Like every other freshman in my college, I was required to take a public speaking class. Our professor, Dr. Meisel, drummed into our heads the importance of creating an attention-getting device for every talk we gave.
Applied to public speaking, an attention-getting device could be an enticing statistic or story, a visual aid or audience participation exercise.
Equally valuable, has been applying this concept to business promotion. After all, every entrepreneur needs to get the attention of would-be clients and customers before any marketing can commence.
Sometimes, creating an attention-getting device is a simple matter of being slightly out-of-step with the crowd like the tax accountant who found his business soaring after he renamed himself Loophole Louie.
Timmons often sees people on the freeway jotting down her phone number as she passes by in her cat mobile…
How can you draw more than a passing glance from prospective buyers? Here are some proven ways to get people to come closer.
1. Create curiosity that leads to a discussion of what you have to offer.
Tricia Timmons, who runs a cat boarding service, constantly came up with unique ways to identify cat owners who might use her services.
For starters, she never leaves the house without wearing cat earrings. Whenever someone comments on her unusual jewelry, she asks, “Oh, do you have a cat?” If they do, it’s a perfect opportunity to mention her service and offer them her brochure.
Of course, her brochure includes a photograph of Timmons with a cat perched on her shoulder. When this repeatedly proved a successful way of generating business, she decided to be bolder in attracting cat owners.
Not only did she have her business name and number painted on her van, she had cat paw prints painted on the hood and roof of the vehicle. Timmons often sees people on the freeway jotting down her phone number as she passes by in her cat mobile.
Marketing is easier when someone asks you about your business, so find a way to bring people to you with a question on their mind. It will provide a perfect opening for you to talk about what you are offering.
2. Look different from others with similar businesses.
Spending the time to come up with a unique look can be a powerful attention-getter.
For several years, Linda Gannon successfully sold her handmade wreaths, potpourris and herbal concoctions at an annual herb fair in her Madison, Wisconsin hometown. Gannon, who has a whimsical approach to business and life, realized that all the other exhibits relied heavily on a country look, so she decided to set herself apart.
Since Gannon loves fairies and magic, she decided to call herself the Fairie Queene and created an appropriate costume to wear at the fair. Her exhibit space was covered in black velvet with table displays on different levels. Lovely Celtic music played in the background.
Not only did her sales soar when she set herself apart, she reported that in her second year of attending, she noticed people would come in the door, look for her display, and visit her booth first.
While a medieval costume may not be your style, another theme carried out to the fullest might be ideal for you—and add fun to marketing efforts.
3. Notice what you notice
For me, that would be rather ordinary businesses doing things in a not-at-all ordinary way. During the years I lived in Minneapolis, I saw a tiny little business grow bigger through the brilliant use of attention-getting devices coupled with extraordinary service.
While the Yellow Pages were full of look-alike ads for computer repairmen, Robert Stephens proclaimed his business, the Geek Squad, was making the world safe for technology.
Stephens founded the Geek Squad in 1994 at age 24, with $200 in his pocket, a bicycle and a nerdy white-shirt-black-clip-on-tie outfit.
He had the idea that pulling up on his bike dressed like a geek would inspire a weird confidence in his one-man computer fix-it business among people who were freaking out over their latest crash.
As the business grew, they added a fleet of distinctive cars, detective inspired badges and a calming presence.
“In the absence of capital,” Stephens points out, “creativity flourishes.”
Whatever your style and whatever your business, keep the attention-getting device in mind. Experiment until you find the ones that help you stand out.
Barbara J. Winter is a gypsy teacher who has taught thousands of adult learners throughout the US, Canada and Great Britain. She considers classrooms to be her natural habitat.