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Resonance In Small Business Marketing

Why do some marketing campaigns fail dismally while other marketing campaigns turn into spectacular successes? Successful marketing campaigns resonate with the target population. They strike a cord with people and generate sales.

What is resonance? Consider pushing a child on a swing. Everyone knows how to do this. You push the swing. It goes forward a bit, but not much. Then, the swing stops and begins moving back toward you. When the swing isn't moving back toward you anymore, you push again. The swing moves a bit faster and farther. You time your pushes to be effective and to mesh with the natural movement of the swing. This maximizes the energy transfer to the swing.

No one tries to push at the swing when the swing is moving fastest backward toward them. This would only jar the child and slow down the swing. Rather than putting more energy into the swing, you'd be taking energy out.

Entire bridges of steel and concrete have been set into swing-like motion, until they collapsed, by modest winds which happened to be gusting at the particular resonance frequency of the bridge.

The same is true of marketing. Some things just strike a cord and a relatively modest input has a spectacular result. The success of the Harry Potter book series with over 100 million copies sold comes to mind.

Unfortunately, finding marketing resonance isn't nearly as easy as pushing a swing. No one can tell you how to have a major marketing success. But, a few factors seem clear.

First, you must relate to your target market. Identifying your market is crucial to any marketing. Not everyone is your potential customer. Know who your customers are and learn to relate to them. Or, choose a business which has customers you relate to naturally.

Part of Harry Potter's appeal is no doubt that children enjoy the thought of waking up and discovering that they are wizards with exceptional powers. At heart, we all want to be wizards.

Some marketers marketing to adults try to convey the message that the product being marketed will magically turn the prospect into a wizard of sorts. Usually, it won't. And, we don't believe we will be magically wizard-ized. And, if the message is too wizard-focused, we tend to be skeptical of the message and disregard it as hype to sell a product.

If fact, adults tend to be skeptical. We see the silliness behind many things. Scott Adams Dilbert cartoon capitalizes on this. Dilbert resonates with adults, especially people working in business. According to Inc. Magazine, Inc. 500 CEO's are as likely to get their business philosophy from Dilbert as from anyone else.

Second, it's best if your potential customers remember your marketing message. Consumers are bombarded with advertising and public relations every day. Most of it goes in one ear and out the other. What do we remember? What don't we remember?

We remember what is meaningful to us. And, we remember what is funny or unusual. Consider the success of the AFLEC Duck. The AFLEC Duck is funny. When people sit down to watch a commercial, you know someone is marketing effectively. Humor sells. We like to laugh.

A bright friend of mine recently began improving his memory. When he said that he could memorize a deck of playing cards in any order, I was skeptical. When he said I could do the same, I was more skeptical. When I shuffled a deck of cards, read the order to him, and he remembered the sequence in order, I was amazed.

He explained that creativity, association, and visualization were the keys to remembering things. To remember things in order, he began with what he called a "peg list." Items would be pegged to the list and you would then know the absolute order of the things.

Consider the simple peg list: 1) tree (because a tree has one trunk), 2) light switch (two positions) 3) stool (three legs), 4) car (four tires), 5) glove, 6) gun (6 chambers in a revolver), 7) dice (lucky number), 8) eight is the skate, 9) cat (nine lives), 10) bowling alley (I forget why), 11) goal post, and 12) eggs.

If you wanted to remember twelve animals in sequence, for example, you would visually associate them to the list. Suppose the list you wanted to remember was: dog, mouse, hippopotamus, monkey, bee, elephant, bird, deer, kangaroo, snake, duck, and ant.

You could imagine the dog barking at and trying to jump up the tree. Then imagine going over to turn on the light switch, but you see a mouse sitting there. As it runs away, the mouse's tail flicks on the light switch. You go over to sit on the stool, but a big hippopotamus is sitting on the stool, and you hear the stool legs start to creak. You go to get in your car, but a monkey is sitting in the passenger side and drives your car away as it looks out the window and smiles at you. You start to put your glove on, but pull your hand out quickly and in pain as it was bitten by something. A bee flies out of your glove.

You go on Safari and shoot an elephant when it charges you. You see a bunch of birds playing dice, craps. You see a deer by the side of a frozen lake. The deer sits down and struggles to put ice skates on its hooves. Then it goes skating on the lake. You see a cat crawl into the pouch of the kangaroo. Then the kangaroo meows at you and hops away. You go bowling, but when you look down at the pins, you see a snake slithering among the bowling pins. You see a duck run up and kick a football through a goal post. You crack open an egg, but it is dry and a bunch of ants run out.

After creating such an association, if I asked you to repeat the list, you could. If I asked you what animal was number four on the list, you would picture the monkey in the car. By making the arbitrary list visual, you can remember it.

Surprisingly, the same concept can be extended to remembering playing cards. First, you create an association between each playing card and something more visual. Then, you use a peg list as above. Your peg lists can be fifty or a hundred items or more allowing you to remember ultra-long lists. The marketing lesson is that even the mundane can be made memorable. And, making things memorable can be planned.

Before throwing lots of money into a marketing campaign, ask yourself if your target market will tend to remember your message. Is your message presented in a way that it is worth remembering or hard to forget? If not, you're pushing the swing as it moves rapidly toward you. The money and energy you put into your marketing effort will dissipate and have little effect if your message isn't remembered. Try to find a message that resonates with your target market.

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