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

Don't Be A Part Of This 2010 Marketing Conversation…

cartoon by @gapingvoid

cartoon by @gapingvoid

Consultant: “How did you do in meeting the goals of your 2009 marketing plan? Did you stay on budget?

Typical small business person: “Wait, what? Marketing plan did you say? Budget? I was supposed to have a budget?

Consultant: “Let’s review your social media plan. Did you accomplish your goals?”

Typical small business person: “What? Social media strategy? You can do that?

Consultant: “How did the call to action on your marketing collateral work? Did prospects and customers take the steps you wanted to advance the sales process?”

Typical small business person: “I am not sure what you are talking about, but man, my brochures are sure pretty!”

cartoon by @gapingvoid

cartoon by @gapingvoid

Consultant: “How did your keywords perform on your website and blog?”

Typical small business person: “I have no idea, but my cousin who designed the site says her friends think the site looks bitchin’!”

Consultant: “So, with your email marketing campaign, did your prospects contact you to learn more or advance the sales process?”

Typical small business person: “No clue, but most of the people I blindly added to my database unsubscribed and gave me lip about ‘spam’.”

Consultant: “So, did you try some new things with your marketing? Try any new tactics, new messaging, any new social media tools?”

Typical small business person: “No. I stuck to the same stuff that hasn’t really worked too well before, but you know, I didn’t have any money to try something new that might work.”

cartoon by @gapingvoid

cartoon by @gapingvoid

Consultant: “What good marketing books did you read this year? Did you find any great marketing blogs to help you learn new things?”

Typical small business person: “No, but I think I learned some cool advertising stuff watching Mad Men…”

Consultant: “Did you hone your skills at building community and establishing relationships on tools like Twitter and Facebook?”

Typical small business person: “Huh? No, but I passed along my free e-book, the results of my IQ test, an invite to join my mafia family, and the link to my blog to all new followers and friends!”

Consultant: “Have you narrowed your marketing focus down to a highly specific, easily targeted niche?”

Typical small business owner: “Are you nuts? I am not missing out on hitting all those darn people…”

cartoon by @gapingvoid

cartoon by @gapingvoid

Consultant: “Have you narrowed your focus to the right networking groups that are in your target market?”

Typical small business person: “Are you nuts? I am not getting many leads from the bunch of groups I am visiting, so clearly I just need to hit as many darn networking groups as I can…”

Consultant: “Tell me about your lead generation and lead incubation system? How do you feed good solid prospects into your pre-purchase experience?”

Typical small business person: “Huh?”

cartoon by @gapingvoid

cartoon by @gapingvoid

The point here? Thinking strategically and putting a plan on paper is too important NOT to do. Yet, too many small business people jump into their daily routine without so much as a plan on how to proceed. The questions [by no means a complete list of pertinent questions] above serve one purpose: if you can personally identify with even one of those mini scenarios, you need to pull back, take advantage of the quieter holiday season, and think some things through as you prepare for 2010.

Good luck!

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

Direct Mail Still Comes Down To The Fundamentals!

FuegoMundoMailer_3_out2Be An Intrepid Marketer – Recommendation No. 27

Some say that in the age of social media, direct response marketing is dead or dying. While I agree that DRM is changing, let me proclaim loudly:

They are wrong. In fact, if done right, DRM can still be a very important piece to your overall marketing strategy.

An Intrepid client just sent out the first of a four-piece direct mail campaign. We are launching a new restaurant, and trying to build awareness of the new joint in surrounding neighborhoods.

To have a successful program, you need THREE things: a compelling message, an easy call-to-action, and a good targeted mailing list. That’s it!

That said, you have to do a lot of work to be sure you achieve all three things. And even then, there are no guarantees. On the FuegoMundo piece (shown above) we simply let people know a new place was coming soon, and that to learn more about it and to receive discounts and promotions – all they had to do was sign-up to join our e-newsletter. Simple.

The response exceeded our expectations! Now, there was nothing exceptional or frankly, unique, about our mailer. But it was simple – and the call to action was clear and easy. And our mailing list was carefully put together. It was sent to precisely who we believe our target audience to be.

I will admit, it was gratifying to see this response. Not because it proved to me that this restaurant concept has a great chance of succeeding. But more importantly, that direct response can still work – if you practice the fundamentals.

What about you? What does direct mail have to offer you for you to take some sort of action?

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

Remove Head From Arse – Adapt and Execute!

Last week I wrote about keeping your marketing strategy simple and flexible (  And I recently wrote on the core elements of your marketing plan (

Today I am making a year-end appeal to not only take this process seriously – but to take action.

Assuming you are a small to medium sized business – or an entrepreneur serving all capacities from sales to management to production – you don’t really need me to tell you a marketing plan is essential.

Not because you should have an “on paper” strategy to get and keep profitable customers.  You do.

But as a small to medium-sized business, you have a distinct advantage over the large companies – you are small and nimble and can quickly adapt in this environment.

This is actually exciting!  This is actually a great opportunity!  But ONLY if you get your head out of your fanny and take advantage.

Social media allows you to – cost effectively – build community and convey value and expertise.  Follow that up with a properly-messaged and executed direct response campaign – and you can bring home the prospects you need to build a growth enterprise.

Every day I talk to small business people – most of whom are on edge about the economic environment.  They are nervous about tightening budgets – and they are allowing this fear to paralyze them.

Change your paradigm now. Deep down you know what you do best – and you know who your target market is.  The two hardest things you need to do are adjust (which you can do quickly) and execute (which you can do by just starting).

You know, it is easier than I thought.  So get to it!

j j j