Category Archives: Free Marketing Tips

Voice Mail – What Do Your Customers Think?

Very annoying when you want to talk to a human and the system is structured to make that impossible … or incredibly difficult to do so. OMG!

Human interaction is where one has the opportunity to develop relationships, build a positive image and the marketer who doesn’t understand the value of that needs to be retired!!! Idiocy is the impression one gives as it relates to understanding the value of customer relationships and how they are impacted by the “endless” voice mail process. Caring about the customer’s interaction with your firm is not an afterthought but should be a major focus and voice mail can be helpful when limited and you provide personal interaction.

Remember it costs 5X as much to get a new customer as it does to retain one and 50X as much to gain back a lost client, Emotions play an important role in establishing a relationship with a customer or with those who are interested in the possibility of becoming one. Thus how do you think a voicemail program that goes beyond being helpful but is seen as an annoyance impacts the emotions of those that call your firm? Matter? How do you feel when you incur the Voicemail “mine-field”? Take a survey not only of customers, but employees as well.

If you like, go to our group “Smart Marketing for Small Business” or any business group and ask that question. Attitude is a key factor in the success of any business and, one that focuses on making itself very “User Friendly” will always rise above the crowd. Interaction with your target audience is key to building successful relationships. Eliminating or minimizing irritation in any aspect of your marketing efforts is smart marketing. Love your customer and at worst they’ll like you, especially when you make their effort in reaching out to you pleasant.

“Excellent firms don’t believe in excellence –
only in constant improvement and constant change.” – Tom Peters

Do you agree or disagree? Let’s hear from you.

Les Wolff The Original Marketing Curmudgeon Also listen to our radio show, Smart Marketing for Small Business (Live every Wed @11pm EST) And visit our LinkedIn Group of the same name.


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Smart Marketing Move: Wegman’s

Supermarkets are in a very competitive environment. Overall, I think that Wegman’s is a great grocery store. They have their own less expensive brand, like a lot of stores have. But they have more.They have a cafe section where you can eat lunch and use their wi-fi. Some stores are catching on to that also. And like most grocery stores, they have a reward card program, but they did something a little different, and it caught my attention.

I just signed up for their reward program this past week since I now live near a Wegmans. It was a very easy process and when I was all set up, the customer service rep handed me my new reward card and a welcome packet. She explained that there were coupons in it, along with the magazine they publish. So, I’m going to save money right off the bat because I signed up for their rewards program but I also get coupons…..and then a magazine which normally costs $4.

I thought that a welcome packet was really nice introduction to their store. I started looking through the magazine and they just do it right, from a marketers perspective. It’s named “Menu” and it features a ton of recipes with their products and other products that they carry. From one pot meals to soups and salads, from easy to hard recipes.

Looking at it from a customer’s eyes, it is a great way to get ideas and encourage purchase of brands they carry that are featured in the recipes. From a marketer’s perspective, I see that this is a great way to increase customer loyalty. Additionally, there are advertisements in this magazine, which can generate revenue from non-competitive entities or is an effective way to utilize co-op ad funds to reduce or eliminate production costs, Smart, very smart.

So, as a small business what can you learn from this and how can you apply it to your business even if it is on a small scale?

1 – You don’t have to publish a full-fledged magazine, what about creating a tri-fold brochure or some form of handout that delivers information that educates or benefits the recipient in some way. In particular if it highlights a specific part of your business? This can be done for a service or a product based business.

2 – Try to think differently and outside of the box like Wegman’s did by creating a promotional vehicle, where people would want to advertise or align themselves with you and what you’ve created?

Need some help brainstorming? Smart Marketing Group and its advisors are available to help you long term or on a short term basis. The latter is available in a truly unique and effective  “marketing as needed” basis through their  “Advisory Time –Block” program (, or call 215-334-3432 for a no-obligation introduction on how we can help you today!

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Guest Blog: Time for a small business update?

If you have been in business for some time, the services and avenues for your marketing dollar have expanded.  Print products are on the Internet, direct mail and e-mail working hand in hand and then there is that new thing Social Media.

What should you do? Find sources and get involved with them in a logical step by step way.  Jumping in without a net will make you fall farther than you need to fall. There are many sources to use and there are people in your network of business people that can share what they have learned.  All of these components can help your new adventure.  And relying on one source for each new area is dangerous.

Consistent business practices no matter what area you’re starting is the key.  And repeating things builds a reputation for your business. Saying the same things keeps things consistent.

By Guest Blogger –  Rick Polson – Making a Superstar Company


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Smart Marketing Move: Yonana

One of the perks of being a small business is that you can learn from larger businesses. From their failures to successes.

Yonana, a machine that turns frozen bananas into an ice cream substitute, made a very smart marketing move. They simply did a great cross promotion with a sticker. They stuck it on a banana I bought.

It’s a silly name, that would normally spark my curiosity, but I already knew what a Yonana was because of one of my friends. She loves this little machine. It helps her eat healthier while still having a tasty snack. She has talked it up and down. This little sticker reminded me of when I had some at her house. It was really good and I would definitely get one of these machines because of how good it was.

This little sticker on each bunch of bananas enforced what I had already heard about it. And if you didn’t know what it was, they had a website on the sticker so that you could check it out, if it peaked your curiosity.

How can you apply this to your business?

1 – Does your name reflect on what you are about? Company names (and taglines) can set you aside and raise you above the cluttered business landscape. (Checkout

2 – Try to think of interesting ways to cross promote, be it in your own store, website or other form of communication to your target audience. Do you have two products that go perfectly together like bananas and a Yonana.

3 – Is there a non-competing business that you can make a connection with that can add value to their business so that they can offer another service, aka your service? And of course vice versa.

Are you a business owner? Have you already successfully put this into practice in one form or another? Have you seen something you’d like to share. Perhaps even talk about it on our Internet radio show “Smart Marketing for Small Business”? We’d like to hear from you! Please comment below.

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Four Things Most Small Business Owners Overlook

First, they don’t take the time to do the prep work.  Things like proper color selection for the companies theme.  Each color has its own psychology and you need to make sure that the colors you pick will give your customer base the right “feel” for your business. Also conducting surveys is part of the prep, so you know what your potential customers are reading, listening to and watching. This ensures your marketing/advertising expenditures are focused where your customers are involved.

Second is a consistent theme from event to event of your business.  It will only confuse your customers if they ready about a sale on product A in the newspaper, discounts on product B in your radio ads and factory discounts on product C on cable or TV. Keeping the message the same within all media’s ensures that your customers will have the proper information for whatever product or service you are featuring for that week or month.

Another is using all the pieces of information available to them on web sites.  Every web site should have a :30-:60 video about the company.  This ensures that people with different learning styles can benefit from your site. Also every web site that is used for promoting a business should have a news section with stories about the companies industry. Retail, Heating/AC, Restaurant or whatever the industry, should have an area with current stories updated daily or weekly. This keeps your customers in touch with the newest information about your industry and shows them you care to inform them.

Finally are the different networking availabilities in their market.  Service organizations, Chambers of Commerce, local group web sites, industry associations and many more allow small business owners a way to meet other local business people. This way they can make partnerships with some to assist each other in building their businesses. No one single business leader can effectively build a business alone.  These many opportunities allow small business owners an easy way to meet other owners and share experiences.

Article by Rick Polson – Making a Superstar Company

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Are You Open to Change?

By Leslie R. Wolff – Marketing Strategist & Creative Tactician

“There is no reason anyone would want a computer 
in their home.” – Ken Olden Founder Digital Equipment (1977)

Recently, a friend sent me the above quote from a list of quotations that were perfect example of a problem affecting business of all sizes and kinds and that is a willingness to be open to Change. This article incorporates some of those quotes as well as others to make a point… Change is coming and there is little you can do to stop it. Thus it is important to identify with it and understand how you and your business can benefit from it.

“The world hates change, yet it is the only thing that has brought progress.” – Charles Kettering (Founder of Delco, & headed GM’s research for 25+ years)

In my role as an advisor to companies who are hoping to outthink, outflank, outmaneuver and outsmart their competition, rather than outspend them in the marketing arena, my first bit of advice is to open their eyes, as well as their minds to observe and absorb what is going on around their business world. They need to notice all the ways they are similar to their competition, which in turn will always lead to that “AHA!” moment when they see what has always been there, an untapped or overlooked opportunity to accomplish this desired goal.

We don’t like their sound, and guitar music is on its way out” – Decca Recording Co. rejecting the Beatles (1962)

Rejection always come faster than acceptance, but if you believe you are on the right track you have your passion to support you, but also the technique of asking the right questions to create dialogue. A simple, “Why not” will in most situations initiate discussion that often eliminates the normal negative “reaction” we humans tend to have whenever someone suggest a new way to do something. Part of being a smart marketer is psychological and developing skills that breakdown human nature’s resistance to change and replace it with a stimulation that gets one thinking “Why Not?”

“I don’t know what use any one could find 
for a machine that would make copies of documents. 
It certainly couldn’t be a feasible business by itself.” 
 — The head of IBM, refusing to back the idea, forcing the inventor to found Xerox.

Another secret to learning to “think outside-the-box” is learning to develop highly interactive communication conduits with customers (present and past), employees, vendors “influencers” within your industry. If you are known to be open-minded and acceptable to change people will start to seek you out and provide you with stimulation and motivation that will lead to motivation.

None of the above is brilliant thinking it is simply rooted in commonsense which to often is uncommon on today’s business landscape. Just remember …

“Be open to change, as it is a constant, as is your competition’s resistance to is probable” – Leslie R. Wolff

— —
Leslie R. Wolff’s mission is to reestablish a lost factor in business … commonsense! Les is CEO
of The Smart Marketing Group, a proactive marketing Visionary & Strategy Think Tank. He
can be reached at 215-334-3432,, Skype: Smart Marketing or , you can participate in his blog at
His E-Book” Smart Thinking” is available @

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7 Tips To Better Trade Show Marketing

Smart Thinking … A Different Perspective

By Leslie R. Wolff

Integrated Marketing Strategist & Creative Tactitian

Trade shows are an extremely effective marketing tool, when you take the time to think out all the aspects of what makes for a successful trade show. There are many elements to consider and you best make a checklist to be sure you don’t overlook any thing.

I. Pre-Show Planning Checklist:

___ Is this the best trade show for our objectives & the cost?
___ Exhibit (are you creating a new one or using an existing one)
___ Booth size (have adequate space for showing, talking & closing)
___ Booth location ( look to be where there is heavy traffic, near entrances/exits/restrooms/food areas)
___ Booth transportation (be sure it gets delivered in time)
___ Booth set-up (whose responsibility, set time schedule) Continue reading

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Marketing … The life blood of every business

By Leslie R. Wolff, A Marketing & Creative Tactician

I met a former business owner who never had time to spend on marketing, now he does.

Marketing is the process of acquiring customers and keeping them. That’s it, no great mystery, without customers a business does not survive. Without happy, satisfied customers a business does not grow.

Then why are so many business owners so confused about marketing their products and/or services? Why do some in an industry succeed greatly and others barely exist or fail? It is not the lack of capital. It is the failure of understanding what the various elements of marketing are and how they work together. It is the failure to examine all the “troublesome little things” within their business that affect the effort to gain customers and retain them. Continue reading

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How do I ensure a high rate of customer retention? 6 Easy Steps

By Leslie R. Wolff, A Marketing & Creative Tactician

Customers like to know that they are important to you, so create awareness of your interest in their welfare.

It costs 5 times as much to get a new customer as it does to keep the ones you have and a significant multiple of that cost to regain one you lost. It’s a mistake thinking once you landed a client that they will automatically stay with you. It takes as much hard work to keep a customer as it does to acquire one. Customer retention enables you to build a solid
foundation of repeat business, revenue growth and business longevity.

6 Easy steps to have a positive customer retention environment

  1. Customer Service – The key aspect of retaining customers is how they feel they are being treated so examine closely what you do and how well you do it.  Continue reading

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