Thinking Outside The Box

By Eric Gilboord

[caption id="attachment_2572" align="alignright" width="181" caption="Eric Gilboord"]Eric Gilboord[/caption]

We live in a world full of buzzwords and new ways of saying things. For instance: ‘thinking outside the box…;’ in other words, moving beyond restrictive thinking to rethink it from a different perspective.

I’ve always taught my children that, when they get frustrated trying to do something, it's important to take a step back, catch your breath, and look at what you're trying to do from a different angle. If you're frustrated by trying to reach a particular prospect and you think you've exhausted all the avenues, chances are there is at least one other way you haven't yet considered. We live in a very competitive environment and if you are not on your toes, constantly thinking ahead, attempting to outpace your competition, you’ll find them nipping at your heels and, before you know it, winning the race.

Your customers’ businesses are changing on a daily basis and as their needs evolve, you must strive to provide the best products and services to help make them winners. Some entrepreneurs dread change; others anticipate the challenges and new opportunities change will bring. If you are the first to find a new way to do something, not only will your customers continue doing business with you, but think about the new prospects you could attract.

The next time you prepare a mailer, advertisement, Twitter or LinkedIn discussion, try something different. You know the results you'll get with your current marketing materials, but how do you know there isn’t a better way?

If you're operating a small business, it’s likely you don't want to gamble an entire marketing program on a new idea. Either test the new marketing piece on a small group before you do your main mailing, tweet, etc., or test the new piece at the same time. Send out 10 or 20 percent of your mailers using the new test piece and use your previously proven material for the balance. Tweet two or three different messages or LinkedIn activities. Test at least one new idea in a small way with every marketing program that you do.

Rules for thinking outside the box.

There are no rules. There are lessons to be learned, but no rules.

Talk to the end user, not just the purchaser. Could be the person in shipping really needs your service and didn’t know you existed. Your marketing efforts were directed to the front office and they didn’t think the shipper needed your service. How many lost sales are waiting to be found?

Ask someone you've never asked before for their opinion. Show your new marketing piece to someone who knows nothing about your product or service. If you can educate them and they see the benefits, you have a chance at actually reaching your target group with your message.

Write a bogus ad filled with reasons why people should not buy your products or services. Who knows, maybe some of your prospects are thinking the same way.

Imagine that your company is a vehicle. Is it possible your customers perceive you to be expensive like a Rolls Royce and, therefore, will use you only when they have to, but not for all their orders? In your mind, you’re strong and functional like a new pick up truck might want to begin to portray your company in a different way with your marketing materials. Maybe you have given the impression of being an expensive resource because your brochures are six-color, printed on expensive stock (they don’t know your brother-in-law is a printer) and you distributed elaborate Christmas gifts to your customers last year. More often, small businesses undersell themselves with cheap-looking brochures and ads that appear out of date and unfocused. People only get what they see. As the old expression goes, ‘perception is reality.’ If they believe you to be something, then that's what you are in their minds. It is your job to plant the correct image in the minds of your customers and new prospects.

Go into the marketplace and ask your existing customers how they perceive you. Keep an open mind—you might be surprised by some of the answers you get. Also talk to prospects that you have been unable to land. You might discover that it is purely their perception of you preventing them from placing that first order.

And that's According 2 Eric.

Eric Gilboord is a specialist in making marketing easy for business owners/operators and any staff with sales or marketing responsibility. He demystifies marketing so they can use it to generate sales today and grow their businesses faster. Eric believes in blending traditional marketing with new media/social media. ROI is a must. Eric is a popular speaker, coach, columnist and author of many articles and books on moving a business up to the next level. The Expert Business Calls for Marketing Advice... That's Easy to Understand. For more information, call 416-686-2466. To sign up for his marketing tips newsletter and to read his blog please visit:

By Adam

September 20, 2010