small business

Ditch the Pitch

Literary legend has it that Ernest Hemingway took on a bet that he couldn’t tell a complete story in just six words, and won it with this simple sentence: For sale: baby shoes, never worn.

In the 21st Century we’re no strangers to this kind of bare-bones messaging. We can’t watch a news bulletin without simultaneously reading headlines flashing along the bottom of our screens. We abbreviate entire SMS’s into an almost illegible jumble of letters. We’re suckers for the succinct.

As a business it is imperative that your marketing strategy reflect the demands of your would-be clients, customers or investors for instant gratification and bite sized news items. It’s time to forget the out-of-date Elevator Business Pitch, and acknowledge that we live, after all, in the age of Twitter.

The Elevator Pitch, the long standing bread and butter for ambitious entrepreneurs and successful salesmen, was originally conceived as a reference to an incidental meeting in an elevator, and thus having the course of a single elevator ride during which to make your sales pitch.

Traditionally, the most liberal of time-keepers would say that your elevator pitch should clock in at around 30 seconds, a sentiment reflected in television advertisements (themselves a form of the Elevator Pitch), which in recent decades have shrunk to averaging at around 30 seconds as well.

A 30 second Elevator Pitch, at a rate of 2.5 words a second, would result in roughly 75 words in which to deliver your message. Contrast this with a Twitter post, which ranges between 100-140 characters. If we figure that the average word is between four and five letters in length that leaves us with only 10 seconds/25 words with which to pitch! It is interesting to note that TV ads are increasingly coming in at around the 10 second mark as well.

It might seem like an impossible task to generate enough interest, convey enough information and include a call to action all in a single sentence. Yet, as pointed out by Carmine Gallo from Forbes Magazine*, Apple founder Steve Jobs would pitch his products with half a Tweet-sized tagline; the iPod was famously introduced as “1,000 songs in your pocket”, the Macbook Air is “The world’s thinnest notebook” and most recently the new Macbook is hailed under the clever line of “Light. Years ahead.”

There are three key ingredients encapsulated in each pitch:

–       An introduction of the product.

–       Information of what is being offered beyond its competitors.

–       An indication of how this advantage benefits you.

Your marketing tagline should, in Jobs’s own words, “[get] so close [to your customers] that you tell them what they need well before they realise it themselves”. So to help you get started, here are three simple tips to help you craft your own perfect Twitter-pitch.

1)    Differentiate – isolate the single most definitive aspect that divides you from your competition and will entice consumers to seek you out.

2)    Describe – develop a one-line description that rolls off the tongue easily, that uses clever word play, or is simple and iconic.

3)    Delete & Develop – trim away all of the extraneous words and descriptions. Ensure that you’ve created the most succinct pitch possible, and make sure that you keep it to one line and under ten seconds, because less is more and if it can’t be digested in 10 seconds or less, no one is going to take any note of it regardless of its quality.

It’s 2015 and it’s time to pitch small and strong, or go home. Your customers/clients are all scrolling down dozens if not hundreds of Tweets a day. They’re seeing billboards sprawled across the city, and ads on TV pumping products down their throat – so it’s your task to break through the white noise and get yourself out there.

Go simple, get Tweeting!

– Aaron

A Good First Impression: How To Nail It

Talk show host Ricki Lake once said: “For me, being memorable is more important than winning.” In a world where trends come and go and the next big thing has become commonplace, how do you create a good first impression that stays in everyone’s minds?

Here are 5 ways to ensure that you’re making a good first impression that will last.

1. Get it right the first time

You only get one shot at making a good first impression. If you’re meeting a new contact in person, give them a great handshake and be genuinely interested. Instead of just nodding and looking away, make eye contact and repeat their name. Prospecting a new client over email? Make the effort to find out and address them by their name, making sure it’s spelt correctly. You’d be surprised how careless many people can be with little details that count.

2. Tell a great story

Don’t hold back when it comes time to share. Engage your audience, be it one or a thousand, with something real and honest. Whether you made your first million at age 21, have a bizarre talent for recalling the title of every Celine Dion song, or have a knack for extreme sports, share your story and give people an extra reason to remember you.

3. Get personal

Polite niceties are easy enough to throw about in conversation. How many times have you said “How’s it going”, “Take care” or “Stay in touch” and actually meant it? Make a difference by taking it a step further. Take the time to write a note congratulating a client on their recent promotion, or send your sympathies at a tough time. If you genuinely care for a friend or client beyond the superficial, the returns may far surpass your expectations.

4. Have a signature look

In fashion, a signature look can make you unforgettable. The actress Audrey Hepburn knew that all too well and worked it to her advantage with her minimalist wardrobe of button-down men’s shirts, headscarves, classic sheath dresses and cigarette pants.   And who can think of a black turtleneck without remembering Apple founder Steve Jobs? Find your look and you’re well on your way to standing out from the crowd. For businesses, never underestimate the impact of a powerful logo and the right choice of colours. The story of a famous fast-food chain might be quite different if they had gone for brown and white, instead of red and yellow.

5. Let your actions speak for you

Can you walk the talk? Words come easy and instead of telling your clients or potential partner how good you are, show them that you’re more than just empty words. Impress them with your sincerity, detail to attention and willingness to go the extra mile. You’ll find that they’ll do all the talking for you.

– Sharon

Shop Sharing – Something Fishy Is Going On

Business share a lot of things these days: a healthy rivalry, customers and if you’re a hip Melbourne small business – a shop location! At first, this might sound counter-productive: two different businesses operating in the same locale. Allow me to explain…

Two businesses – one shop: it’s an idea so crazy there’s no way it can’t work. The first one I came across was a clothing store with a barber shop inside it. Genius, when you think about it. People who are going to get a haircut want to look sharp – and the clothes being sold right here complement their new look. Or perhaps while you’re trying on a shirt you notice you look a bit scruffy – hey presto! – there’s a barber shop right there to fix that. That’s the beauty of shop sharing.

So what we’re seeing is two businesses that feed off each other’s clientele but don’t infringe on the sales. Plus, I’m sure the split utility bills help too.

More Examples of Shop Sharing
Shop Sharing

Think of it as the business version of ‘friends with benefits’

Another that stuck in my mind was this delightful little bar called The Catfish, located on Gertrude Street in Fitzroy. Inside is a food stand/kitchen called Sparrow’s Philly Cheesesteaks. Again, both feed off each other. Hungry and feel like a drink? Thirsty but could use a bite to eat? It’s the perfect combination (PS: the Philly Cheesesteaks are to die for).

This outside the box thinking is a prime example of small business passion and ingenuity. They’ve found what they’re good at and focussed on it. Then they’ve found someone else who complements them (and vice versa) and formed a perfect symbiotic relationship. This is nothing new; the Clownfish has been ‘shop sharing’ with Sea Anemones for centuries!

– Lachy

Customer Service Begins With A Smile

We all have days when we feel flat. You might be tired. You might be having a bad day. It might be something as small as skipping that morning coffee you so desperately need. On days like this, it’s harder to wipe a smile across your face and give 100% genuine customer service.

Quite obviously, when you’re having a day like this you run the risk of letting down a customer, or potential customer, and costing yourself a sale. But I like to look at the situation a little differently. When you’re having a day when you’re not quite feeling yourself and you let yourself stay in that sulky, grouchy mood, you’re actually denying yourself a chance to let customer service cheer you up. On the other end of the spectrum, a potential customer could also be having a bad day – by providing friendly, genuine customer service you could improve their day, and in turn, improve yours!

Perhaps this picture of a little ducky will make you smile.

Perhaps this picture of a little ducky will make you smile.

In the copywriting department, we’re sometimes given the opportunity to speak to our clients over the phone, to really uncover what they’re hoping to achieve with their On Hold production. We love our clients at Messages On Hold, and every once in a while a special client comes along who’s so happy and enthusiastic that just chatting with them brightens our day. For me, it’s the client who can have a laugh with you and actually talks to you like a real person. They call you by your name and they’re enthusiastic about what you’re telling them. When you get off the phone, you’re genuinely excited about starting their script because they put you in such a good mood. If their phone manner is any indication of their customer service skills, I’m willing to bet they’re damn good at their jobs – simply because of how nice they are!

Our Managing Director Kym Illman produced an episode of Mastering Marketing which focused on how people tend to do business with people they like. By letting your mood change and enjoying interactions with your customers, not only are you giving your them what they deserve, you’re actually benefiting from it as well! If you make the sale, great, job well done. If not, there will be a next time because you will have left a positive impression on the customer so next time they need what you’re offering, they’ll have your smiling face at the forefront of their mind and they’ll come back to you.

Next time you’re feeling down in the dumps; open yourself up to the opportunity that great customer service offers. Take some advice from a legend like Peter Glen and let your own great customer service turn your frown upside down.

– Sophie