Life is a carnival

life is a carnival with small business marketing done right

Often, life is more entertaining than shows designed for our amusement. Adopting effective small business marketing strategies can be easy when you get creative reaching clients on their terms.

life is a carnival with small business marketing done right

Courtesy morguefile.com by Mark Miller

If you’re a small business owner trying to appeal to prospective buyers, realize what people think and say can be very different than what they do. Understanding what really motives your consumer can put a huge smile on your face. I’m not talking manipulative selling, nor big on the mantra “people buy for emotional reasons and justify their purchase with logic.” Instead, if you really pay attention, you’ll find most people’s buying decisions are developed through conditioning.   

Buying is about mindset

Purchase decisions are more about being respected, accepted or admired. Yes, those are emotional responses, but it’s less about the individual and more about group think. What we watch, hear, see and are taught to believe spurs an unconscious reaction about what’s important in life. Sadly, for many, this has become accumulating things that aren’t really important.

Imagine how powerful you could be as a person and a business provider if you developed an idea, service or product that truly improved someone’s quality of life in a lasting fashion.  You’ll feel a lot better at the end of the day and so will your clients.

I’ve never really understood that buyer’s rush. Most shopping for me (I do relish time in the grocery store and get that guy thing about power tools) is something I avoid or do under duress. So, I guess that makes me major weird.

Still, I was amazed at how much stuff I accumulated as I worked through the exhausting process of moving after 20 years at my home. For years during and after college, I delighted in coming and leaving residences with what would fit in my car. Granted, it was a 1986 SAAB hatchback. Those things has some serious carry load. So, moves included my bed and some other furniture. That’s not happening with my Saturn Ion, but I still smile at the idea of living that lean.    

What I learned from this experience is something I knew well a long time ago, but seemed to forget as I found myself with thousands of square feet of space (the barn alone was huge – with a 7000 sq. ft. roof – you tend to remember these figures when you pay to replace). The cost of possessions is often far greater than their purchase value. The weight of being tied to stuff is a heavy load. Letting it go is liberating.

Even if you’re a retailer, consider how what you sell can help with organization, efficiency, knowledge, opportunities or esteem. Even if your primary wares are products, adding a free or fee-based service to make the physical purchase more useful may set you apart in a big way from your competitors.  

Consumerism is conditioned

Economic policy in the United States has been driven by consumerism since the 1950s with the Eisenhower administration. Planned and perceived obsolescence continue today as tactics for growth. Government and advertising messages constantly spur citizens to buy. It’s no wonder so many view their personal achievements by comparing possessions.    

Vilifying legislators, lobbyist or corporations, however, is a cop-out. You have the power to vote out offenders (or run for office) as well as to choose who you buy from or how you invest. It’s not ‘their’ job to fix things – it’s ours as small business owners who represent all the net new job growth in this country.  

Reaching tomorrow’s consumers may be as simple as finding your bliss

I’m already seeing a shift away from accumulating physical status symbols toward purchases that offer knowledge and experiential opportunities.

Our new Horse Sense and Cents® audio titles and e-booklets are selling well. Horse training services have morphed from a primarily absentee owner situation to one that has most clients seeking involvement the process to learn too. This has included onsite visits to owners’ locations vs. trucking horses to the farm for training (which is a good thing since I left that to another last week). It’s exciting to discover demand that makes this business portable without the need to cover the overhead of a substantial facility.   

Our youth are being raised with positive reinforcement, a focus on finding oneself, a social consciousness that is unprecedented and an educational structure (where parents are now permitted to manipulate grades and accountability) that’s failing to instill the importance of responsibility. Those coming into the workforce will likely be ill-equipped to face the demands of traditional professional salaried jobs. Plus, with making a meaningful difference as a world-contributor a higher priority, most youth will be loath to ride the treadmill that past consumerism-driven generations have embraced for more than half a century.    

Smart money is on the entrepreneurs who figure out a way to offer value to clients seeking leaner living and satisfying investments. That doesn’t mean lowering (or low-balling) prices. What it does mean, though, is it’s time to start thinking about how you can expand or amend what you offer to appeal to customers less interested in showing off their status and more interested in feeding their mind and quality of life – and giving back to others.

Be real to gain small business marketing credibility

Selling isn’t just about creating an appealing image anymore (if it ever was). Consumers value honesty over slick. As the world continues to get smaller, buyers want to like – and feel like they know – the people behind the companies they choose to support. Being extremely passionate about what you offer sells. Deliver as promised and clients will tell others.    

For some fun, here’s a video of The Band performing Life is a Carnival. It’s a 1992 version, so many of the original band members from this ‘60s group are already dead or departed, but it’s still a fun song to listen to – with an interesting message on life.          

4 Responses to Life is a carnival
  1. Chef William
    May 11, 2013 | 12:25 am

    I agree wholeheartedly about the passion in what we chose to follow, sell and present to others. It shows

  2. Nanette Levin
    May 15, 2013 | 1:35 am

    Hi Chef William! Hope the weather up north wasn’t too much of a shock after your time down south. At least it looks like spring is here now (although we did have a very hard frost in this area last night). Yes, passion is important – and fun for all including business owners and customers when it truly shows.

  3. Amy Putkonen
    May 20, 2013 | 12:23 am

    I love this. Yes. So many are cutting out the stuff. Perhaps it is because I am in that space of letting go, but I don’t think it is entirely just me and you. I think that there is a trend to extract ourselves from the materialistic to the more meaningful. I always enjoy reading your posts. You remind me of what is right in the world.

  4. Nanette Levin
    May 20, 2013 | 3:24 am

    Thanks for stopping in, reading and commenting, Amy. You make an interesting point about ‘our’ generation – not the primary one I was alluding to in this post – also starting to rethink the wisdom of ‘keeping up with the Jones”. Smart small business owners will also recognize the huge opportunities available by appealing to the younger generations coming forth, not to mention the more active and engaged retired population (purported to possess 70% of the money in the US) in a style, language, approach and offering that appeals to them on their terms. Reach isn’t so much about investing dollars anymore (the 1% ROI deemed a successful direct mail campaign achievement in the past), but more about connecting with people in a personal and meaningful way. It will be curious to see how this all plays out in the next ten years or so.

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