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Practice Management > Building Your Business

Doing 'different' right: 3 companies that have won big by thinking outside the box

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In this economy, there has never been a better time to set your business apart from the rest. Over the next couple of weeks, I will the share insight from companies that found ways to make their customers take notice–while sticking to their values. Read on for the first three companies.

1. Odwalla: Juicing with a conscience. Odwalla’s founders started making juice with a secondhand juicer in a backyard. Their plan was to make enough profit to help fund music programs in local schools. Their juices were highly rated for taste, but their real success came with their appeal to their customers. Their marketing and advertising experts created the “Drink Tank”–a group responsible for developing and managing the Odwalla brand. In building the brand, members of the Drink Tank focused on a clear narrative, authenticity, alignment and the value of a strong corporate culture.

Essentially, they called their customers’ consciences to action. But the strength of that call to action led them to success. How strong is your call to action? Do you frequently tell your customers what you want them to do? It can be an incredible way to drive your customers and potential customers to do exactly what you want them to do.

2. Geico: Ensuring brand awareness. You know their slogan: “15 minutes could save you 15 percent or more.” You know the British gecko. You know the cute stack of money with eyeballs. And you know the oft-offended cavemen. Geico has done a remarkable job at getting your attention for their insurance products. And they’ve done it by frequently and consistently distributing their simple and somewhat annoying messages to establish brand awareness.

What Geico has done is simply repeat their message to their prospects. Think about what you can do to repeat your marketing messages to your target market. Do you frequently repeat your core benefits or offerings to your prospects? It’s a simple tactic that can yield high results.

3. Vistaprint: Giving it away. Vistaprint wanted to offer their customers something that no other printing company did, so they decided their hallmark would be jaw-dropping value. By offering 250 business cards for free with a nominal $5.67 shipping and processing charge, they were able to appeal to their target market: cost-conscious small businesses. Today, 66 percent of Vistaprint’s business comes from returning customers. In the first quarter of 2010 alone, they acquired 1.4 million new customers–many who started with a free order.

If you offer something of real value for free, people will listen. “Free” can convert price shoppers into loyal customers. Don’t concentrate on the money you may lose by giving away something. Instead, focus on the potential revenue you could bring in.

Maribeth Kuzmeski is the founder of Red Zone Marketing, LLC, which consults to Fortune 500 firms on strategic marketing planning and business growth. Kuzmeski has personally consulted with some of the world’s most successful CEOs, entrepreneurs and professionals. For more information, go to


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