Category Archives for "Small Business Marketing Tips"


Use What You Have…and Charge More For It – or – “Too Hot For Tots”

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While doing some research for a client, I ran across an article about the origin of Tater Tots. I found a couple of interesting lessons for entrepreneurs. So…you’re getting a two-for-one today (toofer’ as Southerners would say) – Use what you have…and Charge more for it!

Marketing Advice From Tater Tots

Part 1: Use What You Already Have


“Tater Tots were created in 1953 when Ore-Ida founders F. Nephi Grigg and Golden Grigg were trying to figure out what to do with leftover slivers of cut-up potatoes. They chopped up the slivers, added flour and seasoning, then pushed the mash through holes and sliced off pieces of the extruded mixture. The product was first offered in stores in 1956.”

Most businesses are sitting on assets that could be bringing in millions. Day-to-day operations preoccupy entrepreneurs so that they can’t see assets that are hiding in plain sight. Sometimes it’s good to have a fresh set of eyes look at your situation to find out what you aren’t seeing.

This reminds me of another client who was adamant about us creating a new customer campaign. They were willing to spend as much as $4,000 per month because they were so set on getting new customers in their door.

When we initially spoke, they said sales were stagnant and they needed to reinvigorate things with an influx of new business. However, after doing an assessment, (asking questions) we identified that they were doing a horrible job at staying in touch with their past/current clients. We proposed a customer reactivation campaign. They were so focused on the idea of getting new customers, that they were missing this huge revenue opportunity right under their noses.

They really fought us on the reactivation campaign … but one of the partners convinced the others to ‘give us a shot’. Thankfully so! We ran a campaign that cost them a little over $1,000 and brought in $88,000 in revenue in less than a month.

Moral of the story:

Always look closely for the assets hidden in your business.

Part 2: Price (value) Perception Is Everything

More from the Wikipedia article:

“Originally, the product was very inexpensive. According to advertising lectures at Iowa State University, people did not buy it at first because there was no perceived value. When the price was raised, people began buying it. Today, Americans consume approximately 70 million pounds of Tater Tots per year.”

I’m not a pricing expert, but I am an expert at getting maximum dollars from client interaction by providing maximum VALUE.

Usually, one of the first pieces of advice I provide my clients is: triple your prices.

I do this somewhat for the shock value, but it’s also to get them thinking outside of the box they may have created for their business. Price elasticity is one of the most overlooked “strategies” in business. Most entrepreneurs aren’t charging nearly enough for the value they’re providing for their clients.

Anyway, back to the Tater Tots… Of course, I wasn’t there, but I’m assuming these new ‘Tater Tots’ were priced as low as they were based on the assumption that – as leftovers of another product – they had no intrinsic value. Low cost to produce means a low sales price, right?


Always remember to distinguish between value and costs as you establish prices for your goods and services…And communicate that to your clients.

Here are a few tips on pricing that you can learn from Tater Tots:

  1. People don’t value that which is free (or sold at a price which is perceived as “too cheap”). Price accordingly if you want to do good business. Avoid pricing products and services based solely on what it costs you.

    If you knew how much it cost to produce a ‘tall latte’ … you’d probably poop your pants at the markup. That [famous West Coast coffee chain] doesn’t price their menu items based solely on the costs of the product.

  2. Price your goods and services based on a value proposition. People spend money on the things that are important to them. [that coffee company] prices their beverages and snacks based on the perceived value that a ‘tall latte’ offers the drinker.
  3. For entrepreneurs who may be struggling: Don’t set your prices based on what you assume others can afford, and especially not based on what you think you yourself can afford.

Another example: Recyclable Paper. Paper that you put in the recycle bin has no intrinsic value, right? Wrong! Producing paper towels and bathroom tissue from that discarded paper is a big business.

You’ll find that the people whom you charge little-to-nothing will cost you time and money in (lost opportunities, headache, etc.) And, on the opposite side of the coin, when you give people a solid perception of value, they will pay for it. And you’ll have a more profitable business.

Take Aways/Action Items:

Take away #1: Use what you have

Are there any underutilized assets/resources in your company that you may be overlooking?

Some ideas to consider are:

Human resources – are you getting 100% from each employee/team member? I remember a business owner who would “lend out” his receptionist when things got slow.

Space – Do you have warehouse space that is sitting idle? You could rent that space out to other companies.

Technology – is there another business owner who could utilize software that you own but aren’t using? Could you rent out use of software (i.e. estimating software, etc.) to someone who can’t afford to buy it themselves? (Check licensing agreements before doing this)

Past customers/unsold customers – Are you staying tin touch with past clients or reaching back out to clients who didn’t buy?

Take away #2: Understand price elasticity and how it applies to your business.

Never, never, EVER price based on industry norms –unless you want to be “norm(al)” – remember, [that Seattle coffee company] charges five bucks for what used to cost $.75.

Never, never, ever price based on what YOU can afford — don’t allow your financial situation to dictate the value of your services.

How can you ask for more by delivering more value?

Other packages/bundles you can create to increase purchase prices?

Are there other service offerings you can bring into your offering that delivers more value, but doesn’t cost you more money?

Antonio Thornton is an author, speaker and business strategist with Money Mouth Marketing, a results based marketing firm. Money Mouth Marketing is the only firm in Georgia who guarantees a minimum 3x ROI for it’s clients. For more information, visit

Poor Publix

Deer Oh Deer

I’ve been following the recent ad war between Walmart and Publix.

I feel Publix will lose.

Apparently some genius in the Publix marketing department decided to create an ad campaign that pits Publix head to head with Walmart.

I can only imagine how that meeting must have gone,

Idea guy: “Hey guys, let’s take on Walmart!”

Marketing team: “Yeah, that’s a great idea.”

Apparently, Publix’s stance is that Walmart does not always have the lowest price. Their argument is that with their weekly offers and BOGO (buy one get one free) sales, Publix has lower prices on select items – which is ‘technically’ true.

However, Walmart campaigns are based on the fact that they DO have lower prices – all the time – and that you are free to shop the way you want to shop. One billboard boasts: “Shop your list not theirs.”

I feel Publix is fighting the wrong fight… They should really stay in their lane and campaign on the things they do best – superior customer service – their USP, (Unique Selling Proposition)

Every successful company has, or should have a USP. A unique quality that differentiates them from their competition. I remember when the Publix slogan was: Publix, where shopping is a pleasure.

This is a unique selling proposition. And, one that Walmart can’t beat. Everyone knows that shopping at Walmart is a moderate to horrible experience – misplaced items, constant musical isles so you can’t find what you’re looking for. And, don’t get me started on the checkout lines. You’d better bring a crossword puzzle or pull up Facebook on your smart phone to keep yourself busy for a half hour. This is not the experience at Publix.

Also, Publix is very big on community…whereas Walmart is constantly playing catch up and defending themselves.

These are the points Publix should be campaigning on, a battle that they can actually win.

In my industry, competing on price has been dubbed “the race to the bottom”. How low can you price your products and still stay in business. This is a horrible, horrible selling proposition and is exactly what Publix is doing.

Here are a couple of takeaways for your business:

1. Never, never, never, ever compete on price. You are only devaluing your services. There will always be someone who’s more ‘broke’ than you; willing to make less money, or, like in Walmart’s case, simply bigger than you, that will sell the same thing for less than you can afford to.

2. If you’re going to compete, compete on VALUE. How much more value can you bring to the table then your competition?

3. Your value should define your company’s USP. The thing that you do better than any other person in your industry. Once you to find your USP, set the stake in the ground and stick to your guns – always honor yourself and your company by communicating and promoting your USP.

Personally, I think you have got to be out of your mind to take on Walmart head to head – especially on price. There’s a much, much easier way.

Dear, Oh Deer – Know Your Customers’ Language

Deer Oh Deer
I’m a vegan and I’m not necessarily fond of hunting…but I AM a marketer…and as such, I jump at the opportunity to share brilliant marketing when I see it. This is a perfect example of knowing your customer and speaking their language. Notice anything different about these deep freezers?


They display their deep freezer sizes by how many deer you can fit into the freezer. You won’t see this at Home Depot or Sears.

I’m sure this company knows that their average deer hunter customer has no idea how to convert quarts to gallons to cubic feet, etc…. I can imagine the scene:

Store clerk: “yes sir, how may I help you?”

Hunter:  “yes, I’d like to buy a freezer for my deers”

Clark: “what size are you looking for?”

Hunter: “what size have you got?”

Clerk: “well, we have a 5 cu ft, a 10 cu ft and a 20 cu ft”

Hunter: [blank stare]

Clerk: “Uh hello?”

Hunter: “Uuuh, how many deer will they hold?”

You can bet this was the common theme in this store…then, the store manager, in a stroke of pure genius, decided to “speak his customer’s language” by selling these freezers in terms of how many deer they store — I love it.

This reminds me of a company named Big Ass Fans.

Can you guess what they sell?

Originally, the name of the company was HVLS Fan Company – and they provided high volume/low speed (HVLS) vertical fans – BORING!  The idea came when they had clients in the warehouse to demo their fans…The common response was, “Wow, that’s a big ass fan!”

The rest is history.

Now, they are one of the top companies in their industry…in the entire country. Mainly because of their outrageous name, but it still boils down to very smart marketing and speaking their customer’s language.

Practical Marketing Tips and Application

You don’t have to go changing your name to something as outrageous as Big Ass Fans, but the lesson here to consider is: Are you speaking in terms of your customers thought process and language? avoid using a lot of technical, and a street-based jargon. Most people don’t think in this way. The initial iPod marketing was a great example of speaking in terms of their customers thinking. Instead of saying “this device has a 4 GB hard drive capacity,” they said, “You can store up to 10,000 songs.”

Do you find your customers asking for a specific thing, in a specific way — even though the name of the product or service is something completely different? Consider re-framing what you sell in the terms your customers speak in.

Sometimes you may be too close to your business to see it as a potential customer would. Allow Money Mouth Marketing to help you tap into your customer’s language – Learn More >>>



Small Business Marketing Tip #421 – Think Your Product Is For Everyone?

Deer Oh Deer

If you’re trying to sell to everyone, you’ll find yourself selling to NOone.

The other day, I was talking with a woman who claimed that, her product is for everybody. In her own words, “Everybody needs this product…”

News Flash: NO product is for everybody.

Her comment was the result of having been ‘sold’ on the validity of her product. (FYI – if you haven’t already guessed, she was in network marketing)

Nothing against network marketing, but most people think that traditional marketing rules don’t apply.

They don’t.

Her product was a health product that claimed to cure everything from stress to cancer.

Sounds great but here’s the thing: Everyone isn’t interested in living a healthy lifestyle. Don’t believe me?? Just look around.

The people who MIGHT be interested in her product are the people who are interested in a healthy lifestyle…specifically, people who may be dealing the ailments her product claims to cure or want to prevent these ailments.

In fact, if you wanted to get even more specific, it would be people who are interested in taking daily supplements to improve their health.

My point?

Unless you have a virtually unlimited marketing budget, you have to be diligent in finding the people who want what you have…no one else!

Because not matter how great your marketing is, you will NOT sell to the people who don’t want your stuff.

I’m a vegetarian…a strict vegetarian. So no matter how great the marketing is for your hotdogs…I’ll never buy them from you. I’d have to be close to death before buying your hotdogs…and probably then I’d just find some other alternative.

So, running your ad in Veg Atlanta magazine would be a “bad” idea.

Now this may seem like an ‘extreme’ example, but it is what a lot of business owners do – indirectly. Just by thinking ‘everyone needs your product’ you’re trying to sell to people who might not be interested in your stuff.

When you narrow your marketing efforts to only your target market, you’re doing two powerful things for yourself that will have an exponential impact on your business.

1) Your marketing costs go DOWN. When you focus on a niche market, you can access them faster, easier and more cost effectively.

2) When you’re marketing to the right audience your conversions go UP. Since you’re only speaking to people who want your stuff, there’s an exponentially higher chance of them actually buying from you.

So, you end up spending LESS and selling MORE…. just by focusing your efforts on the people who matter – the people who WANT your stuff.

Money Mouth Marketing Lesson:

Ask yourself, “who REALLY wants what you have to sell…?”

Identify them, and sell ONLY to them.

I Love You

Deer Oh Deer

One of the reasons I think I’m so successful at small business marketing is because I love the work I’m doing, I love the products and services I’m selling, and most of all I love my clients…well, most if them :-)

The reason why this is so important in good marketing is because when you really love the people you’re working with, and the products you’re ’selling’, it’s no longer is selling…it’s loving.

Think about someone you love…your mother, your dad, your spouse, etc… If you knew about something that would truly change their lives, would you tell them about it? Would you feel like you we’re selling them?


You’d know that you were doing them a service by guiding them towards something that would help them.

It’s the same for your business…Especially when you’re marketing your business. You need to fall in love with your clients. Care for them and protect them, just as you would a loved one. And in caring for them, you guide them to doing the things that are good for them – doing business with you. Because you know that the competitor down the street isn’t going to love them like you do. Their prices may be lower, they may have a few more bells and whistles, but they don’t love your clients – you do.

This come through in your marketing material, your communication with your clients and in the work you do. You’ll emit your love for them in everything you do.

And they’ll thank you for it…with their wallet.

Please, Just Throw My Bank Statements In The Trash…

Ya know…it irritates the crap out of me when people who are infinitely ‘less smart’ as you affect the way you do business or live your life. This is usually the case when these people call themselves ‘regulating’ something, like the government always does.

My email is constantly blocked because of the business I’m in – Marketing. My website address has the words money and marketing in it, so of course I’m a ’spammer’…

My emails get blocked REGARDLESS if my subscribers have requested my information. Who’s idea is this?!?

It’s like the Post Office just deciding that since Bank of America is talking about money in their letters and statements, they throw all BOA’s mail in the garbage before it reaches their customers.

The majority of the people running our government know nothing about running a business, yet they’re always telling us (business owners) how we can and cannot do business. Like the CAN-SPAM act. This is one of the most ridiculous pieces if ‘legislature’ I’ve ever seen. “Let’s tell spammers to put their home address in their emails so we can go arrest them…” – Whatever!

Anyway. I’m going to be posting the Money Mouth Moment Newsletter on the blog to help cut down on delivery problems. You’ll be able to access it at here

The moral of the story is: The only thing constant in this world is change. You have to be able to adapt in everything you do especially business. CAN-SPAN put some people out of business, but it made others millions. What are the areas in your business that may have changed that you should adapt to?

For those of you who have been having difficulty, I’ll put a short intro to the article in the email and paste a link to the full story…

Ouch! How to Outmarket Your Competition

Deer Oh Deer
In a daring attempt to face off with the #1 performance car on the market, Audi launches a national campaign with it’s new 2009 A4 on a billboard with the words, “Your Move BMW.”

So how does BMW respond?



This probably set Audi back a few million dollars… egg on their face and I’m sure one fired marketing exec.


Because there is no coming back from this.

In the game of chess, checkmate means “GAME OVER…You lose!”

BMW brilliantly ended the “game” for Audi….in this billboard war at least.

This is the same approach you should take in your market. Ending the game.

One of the ways I’ve ended the game with so-called competitors in the past was by calling them “normal’ or “regular”

I might say, “Regular computer companies do ____, while we do _____.”


When a customer asks, “Wow, I didn’t know you offered this type of service…” I’d respond with, “…Normal companies don’t do this.”

I never called a competitor’s name like Audi attempted to do…never had to. The customers saw the difference in the shear confidence in barely even recognizing other companies as ‘competition’.

In fact, in one ad, we use the phrase, “We don’t try to beat the competition, we ARE the competition!”

Boom, nail in coffin…game over.

How can you use “game-ending” language in your business?

Small Business Marketing Advice: Cream Of the Crap

Deer Oh Deer

Typically, I don’t use the misguided efforts of other people to make a point, because I (want to) believe that people are doing the best they can with what they have….but, if this is the “best” this” person has…then I REALLY question why they’re in business.

So, here’s a photo of a handwritten sign selling body cream. Saw this while driving past a local marketplace. There’s just so much to say…but I’ll stick with a couple of quick points that you can take away from this marketing lesson.

First off, the sign is handwritten. It costs about 50 – 75 cents (when you order 100) to have a professionally printed sign made. Just spend the money to look professional. Now, one could easily ask, “What if the person didn’t have $50 to order 100 signs…?” then I would question whether they actually have “the best cream around”. ESPECIALLY because it’s on a handwritten sign…and poorly done at that. My 6-year-old niece could have done a better job than this.

Secondly, the sign was very poorly placed. The only reason why I saw it is because I’m constantly look for things like this. Yes, I actually actively look for these street-side signs to see what they say. (Mainly because I built my computer company using these signs.) It’s in a place where one would have to park their car, get out, and take a photo of it using their iPhone just to get the number :-) If you’re going to use these type of signs, place them where people are most likely to see them – Stop signs, red lights, etc.

Thirdly, I decided to call the number…this is where it gets fun. They answer the phone “hello” – music blasting in the background.

Here’s the convo –

Them: “Hello?”

Me: “Is this where I get the cream?”

Them: “Um.. yeah”

Me: “Really?!?”

Them: “Yeah, hold on…”
[phone shuffles around] then someone else comes to the line

Them (person 2): “Hello?”

Me: “Is this where I get the cream?”

Them (person 2): “Yeah, we got the cream…”

Me: “Never mind…” [hang up]

So 3 marketing lessons here:
1) Spend the extra few CENTS to get a sign professionally made
2) If you’re going to use street-side signs, place them where people can actually see them
3) Do I really need to say BE PROFESSIONAL when you answer the phone?

Small Business Marketing Tip #112: Do An “Unlimited” Offer For A Quick Cash Infusion

If you need a quick influx of cash for your business , here’s a fun marketing tip you can do right now and see results in as little as 24-hours.

The few top-paying clients I’ve shared this with have reported some amazing results:

  • $4,700 in 24 hours.
  • $5,100 in 72 hours
  • $3,000 in 48 hours
  • $6,600 in 48 hours
  • $11,000 in 6 days

Think this type of cash infusion could help your business? Read on…

If your business can support it, try an “unlimited” service offering for a “too-good-to-be-true” price.

A few examples:
If you’re a massage therapist you can offer unlimited massages for a month. ($500)
If you’re a handyman, you can offer unlimited services (under a certain dollar amount) for a quarter ($1,000)
A barber, unlimited cuts for 3 months ($100)
Computer repair, unlimited service, ($500)

the prices I’ve included are just examples – You can choose whatever price works for your business, but the real benefit of this is having a price that’s what I call a “godfather” deal – one that your clients cannot refuse.

Here’s why this works:

1) This is an INCREDIBLE value for your clients and they’d be total morons to pass up on a deal like this…

2) NO ONE can get 30 massages or hair cuts in a month… In fact, you’d be hard pressed to find someone who could get 1 or 2 a week with everyone’s hectic schedule.

This is called “breakage”

People feel like they’re getting the value, but it’s up to THEM to use the service. And MOST don’t

So, you may be wondering 2 things at this point:

1) What if people actually DO use the unlimited service?

2) Isn’t it ripping people off if I sell this knowing people won’t use the full service?

Both legitimate concerns and I’ll address them here:

#1 – What if people actually use the service as much as possible…
In the unlikely event that someone actually does take you up on your unlimited offer, there are two things to consider… 1) If you are THAT concerned about this issue, you can create some ‘limits’ to the service offerings or limit what services people can actually utilize… this takes away from the value, but can still work.

The second thing to consider is – “So what?” So what if someone takes you up on the unlimited offer? It’s better to be doing something than nothing…it’s money you wouldn’t have had otherwise.

And one thing I know about business: is that business begets business. The busier you are, the more business you attract. For example: what do you think when you walk past an empty restaurant compared to one that has a waiting list? You probably think the one with no customers has bad food or service…. right?

Same thing with your business, just the fact that you have a ‘packed’ house, will attract more business.

A third consideration is that you can always upsell the people who are there to get other things that you aren’t including in the unlimited package.

And fourthly, this create a cash infusion. So if you’re behind on rent or need fast cash… this works wonders.

#2 – Are you ripping people off?

If you think you’re ripping people off, you need to close your business and open up a non-profit.

But seriously, think about it from this perspective: What do most people do with coupons and gift certificates? They stick them in a drawer “for later” and they forget about them until the day AFTER they expire…. right?

How many times have YOU done this?

Did you feel ripped off? No.

You were probably mad at YOURSELF for not using the coupon or certificate…

So, to address your concern…you are NOT ripping people off. You can’t be responsible for EVERY SINGLE person’s life.

Side notes:
You can do a variation of this with products…bundle a bunch of products that are just sitting on your self and get rid of them for CHEAP… they’re just taking up space and wasting your time and money… sell them until they’re gone…don’t restock them and instead of having them take up valuable shelf space, make them a “special order” product.

ONLY do this once or twice per year. If you do this too often, it will lose it’s value and people won’t take you up on the offer

As always, let me know you thoughts

Copywriting 101: The Glorious Benefits of Smoking

Copywriting 101 - The Glorious Benegits Of SmokingIf you’re selling something and finding that you aren’t getting the conversions you should be, maybe you’re concentrating too much on the features of your product and not enough on the benefits. When you sell the features you are selling the steak and not the sizzle. Good salespeople don’t sell products; they sell customers on the idea of what the product is going to do for them.

Take the tobacco industry for an example. Their products are cigarettes, and when they advertise them they are selling the benefits and not the features. The benefits of cigarettes are that they can portray the user as cool, rebellious, and rugged, “sexy”, sophisticated, etc.

Joe Camel has been charged with trying to get kids to think smoking is cool, with his sunglasses and the fact that he is a cartoon. You can see this in films of the sixties and seventies, the leading man always had a cigarette hanging out of his mouth. This was not by accident; product placement in film has been around for as long as there has been film.

Another “benefit” of cigarette smoking is that it lowers blood pressure and gives the brain a slight euphoria. If you are old enough to remember any of the advertisements from the seventies, they quite often showed folks relaxing while having a smoke.

If the tobacco companies would have concentrated on the “features” during the years when advertising for tobacco was more common, chances are there would be very few brands available today.

The features of cigarettes are that they smell bad, they contain fiberglass in the filters, and they contain tar and nicotine, they’re a sure way to die a slow, miserable death and they effectively screw up the environment. Not very appealing.

Would YOU buy that?

Of course not.

It’s the same for any product. It’s fine to describe a feature, but if you don’t tell the potential customer what the benefits of the feature are…and how it is going to affect their life, you may as well be reading to them out of the phone book.

Features are the nuts and bolts of a product, but benefits are what get the customer to buy.

Tell a non-smoker if he buys a pack of cigarettes he’ll be inhaling tar, his clothes will stink and he’ll slowly kill himself – he probably isn’t going to try them. But tell him he will fit in better, look cool and rugged and possibly get laid…then you’ve got a lifetime customer!

Focus on BENEFITS!