Do you own a small business? Have the past two years been a little... challenging?
Is advertising a solution to be considered, even though the cost is high? Let's explore.
-Advertising doesn't work very well anymore. Marketers have burned out their Permission with us all. They have interrupted us so much and in so many ways that we consumers have gotten very good at ignoring them.
-The mass media can: Reach a large audience rapidly. Create knowledge and spread information. Change weakly held attitudes. The formation and change of strongly held attitudes, however, is accomplished mainly by interpersonal channels. (Everett Rogers)
-The implication for us as business owners is that we cannot buy Attention, we can no longer pay for eyeballs to look at us through advertising.
-Or as Anne McCrossan has said, "A large media spend to promote business opportunity is now a symptom of operational dysfunction." http://www.visceralbusiness.com/
-Rather than make average products and services for average people and then spend money to advertise them, we can spend emotional labor to make a better product or service. In other words, plan on remarkable experiences, not remarkable ads.
Some definitions that will be helpful if you are not familiar with Seth Godin's work, all from: http://sethgodin.typepad.com/seths_blog/2010/08/a-postindustrial-a-to-z.html
F is for the Free Prize: People often don't buy the obvious or measured solution to their problem, they buy the extra, the bonus, the feeling and the story. The free prize is the layout of Google--the search results are the same, but the way the search feels is why you choose to search there. If engineers thought more about the free prize, we'd need fewer marketers.
I is for Ideavirus: A decade ago a wrote a book that was free. It still is. It argues that ideas that spread win, and you can architect and arrange and manipulate your ideas to make them more likely to spread. Note that I'm not saying you can add gimmicks and spam and networking to spread your idea. I'm saying the idea itself is more or less likely to spread based on how you design it.
P is for Permission: Anticipated, personal and relevant messages will always outperform spam. Obvious, but true. So then why do you persist in spamming people? Billboards, TV ads, phone calls--they all are defeated soundly by delivering your offers with permission. In fact, the biggest asset a company can build online is this privilege, the list of people who would miss you if you didn't show up.
R is for Remarkable: A purple cow is remarkable, because it's worth talking about. Not because you, the marketer said it was, but because I the consumer did. And in a world without effective, scalable advertising, remarkable products and services are the single best way to succeed.
Edgecraft is a concept that Seth Godin introduced in his book Free Prize Inside. Over the last three years or so, we have found this concept to be extraordinarily effective and useful. It is essentially a specific and focused kind of Purple Cow thinking. But there's no sense in me trying to explain; here are Seth's words, properly attributed to Free Prize Inside:
Edgecraft is a methodical, measurable process that allows individuals and teams to inexorably identify the soft innovations that live on the edges of what already exists.
1. Find an Edge- a Free Prize that has been shown to make a product or service Remarkable.
2. Go all the way to that Edge- as far from the center as the consumers you are trying to reach dare you to go.
-You must go all the way to the Edge. Accepting second best doesn’t make sense. Running a restaurant where the Free Prize is your slightly attractive waitstaff won’t work- they’ve got to be supermodels or weight lifters or identical twins. You only create a Free Prize when you go all the way to the Edge and create something Remarkable.
Before you learn to do Edgecraft, you must accept the fact that the Edges of a problem aren’t always obvious. Because the Edge you’re seeking is not the primary reason for being, you’ve got to see it out of the corner of your eye. It’s not always clear exactly what would make your product or service significantly more Remarkable, until you embrace the fact that the problem you’re trying to solve isn’t the problem you think you have!
Use Edgecraft to find a Free Prize, not to create Differentiation. Differentiation is the act of making your products different from the competition (and each other) so that people pick you. But Differentiation is selfish. It assumes that people are interested enough in your field to seek you out, to compare the options and make a smart choice.
Differentiation is a zero-sum, advertising-based game. In fact, the only thing that leads to real growth is person-to-person conversation, word of mouth. Or better, an Ideavirus. And- these only come about when you do something truly Remarkable. Differentiation is not, by itself, Remarkable. To be Purple, you have to be more than different. You must be extreme. You must live on the Edge.
Me again. I find that Edgecraft is under-utilized and under-appreciated and would like to bring you an awareness of this excellent concept. We do many things that attempt to find the Edges in our dental practice. I'll share three examples.
-We do not hand new patients a clipboard with the medical history form on it. Pat and Reese personally interview new patients and ask the demographic and other questions in a conversation, "eye-to-eye and knee-to-knee". Our new patients eventually fill out their medical specifics themselves, partly because this information can be sensitive at times. But- first they are in rapport with a human being, they are making a connection, and we find out in a normal conversation what their main concerns are. (Credit to Dr. Dick Barnes for the original idea.) This approach has great power; the rapport is strong and lasts a long time. When I enter new medical situations as a patient myself, I use this as the yardstick with which to measure the experience. Too many fall short; there's nothing Visceral about the start of the relationship. And yet- it's so easy, so inexpensive, and- so human. Why don't more medical and dental practices do this?
-Our SmilePassItOn program rewards our patients who refer in a consistent and yet easygoing manner, and once a month we have a winner of a gift certificate to a fine Philadelphia area restaurant:
-We have devised the "Caries Clock" as a means to help prevent cavities in our modern sugar-laden culture. Behavior is notoriously difficult to change; our clock gets people thinking about how they eat as well as what they eat (and drink). It's here:
If you own your own business, consider Edgecraft and the advantages that it brings. And remember, it's not about differentiation- it's about being Remarkable.