How many times have you heard this telephone automated attendant message? And did those words make you feel the exact opposite of the intent? If so, you realize the importance of ALL forms of messaging to your brand, and we suggest you keep reading this next installment of 10-minute branding.
10-Minute Branding Refresher: How do you build your brand 10 minutes at a time? You start small, and you simply begin. An excellent way to convince yourself to get going is to plan your ending. You can even set a timer. Then, be sure to bask in the success of your huge accomplishment of actually beginning and also appreciate the amount of work that got done. Then, repeat the process tomorrow. And the next day. And so on. You will be amazed at your branding progress . . . 10 minutes at a time.
Meaningful Content Matters
On one of the most common routes I drive, this very small country church has a changeable outdoor message board (such as the one shown below) with sufficient space for a meaningful thought to be communicated.
Over the years, I have looked forward to reading the new weekly message that almost always contained a mix of humor and serious, understated insight. Often, a basic piece of housekeeping information (such as the dates and times of special services) was included . . . and I suspect people paid a whole lot more attention because the content was carefully tucked inside an entertaining wrapper. I know for a fact that I have not been alone in becoming a fan of the sign, which I also saw reproduced in photos on social media by appreciative fans who shared my reaction.
Similarly, a local bar I pass almost as often has a sign that is used to make comments about current events, send regular patrons best wishes on special occasions, and sometimes even crack a joke or two. Like the church signage, this one also has a fan base and regular following who waits each week for the letters to change – enjoying the sensibility of the message that gets posted and perhaps even checking to see whether they got mentioned.
In each of these cases, the organization’s brand was defined, communicated, and publicized in a way that brought great visibility and recognition . . . while assuming a place at “the top of thought” of the audience. Furthermore, this brand building exercise cost nothing to execute and was probably accomplished in 10 minutes – five to develop the message and five more to change the lettering.
While not all small businesses have a sign to be used for this purpose, pretty much everyone has telephone voice mail that communicates a very basic, practical message; 90% of the time, this opportunity to get the attention of a patron is wasted.
While some offices do at least use out-of-office or wait-time messages to run canned ads (which can be effective), these notices are too often tuned out because the content is updated too infrequently.
I suggest learning a lesson from the master marketers in charge of the outdoor signs mentioned above by adopting their practices of wrapping their practical content in a message that informs, entertains, and communicates (either directly or indirectly) some basic understanding of your brand, your style, and your sensibility. In doing so, you want to establish a regular posting schedule and feature information people want to hear. (I have on occasions gone out of my way to drive past these signs just because I wanted to see the newest message.)
So, what kind of options do you have for creating such content?
The possibilities are limited only by your imagination. However, always be sure to keep the entertainment side of your message short, simple, and direct. Some examples to use as a starting point for your own brainstorming include (but are not limited to) the following:
- Try asking and answering general trivia questions.
- Mention a fact from history that happened on the day.
- Call people’s attention to the obscure celebrations occurring on the day. For instance, February 10th, 2023, was National Pizza Day. August 5th, 2023, is National Bloggers Day.
Note: You can find these lists online at sites such as National Day Calendar 2023 : What National Day is it Today 2023 (nationalday365.com).
- Highlight interesting facts about your local history.
- Follow local high school, little league, etc. sports teams and comment upon and congratulate the athletes on their performances.
- Tell people to come to your website for additional information – perhaps a recipe of the day.
- Provide an interesting fact about your business.
- Wish a Happy Birthday to patrons born on this day, collecting the date and simultaneously getting their permission as part of a prior sign-up campaign. (Consider sending them to your website to collect an additional reward/Birthday Gift.)
- Tell a joke.
- Pass along a special password that can be used to participate in a sale.
You get the idea. The nature and structure of the lead-in entertainment part of your message can be almost anything and can encompass multiple categories but should be short, simple, direct, AND hopefully somewhat clever. Frankly, that plus the mere attempt to entertain rather than just sell will be part of the branding message that get communicated.
While certain efforts will work better than others, consistency is important to set expectations. Customer feedback will be your best measure about whether the initiative is succeeding as planned. If you realize one strategy is not working, try another and keep experimenting until you have the right formula that speaks to your audience and sends the right message about your brand.
On your part, you should be able to accomplish this task in 10 minutes most of the time. We believe the rewards will far exceed the effort (and time commitment) required.
As always, we welcome your comments and questions.