When I was a little girl during WWII, my mother, sister, and I lived with my grandparents on their farm in Perdido, Alabama. The main part of town was tiny with a couple general stores, a masonic lodge, a Methodist and a Baptist church, and the post office.
The train went through that part of town every day. Just before it was due to pass through, the postmistress (her name was Beulah Weekly), took a thick mailbag filled with the day’s mail out to the tracks and using a long pole attached it to a hook on a tall post.
When the train passed, someone on that train would reach out and grab the bag, speeding the mail on its way, and then throw out a bag with the incoming mail.
As our Train to Success speeds down the tracks, I’ll be doing something similar. I’ll be throwing out bits and pieces of things that I have discovered along the way while growing my own business with the hope that they will be helpful to you.
And just as the postmistress hung that bag of mail out to be picked up, I’m hoping that you will share your own ideas and suggestions in the comments area as the train passes by.
So let’s begin:
Whether you already have a business or hoping to start one, one of the most important things you need to learn about is marketing. Marketing of yourself as well as your business.
But what is marketing?
Most people think of marketing as advertising but it’s much more than that. When I first started my businesses, I didn’t run an ad but I spent a lot of time marketing.
So what is your idea of marketing? Is it advertising? Your sales presentation? Your website? Your display? The sign on your car?
It’s all this and more.
Marketing is anything that causes a customer to form an impression about you and your business.
Marketing is what gets and keeps your customers.
Regardless of the kind of business you are in, marketing is the one thing that you can’t neglect if you expect to stay in business.
Marketing isn’t reading a book and thinking you know it all. It’s a continuous lifelong learning process. You may not realize it but living is marketing.
Think back to your childhood and remember all the marketing you did then. You marketed yourself to your parents when you convinced them to buy that new bicycle for you and later when you convinced them to buy your first car.
As you grew up, you marketed yourself to the college that you wanted to attend, to that first employer who hired you to work at Burger King, and to the car salesman who finally dropped the price on the car you desperately wanted but couldn’t quite afford.
If you think back, you’ll remember that your biggest successes came, not when you talked about how much the bicycle was going to cost and how many gears it had. You were more successful when you explained how the bicycle could replace Mom having to take you to school and how much faster you could get home from tutoring.
Most of what I’m going to tell you as our train speeds down the track, you’ve probably heard before.
- It’s common sense.
- It’s the little things.
- It’s building relationships with your customers.
Once you’ve started your business, your biggest asset is not your extensive mailing list. It’s your existing customers. And you need to continually work to build relationships with them.
Okay, enough inspiration and preaching. I’m sure you are asking yourself by now, “How about some of those tips you promised?”
One of the most important things you should remember is that you can learn from watching what others do — even in a different line of business. For example, Debbie Schultz of Scriptiure Cookies spreads news about her product wherever she goes by handing out her Scripture Cookies. “When I’m at a bank, I give the teller a cookie,” she says. “When I go to the grocery store, I give the cashier a cookie.”
Think about what you could always have with you to hand out when in a store, the library, or anywhere that you encounter individuals. Take a basketful of them to your next Chamber or networking meeting and pass them out. They don’t have to be large or expensive. They should have to speak for you. How about individually wrapped fortune cookies, with personalized information about your company as the fortune inside the cookie? These can be ordered in bulk and passed out wherever you go.
What could you put into the single truffle boxes from Nashville Wraps? They come in colors and you could print a label for the top with your business information. You don’t even have to put a bow on them. Just seal with tape and you’re ready to market. These are meant as “surprises” for people you meet as you market your business.
Or print a label to add to any individual product such as the Lady Walton individual chocolate wafer cookies from Imperial Foods.
Get those ideas flowing and share them with all of us in the comments.
Being successful at marketing or anything else in your business only takes four simple steps. Here is the complete formula for success…
Step One: Decide what you intend to accomplish.
Step Two: Define exactly what actions it will take from you to achieve the outcome.
Step Three: Decide if you are willing to pay that price.(If you’re not willing to pay the price to get whatever you want, you’re just going to get frustrated.)
Step Four: Monitor the results of your actions and make corrections when needed.
Step Five: Continue to take the required actions and DO NOT STOP until your outcome is realized.
That’s it for today. Add your comments and Watch for the next mailbag as I toss it from the train!
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