike and lets them ride it. I said, "Joe that is it, we have to put that on your marketing material because you have left them with a story that they won't forget. Can you think of any other salesperson that has a story as unique as this? This is not an ego thing…it is a great story!"
Joe thought about it and we finally made two sets of business cards, one generic and the other with his photo holding his wooden bike. I love this story and I have told many of my new clients.
Can you possibly think of something unique about yourself or your business?