I’ve had this post written in my head for a few months, actually, but only yesterday was reminded exactly why I did. It is about the little things in marketing and why they matter. Let me give you a few examples.
Over the last several months, I have gotten bit by the Bikram Yoga bug and now practice it at least 3x/week. For those who don’t know, this is a type of hot yoga and is a series of 26 poses done in a room heated to 105 degrees with roughly 45% humidity (though when it is humid outside, the room gets a whole lot more humid than that). The whole workout takes 90 minutes. You can imagine the intensity of this brand of yoga in such an extreme climate; it isn’t for the faint of heart, but I believe it is supremely good for you.
I say “brand” of yoga because it is truly a brand. Bikram (who is an actual person) has branded and patented the exact series of 26 poses. He then basically licenses out his exact brand of yoga to practitioners and teachers, who then pass on their knowledge to people like me. So basically, whether you’re practicing this type of yoga in Chicago, New York, Europe or India, the series of poses and duration of exercise is the exact same.
I’ve practiced so far only in New York and Chicago. But, they are exactly the same, and the studios themselves are pretty much exactly the same. You couldn’t tell a difference if you didn’t know better. The only differences or exceptions you’ll find are the teacher’s and their personalities. Even still, this is not a huge differentiator at all – you’re still doing the same yoga in the same room in the same type of studio anywhere.
Enter the little things.
In the more cosmopolitan cities, there are multiple studio locations to choose from to do this type of yoga. My studio does something very interesting. They offer frozen popsicles at the conclusion of class.
Big deal, right? Well…yes. After you’ve worked off five pounds or more and are worn out from 90 minutes of profuse sweating, water or Gatorade sometimes isn’t all that refreshing. But a popsicle is. Everyone likes popsicles. Plus, they’re free.
Yesterday, I was watching every student after class run over to the popsicle bowl to scarf them down. It is a tiny thing, but it works, and it helps to differentiate this particular studio from others. In an industry that is so much about being the same, from the postures to the teachers to what the studio looks like to the temperature, this business found a little thing that costs them next to nothing, which is free for customers, and makes them different.
It is a marketing tactic. It is a little thing. And is an example of why the little things in marketing matter. I remember the studio because of this, and I will cite the popsicles when someone asks me what makes the studio different.
I will give you two other examples:
1) My marketing team throws industry parties and client events all the time. At one of our yearly events during the largest trade show of the year, we take over a New York City nightclub. Not just any nightclub, a very swanky, very high-end place. We are not the only company to do this type of event during this particular trade show every year. But we are the only ones serving White Castle or McDonald’s cheeseburgers at midnight. After three hours of partying, our partygoers get hungry. They get hungry for something greasy. They don’t care about getting a high-end piece of tuna tartare; that doesn’t exactly satisfy. So we bring in hundreds of sliders, and they go like hot cakes. Another hour later at the end of the event, we hand out Advil packs to combat the inevitable hangover the next day. Will the sliders and pain relievers result in new business or clients? Probably not at that moment. Did they cost us a whole lot of money? No. Did they help make our event more memorable than anyone else’s? Yes. Did the press coverage of the event mention these unique little extras? Yes, they sure did. Now, year after year, people always know there will be extra little touches when they are associated with our events and they yearn to come back to them; which does provide value to our business in the long run, not to mention solidifies partnerships.
2) I recently stayed at a hotel in Chicago with my wife and two dogs. We were there for six days after moving from New York to Chicago, while our belongings were making their way via truck. There are tons of hotels in the neighborhood we stayed in, and tons of pet-friendly hotels. Most of the nicer hotels are also priced the same. So we chose one quite randomly. Upon check-in, we were told that the hotel offers a free happy hour every single night. OK, big deal we thought. Well, that very night we wanted a drink or two, and so we visited the happy hour. They had a FULL open bar, and tons of food. Enough, actually, for a meal. Antipasto, cheese platters, vegetables, sliced meats, and lots more. Was this spread expensive for the hotel? Well, it wasn’t cheap, but it likely didn’t cost them a lot in the grand scheme of running a hotel. Did the little things in marketing go a long way for me? Absolutely. When people ask me where we stayed during that transition week, the first thing I mention was the awesome free happy hour and how I would stay at the hotel just for that. Oh, they also put out free breakfast each morning on every floor.
The little things in marketing matter.
I have countless other examples, too. My favorite is the hand-written thank you note. Such a small thing but if you get a note from a partner or vendor, you remember it and it impacts you because people don’t write notes any more!
So in your business, the next time you are struggling to differentiate yourself or are confused by how you can make yourself stand out, remember to focus on the little things in marketing. The little things in marketing matter. They make a difference, and yet don’t cost much. Ironically, they are often the most memorable.