It’s a new year - don’t get tied up in the same old marketing

It’s a new year - don’t get tied up in the same old marketing

If last year was a bad one then be sure to make this year a great one. Be different. Be daring. And make sure this year you’re getting noticed, before you try to sell.

Don’t dwell.

We all suffer from depression from time to time. And if your business is suffering it can be a tremendous distraction clouding your thinking. The typical reaction is to recoil, to circle the wagons and cut expenses. And while this is a necessity to stop the bleeding, be cautious in where you trim. All too frequently it’s marketing that gets the axe first. Resist this temptation. Instead reexamine your marketing efforts. If what you’ve been doing isn’t working…then by all means stop doing it…but keeping doing something. Be different. Be daring. Change course.

Sure it’s easy to say, change. But what does this mean?

Well let’s examine a hypothetical situation. Meet Ted, he owns Ted’s Tie Emporium. He sells nothing but ties. Wacky ties. Power ties. Thousands of ties. His business has been hit with a double whammy. First the business casual wave cut into tie sales for the past few years. And the recent down turn saw some of his best customers out of work - so they weren’t buying ties. Ted’s tried everything. He’s advertised “The biggest selection of ties”, he’s tried “Buy one tie get one free”, and he’s tried “Half price tie Tuesdays”. But nothing has worked to his satisfaction and he’s getting desperate. So what should he do?

Get noticed.

Ted has tried the standard pitches: widest selection, sales, BOGOs, etc.  Ted needs to be different. How different depends on several factors: Ted’s customer base, his stomach for controversy, and his willingness to be daring. Let’s assume that Ted’s two best customer segments are young college grads just starting out, who dress sharp to get ahead, and the established executives that shied away from business casual. First, Ted will need to figure out which group holds the greatest upside. Which will lead to more sales. 

Since Ted’s Tie Emporium is located near a few college campuses and in the downtown area, he’s decided to target the younger guys. The average revenue per sale is lower, but he’s determined that they shop more frequently, so over time, they spend more. It’s not that he’ll ignore his other segment, but he needs to focus so he can target and get noticed. And he’s ready to be courageous.

So Ted kicks off his new campaign: “Ties that get you laid.” On his website, his Facebook page, in ads, on radio, through outdoor advertising, Ted advertises his ties will get you laid. It’s audacious, it’s controversial. It’s noticed. Of course, the spin would be Ted’s ties help you achieve business success and the ladies like successful men. But let’s face it, no one would care about the subtext - they’d be fixated on the headline. It would certainly create a buzz and would probably get lots of comments. But the measure of success would be sales. If the campaign is working then Ted could tolerate the jeers and critics.

Be smart, be social.

Since it’s our hypothetical situation, let’s assume the campaign is a success. Sales jump up and everyone wants a tie that gets them laid. But after a few weeks the controversy and sales start to falter. The radio dj’s aren’t chatting it up anymore, and the protesters have vanished and so have the news vans. This is when phase two rolls out. On Ted’s website, Facebook page, and Youtube channel…the call goes out: “Get your lover to blame the tie and get a free tie.” Get your “tie conquest” to post a YouTube video, a comment on Facebook, or the Ted website and receive a coupon for a free tie. Of course, nothing perverted permitted, just a simple “he got lucky because of the Ted Tie” kind of comment.

By harnessing the power and the low cost of social marketing, you can quickly grow a customer base and extend the reach of an offer. Few will be inspired to post about ties normally, but in our scenario Ted’s “headline” is so outrageous and the call to action so “polarizing” it could inspire followers and friends to share it with others. Of course it’s not easy to predetermine what will go viral or what will be shared, but funny and outlandish have a better than average chance. And asking for lovers to post comments about how a tie made them do it…well that’s got a shot.

Most likely, a firestorm would ignite all over again. The outraged protesters would be back. The “tie pundits” would be arguing over how this is sexism and denigrates women. And the radio morning drive guys would be sending countless interns out wearing Ted Ties to see how effective they are. But again, if sales were strong, it’s easier to handle the negative feedback and comments. After all, it’s about selling ties.

You don’t have to be as extreme, but you should be different

In our Ted’s Tie Emporium hypothetical we obviously chose a very controversial tactic to make our point. You need to be different, you need to get noticed before your offer will be listened to. Ted had tried the typical marketing offerings and they didn’t work. So to stand out from the other tie retailers he had to do something that got attention. And by choosing a very controversial strategy Ted would see the added benefit of augmenting his marketing budget with the free positive and negative PR the campaign would spur.

They are many other successful, less caustic, tactics that would also work for Ted. But in our scenario, he was the type of client who welcomed the controversy and enjoyed the spotlight. But don’t let the crazy suggestion overshadow the moral of the story ñ do something that’s not typical and you’ll get noticed for being different. Do the same as everyone else and you’ll be looking for a new tie to wear to job interviews.

Jan 06, 2011

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