Keep It Simple, Sweetie!

One of the pitfalls of marketing is to “over-think” your strategy. With over-thinking comes the risk of over-spending, a quandary sure to draw my attention.

One of today’s suggestions is so simple and inexpensive you may have overlooked it, even though you have seen it used hundreds of times.

Put a bowl or attractive container next to your cash registers and invite departing customers and guests to drop their business card in for a chance to win a free meal, store gift card or something else of value. This suggestion can be very effective in adding names to your mailing list. It obviously works only in situations where customers visit your physical location.

A modern-day variation of this time-tested marketing tool is to allow participants to post their contest entry on your Facebook Fan page. This addresses the situation of not having a business where customers visit your facilities. The catch is that to post on your wall, they must first “Like” your page.

Contests can also be used to encourage customers to return to claim prizes. Create a sense of excitement. Promote them in your email campaigns, blogs, social media, etc. by announcing winners, next month’s prizes, and so on. A slight variation of this simple marketing strategy is to select winners from customers who complete evaluation or survey forms.

Above all, conduct your contest with flair and elegance, or do not do it at all.

Multi-cultural Marketing

I want to expand on an idea I first suggested several weeks ago. I mention it again because I believe that for many small and mid-sized businesses, it has tremendous potential to tap into largely ignored or under-served market segments.

The suggestion is simply to consider offering your products or services to non-English speaking customers. Here are some statistics that might influence your strategic decisions. The social impact of this data is
profound. You must decide its marketing significance.

  • A U.S. Census Bureau report titled Language Use in the United States: 2007 estimated 55 million Americans over the age of five (20% of the population) spoke a language other than English at home. That compared to 23 million in 1980.
  • According to the same 2007 Census Bureau report, 35 million Americans over the age of five speak Spanish as their primary language at home. Only half considered themselves able to speak English
    very well. That percentage is comparable to those who speak Asian and Pacific Island languages at home. With 8 million Americans and a 250% increase since 1980, this is the fastest growing of any language group reported.
  • The report found that California, Texas, Florida and New York reported a combined Hispanic population of 27 million people, with nine other states having populations in excess of 500 thousand Hispanics.
  • According to the 2009 Annual report of the Hispanic Association on Corporate Responsibility or HACR, 10 million U.S. Hispanic households represent a consumer market of $1 trillion.
  • A March 22, 2011 article in USA Today by David Lieberman had an indication of how prominent the Hispanic culture has become in the American Southwest. That article reported that Texas alone now has 154 Spanish-speaking radio stations, up from 25 ten years ago. The same source reported that the number of Hispanic radio listeners increased by 1.1 million in 2010.
  • Finally, according to the Kansas City-based Kauffman Foundation, 30% of all new business owners in 2010 were Hispanic, compared to 13% in 1996. Overall, immigrants are more than twice as likely to
    start businesses as people born in the United States are. These statistics are especially relevant if you have a significant business-to-business component in your value proposition.

Have I convinced you of the sales potential of some level of bilingual marketing? If so, start by perform a cost-benefit analysis of bilingual resources that includes your staff, marketing material, social
networking platforms and basic company forms such as estimates, proposals, invoices and statements.

Let me end with a tip that may make this idea affordable to even the tightest budget.

  • According to a May 2009 article by Al Neuharth (founder of USA Today) titled College Decision Day, there are 4,352 colleges, universities, and junior colleges in the United States. The Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business reported in Business School Data Trends and 2010 List of Accredited Schools that there are 454 institutions offering MBA programs.

Many of these institutions include unpaid internships as part of their curriculum requirements. As you consider today’s idea, consider also whether a bilingual intern could assist you in its implementation.

I look forward to meeting again on Monday. Until then, please read for details of how you can help me celebrate my birthday next week and win a $100 gift card from the Olive Garden in the process. You can then post your contest entry at

  • RSS
  • Newsletter
  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • LinkedIn