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The Pen is Mightier than The Ad!

Marketing to most small businesses is putting an advert in a local paper. Some might be more adventurous and place an ad in a national daily but that’s about the most of it.

Why is this the case?

It’s because most local micro businesses don’t see the big picture until it hits them across the face like being slapped with a wet fish. There is a misplaced belief amongst small business owners that winning local business requires the need to advertise and promote your business locally.

Nothing could be further from the truth!

Yes, it’s true that advertising locally can get you noticed locally, however, this assumes your potential customers are reading the local press. Then consider how many your advert will reach from the readership of a local rag. Assuming 100% of purchasers look through the paper would be rash and so would the fact that they are all potential customers, they aren’t.

Is your ad targeting those you want to reach?

If you look through your local newspaper you will see that the majority of ads are a blunderbuss approach to hitting your target market – a shot in the dark.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not suggesting you never use your local newspaper to reach potential customers, but to turn this kind of promotion to your favour it’s essential to think out of the box.

Let’s look at some out of the box thinking…

If you are anything like 70% of newspaper readers you will glance through the pages and read in more detail the articles and reports that catch your eye.
When you come to the classified advertisement pages, unless you are looking for something specific you may need, you skip even faster through them to get to the other pages that have more stories and pictures, again choosing only the one’s that hit you between the eyes to read and perhaps inwardly digest.

This should be telling us that if we do this, then so do other readers and maybe an article about us could win more notice and business than an advert.

By all means, if you like using local advertising and it’s working for you keep doing it. However, every now and then back up a local advert with getting the newspaper to do a story about how you help people with their problems, how new products or services can help your customers and so on.

Always try to relate your article to a human interest story, stories enhance your advertising and stay in the readers mind much longer.

You would be surprised at how many small and micro businesses can benefit from being a published author. I can hear you thinking “what a load of crap that is” how can being a published author help a…

  • Window Cleaner
  • Gardener
  • Handyman
    Plumber
  • Heating Engineer
  • Electrician
  • Shop Keeper dealing in; Vegetables, Fish, Meat, Haberdashery, Delicatessen, Cheese, Bread and Cakes… and so on…

Well, the truth of the matter is that it can help big time providing you concentrate on content that helps the customer rather than thinking sales. Think Education rather than Income Generation. Becoming and Educator is a difficult concept to adapt to, but boy does it work.

Selling by the story…

Imagine you are looking for a window cleaner and two arrange to come and see you. You arrange different times for them to call and wait to see what you make of them after their visits.

The first window cleaner looks over your property, considers the number of windows to be cleaned, the access to each window and the time it will take to do the work to a high standard. He gives you a price and you tell him you will let him know tomorrow. He thanks you politely for seeing him and he says, “I look forward to hearing from you tomorrow”.

He then leaves and you wait for the second guy.

The second window cleaner looks over your property, considers the number of windows to be cleaned, access to each window and the time it will take to do the work to a high standard. He gives you a price just the same as the first window cleaner and he gives you a price.

You open your mouth to say you will let him know tomorrow if he has got the job, but just as you are about to say that, he puts his hand in his pocket and brings out a paperback book and says to you.

“Let me know tomorrow if you would like me to add you to our round in this area and I can introduce you to my guy who will be looking after you.   In the meantime, may I give you this short book about taking care of windows.”

He continues – “You’ll find some useful tips and advice about caring for your windows and how to check they are not in need of any repair particularly to the putty, paintwork or frames, as that is not easy to see when you have more than one floor to your property and you can’t get up to inspect the higher windows.
Thank you for seeing me and please keep the book even if we don’t get the job, I hope you will find it useful.”

So, who gets the job?

Both window cleaners give virtually the same price for the work you want doing, they both struck you as being equally competent of doing the job, but which one will you pick?

I think I can guess…

I’ll lay you ten to one it will be the guy who gave you the book with useful hints and tips about caring for your windows and frames.

Why?

Because his little book demonstrated that he cares about his customers and even more that he knows his job, his book demonstrates he is an expert at cleaning windows and conserving and caring for them. Even if his prices had been a bit more than the first window cleaner you would still give the second guy the business.

Now consider how this would work for the other trades above, the Gardener, Handyman, Builder, Plumber, Heating Engineer, Electrician, Shop Keepers dealing in Vegetables, Fish, Meat, Haberdashery, Delicatessen, Cheese, Bread and Cakes… and so on….

It’s the value of being a published author within the market you serve that makes you stand out from the crowd and be seen as head and shoulders above your competition. Having published your book you are now seen as an Authority or Expert on your subject.

Now take this a little further while we are thinking out of the box.

Can I have your Card?

Consider being at a networking event or a meeting in your own town. As you mingle with other business owners you regularly see them swapping calling cards.  We all know what happens to calling cards don’t we? They go into a draw, a bowl or folder and are mostly forgotten about.

Suppose when it came around to handing out a card to each business owner you spoke to and you turned to the other person after taking their card and said, “I don’t use business cards anymore but here is a book I have written giving hints and tips on the sort of things I do for customers and my details are inside the book cover, I hope you enjoy it and find it useful.”

How much more powerful is that than a simple business card with your name address and phone number on. Again, it makes you stand out from the crowd. The business card may eventually go in the bin but the chances are your book will be kept for much longer and even used.

In doing so it keeps your name in the potential client’s mind every time they see it on a book shelf or in their draw.

You don’t always have to give the books away, you can have them on sale at your business. You can send them out to potential clients with a note saying…
Please find enclosed my book on…. I hope you find it interesting and useful, if there is anything you don’t understand or would like to know more about please do not hesitate to contact me. My contact details are on the inside cover. Yours etc…

The Local Newspaper

Now you have published a book, you can contact the local newspaper and get one of their reporters to do an article about you and why you wrote the book.
The story will catch more eyes than an advert will most days, you could even say that copies are available free from you at (insert address) which can increase visitors to your premises or give you more contacts for your newsletters if you say they can write to you at…. to get a copy posted out to them.

Head and Shoulders above The Competition, seen as the expert in what you do – that’s what it’s all about!

David Birchall
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David Birchall

Dave first brought the interest in Small Businesses to the Universities of Lancaster, Salford and Central Lancashire by creating workshops and selling them to the Universities with Development funding from UK Gov.

Was a Policy Adviser for Federation of Small Businesses on Education, Training and Business Development appearing on Government Select Committee Hearings for the FSB.

He is now working with the Lake District National Park Authority Business Task Force in helping to deliver inclusion and benefits from the newly formed English Lakes World Heritage project.

Enjoys holding sessions with owner managers on developing their branding and marketing methodologies for being noticed and winning customers.
David Birchall
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