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Tuesday, September 15, 2009
Volume 15 | # 344
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The power of ads rest more in the repetition of obvious exhortations than in the subtle transmission of values. » Michael Schudson

The Art of Marketing

I was reading a column this week by a fellow named B. Eric Rhoads, who specializes in helping artists make a living selling their art. No, I don’t have a new sideline. I signed up for his email letter a while back while buying art supplies online as a gift for someone else.

I smiled while reading his advice to artists. It sounded similar to advice I’ve given to branch bankers for years. The gist of his article was that the power of marketing lies in repetition and that artists shouldn’t expect that things like “press releases” or single ads will have much, or any, impact.

One of my long-standing jokes with bankers is that they shouldn’t get their feelings hurt by the fact that customers don’t spend much time at all thinking about them. It’s a lopsided relationship. We spend all day thinking about customers. They spend all day thinking about anything but us. Yet, too many folks seem to think that if a customer has read or heard one of our brilliant marketing messages once, he’s committed it to memory and continues to mull it over even today.

Rhoads cites studies that suggest that a person is not likely to actually take action on any marketing message until he has seen it 7 to 10 times. He also suggests that it could take hundreds of advertising “impressions” over many months for a person in an artist’s target market to see that message 7 to 10 times.

He uses folks like Norman Rockwell and Ansel Adams as examples of artists who became “brands.” They garnered disproportionate demand for their products through continuous, widespread exposure. Sure, they were talented artists. But many are. What helped separate them was their level of exposure (marketing messages) over time.

There is a tendency in the uber-connected world we live in today to expect instant results from any marketing effort we make. And yes, it’s always motivating when we see instantaneous response to our messages. But we need to remember that quick results are the exception (albeit a nice one) and not the norm.

You may have to have conversations with customers more than once for them to actually sink in. They may need to hear or read your marketing messages many times before they spur action.

Creativity is great. But repetition is what gets results. A little of the former and a lot of the latter can make your branch the picture of success.

Not So Trivial Trinkets

While running errands this weekend, my wife asked me to stop at a local “novelty” store to pick up items for an upcoming scout meeting. As I pulled into the nondescript strip mall, I still wasn’t sure which store she was talking about. Their signs all blended together, and the glare of the glass on the storefronts made it difficult to see inside the stores.

Once I found it, I had to laugh while walking around the place, thinking, “Ah, this is where people get this kind of stuff!” You want a box of camouflage hacky-sack balls, they’ve got them. Looking for stars and stripes yo-yos? How about religious-themed lollipops? They have them by the gross.

While my wife walked about the place, I couldn’t help overhear the owner talking to other customers about the challenges of generating awareness of her store. When one of the customers asked if she had just opened, she said that she had in fact been there for 3 years. (That was surprising to me, as well, as I had never noticed the place.)

She mentioned the poor results she had gotten from spending a few hundred dollars a while back with the local newspaper. I looked around and thought, “Hey, you could buy a shelf’s worth of cactus-shaped pencil erasers for that kind of money!”

Then she shared something that made me smile. She said, “I’ve figured out that the best way to get folks to know about my place is through word-of-mouth. I’ve started giving everyone who comes in here free samples.” True to her word, she walked up to my sons soon after and asked if they would like a couple of “bomb bags.” Well of course they did! She stepped just outside the store to show my kids how to activate them and make them explode. (Yes, they’re safe.) They loved them and came in telling their mom that the scouts REALLY needed those.

Chatting further with her, she shared that she started to realize that her small marketing budget is put to much better use by giving as many folks as possible (and especially their kids) a few freebies. Her goal is to speak with everyone that visits her store and try to make a gesture that has them saying, “Gee, thanks.”

And she’s been amazed by how many referrals she’s been getting since that has become her focus.

In an increasingly impersonal world, personal gestures still resonate.

How many of your customers will you make say, “Gee, thanks!” this week?

Goodwill is the only asset that competition cannot undersell or destroy. » Marshall Field

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in these columns are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of any affiliated entities or sponsors.
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