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Thinking outside the box. BY ERIC GILBOORD

We live in a world full of buzzwords and new ways to say things. A phrase you may have heard is thinking outside the box. What this means is to stop thinking in the normal way stop using the restrictions that we’ve all grown up accepting and look at something from a different perspective. One thing that I have taught my children is when they get frustrated trying to do something it’s important to take a step back, catch your breath, and look at what you’re trying to do from a different angle. If you’re frustrated trying to reach a particular prospect and you think you’ve exhausted all the avenues chances are there is at least one other way that you haven’t thought of yet. This article isn’t about solving a particular problem it’s about how you approach problems and opportunities in the sales and marketing of your business. We live in a very competitive environment and if you are not on your toes constantly thinking ahead attempting to outpace your competition they will be nipping at your heels and before you know it winning the race. Your customers’ businesses are changing on a daily basis, as their needs evolve you must strive to provide the best products and service to make them winners. Some small business people dread change others consider the challenge and the brand new opportunities it will bring. If you are the first to find a new way to do something, not only will your customers continue doing business with you but think about the new prospects you could be attracting. Operating in the same fashion, thinking in the same way, will deliver the same results. If you’re content with the same results then don’t change a thing. But remember, everyone around you will be changing. The next time you prepare a mailer, advertisement, Tweet or LinkedIn discussion try something different. You know what kind of results you’ll get with marketing materials you are used to, but how do you know you can’t do better. If you’re a small business, likely you don’t want to gamble an entire marketing program on a new idea. Either do a test of the new marketing piece to a small group before you do your main


mailing, tweet etc., or test the new piece at the same time as you’re using your old reliable. Send out 10 or 20 percent of your mailers using the new test piece and the balance using previously proven material. Tweet 2 or 3 different messages or LinkedIn activities. It may be a good practice to always test at least one new idea in a small way with every marketing program that you do.

Write an ad filled with the reasons why people should not buy your products or service. Who knows maybe some prospects are thinking the same way. Imagine that your company was an animal. Would it be fast like a Cheetah or strong like an Ox or smart like a Dolphin? Another exercise is to imagine that your company was a vehicle. Is it possible your customers perceive you to be expensive like a Rolls Royce and therefore they only use you when they have to, and not for all of their orders while in your mind you’re strong and functional like a new pickup truck? You might want to begin to portray your company in a different way with your marketing materials. Maybe you gave the impression of being an expensive resource because your brochures are six colors printed on expensive paper (they don’t know your brother-in-law is a printer) and you gave out elaborate Christmas gifts to your customers.

Rules for Thinking Outside the Box. "There are no rules. There are lessons to be learned, but no rules." Asks someone you’ve never asked before for their opinion. Talk to the end user not just the purchaser. Could be the person in shipping really needs your service and didn’t know you existed. Your marketing efforts had been directed to the front office and they didn’t think the shipper needed your service. How many lost sales are waiting to be found?

More likely, small businesses undersell themselves with cheap looking brochures and ads that look out of date and not focused. People only know what they see. As the old expression goes ‘perception is reality’ if they believe you to be something, then in their minds that’s what you are. It is your job to plant the correct image in the minds of your customers and your new prospects. Go to the marketplace and ask your existing customers these questions about how they perceive you. Keep an open mind, you might be surprised by some of the answers you get. Talk to prospects that you have not been able to land, you might find that their perception of you has kept them from giving you that first order. Eric Gilboord is a specialist in making marketing easy for business owner/operators and any staff with sales or marketing responsibility. He demystifies marketing so they can use it to generate sales today and grow their businesses faster. Eric believes in blending traditional marketing with new media/social media.

Show your new marketing piece to someone who knows nothing about your product or your service. If you can educate them and they see the benefits then you have a chance at actually reaching the target group with your message. 11

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Viral Business Guide:  

This free guide is to help people make their business a viral success online. Our focus is on Business Intelligence, Digital Design, and Phi...

Viral Business Guide:  

This free guide is to help people make their business a viral success online. Our focus is on Business Intelligence, Digital Design, and Phi...

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