produced by john c ashworth
How to promote your business and your personal brand using these 4 often overlooked strategies
written by john c ashworth
- Worry less about image then everyone else does.
- Write like you would talk, face-to-face, belly-to-belly, person-to-person.
- Be friendly, not stuffy.
- Be courageous
The importance of personality in YOUR Copy & Marketing
written by john c ashworth
There is an absolutely wonderful marketing principle for your small business that may be applied in many different situations that has to do with scarcity and the fact that most people want more of which they can’t seem to get enough. Denial or exclusivity increases desire. This is one of life’s greatest truths if you ask me.
Generally speaking, when it comes to being a consumer, really personal, memorable, and amazing experiences worth talking about and sharing are extremely rare. This is not only unfortunate for all of us, but it is actually a huge missed opportunity for you and your small business and everything you are trying to do to grow your enterprise.
So, when you give your public, and especially your own prospects and customers a really friendly, personable, believable “regular guy” to deal with, people are thrilled to have found you. Add to that an expert dose of entertainment in everything you do and communicate to your lists and you have an extremely powerful elixer for small business growth.
You as the owner or operator of your enterprise have this opportunity. As I said earlier, most squander it for a variety of reasons, the main one being that you sell yourself short and think that no one will be interested in what you have to say and/or don’t feel this a valuable use of your time or you simply don’t feel comfortable with so much attention directly focused on YOU. That’s OK in part. You don’t necessarily have to be the one to take on the task of becoming the ‘attractive character’ in your business. But someone should. Think of some of the great companies out there who have done this with their advertising with a memorable spokesperson and think about how effective that really is.
Find this spokesperson and attractive character inside your small business. Promote them constantly and outrageously and be entertaining and not boring and you will be amazed at what kind of sales growth you can create and then sustain over time.
PS If you’re interested in speaking with me directly about how I can help you achieve this effect inside your small business and want to explore the possibility of me becoming your spokesperson, check out the video feed on the ash flash, my youtube channel, and almost anything else I share here and then let’s talk about how and what I might be able to create and do for you and your small business.
written by john c ashworth
Ask most small business owners to share their unique selling proposition and far too often you’ll get a blank stare…
Sometimes, you’ll hear them share a tag-line. Maybe from a recent advertisement they put together or something they created long ago without much forethought and nary an interesting thought about it since.
When starting their businesses, most small business owners race off to create new logos and sometimes a tag-line to go with them, but they almost NEVER grant the process the time and attention to detail it takes to create something unique, interesting, engaging, memorable, and made to stick. Made to implant into the prospect’s mind the benefits of doing business with their business instead of any and all other choices they could make, including doing nothing.
I’ll bet your guilty of this to some degree. And even if you don’t own your own business and maybe just working as a salesman like I am, this idea still holds great importance because you still have to get this across to your prospects in order to garner interest and create a desire within them to buy your stuff. And if you’re company has not done a good job for you, you have to do it yourself.
Sometimes people will refer to this as ‘your elevator pitch.’
In other words, if you and I were riding together in the elevator, what might you say to me in a few sentences that might grab my attention before the door opens to my floor, and leave me with either a strong desire to discover more about you and your business, or at the very least, position you and your business in my mind in a meaningful and memorable way.
Big companies get this wrong too, so don’t fret about it too much if you haven’t taken the time to craft your own unique selling proposition. In fact, I read an article recently that demonstrated how few people if any remembered the USPs of some very big companies who had invested millions of dollars in their so-called branding efforts. To get this right, takes someone at the top who truly understands the importance of this idea.
In fact, the above USPs were so poor, you could have used them interchangeably for each of the companies identified in the article. That’s how out of touch and lame they were. If I can dig up that article, I’ll share it below. If not, I think you get the idea.
The good news is that you’ve found this post on the subject and are hopefully beginning to get a sense of just how important your unique selling proposition really is and how much potential it holds for you and your business when you really get it right.
When you really get it right, your USP drives your entire sales and marketing machine. You can think of it like the transmission in your car. Without it, you might be able to move forward, but it’s going to take a lot of grinding, be very inefficient, waste a lot of effort, and create a lot more wear and tear than necessary.
While there are entire workshops you can participate in that will take you through this process in detailed fashion, I realize that most of you probably think you don’t have time for that. The fact is that this one of the MOST important things you can do inside your small business or your sales pipeline because it will focus everything you do in incredibly powerful and productive ways.
My goal today was to plant the seed of this idea and hopefully reinforce its importance while providing you the three key ingredients of any good unique selling proposition so that at least you can get started.
Here they are…
The 3 Components of a Good Unique Selling Proposition are as follows:
- Your unique selling proposition MUST have a direct or implied benefit statement. “Buy my stuff, and get this benefit.” Most tag-lines you see in the world will be completely missing this idea. Start paying attention and you will see what I mean.
- Your unique selling proposition MUST have an influential benefit. Meaning that the benefit you’re describing MUST move me emotionally in order to get me to take action on your product or on the information you are offering related to your product or service. If it’s not compelling then who cares and Your prospect is on to the next thing pretty quickly.
- The benefit you’re describing in your unique selling proposition MUST be UNIQUE. You MUST have something that your competition cannot or does not offer. Otherwise, you’re still lost in a sea of sameness.
OK, time to get to work and if you want to share yours once you have it in the comments section below either here on WordPress or using the facebook comments section, I would love to see them 🙂
Keep up the great work!
written by john c ashworth
Often, you’ll hear people say that direct-mail is dead. That it’s ‘old-school’ and that no one reads their mail anymore. First, it’s not true. And even if it was, doesn’t this create a real opportunity for YOU to show-up in people’s lives in a place where you might be one of the only ones there speaking to them?
Even more often, the same people telling you direct-mail doesn’t work, are the same ones who are doing it the wrong way.
There are many ways to do it wrong.
Today I’m focusing on just one of the most common mistakes.
To create impact and drive response, especially through the mail, you MUST have repetition. Madison Avenue, along with your local sales reps who stop by your business to sell you ads in local publications, believe that repetition means slow and patient plodding. Ads that run over and over again inside their publications with the idea that it takes time to build ‘awareness’ about your business and the products and services you offer.
This is not only ineffective for a small business owner, but very very expensive. And a stupid waste of money.
When I ran my own fitness business, I used a lot of direct-mail very effectively. On the front end, investing $3-4K in one 3-4-step mail sequence would scare-off most small business owners. Which makes sense, because if it doesn’t work, you’re out some serious needed cash for your business. But when done right, they do work. And once you have campaigns that work, you can use them over and over again because no matter how much you spend, you know you’re going to get a positive return on your investment.
Direct-mail campaigns should run on tight, timed sequences of 30-60-days. They should have strong irresistable offers, and clear deadlines. It was always amazing how the deadlines in my mail sequences drove even more response toward the end of each campaign. Deadlines really do work.
Think about the stuff you get in the mail. Especially the stuff you get that might even interest you a little. You pick it up, open it, look at it, maybe even read a little bit of it, but then, more often than not, you’re on to something else more important in your evening and even though you may have set that piece of mail aside for further review or action, it’s easy to forget about it. But not if you get another related piece of mail in that same sequence 10-days later. And another, and another…
Over the course of each sequence, and the course of time committed to targeted direct-mail efforts into the right lists in your local communities and your targted prospect lists, you are in fact capable of creating brand and message recognition in addition to significant and immediate response that will bring you a positive return on your investment.
It was not uncommon for me to run into local business owners and others in the community who had been receiving my mailings, and discover that these people really were interested and excited to see me, the guy who had been sending them all this cool and interesting mail. Often, these same people had also seen my on TV where I had a regular running health and fitness segment on the local NBC affiliate.
Direct-mail is powerful.
Direct-mail is effective.
Direct-mail should be done in sequences.
STOP the ‘One-Shot Mailings’!
You’re wasting your money and opportunity.
written by john c ashworth
The MOST Important thing I learned in college
written by john c ashworth
I finished college a long time ago. Although, I’m considering going back for my MBA. That’s a story for a different day.
In my household recently, we’ve had quite a few discussions about the benefits and pitfalls of college. My son Carl just finished his first semester at Madison College. The local junior college. A hidden gem. A path most will ignore and dismiss and that could just be one of the smartest ways to begin your journey, especially financially, through higher education. That’s a story for another day too, though.
These recent discussions of college reminded me of something I learned in Junior College long ago and never forgot. I consider it THE most valuable thing I learned while in college, including my time in graduate school. Because it has to do with discovering something that serves life and career in innumerable ways. You’ll see what I mean in just a moment…
It happened in a speech class. One of my favorite classes of all time. Taught by a magnificent instructor. Second only to the english teacher I had that same year and whom we can thank for all this great writing that spills out of me today. Literally, she taught me how to write. I had graduated high school and had no clue. But boy could I run fast and get a soccer ball in the back of the net.
For his final speech and presentation, one of my fellow students decided to go out hitch-hiking and document his experience. But he took it a few steps further. He actually went out three different times, presenting himself in three different ways.
First, he dressed himself up as a student. Backpack and all.
Second, he went as a hippie.
Third, he put on a suit, and carried a briefcase.
He stood in the same spot every time.
In each and every case, he was ultimately picked-up for a ride by drivers who were of the same group and mindset. The hippies, of course, also offered him a joint after he got inside. This was California after all. The hippies were way ahead of their time 🙂
This reminded me of something else that advertising legend, David Ogilvey, once said in reference to the importance of your headline in your sales copy, and I think this story about my friend the hitch-hiker reveals its truth…
“The headline is the ‘ticket on the meat.’ Use it to ‘flag down’ readers who are prospects for the kind of product you are advertising.”
In the same way the hitch-hiker flagged down a different ride from a very different person or group of people each time, so must your headlines and your marketing do the same for you in your business; or in anything else in your life and career for which you need to build interest and gain sales or members or donations.
This amazing and revealing story from my speech class in junior college from way back in 1988, remains to this day to be a real life, working case study and example of just how important this idea really is when it comes to your marketing, copywriting and sales efforts.
Who are your trying to reach?
What do you need to say to them in order to stir their emotions and get them to take action and buy into to you?
How are you going to make this happen?
These questions are extremely important and valuable to the success of your small business and your career. Most will ignore their weight and and continue to struggle.
What will you choose?
written by john c ashworth
A simple plan for increasing Sales in just about ANY business
First, the premise of this idea canters on the fact that most businesses ignore their current customers while they go running around trying to find new ones. The first sale is always the toughest, while your current customers already know you, like you and trust you and as such, are a lot more likely to buy from you again and again. You can’t stop chasing new customers too, but please, don’t ignore your existing ones. You are wasting opportunity to increase your sales.
Increase sales by communicating with your existing customers through sales letters.
Develop and mail a new sales letter to ALL of your customers each and every month; and focus these sales letters on introducing a new product or service.
You don’t necessarily have to have new products and services to offer, but simply go through the list of your products and services and feature them in these sales letters in new, interesting and creative ways. If you want to get more sophisticated than this, you can also sort your customers lists so that you are only mailing new product information to customers who have not yet purchased that particular product.
Once you have this system in place, you should begin thinking a lot MORE about new products and services that you can create; and that you can sell to all of your existing customers.
Remember, they already know you, like you and trust you and will be much more receptive to your new products and services as a result. That, combined with your regular sales letters and communication will continue to make them stickier and stickier and more and more valuable to you as customers inside your business.
PS A regular printed newsletter that you can send to both prospects and customers is also a terrific way to cultivate your customer list, introduce new products, and keep everyone excited about what you’re doing and everything you have to offer.