Thursday, October 30, 2008

Proselytes: Creating "Evangelists" for Your Company

So, we're ready to delve into proselytization. But first, what does that mean? After looking through several definitions, I decided that the best one I could find was just what Guy Kawasaki used: "the process of converting others to your belief, doctrine, or cause." Most likely, you have heard the term proselyte or proselytize connected with religion. While it is most commonly used in conjunction with religion, it is certainly a word that may be used in other circles. In our case, we're going to apply it to creative marketing.

"Proselytization, or evangelism, represents the core of branding for startups in today's highly competitive world, in which information is free, ubiquitous, and instantaneous. The art of branding requires creating something contagious that infects people with enthusiasm, making it easy for them to try it, asking them for help in spreading the word, and building a community around it." Guy Kawasaki

How do you apply this to shaved ice, snow cones, and cotton candy? It's not hard when you start thinking creatively. Guy goes on to list some product characteristics which will help generate the positive "buzz" that you want for your business.

1. Cool. Your product/company needs to look appealing.
2. Effective. Your product has to produce positive results. In our has to look good and taste good!
3. Distinctive. Your product has to be different and unique from that of your competitors. Signature flavors, unique combinations, different presentation...something creative.

There are more characteristics that he lists, but these three are the easiest and what I feel the most important ones that apply to concessionaires. These three characteristics are, I think, directly related to your products. There are several articles in the blog that touch upon using quality ingredients, excellent equipment, and unsurpassed customer service. I would encourage you to go back through some of the older articles and re-read some of those posts.

We have also touched upon ways to introduce your company to potential customers. Free Day is one of the best ways that we have found to create the 'evangelists' we're discussing now. Community involvement is another critical way to grow your business. Schedule fundraiser nights at your stand for Little League Baseball or Softball teams, a church youth group, Boys and Girls Club, the list is endless. This only leads to bringing in more and more people to your location, which ultimately will yield routine customers...some of whom will become the best advertising and referral tools your business will ever have.

In the past, we discussed the concept of rewarding those loyal customers through the use of loyalty cards. This is something that every customer enjoys. The idea of getting something for FREE is always appealing!

During your off season, I would encourage you to think about your products and what you can do to make them unique and appealing. Also think about strategies to increase the public's awareness of your business. Creative work in these areas of your business will yield long term customers and boost profits for your company. It's well worth the time invested!

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