Marketing Tip

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I shared a few marketing and advertising ideas at the West Coast Art and Frame show in Las Vegas this past January, and several people asked me to post a few of them somewhere. I thought this was the best, most accessible place, plus, if someone isn’t interested, they don’t have to be bothered to read my ramblings.

Here is my opening question to you, what kind of business are you? Or better stated, what brings people to your business? Pull out your yellow pages ad, or a direct mail piece you have sent out, or whatever is the latest piece of advertising you have done. Now, cross out your name and insert your closest competitors name, could the ad still read the same (other than the address and phone number perhaps)? If your answer is a begrudging ‘yes’ or ‘yes if the customer doesn’t know any better’, then ‘Houston we have a problem’! So often when we write our advertising pieces, we gravitate towards what we have seen ‘others’ do, or what we see our competitors do. Unfortunately our prospects don’t know the difference if we don’t’ tell them. So my first tip is, reevaluate your advertising from a prospects perspective, if you get the impression that you look just like your competitor, so will your prospects. Time to change the message! Read a few of your competitors’ ads, you will be amazed by how many of them say they are the ‘best’ or have the ‘highest quality’ or ‘most experience’. Remember, your prospects don’t know the difference yet so if your ads say the same, well ….. then your prospects think you are just the same.

My marketing tips come with an unconditional money back guarantee. I will reimburse you double what you paid me for this tip if it doesn’t help your business (how’s that for an offer?). Actually, I welcome your comments (criticism) and I will continue to post more tips if I get the impression that a few of you are interested.
I tend to agree with your post. I think you are failing if another shop has identical advertising. If you do not stand out and make a brand for yourself/business then you shall sink. Or you may stay in the sea on mediocracy. I think this all comes under the umbrella of business plans, you must know who your customers are in order to sell to them. I some times think shops should have a little display of what is in their frame packages. You know that thing where it it framed on one half and sawed apart on the other-to show the inerts of the sealed package. Why tell a customer when you can show them???Put it in their face and say what it is they are looking at. I know this wont work in every case, so change up the displays every once in a while. You change the wok on the walls right? What an easy way to educate the customer, by simply showing them.

Did you say something about rambling????
An article in Fast Company magazine this month asks the question famously posed by Theodore Levitt, "What business are you really in?" The railroad industry thought they were in the "railroad" business, when they were really in the transportation business.

Are you in the "piture framin" (sic) business, or in the home decor business, or the custom services business, or the gift business, or, or, or...

This is why a positioning statement is so important. You gotta know what you're doing before you can even begin to devise a marketing plan.

Starbucks (which is what the article is about) is positioning themselves to "become the most recognizable and respected brand in the world!" And not just for coffee, either.

I know one thing, I'm gonna rethink what business I'm really in.

Uh, Edd, I just realized that this is waaaaay down in the "tips" forum. Um, this tips forum is sorta for "hands on" types of tips, like rub a screw eye across a piece of bees wax to make it easier to put into the wood... or plant your corn when the signs are in the light of the moon for really tall corn! You know, really usefull stuff.

Marketing tips, on the other hand, are usually in the business topics forum. They might get noticed a little better and not need bringing to the "current posts" list again and again by ridiculous posts...
(such as this one!)

Hmmm, I think Edd's talking about differentiation and Betty's talking about "how to differentiate." I have read books where the main "theme" is akin to Betty's "What business are you in?" question, and other books where the thrust is "What benifit do you provide the customer?"

Idealy, we need to differentiate with a message that conveys our benifits to the customer through identifying the business we are in.

Simple. uh?
I have been thinking about this topic allot, as it is the most common theme in the Guerilla Marketing book. I was in the "megalomart" yesterday brainstorming about how can I sell the same thing (cough cough) they do for more money. Most of us here would answer "that’s easy its quality stupid." But then you start to sound like everybody else when you do that. Like Edd said what dimwit ain't out there already claiming to be the "best".

As I was walking around I started thinking about a radio ad. I started to note all the things (garbage) they have there that I don't sell. The one thing that really caught my attention was the HUGE display of plastic fruit. I mean who buys this crap. Well that was my inspiration for the commercial will write today. I think it will go something like:

"Fabric, florals, and plastic fruit are all things you can't buy at MY STORE. You will have to go to the Craft Corridor (or whatever funny name I come up with) for that. At MY STORE you will get (now list what I do different than they do. BRIEFLY).......(now the ending) So come to MY STORE when you want great framing because at MY STORE we sell framing, not plastic fruit!”

Is this the idea? What other frame shops mention plastic fruit in their ads? That might turn into a new catch phrase. There is this body shop in town with this catch phrase “Hey Nick fix my car.” It is a huge success right now. Another car lot boasts “Its hot Don”. These things are very very effective at making people think of you first. Until now I have had these flowery fluffy commercials that we all hate and just tune out anyway. Well that might stop today. Now what funny name will I come up with for H.L.?
I think the key is the "now list what I do different than they do" part.

But, I like having a catchy phrase.

Is HL your key competitor? I have three independents plus a M******'s and a Corner's (The Framing Superstore). I think the independents and Corner's are more direct competitors than the 'M' store. It's tough to differentiate from the independents!
Yea HL and one other framer is it for about 60,000ish people.
Great tip, but why not put it in the business forum? Not much gets noticed all the waaaaaay down here........and it is a business topic. Just a thought.

edit.....oops, Betty beat me to it.
It's tough to differentiate from the independents!
So what makes your store different than the pack? I am having troble with this one. Most of our jobs are bread & butter framing. I feel that we do it a little better than most, but I would guess that our client wouldn't see the difference.
I am still trying to figure out not only "what makes me different," but also "what difference does the customer care about?"

I am CPF, the others aren't. I have been talking about conservation, they tend not to (although in most cases they understand), which makes me seem more knowledgeable. I have MANY more corner samples displayed than they do, so I have a bigger selection which most customers comment on. I am in a recognizable "named" section of the city "Tatnuck Square." Although everyone online is always asking what's "Tatnuck," in Worcester it's well known and easy to identify and find. I have parking and they don't.

Seems like the parking is the most important!

My "tag" in ads and at the end of my radio commercial is: "Our convenient and easy parking will get you here, Our caring for your art will keep you coming back!"

I keep asking customers trying to figure out exactly what brought them in so I can take atvantage of it. I am still not thrilled with what I am doing, so I will keep looking for improvement!
I didn't mean to call out Cliff, the question is meant for all to consider.

Ours include
The largest instock moulding selection in Central Ohio
Four locations
Any other Ideas?
"What business am I really in?" is a very good question and place to start.
Years ago several of us Reps were sitting around in the part of the restraunt that is conducive to deep thought..
One of the old hands turned to a young lady new to her company and the industry and asked "What are selling?" She replied Moulding, and in those days that was all Larson did.
Someone else pointed out that we were all selling the samething: ourselves, then our company. Moulding was just a product.
Picture framing is a product, our business is selling ourselves to do what people want us to do, which is educate them, enhance that which they value, and solve their problems.
They want to be educated about what we can do for them, they want us to make their "art or whatever" look great, and they want us to do so in a budget that they are comfortable with.

When you want to drill a 5/16 hole in the wall, go go to the hardware store. Do you want to buy a 5/16" drill bit? no. you want a 5/16" hole. The bit will just provide you with the right size hole.

A great book to read (and it's easier than reading Decor or PFM, ie: 1 small page chapters) is "What Clients Love" by Harry Beckwith.
And the first half of Presenting to Win.

Happy Matting
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