I started my company on a shoestring and by instituting the simplest, cheapest and most effective marketing campaign in the world.
My “Thank You Marketing Campaign” as I have since named it, faithfully served—and still serves me—in the most abundant way.
I’ll tell the tale but, know this: Marketing boils down to value.
You value your customer, and they value you. Period.
Venturing into the digital channel and exploring online marketing only echoes what I’ve known all along. Marketing and business are synonymous. They work best as one.
Your business is cloaked within your marketing efforts, encompassing every single aspect, and what reflects back to the company/brand. It’s as small as a business card font, as interactive as a salesperson’s handshake, and as visual as a recognized corporate color/logo.
Then there’s your web presence. Go ahead and call it Digital Marketing, Content Marketing, and E-commerce all you want, I call it marketing, plain and simple.
Market from the Heart and Get the Word Out for FREE!
Marketing with everything I had—so pretty much nothing but a grateful heart—led me to be an appreciative business owner. I learned to thank my customers, and often, and out loud, and in writing, and in unexpected ways, very early on.
Look, the fact is, I started my business by accident, but marketing it, even with no budget at first, and somewhat by instinct, had a purpose. Essentially it is the same purpose as you have right this minute for your business. Online or off.
While I don’t recommend the accidental approach to becoming a business owner, tumbling in like Alice to Wonderland forced me to shake it off and think on my feet. Like quick.
Oh, if my young self only knew what I now know about marketing and business, or is it the other way around? Shocking surprises, fascinations, and lessons awaited both Alice and me in our accidental journeys.
Except, I had no choice but to make it happen. So I suppose you can say I was determined.
Failing was not in my vocabulary or thinking, even though, at the same time, I was scared to death. I needed customers. I needed to find them, have them, and keep them.
Customers = Sales = Business
It’s just that simple.
Unless you accidentally become a business owner, (hey, it happens, at least to me) in which case you may face some additional challenges, specifically:
No marketing department
Just me. Luckily I was young, hardworking, and perfectly business naïve enough to just go for it!
In the beginning, the heart leads the way. Desire, maybe it is, in part.
At any rate, enthusiasm for your business, and for what you do, and adopting a positive outlook towards what I warn you will be an uphill climb, drives both marketing and business success.
People often tell me I have a lot of “enthusiasm”, and sometimes I find it funny. Because it seems like it’s a dirty word or something, or maybe they don’t expect it (I’ve been at it more than 25 years and all! Ha), or sadly, maybe they aren’t used to enthusiasm in business dealings.
Whatever the case, the truth is, I am enthusiastic about my business, and I think you should be, too. Enthusiasm goes well with and grows from, businesses that work from the heart. Like me.
It never grows old, even as milestones and anniversaries and years in business continue.
True Tales from My “Thank You Marketing Campaign.”
Now I invite you to read my honest and true journey into marketing and business because the lessons I learned along the way translate to important insights into marketing that may help you.
And, (good news!) are applicable both online and off.
Sooo, here goes my tale. Please let me know what you think by commenting.
One little customer. One little thank you. One big insight.
Humble beginnings may be an understatement in my case.
The point is, I had little to work with besides my young and mega hardworking, agile and enthusiastic twenties self when I found myself knee deep—suddenly, a business owner.
I was so scared shitless (is it okay to write that?), I NEVER told anyone for a number of years, in fact, I even owned a business.
But I realized early on, there is one thing I truly felt (besides panic)— an appreciation for my customers. Each and every one, no matter how much they spent.
One young kid came in a lot when I first opened and spent very little. I appreciated his small regular sale and always thanked him, chatting him up a little.
But he was so shy, all he ever said was “I need a (fill in the blank item)” so, he became known to everyone as “Anita” as a little side giggle because he never said anything else, just gave his order.
He smiled a lot while I yapped at him, maybe.
Then one day he came in (maybe after a year or more of coming by) and said to me, “Aren’t you ever, not ever, in a bad mood?” Wow, wee. Anita spoke. Life altering.
I was dancing on clouds that day. I was making my shy young customer happy with my happy chat along with his purchase and he thought I was always happy and in a good mood. Perfect. That’s exactly what I want to hear.
Of course I had bad moods, sick days, sad days, and panic days of all sorts, all along the year or years he was a customer, BUT HE NEVER KNEW IT. Which means I was doing a great job.
Your customers don’t need more aggravation, bad attitudes or negativity to add to their hectic day and troubles. They want a positive, fun, nice, easy experience when they deal with you. Especially when they support you by buying from you.
This is marketing. On the cheap.
Start with a simple “thank you” because it goes a long way.
The Studmuffin Technique.
I saved up for over a year to afford a business sign, so for a very long time, only people who already knew about the place, knew a business was in the (sign-less) building.
I operated like this for a while because there’s a lot to do to get in any kind of decent order for operating an unexpected business. But…
Soon enough, I realized I needed customers. NOT trying to get any, while I was busy anyway, wasn’t going to work for long.
One of my customers was a guy I affectionately called “Studmuffin” and so came my bright idea to attract new customers.
Instead of the usual “Under New Management” banner to draw new local business, my banner stated in VERY BIG FAT wording that “Studmuffin” was a customer.
Yes, I was trying to stand out, maybe create some buzz, and let people know my business existed in the nameless building but, what came of it was so much more than that.
Not only did my funny, unusual sign pull in new customers, but it became a “thing.”
My regular customers and now new customers too were not only turning up and buying, but they were doing so more often, looking for clues, and joining the discussion because everyone, all over town, wanted to know who “Studmuffin” was.
People were talking about my banner all over town! Curiosity had gripped the public and my banner with a twist had a much bigger impact than expected.
I planned a great sales banner, but I created a publicity campaign by accident.
And the P.R. (public relations) was excellent for both sales and business and long lasting, too. Being talked about in the community is a good thing.
I never told anyone who “Studmuffin” is. He asked me not to.
Sales are marketing; marketing is sales. All mixed up.
This is marketing. On the cheap.
Creating awareness is an important function of marketing and the key to the first door to sales, but the lesson I learned here, and you can use too, is that awareness is a whole lot richer when it’s interactive and brings your ideal customers beyond awareness and into arousing interest in your company. (You know, like wanting to sign up for your list, and not just pop in.)
Geez, the first two parts of my initial “Thank You Marketing Campaign” went pretty darn well.
Marketing is Marketing, Digitally or Not. Here’s Why.
When you value your customer (and you better because you need him/her) everything you do in marketing circles back to that key concept.
Your marketing strategy builds on an understanding of that one thing, that one person, of utmost importance in creating a successful business. A customer is everything.
Because without a customer, you ultimately have nothing. Right?
Realizing your customer is the central core of your marketing and in business, in general, is a critical first step to success. For some reason, I understood this from the get-go.
And my Thank You Marketing Campaign continues to work for me because it comes from a simple theory: value your customer.
What’s easy, free, simple, and goes a long way? Answer: a Thank you. Yep. @SueAnnBubacz
Let me know if you’d like to read the next two parts of my real-life story, marketing on the cheap:
- The Tell Me, Who I Am Campaign (creating customer buy-in), and,
- How I Turned Shocking Pink and Started a Flamingo Parade (establishing and building brand)
If so, and with Kristi’s permission, I’ll do a Part 2 post. Thank you:)