What Your Business Marketing Can Learn From The Hope Diamond

Hope Diamond

Hope Diamond. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Hope Diamond is the most famous diamond in the world.  Its large size (over 45 carats) and deep blue color make it instantly recognizable.

The purported curse doesn’t hurt either.

But what does this have to do with creating a remarkable marketing strategy for your small business?  After all, you’re likely not selling diamonds.

Why this matters for your small business

It’s an only.

It’s the only diamond like it.  And that makes it remarkable, and worth talking about.

Being an  “only” can make you much more successful.  It’s one way of eliminating your competition.

What is an “only” business?

An “only” business is a company that does something unique; a company that offers a product or a service that your competitors can’t easily copy, or copy at all.

It gives your business an edge and helps spread the word about your products and services.  The more unique (or hard to copy) it is, the better.

Only Ivory Soap is “99 3/4% pure.”

Only Zappos lets you return your shoes at any time for any reason, even if they know you’re cheating, and even if you do it repeatedly.

How to be an “only”

Let’s say your firm specializes in ghostwriting guest blog posts.  You’ve got a team of writers standing by to write posts for people who don’t have the time or the skill to do it themselves.

And,  you offer really fast turnaround — you’re the FedEx of blog post ghostwriting. You can tell your customers, and potential customers, that “only Supersonic Ghostwriting offers an overnight blog post service.  Your posts go from our keyboards to your inbox in 24 hours.”

Or, take my friend Phil.  He owns a toy store in Michigan.  Toy stores aren’t all that unusual, but Phil’s is.  For one thing, he offers a toy lending service to local schools.  Teachers can come in and choose from a selection of toys — for free.

His staff carries lists of favorite toys in their pockets, so they can help confused customers make the right selection.  They don’t push the newest toy or the most expensive, instead they recommend the toys that are most appropriate.  His customers know this, and trust him even more for it. (Sometimes, he even sends free toys to his friends; my nephew loves the Matchbox trucks Phil sent me, and guess who’s his favorite aunt).

Be the hope diamond of your industry

It’s what we marketing types call a “unique selling proposition.”  That’s just a fancy way of saying you offer something remarkable that your competition doesn’t (or can’t).

Suddenly, instead of being one of a crowd of writers or toy store owners offering interchangeable products and services, you’re unique.

Now, some homework.  Go think about what makes you unique, and how you can be an ‘only.”  If you need help, email me.

Diamonds are optional.

Getting Raving Fans for Your Business

Inferno fans

Image via Wikipedia

I was listening to a webinar the other day with Peter Shankman of HARO (Help a Reporter Out).  Peter’s got 188,000 people on his email list, and mails three times a day.  He said he had an open rate of over 70% (pretty phenomenal for such a frequent mailer). His fans love his emails.

All creative types (and bloggers) want fans.  We want people to like us, to leave comments, and eagerly await what we write.  We want editors who never, ever kill our darling, favorite phrases. Clients who love our web designs, and never, ever spend an hour arguing over whether a design should be predominantly red or blue.

But, we know that may not happen.  Certainly not all the time.

What we can do

We can’t all be Peter (darn), but is there anything we can do? What makes readers (and potential clients) respond?

  • Random rewards?
  • Giveaways?
  • Personal stories about successes (or even failures)?
  • Shoutouts?
  • Something else?

What other techniques can you think of?  What have you tried? And which of them worked?

A Simple Headline Writing Tip That Gets More Readers

numbers in headlines
Want to hear a simple headline writing tip? It’s become extraordinarily popular recently, but the truth is that this headline secret has been used since the days of Claude Hopkins in the 1920s to get readers to stop and take notice.

It’s really easy too. And, it doesn’t even involve using words.

What do these headlines have in common?

“8 Habits of Highly Effective Copywriters”

This works because it promises something short (only eight items to remember) and offers a big promise.  Learn a few new habits and your writing will be far more effective. The unspoken payoff is that you’ll then earn more and get more clients.

“How to Write a Blog Post in 15 Minutes”

This headline offers to help you do something hard (write a blog post) and cut the time needed to a fraction of what you probably expected it to take.

“Increase Your Blog Subscription Rate by 153%”

This promises specific, definite results.  Not just 150%, but 153. The exact number makes the claim far more credible.

“103 Ways to Get Top Bloggers to Link to You”

We want more links because links can bring more traffic and more clicks.  Offering over a hundred different ways to do it, and telling us that we can not only get those links, but receive them from top bloggers is a compelling promise.

15 Marketing Terms You Need to Know

The common theme is that they all have numbers in them. I know, everyone “hates” list posts, but they do get people to stop and look. And, the secret to successful marketing isn’t what you personally prefer. It’s what works.

Why numbers work

Numbers work because they force us to focus – and because they give us a finite, concrete sounding example of something; only 15 minutes to write a great post, or 103 ways to get noticed by blogging superstars.  Spend a few minutes reading these tips and you’ll get something concrete and important when you’re finished.

The more specific the number, the better.  For example, if you increased your subscription rate by 153%, don’t round it down to 150%, the “odd’ number looks more believable.

Lists and checklists

Lists help us process information and tell our brains that we’re getting a reward. A short list tells us that we can find out something useful in just a few minutes. A longer one shouts that it’s definitive and comprehensive.

A list called “five steps to getting clients on Facebook” tells us that if we just do five things, we’ll be able to turn our Facebook efforts into a powerful marketing tool. “101” Copywriting Tricks” promises information that will make our writing better and more effective, all in an easy-to-follow format.  Just go through the list and you’ve accomplished something big.

Bullet points and lists may be the “fast food” equivalent of post writing, but they’re easier to read (and finish) than a gourmet meal of long paragraphs.

Just follow the list! You’re now a better writer, a twitter guru, or irresistible to reporters.
And, who can resist something that will make you irresistible?

Image by Daniel Ullrich via Flickr

What do you think about this?

I saw this video on Web Ink Now today. It was part of a post pointing out that people don’t care about your products (as a business), they care about their problems and whether you can help fix those problems. So far, so good and I nodded my head in agreement.

Then he included a video. He said it “offers a twisted look at the problem with older TVs. The link at the end of the video points to a webcast with Cisco chairman John Chambers, during CES on Jan 5.”

Here’s the video:


I completely agree that saying your product is great or talking about the 1080p definition or the thousands of connections doesn’t help.

I don’t like the video video though. It seemed to make fun of older TVs (or people who had them), rather than helping them.

And the link to the talk at the end (which, I confess I didn’t watch) isn’t terribly clear. If David hadn’t pointed it out, I would have never known what it was.

Clever is fine – but not for the sake of being clever, which this seems to be.

What do you think?

Limited Editions: Good or Evil?

Black Friday line

Image by tshein via Flickr

Yesterday’s post touched on the idea of using a limited offer or quantity to spur sales.

In the comments, John wanted to know if “people really believe it. How can they trust that there really is a scarcity and not just a another marketing ploy?”

So, is marketing with limited editions really a good idea? Or is it an underhanded marketing trick?

Limited can be artificial

Well, it can be a ploy, like Black Friday deals, or the limited edition car. It can make something seem more exclusive or important than it really is. (Long ago, I was working at a cosmetics company and someone wrote in asking if his “limited edition” cologne set was valuable).

Limited can be real

Or, limited can be very real. An original copy of John Audubon’s book of bird illustrations just sold for $11.5 million dollars. It’s truly limited. There aren’t any more.  I happen to own a reproduction of the book, but that’s not the same. The original Apple computer cost $666.66 (hmmmm).  One of the rare surviving examples just sold for $210,000. You can get a brand new Mac mini starting at around $700 (and it’s faster), but they make lots of them — they’re not unique.

It can also be fun

For example, each day “woot” puts up a different daily deal. One day, one product, and then it’s gone. (today’s, by the way is a two-pack of smoke alarms). Will there be more smoke alarms in a real store? Yes. Is it a good price (decent, I had to pay $25 for mine and this is two for $40). They write funny copy, and it pulls you in.

“So just to make it easy, if you DON’T want to buy these smoke alarms, just check the box marked “I don’t value the safety of my home and worldly possessions or the lives of my loved ones.” Go ahead. Blame it on the holidays. IF YOU DARE.”

Same with Groupon. More funny copy, and participating is part of the fun (as well as part of the deal) (If you don’t know, Groupon offers discounts – but only if enough people sign up for it – so there’s an incentive to pass it on and tell your friends).

Share your thoughts

So, is making something limited a good idea? Or a bad one?