Think Like a Minimalist to Get Your Marketing Message Across

I’m helping a client design a consumer rewards program, with the goal of increasing our competitive advantage and attracting new customers. Because the product mix has excellent margins, we can offer a program that provides high value to the customer. To give you an idea, joining the rewards program includes ALL THESE GREAT BENEFITS:

  • Minimalist Marketing StrategyFree product for signing up
  • Points on every purchase
  • Free product on your birthday
  • Referral rewards

Our marketing challenge is to motivate customers to sign up for the program through on-site signage and online advertising.

Because customers will only give your marketing messages a glance (if you’re lucky!), what they see needs to be arresting. Our marketing strategy for launching the consumer rewards program is to minimize what we tell customers– only try to communicate what the customer needs to know for the next step.

Marketing Communication Strategy

Step 1: Sign Up – Enjoy a free product today for signing up

Step 2: Repeat Purchases – Earn points on every purchase

Step 3: Feel Delighted by Our Brand – Surprise customers with a free product on their birthday

Step 4: Refer a Friend – Earn referral rewards

Although it’s tempting to tell customers all the great reasons they should sign up for this program and the many ways they will benefit, they may be too busy or distracted to notice a list of features. It’s the marketing communication corollary to Steve Yastrow’s sales tip, Don’t Load the Slingshot.

By sharing one compelling benefit at each stage of the customer lifecycle, we’re offering a reward for taking one specific action right away. Minimalist marketing goes against many companies’ instincts, but it matches customer behavior and attention spans perfectly.


How to Make a Commodity Product Interesting

Canned vegetables are certainly a commodity product. They’re cheaper than fresh, and often discredited as less nutritious than frozen vegetables. But if you drive through South Carolina, you’ll encounter a marketing campaign by Glory Foods that makes canned vegetables, well, glorious.

Glory Foods, founded in Columbus, OH, has woven Southern soul into its brand. Each can of blackeye peas, collard greens or green beans is “seasoned southern style.” Billboards drive home this message with cheeky Southern sayings that emphasize the convenience of the product. Here are a few I saw recently:

Commodity Marketing

Commodity marketing

Commodity marketing

Other marketing slogans include:

  • Give peas a chance
  • Flavor and spice and everything nice
  • Southern greatness: yes, you can
  • Open up a can of flavor
  • Soul of the South
  • Hail to the kale!

Glory Foods is successful in marketing a commodity because it gave the product a perspective and personality. The marketing team made canned vegetables memorable in a way that was meaningful to customers– and definitely encourages motorists to try the product.

How to Plan Small Business Marketing Campaigns

Let’s say you have a great idea for marketing your small business– building a vibrant Twitter following, partnering with a local civic organization to host community events or offering a compelling referral program to customers.

Now what? How do you make sure your campaign is successful and meets your goals?

You need a small business marketing campaign brief.

A campaign brief helps you solidify your strategy, think through implementation and gives you an at-a-glance view of what needs to be accomplished. It’s an organizational tool that removes doubt and helps campaigns run smoothly and successfully.

Here’s a Sample Small Business Marketing Campaign Brief, similar to what I create for my clients:

How to Plan Small Business Marketing Campaigns

Have questions about how campaign briefs could work for your small business marketing? Send me an email, and let’s talk –

Email Marketing: How to do it right

Email marketing should be alive and well in your marketing plan. You may ask, “What about Facebook/Twitter/LinkedIn? All the marketing buzz is about social media!” It’s true that social media is growing in popularity and marketing potential, as 61% of all Internet users visit these sites. But the same 2010 Pew Internet Research Poll shows that 92% of all Internet users send or receive email. With a great email marketing campaign, you can reach practically the entire Internet population.

Some assert that younger consumers are eschewing email, but Pew Internet research shows that’s not the case. No matter which generation your customers are, 80-90% of the ones using the Internet are using email. Considering that Older Boomers spend more than their younger counterparts, this knowledge could be particularly profitable.

Since email marketing is such an important marketing tool, I want to give you some tips for doing it right. Businesses can’t just blast coupons to all their past customers and expect success. Let’s use this Pillar to Post marketing email I received as an example of how to run a successful email marketing campaign:

See the full size Pillar to Post email here.

Pillar to Post is a home inspection company. Home inspection not a service customers often need to purchase. The company’s email marketing strategy does a great job of keeping in touch with past customers and helping them remember who to call if they (or their friends and family) need a home inspection.

I’ve analyzed the Pillar to Post email to help you learn how they did it. Following are some email marketing tips you can start using today in your own marketing:

Send emails that fortify your brand and your customers will care about. Share information that will be useful, interesting or funny. Coupons or other promotions can be great, but they can’t be your sole strategy. For customers to be eager to open your emails, you need to give them something to be excited about.

The first day of summer was June 21, and most homeowners perform their home maintenance on a seasonal schedule. Knowing this, Pillar to Post shared a fairly thorough Summer Maintenance Checklist with their customers. This information is not only helpful to homeowners, but it establishes Pillar to Post as an expert in the field of home maintenance as well.

Mind your timing. Communicate with customers too often, and they will unsubscribe from your list or mark your emails as spam. Pillar to Post sends quarterly emails, each with season-specific advice. They recognized their customers’ natural home maintenance patterns and customized their approach for them.

Keep your content fresh. Avoid sending duplicate emails, even if they are months apart. Customers have a knack for remembering when they’ve read something before and will unsubscribe if they believe a company is putting forth a lackluster effort to engage them.

Design a clean, easy-to-use template. The Pillar to Post example email isn’t the most beautiful or effective design the company could have developed, but it is simple and easy to read. It has the added benefit of using as few images as necessary- images don’t always load in your customers’ email inboxes, so avoid placing text in an image.

Depending on your type of business, your email marketing strategy could be markedly different from Pillar to Post’s. Pillar to Post has a long sales cycle- a customer likely will go years before needing a home inspection. A retailer, on the other hand, might expect customers to make purchases seasonally, monthly or even every single day. Your sales cycle determines your messages and frequency.

Take inspiration from this great email marketing example to refresh and revitalize your email marketing (or to start email marketing, if you haven’t already!).