Start Acting Like the Snowflake You Are

you are a snowflake, you are uniqueYou are a snowflake. You are unique, one of a kind. Did your mother ever tell you this? Probably, but chances are it’s long-forgotten along with other remarks which only a mother would say.

Unless you are one of three handsome, bright, talented young men in the Pacific Northwest with the last name of Sircely, I am not your mother, and yet I am telling you that you, yes YOU, are a snowflake. (Go ahead and laugh if you must – I’m being sincere!)

Your business is a snowflake, too. It has its own unique story and is led by you, the one-of-a-kind snowflake. So why treat it like it’s the same as any other business? Why gravitate toward the flock when you could distinguish your business with a marketing approach uniquely tailored to you?

It’s easy to slide into sameness. Templates and themes are ubiquitous. There are online templates for printing your business card and other marketing materials. There are themes for website design, customizable, but rarely well-customized. Stock art photos and graphics repeat themselves on websites, blog posts and brochures. Copywriting guides and software programs teach fill-in-the-blanks, until everything follows the same blueprint. As a result, marketing materials are becoming increasingly generic — looking, reading and sounding the same.

When you appear to be the same as all the others, how do you convince customers to buy from you? Your potential customers want to know: What makes you different and why should I buy from you? What’s behind the workings of your business? What’s your business story?


What Makes You Different?

Your unique story

Your Story: Uncover your unique story – everybody has one. We all have our own personal reasons and passions for doing what we do. Telling your backstory accentuates your individuality and encourages others to connect with you.

Ask yourself:

1. What makes me uniquely qualified to do what I do?

2. How and why did I begin?

3. What have I achieved that helps others trust and want to do business with me?

4. And most important: What do I offer that generates positive responses; what is it that makes me remarkable?


your image, your lookYour Look: Design is a vital element that either draws people in, causes a headache or induces drowsiness. As a snowflake is one-of-a-kind, your website and other marketing materials need to reflect your uniqueness in a way that instantly captures the interest of prospective customers and earns their trust as they delve deeper.

Your look is so important, it’s advisable to invest in a trained graphic designer. Create a logo or type treatment in colors that are appropriate for your business and reflect the story you tell. Tweak that website theme so it’s fully customized, or start from scratch and build something special. Keep your look consistent throughout your marketing materials, from website to print and across all social media to platforms.

If possible, take your own photos or hire a photographer to shoot key images. This gives you a distinctive look and makes you stand out from all the others using the same stock images.


your unique business styleYour Style: Here’s where your remarkableness can shine through brightly. Everyone interacts differently with customers and prospects. What’s your style? What are your personal qualities?

Look into your products, services and how you work with customers and prospective customers. What is special about what you offer, and the style with which you offer it? What is special about how you work with others? What is special about how you care for your clients and customers? How do you serve them? What do you do that encourages people to say positive things about you?


Celebrate Your Uniqueness

Think of yourself as a snowflake, and define what distinguishes you from the rest. Tell your unique story and wrap it into a marketing plan. Tell it everywhere. Have it shine through on your website, in all your print materials, and throughout social media in a consistent, coordinated message that is as unique as the snowflake you are.

Always remember: You are a snowflake. We are all snowflakes. Let’s have the courage to be proud of our differences.


Tap into the power of anti-selling.

marketing baked into rhubarb pie

Bake the marketing into your offer.

Wouldn’t you love to tap into the strength of powerful marketing materials so you never, ever need to make a cold sales call again?

If you own a solopreneurship or work for a small business or nonprofit, chances are that you don’t have a salesforce working to break down buyer resistance before closing sales. Most likely, you bear a large part of the responsibility of driving revenue by attracting customers, soliciting donations or selling products.

Personally, I am not—and never will be a salesperson. To me, sales is simply gut wrenching. You will never catch me making a cold call, using highlighted or red-lined text in a marketing letter, or chatting up prospects who seem to wish they were somewhere else. It’s antithetical to my personal chemistry.

Selling is difficult. Some people thrive on sales, and that’s great for them—it’s just not for me. But hey, marketing—for me that’s a breeze.

So how do you win over customers without a hard sell?


Modern selling and anti-selling

Although I came around to appreciating science and math later in life, I avoided these classes like the plague while in school. To fulfill the science requirement in college, I enrolled in a course designed for non-scientists entitled “Modern Physics and Anti-Physics.” The term “anti-physics” sounded intriguing, and the title has stuck with me. While I am no longer anti-physics, I remain anti-selling.

When your sales process is anti-selling, your offer needs to be so irresistible that it sells itself. When your offer and your well-crafted marketing materials do all the work, or at least most of the work, all you have to do is deliver a light, soft, honest sell to close the deal.

The fact is, audiences are generally wary of salespeople. The archetypical used car salesman comes to mind — the plaid suit, wide grin and calculated pressure tactics trigger a natural consumer instinct to run the other way. Even polite people have learned to hang up the phone on a telemarketer. Most people no longer have the time or desire to sit through a sales pitch unless they already are convinced they want to buy a particular product or service, often because they have a problem.

Your job is to convince them ahead of time that they need what your product or service, and that your offering trumps others available on the market.


You don’t have to sell.

For years I’ve been telling clients who share my reluctance to sell that, when properly written, designed and implemented, their marketing materials will do 99%-100% of the selling for them. When your marketing plan is functioning correctly, calls will be inbound; no outbound cold calls required. The remaining 1% of the marketing calls are to warm prospects who come via referrals, or are otherwise predisposed to hearing your pitch.

First, don’t think about the sale at all. Consider how your product or service can help others and change the world for the better. Listen to your prospective buyer’s needs and concerns, and embed your marketing strategy into the creation, packaging and delivery of your products or services. Seth Godin calls this “baking” your marketing into the product. Offer solutions with your own unique perspective, twist or passion. Apple Inc. is a perfect example.

Attract prospects with marketing materials that carry a clear, concise message through a well-designed presentation. Your materials should be attractive at first glance, even from afar. They should put forth a theme and style consistent with your branding, and they should have enough content to draw in prospects, without being overwhelming.

Educate your prospective customers. Focus on the end result for customers, and in the most honest and transparent way, teach prospects how they will benefit from your product or services, or perhaps by supporting your nonprofit. Tell stories and share examples, drawing on the colorful and emotional content of personal experience.

Be informative. Provide step-by-step information on how to purchase your offerings and give clear instructions. Online, you want your prospect to know exactly what to type and where to click on your well-organized landing page. Offline, people need to know where you are located, your hours of operation, and how to reach you by phone. Provide a variety of contact methods so your each individual prospect can choose which option is most convenient, including social media interfaces.

Load your offer with extra value. Figure out what you can comfortably add to the offer that does not greatly impact your bottom line, yet could hold tremendous perceived value to your customer. Maybe it’s a complimentary consulting session or a free sample to get them started. Perhaps it’s an app or add-on to a product, or even an invitation to a special event.

Use soft reminders and cut-off dates. People are busy and they forget, so use casual, low pressure reminders in your communications. It also can be useful to attach a time-sensitive component to your reminder, such as “the price will be going up on Friday.”

Stand behind your offer. Build trust and remove a barrier to the sale by offering a 100% money-back guarantee with no questions asked. This is especially important when selling online. Rarely do people ask for their money back, and if they do, it’s a sale you never would have made anyway. The offer of a guarantee can gently push a prospect over the line to become a buyer, and it drives you to ensure what you’re offering is the best it can be.

To truly embrace anti-selling, take a new look at what you are offering and how your marketing materials are constructed—make them work harder for you and assume most of the selling process. You will be amazed how marketing characteristics of generosity and clarity will convince people to buy. Then rejoice that you don’t need to make a cold call!

Sowing the seeds of future opportunity.

like peas, ideas sprouting up all overSome friends have asked — why a blog after 25 years? I guess I just can’t contain myself anymore. There are so many ideas I want to share—like the peas I planted last week, they are sprouting up all over and demonstrating great promise.

My marketing communications company, Sircely Marketing & Design, has operated as a traditional advertising agency and design studio for most of its 25 years. We were based in the Delaware Valley, as were most of our clients. We strategized with clients face to face. Advertising campaign presentations were made in person. Clients found us at chambers of commerce, through referrals or by admiring our pro bono work for area nonprofits.

But much has changed.

The natural evolution of the business and our outreach model through social media has expanded our client base across the nation. Now that we have relocated from the East Coast to Washington State, most client strategy sessions are now held over the phone, on Skype or via other internet platforms. Presentations are delivered via PDF. We’re no longer an offline, hyper-local communications company. All of these changes, along with repeated requests from far-flung clients, are driving my inspiration to establish an online base of useful marketing content, both to help others get a grip on their marketing, and to lead by example.

I advise clients to blog for greater visibility, credibility and for all the content it builds on their website. Few take the plunge, but the brave ones are building a valuable online presence.

There is no question that a business blog:

  • establishes your authority as the credible expert on your particular subject;
  • serves as a efficient tool to get your message out;
  • helps your business to be found online, which is where people are looking for solutions and answers to their problems;
  • cultivates relationships that have the potential to further your business in many ways.

Actually, business blogging is not a lot different than the traditional marketing tactic of making a series of contacts with a potential customer to lay the foundation for an eventual sale. Content marketing, or the sharing of information and ideas, is an effective way to establish authority on a topic while adding searchable depth to your website.

I regard this blog, Enterprising Marketing, as another opportunity to sow seeds of unforeseen opportunity. My peas soon will wind their way up a trellis, and I’m eager to share ideas that have quietly matured over two decades — the potential is thrilling, the future is wide open and the opportunities are infinite.

Be enterprising.

Twenty-five years is a momentous milestone. January 2012 marked the 25th anniversary of the founding of Sircely Marketing & Design. My company evolved over the years with an efficient and creative team, adapting to meet new technology, new demands and market needs. Essentially, every project boiled down to me—a quiet and unassuming professional who loves to write and design (at the same moment if possible), painting a canvas to communicate each client’s powerful marketing message.

Over the years, I’ve witnessed remarkable changes while many things remained the same. Old rules form the foundation for most new marketing tactics. Tried and true methods still exist beneath the hype of social media and online marketing.

Enterprising Marketing is for those who want to grow their businesses—it applies to business owners and managers, nonprofit administrators, solopreneurs and start-ups. For those who are enterprising marketers, the common thread is possession of an independent, energetic spirit along with the drive to work hard and make things happen.

But energy and action needs direction. With a few exceptions, most of the advice I read is difficult to follow or burdensome to implement, and almost always loaded with cheap marketing jargon. My goal is to clarify and demystify the marketing process. I want to explain the terms in plain English and help you tell your story, empowering you to make the most of every opportunity to grow your business.

Out here in the Pacific Northwest, everything grows, even with challenging circumstances. On the tall seaside bluffs and rock faces, life is literally on the edge. There’s a groundswell of energy and hope as life clings to a precipice, sprouts in dicey and unlikely places, and illustrates rugged determination, persistence and perseverance.

All of these qualities apply to Enterprising Marketing, and they converge to help make your campaign/outreach particularly remarkable. Get noticed in unusual places. Stick to your marketing plan, because results follow persistence and perseverance. Sometimes, it’s imperative to go where no one has been before.