What’s the Point?

Creating communications that Inform, Persuade, Remind, or Connect.

A few years ago, I was excitedly approached by a close friend of mine, who is a well-known celebrity chef, Chef Dee, wanting me to look over a flyer she put together for her business. I could see the pride all over of her face. I looked down at the flyer and evaluated its content. There was a photo of a decadent seafood meal, a phone number and email, and the logo with the slogan featured in small text underneath. She soon asked, “What do you think?” I looked at her and stated with a slight expression of confusion and responded, “What’s the point?”. A bit harsh? Maybe but I was genuinely confused as to whether she was trying to sell this particular dish, or promote an upcoming event, or was just providing information about her business. It is a simple question that all small business owners must ask themselves when deciding to design their own marketing materials. Large organizations or well-funded start-ups often have the resource advantage to hire or contract trained marketing professionals who will inform on strategy and buyer psychology and behaviors. Many entrepreneurs and small business owners, however, do not have the funds to hire trained marketers so they must act as designer and marketing director at times.

One of the basic concepts for business owners should understand when
planning their marketing design is to identify at least 1 of 4 basic goals for their communication. The intended marketing communication or message should intend to inform, remind, persuade, and/or connect. If Chef Dee’s flyer was intended to inform readers of her service offerings, she might have considered listing her services and products including wedding catering, meal prep, private dinners, and her barbecue sauce line. If she wanted to inform about an upcoming event or special catering menu, she could include event details or menu pricing. When intending to inform a potential customer, it is important to know what you want them to know about the product, service, event, brand, owner, industry, etc. Once it is clear, what information they need to know and why they need to know it, marketing materials can provide a clear and concise message to the consumer.

If the design goal is to remind customers about the brand or product, there isn’t necessarily a need to use heavy selling tactics. These designs are geared towards individuals and businesses already familiar with the brand or products. Chef Dee might include a collage of photos featuring her and some of the well-known, well-liked celebrities she has worked with. While all her existing clients are familiar to some level or another about her accolades, seeing a reminder that she has worked with their favorite rappers and athletes put her back in to their minds or could encourage them to share the photos, posts, flyers, or ads with others who are not as familiar with her. The idea is that by reminding her existing clients  about her famous clients she can bring in new business and repeat business without explicitly attempting to sell her products or services.

One of the common goals for many small business marketing materials is to persuade the audience. Persuading isn’t limited to trying to convince consumers to buy something but overall to convince the person to do what you want them to do because it is in their best interest or benefits them. The mutually beneficial goal may be convincing consumers to attend a job fair, listen to a foreign language learning podcast, join the neighborhood watch, or purchase a reliable car. Chef Dee could design a flyer to persuade her followers and clients to join her in a food giveaway showing photos of past events and entering those who attend, in a raffle for a free private dinner for 4. Who doesn’t love free food?

Sometimes business owners simply want to connect to their current and potential clients. Connecting has becoming easier than ever with the wide variety of digital channels used for connecting, sharing information, networking, and relationship building. Many small business retailers have begun including small take-away cards in their shipping orders, thanking the client for their businesses and providing social media and contact information for sharing their feedback, asking questions, and staying up to date with brand updates and sales. Chef Dee might add a QR code on her flyer allowing those who scan it can be linked directly to her Instagram page. Through this connection her followers can get information about upcoming specials, see video testimonials from her celebrity clients, or even participate in her story surveys requesting ideas for specific dishes and fun ingredients to try.

Marketing communication and designs comes in many forms for flyers to social media post to online blog post. But it is important when planning out how to get the desired message out that it is also clear what is hoping to be achieved and why. Small business marketing success depends on the question: What’s the point?

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