In Marketing it's the Little Things that Count
By Judy Murdoch

You're probably familiar with the phrase "it's a drop in the bucket."

The phrase is usually used in reference to a large task for which the resources
available to complete the task seem completely inadequate. For example:

"My small business marketing budget of $5,000 is a drop in the bucket when I think
about the tens of thousands that my competitors are spending on marketing and

As a small business owner, perhaps you've wondered how in the world you can
possibly get the attention and interest of your target customers with your limited time
and budget.

Remember that drops add up.

What's important to remember is this: drops in a bucket count. They add up. If water
keeps dripping steadily into the bucket, in time bucket will become full -- even to the
point of overflowing.

The way marketing works is very similar to water dripping into a bucket. When you
are working with limited time and money, you can and should use this to your

Think about your marketing like this:

Every time someone sees something that makes them think of your company or your
brand, it's like a drop in the bucket. In advertising language, these drops are called

The cool thing about impressions is that when prospective customers get enough
positive impressions of your business, they:

1. Remember your name and the name of your business

2. See you as someone who can provide something they value

3. See you as someone they can trust to deliver what you promise.

Sales don't happen until people recognize who you are, what you do, how you can
help, and that you will deliver as promised.

How many impressions does it take so that your prospects have the confidence to
turn over their hard-earned cash for your products and services?

Although the number varies, the general rule of thumb is seven. Seven impressions
spread over a period of time.

That may seem like a lot if you are thinking you need to call someone seven times or
send them seven separate letters or take them out for lunch seven times.

Letters, meals out, and phone calls are all good ways to connect with prospective
customers. But small things will work as well.

We're talking drops of water: big enough to make a positive impression but small
enough so that you can make the most of your opportunities to connect with

Three strategies for making a strong, positive impression

Here are three ways to leave a small but compelling impression that will bring
prospects to you.

1. Put your company name, phone number, email address, Web site URL, logo, and
tagline on EVERYTHING.

And, if you have some type of low commitment introductory offer such as a free
article, a recorded message, or complementary samples, include that too.

For example:

Recently, I got a call from someone who was looking for marketing help and found
out about me because she got my card from her building manager. This baffled me
because I didn't know the building manager. How did she get my card?

Then I remembered: I had lost a notebook after a meeting in the building she
managed and asked her to call me if the notebook turned up. I gave her my business
card so that she had my contact information.

The woman who called me was talking with the building manager about needing
some marketing help when the building manager remembered me and gave her my

Does this happen often? No. But it wouldn't happen at all if I didn't put my logo,
business name, tagline, and contact information on everything that the public might

2. Find ways to add value along with your impression

Free articles, tips, podcasts, and other information products are one way you can do

I especially like it when business owners get creative around how they can add value.

For example, a Realtor who was new to my neighborhood introduced herself by going
door-to-door and giving each person she spoke with a potted petunia along with her
business card. This was so much nicer not to mention more memorable than the ugly
magnets and boring stock newsletters that so many Realtors use to market themselves.

Another tool I like is the double-sided business card because you can put your
contact information on one side and some useful tips or ideas on the other side.

Important: Value is what is relevant and useful to your customer. If you've ever gone
to a conference or trade show, you know about "swag" the pins, pens, T-shirts, and
key chains that vendors give out. Most of the stuff in the swag bag gets thrown out the
minute attendees return to the office. Don't add to your
prospect's real or virtual swag bag. Make sure that what you give away has real value
in the eyes of your customer.

3. Give a demonstration or offer a sample

Most prospects need to feel that you can really deliver what you claim before they'll
feel safe enough to do business with you. This is why giving prospects the
opportunity to try before they buy is such a powerful way to make an impression.

For example:

One of the parents at my son's daycare center owns a store that sells handmade,
organic body care products such as lip balms, moisturizers, bath products, etc. During
the Christmas season, each family found a free lip balm sample along with a postcard
with store information in their child's mail pocket.

Offering free introductory classes and presentations are common practice among
many of the coaches and consultants I know. This can be a great way to demonstrate
the value of services which are by nature intangible. But, you need to be very sure
that your class or presentation is truly interesting and useful to your prospects.

Bottom Line

You don't need to spend millions of dollars on advertising, fancy promotions, and big
events to get your prospect's attention and interest.

Seven or more well-executed impressions delivered over a period of weeks or months
will enable you to build the visibility and credibility needed to create profitable
customer relationships.

About the writer: Judy Murdoch helps small business owners create low-cost,
effective marketing campaigns using word-of- mouth referrals, guerrilla marketing
activities, and selected strategic alliances.  Download a free copy of
the workbook, "
Where Does it Hurt? Marketing Solutions to the problems
that Drive Your Customers  Crazy!"
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