Guerrilla Customer Alienation Tactics!

Doing this causes me angst...

Maybe it is just me, but I hate it when someone tapes a brochure or a flyer to my mailbox…

You clearly know that you are NOT allowed to put it IN my mailbox, so why do you think it is cool to tape it to the outside?

Look, I advocate people to become Intrepid marketers…And I love business people who practice guerrilla tactics! But in my opinion, this isn’t one of them…

This method is just aggravating and frustrating. Interrupting me by making me deal with that flyer and tape (and removing paint from my mailbox) are, in fact, going to remove me from your list of potential customers…

[Disclosure: This post also applies to those who insert business cards into small baggies, along with a rock to weigh it down, and toss it onto the foot of my driveway as you are going down the street...]

So, let’s assume that you have carefully and thoughtfully identified my house as a real target for your business (and not just drove down my street and paid your mother-in-law to tape collateral to people’s mailboxes). Here are some other ways I’d reach out to these households:

1. There is this thing called the U.S. Postal Service. Create some really good direct mail – that articulates a simple message – solves a problem/fulfills a need – contains a very simple call to action. Direct mail, done right, targeted well, still works…

2. But if an extensive direct response mail program is not in your budget, break down your mailing list into smaller universes (get real guerrilla – down to the street), and send them handwritten notes, and insert a business card. The handwritten note BLOWS PEOPLE AWAY. “Hey Todd, I was on your street the other day, and noticed your roof might have some hail damage…would love 5 minutes to show you what I mean…”

3. Target a specific street, ID the right households, and snap a digital shot of the house. Go back to your office, and use a service like SendOutCards, and send me a personalized note using the photo of my home…

4. Knock on my door. Actually make an effort to chat with me. If I am not at home, leave a handwritten note on a piece of your collateral. I have NEVER had a small business service person knock on my door before (just candidates, religious folks, and the kid next door who’s mother wasn’t home yet…and she wanted to watch TV…).

5. Use social media to connect with me. Build groups (Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn) around tight geographical locations. Build a little community around a location. Yes, it is doable. It just takes a little thinking, a little creativity, and a wee bit of effort… But that’s got to be a better use of your time than driving down random streets tossing rocks out your car window…

6. Form a neighborhood mastermind association. If you fix and install roofs, form a little group in a targeted geographical area, network with other home improvement specialists, invite (by both direct mail and social media) area households to participate in a group discussion on ways to fix and improve their home. See who shows up. Might be a neat way to build some new relationships, land some new business, and get people talking…

Just a few ideas. Trust me, I appreciate that small businesses, operating on tight budgets, are looking for ways to get attention. I just don’t think being a nuisance, and taping something to my mailbox, is the best way to get it.

Think of some creative ways to connect with people. Yeah, you might be able to “reach” more households with the drive-by taped collateral strategy, but methinks you are far better off focusing on creative ways to connect with a more highly targeted audience…

What do you think?

j j j

36th Check-In | The Publix Foursquare Watch

Using Foursquare, Todd has checked-in to his local Publix 36 times, without hearing so much as a peep from them. He will blog after every check-in until he gets some form of customer acknowledgment. In the meantime, he will offer some ideas free of charge. Join the Watch!

[Read the entire seven-piece series!]

OK, so I checked-in to Publix again tonight. Again, nary a peep.

But guess what! I got some direct mail from them today! That’s right, a sixteen-page booklet, sort of a coupon book if you will.

This piece was addressed to me, or current resident, you know, just in case I have moved on. And full of coupons targeted to…children.

Some things about me:

1. I have no children.
2. I haven’t had children in this house. Ever. [and as a direct mail vendor, I know that data is easily and affordably available to let you know if a household contains little ones....]
3. I am a runner. I blog about running. And losing weight. And eating better.

And I get a mailing about…pop tarts. And Entenmann’s Donuts. And Pepperidge Farm Swirl Bread. And Pillsbury Rolls. And Pillsbury Pancakes. And Aunt Jemima Pancake + Waffle Mix. And Jimmy Dean Sausage Links.

Just the kind of food a growing boy like me needs…especially for marathon training!!

Todd’s FREE Publix Foursquare Tip: One of the really great features of Foursquare is that you can review a list of EVERYONE who has checked-in to your store. And Foursquare provides, in most cases, the person’s Twitter and Facebook pages. Yes, you heard me right. Personal pages of REAL customers. Why not connect with them directly? Why not ask about their interests? Why not build a file of their personal food choices? Why not collect their birth dates, and send them a card with a gift coupon? Has to be cheaper than blindly mailing millions of households?

Publix probably spent ONE BILLION dollars on this mailing, and probably sent it to all the neighborhoods around this store, and undoubtedly hundreds of others throughout their many territories. And for the cost of a handful of employees empowered with the ability and time to connect with REAL online customers, they could get to know my story and create an amazing, personalized customer experience, something I would tell the world about…

Instead, I get a two-for-one Pop Tart coupon…

What ideas can you share?

j j j

Time For Small Business To Integrate Their Marketing

In this video, I talk about the importance of integrating all the tactical marketing options you may be using to market your small business into a coordinated marketing program. Now that we are less than two months from 2010, it’s time for small business people to start preparing, strategizing, and planning their 2010 marketing plan.

While I appreciate that some entrepreneurs just start trying things and executing on new ideas without a lot of thought, small businesses are so much better off when their efforts are coordinated into a broader strategy. Think about that very carefully as you begin to prepare for 2010…

Good luck. And Be Intrepid.

j j j

3 Things You Can Do NOW To Be Intrepid Marketers

I wonder why some people are so afraid to market their business.

They say they want new customers – they say that want more revenue – they say they are worried about the impact of the economy. But they don’t take decisive action to do anything about it.

I think most of them are dealing with fear – or they are procrastinators – or they don’t have a plan in place to proceed. A fear of failing holds way too many people back from bold action.

I have resolved to JUST DO IT in 2009 – to just DECIDE to take action – to mercilessly kill any evidence of procrastination.

Yes, even I hate to admit – I too sometimes get snagged by procrastination. And it really stresses me out when I catch myself doing it. The only way to fight it? Take action. Smart action, of course, but action nonetheless.

When it comes to boldly marketing your business – here are three things you can do RIGHT NOW:

1. If you haven’t already done so, get active on social media. Start a company blog, get on Twitter, create a company Facebook page. They are free and can be set up in minutes. They are not all time-consuming, and they are a great way to promote your business, build your brand, and make new relationships.

2. Start a direct response campaign to find new customers. Assuming your have your niche target market defined and your marketing message secured, there is no reason not to do a campaign right now. If you have a good product or service, get it out there so that you can help new people. But get out in front – don’t assume your competitors will remain stuck in the goo. Be first in 2009!

3. Send out a survey mailer to your existing customers. Show you care, ask what they need, ask what their current problems are, ask how you can serve them better. [this can be done electronically too - and another reason to get active on social media] Your customers will appreciate the outreach. This will help differentiate you. This will generate action and conversation that will result in cross-sell opportunities AND serve your existing customers.

Well, there are three things you can start working on TODAY. Motion creates emotion. And that first step is the hardest. Choose to take bold, intrepid action in 2009. Good luck!

Todd Schnick. Be Intrepid.

j j j