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The secret to small town advertising

When I was a chubby 11-year-old, my favorite shirt was a yellow jersey with “LOOGOOTEE” the name of my rural hometown emblazoned across the chest in bold black letters.

My t-shirt was NEVER this clean

My t-shirt was NEVER this clean

When I think of my constant wearing of that shirt combined with my ignorance of good personal hygiene, I can only imagine that its tattered remains are fermenting in a landfill.  Some future archeologist may gain fame and fortune after unearthing a sports-themed Shroud of Turin with a strange word silk-screened on it.

That summer, we drove 900 miles to Orlando for a family vacation to Disney World.

When we were waiting in a crowded line at the Haunted Mansion, a man called out, “Are you from Loogootee, Indiana?  Do you know the Ferris family? They’re our cousins!”

We were thrilled that a traveler in this strange and distant land would know someone from our little town.

My sister and I belted out verses of, “It’s a small world” until my father demanded that we pipe down or return immediately to Indiana.

My family felt an instant bond with the man we met.  Even though we had never seen him before, we shared a bit of common ground.

And that’s the secret to small town advertising: establish common ground with the person you want to serve.

Common ground creates bonds of trust.  Think about it.  It’s nearly impossible to trust someone with whom you share no common ground, beliefs, or values.

Customers who feel a bond with a business are much less likely to be relentless price shoppers, and will usually be more loyal.

There are 7 effective ways to create common ground in your advertising or website targeting people in a small town.

1. Your photo

I am amazed at the number of landscapers who insist on putting a photo of a yard in their ad.  A few years ago, a very homely landscaper wanted his photo in his ad.  The sales reps snickered at the man’s mug shot until it came time for the wise old landscaper to renew.  The man bragged that it was by far the most effective ad he ever ran, and that he got “hundreds of calls from it!”

2. Your name and connection to the community
After the headline in a newspaper story, the second most read line is the caption under the photo.  This is a golden opportunity to establish common ground by putting your name and your connection to the community.  Here are a few examples:
Joe Brown – Loogootee Little League Coach
Joe Brown – Third generation Loogootee pharmacist
Joe Brown – Elected Member of Board of County Commissioners

I’ll cover the other five fantastic secrets to small town advertising in the printed version of the Commando Marketing Newsletter.

Watch for it coming this fall.

  1. JsmithJuly 26,10

    The first two tips are great, but I'd like to find out what the other five tips are now, not sometime this fall!!! Can you share them?

  2. T SurnbrockJuly 26,10

    I look forward to your newsletter – I expect it provide great marketing insight and strategy for small businesses.

    • Dick LarkinJuly 27,10

      Thanks Tom –

      Over the years, I’ve come to understand that many otherwise smart business people are clueless when it comes to highly effective marketing.

      Can’t wait to see the edition of your Santa Barbara Directory.

  3. Jimmy_carterJuly 26,10

    What is the ETA on the 1st edition being out?

    • Dick LarkinJuly 27,10

      Hi Jimmy –

      I’m putting the format and content together and am anticipating hitting the streets during the first part of September.

      Stay tuned!

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