Thinking small, and acting local. Your most valuable customers are right in your own backyard! That's the key to success no matter the size or scope of your business. When I was a senior marketing executive at McDonald's, I helped Ray Kroc build sales one neighborhood at a time using a strategy called Neighborhood Marketing. We thought small to make BIG profits. That's the remarkable genius of Neighborhood Marketing — it's universally applicable. It works for every business, every time, everywhere. Neighborhood Marketing is all local. It's about capturing the local market, the people who are most likely to be your customers, and delivering a message that sticks in an unconventional way.
Now you may be thinking that such a simple concept is old news, washed-up marketing. But don't get sucked in by the allure of mass-media marketing trends. The simplicity of thinking small and acting local is a timeless tactic that can empower your business to win against even the biggest companies with even bigger ad budgets and glossy campaigns.
"Most marketers are too stuck and too scared to do stuff that really and truly works. If you're willing to get off your couch and make something happen, this is a fine place to start." Seth Godin, among many other power players, strongly advocates the powerful results of Four Walls Branding and the simple truths of Neighborhood Marketing. It is the simplest idea that makes the biggest impact on your customers and on your business. Neighborhood Marketing is being a good neighbor. It means winning business and building sales one neighborhood at a time. It is just that easy and just that hard.
What about your MOST valuable asset? Well, it's within your company RIGHT NOW! Your four walls are the best media your money can buy. Four Walls Branding means fully utilizing what is right inside the four walls of your business. It is that little something extra that makes your customers' experience with your business personal. It means making a little extra effort and taking a few extra moments of your time to genuinely care about your customers. Your "internal customers" (your employees) are a key component to fully utilizing the resources inside your four walls. You should be spending more money on recruiting and training a dynamic team than you spend on marketing.
Among many others, Starbucks is a prime example of the profound results of Neighborhood Marketing and Four Walls Branding. Starbucks has so quickly established itself as a mainstay of American pop culture that it was already making cameo appearances in blockbuster movies before the year 2000. It has built its brand and its sales from the ground up, scoring unique and unprecedented success in its marketplace by fundamentally examining itself from the inside out, to unleash its power as a marketing platform. Starbucks thinks small and acts local. It builds community, trust, and loyalty with a family of customers in each and every coffee shop around the world. It is a brand built upon doing the small things and adding that personal touch that makes each customer feel like more than a profit-driven transaction.
Starbucks' success is only one of many cases that illustrate the effectiveness of implementing the principles of Neighborhood Marketing and Four Walls Branding. Its success is built on the reality that all of a consumer's brand experiences are, ultimately, individual and that we encounter most brands in a way that is more immediate and personal than mass-media advertising can allow. As Founder and President of Power Marketing Academy, I have promoted this philosophy for more than 30 years.
I believe that passion, authenticity, enthusiasm, creativity, and hospitality (if nurtured and reflected in the products and services of a business within its location and throughout its local market area) are a necessary precursor to effective mass-media advertising.
I've always said that if you want to be successful, do what the successful companies did before they became known as successful. The greatest misunderstanding that conventional marketers have about unconventional brands is the appearance of a lack of marketing investment. Even though Starbucks did not fund major ad campaigns, its brand development budget rivaled those of any brand in the United States. The company just chose to spend its time and money creating an invaluable personal consumer experience, rather than developing impersonal mass-media marketing tools.
The most important factor, in any circumstance, is the customer. Never, EVER, lose sight of your customers. The single objective of Neighborhood Marketing is this: to uniquely and outrageously satisfy the wants and needs of your customers. Â This one principle can distinguish your business from the competition's — especially of those competitors still caught up in the rat race of mass-media advertising.
If you want to win customers and keep them, talk to them personally. Let them talk to you. Let them get involved. Give them a piece of the action. Let them get to know you and do things with you. After they've become your customers, show them you appreciate them. Make them your friends for life.
Mass media has reached the end of the road. It has become cookie cutter, stagnant, expected, and predictable. The devil really is in the details. Today, creating marketing solutions that actually work means creating something that is real. Something that stands out from the clutter. Television and mass media are no longer your secret weapons for growth and competitive edge. Marketing has changed forever. We know the old stuff isn't working, and we know why: Consumers are too busy to pay attention to advertising. The next time you find yourself mesmerized by yet another sleek auto ad with raindrops that morph into a breathtaking landscape, ask yourself when was the last time you paid attention to the brand being hawked.
For the vast majority of businesses, from the largest to the smallest, the task of reaching their audiences has become costly, clumsy, and frustrating. At a recent conference sponsored by the Advertising Research Foundation, analysts reported that recall rates for Internet banner ads had dropped almost to zero as Internet use and content grew. In a holiday survey of 2,677 online shoppers by Active Research, 22 percent were unable to cite a single Internet ad when asked to name the one they found most memorable.
Even more profound, a market research study I stumbled across several years ago reported that 90 percent of people with wallpaper on their walls cannot describe, without looking, a single detail of the pattern. The average American living room has 400 square feet of wallpaper, equal to 190 pages of The New York Times. Advertising today is like wallpaper, and we tune out all the messages.
Part of the problem is that businesses insist on treating marketing as an expenditure rather than as what it is: an investment. They invest all their time and money into opening a retail store or location — the physical plant, the people, the inventory. Then, all of a sudden, it's time to start marketing and inviting customers, but they have too little money left to do it right. As a result, the quality of the advertising they do outside their place of business is poor.
Most business people are schooled in operations, human resources, and finance, but they've never been taught marketing. So they follow the pack. They advertise on wallpaper that nobody notices or remembers. And they don't know where to go to get the advice and support they need to do it right.
Whether you decide to do your own marketing or hire an agency to help you, there are some rules and guidelines to help you stand out from the background.
All tactical marketing messages should include an incentive. Those that neglect to do this are usually doomed. Your message needs to be clear and concise, and it needs to speak directly to the action you want the customer to take.
Marketing has always been an unpredictable, ever-shifting terrain to navigate, and today more than ever. The reality is that the playing field has changed. Brands today should think small, and the smaller the better. Mass media is past tense; it was created for another age in another marketplace. Brands exist in an age now where face time beats airtime, every time, and personal touch is king. It is critical to downsize your marketing to match your prime market — the people living within 10 minutes of your business. If you have been focusing your marketing efforts on those customers farther than 10 minutes away, then you've missed the target. Stop wasting your time and money and start maximizing your profits. Make your marketing count! Equip yourself with the tools you need to mine the gold that's waiting to be discovered in your own backyard!
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Regarded as a visionary counselor to Fortune 500 companies and industry-leading organizations, Tom is a renowned keynote speaker, marketing visionary, motivational trainer, and strategist.
Tom is CEO and Founder of Power Marketing Academy (PMA), a leading consulting firm that serves and educates businesses primarily from the franchising, retail, hospitality, and service industry sectors.