August’s a good time to tune up your marketing efforts |

August’s a good time to tune up your marketing efforts

Bob Schumacher
Vail, CO, Colorado

With the fall selling season upon us, small business owners and managers need to take inventory and spruce up some possible marketing misconceptions that seem to appear and reappear in their daily promotional challenges.

Marketing legend Zig Ziglar characterized these blips as “stinkin’ thinkin” and recommended a regular “check up from the neck up.” Good advice to follow. Here are some of the small business mental roadblock that may need a lube and oil change:

– “Anyone who can fog a mirror is my designated target market.” Deep-six this thought once and for all. Aim your advertising at everyone and you will hit no one. Your ads will blow in the wind but you will still have to pay for them.

– “I have been in business in these parts for years. Folks around here know where I am and what I sell.” Get real. There is hardly a square mile of our fruited plain where 50 percent of the residents are not moving in, moving out or moving on. A good many in your market area do not know any more about your business than they do about your competition.

– “Customers are more likely to raise their hand and inquire when I leave the prices(s) out of my advertisement.” Keep walking west looking for the sun to rise! Savvy consumers today do not take the time to play guessing games. What they will do is turn the page or the dial and you and your ad become history.

– “My business is pretty much the same as most of my competitors.” If you believe that, you and your marketing efforts are headed for some serious train wrecks. Get a grip. Take the time necessary to clearly define what is unique and special about you and/or your business as opposed to your competitors. Itch your niche. State your case clearly and often.

– “If my ad is too specific, I am likely to miss someone who might have responded.”

Once again now ” when you attempt to speak to everyone, you speak to no one and that is exactly who will respond to your ads.

– “The only reason I ever advertise is to remind people that I carry a wide assortment and offer the best selection of widgets this side of Rotten Porch, Kansas.” If you are wasting your money using phrases like “wide assortment” or “best selection,” your trips to the advertising plate will result in consistently striking out. Avoid majoring in minors (meaningless words).

– “If I list my price(s), my competitors will undercut me.” Really? The only people you care about seeing or hearing your ad and taking note of your price(s) are your target market prospects and customers. No one else matters!

– “It seems to me that the only thing people in this market care about is price.” You know why? Because almost without exception the larger advertisers (grocery chains, vehicle dealers, and big box stores) not only feature but consistently highlight price in bold type encased inside all manner of gaudy clip art. Pray that they never wake up and realize the error of their ways.

Your primary message should focus on what is in it for the customer (besides just price) to choose your offer over your competitors ” if not today, at least soon. Make that case and ad results will follow.

– “The big boxes cram and jam lots of items and offerings in their ads. That strategy must work or they would not continue to do it.” Sorry, wrong again. These companies employ the “cram and jam” method because they copy what their competition does.

Their ads are put together by people in distant cubicles who do not have the faintest idea how to create effective ads. There are even entire ad agencies that specialize in this kind of comic book-like advertising drivel.

Do not walk off the same cliff as the cram and jam lemmings. Tell your story straight and use as much space or time as you need to tell it effectively. Feature less and tell more. Be sure to speak to your audience in plain coffee-shop English.

Lose the bullets and “features only” copy. Clean up your marketing blackboard and concentrate on benefits to the customer and you will start to see what’s in it for you.

Bob Schumacher has more than 40 years experience in retailing and marketing. His Web site,, offers 74 complimentary articles on small business advertising and marketing as well as information on how your business can receive a cost-effective marketing audit. Direct comments and questions to Bob at

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