Today: “But we put up a sign…”

 > The Situation:
It happens all the time. And it hurts. I’m talking about clients (and seminar participants) who are disappointed that something hasn’t worked—when their low-key approach almost guaranteed that it wouldn’t. This came up (again) at a workshop the other day with a group of business owners. These really smart, well intentioned people were complaining about how hard it is to attract and retain talented staff. We were meeting at a small restaurant owned by a member of the group. At one point this person stood up. Pointed around the room. And said: “Look. We’ve had these notices up for months, and we haven’t had a single bite.” He was pointing at four little notices, in black and white text, on ordinary photocopy paper, that we could barely see, taped to the windows. I was (almost) stunned.

 > The Idea:
I wasn’t totally stunned because in my work, this scenario is all too common. Key point: If you wanna let customers know that you’re looking for staff, then scrap the scraps of paper—and go big or go home.  (This, by the way, is exactly what I suggested to Subway Restaurant franchisees, when I spoke at two of their conferences a few months ago. I suggested that they erect a life size photo of a mom in their entry area, with text that reads, “If you want to be there for your kids before and after school—why not be here with us at lunch time?”) I don’t know if anyone took my advice, but you get the idea. (Actually two ideas: A highly targeted and compelling recruitment message. And a huge presentation that “can not” be missed.)

 > The Risk:

Think of a meter when you’re promoting something. At one end of the scale is Comatose. Then Passive. Then Active. Then Aggressive. If your message and presentation are at the Passive end, you’re in danger. Example: An optometrist I worked with told me they wished that sales of contact lenses were higher. I said I didn’t know they sold contacts. “But we’ve got a sign in our display window,” he protested. We walked out and looked at it. The sign was a vertical ribbon, not more than three inches wide and about three feet long that said, “contact lens specialists.” Who knew!

 > The Reward:

Move to the aggressive end of the scale, and you will get results.

 > The Call to Action:

If you’re making a poster, make it big. If you’re placing an ad, make it dominate. If you’re adding a promotional message to your email signature, put it at the top of the signature, not at the bottom. If you’re conducting an email campaign, make sure the subject line is a grabber, or your email won’t get opened. If you want customers do know for certain that you’re holding an event, phone them. In other words. (Please) don’t fool around!

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