Wow, would I love to have the big budgets that Martin Lindstrom, author of “Brandwashing,” must have had for the examples he shares. Over the years, most of my clients only had thousands to spend on their marketing programs, not millions. Lately, I have met quite a few small business people with budgets less than a thousand! If you are in a ‘design on a dime’ situation, there are key tactics you can employ once you know the basic demographics of your target audience (age, income bracket, gender).
1. Dive into your customers’ preferences.
There are excellent free or low-cost studies you can use to learn more about their personal habits. If you read “Brandwashing,” you will see how very important the research step is! Some of my favorite online resources are:
- Pew Research Center,
- U. S. census results,
- Harris Polls,
- Mine social media and online reviews to learn first-hand what your clients are saying.
2. Try to create a purposeful and total experience.
Lindstrom’s case studies illustrate the powerful force of the subconscious. If you have a bricks and mortar place or you are hosting an event, purposely think about how you’ll engage all the senses.
- Smell—When you smell the aroma of good food cooking, your mouth instantly starts salivating. Aromas are powerful. Apple cinnamon potpourri can instantly transport me to thoughts of autumn and feeling cozy. My husband is still talking about the white tea fragrance they pumped through the Westin in Hollywood, Florida. How do you want people to feel at your store or event? What smells make you feel that way?
- Sound—What’s playing in the background? The first time I heard the band The Pet Shop Boys was when I was I shopping in a store. The song on the air was, “S-h-o-p-p-i-n-g.” The very upbeat song is a social commentary piece, yet a casual shopper can easily think it’s a song about how fun it is shop! Did I buy something? Yes, and I will always remember the store. Even though it’s the butt of jokes, Muzak, the company that sells piped in music to businesses, is a HUGE business for a reason. Music sets the mood. For free (with a good sound system), you can create your own special mix using an iPod. If you want low-cost, live music, contact the music director at your local college for student recommendations.
- Vision—Pictures, words, and things can communicate powerful messages. Words are easier to select. They have common definitions and connotations. The interpretation of pictures and colors change with the individua1. There are an incredible number of studies on what a color communicates and how it makes someone feel! Google/Bing the key words color and psychology and learn what’s right for you.
- Taste—College students and reporters have something in common: if you feed them they will come. (Remember you must have the content too!) What kind of food you serve at an event is very important. When the food isn’t good, people walk away talking about how bad the food is and less about your news or merchandise. If you want low-cost and good food, contact the culinary arts director at your local college for student recommendations.
3. Leverage word-of-mouth and peer influence.
The most powerful sales force is your customers, friends, and neighbors. Give them something to talk about! Some ways to promote your business are sponsorships of school, community events, and sports leagues. Or, share announcements through social media. It’s important to ask people to please pass it on! If you add “Please retweet” 51% of followers will do it. Noting “Please RT” gets 39% of your connections to act on the request.
4. Remember, it’s not about you.
When presenting creative material to a client, the reaction that makes me cringe the most is the response, “Personally, I don’t like it.” Unless you represent the intended target audience, then your personal preferences have to be set aside. It’s about what the customer likes.
There are also low-cost ways to test whether your marketing materials hit the sweet spot. At the university, we would stand outside the library and offer students a coupon for a free cup of coffee in exchange for an opinion. Use SurveyMonkey or other free online survey tools to solicit opinions. Even if you only ask ten people from your target audience, I guarantee you will learn something about your product or service that will make you glad you took the time.
What are some of your go-to tactics and tools? If you have a favorite cost-effective resource of your own, please share! Here is a list of some of my favorite resources.