Parking tickets

Chris Esh

One morning a few months ago I woke up and took a look outside at my car. Guess what I saw? That’s right. A parking ticket. The automatic reaction when any normal person see’s a parking ticket is anger and confusion. In my case I felt it was justified because I live on a normal residential street in West Philly.

As far as I knew, there were no parking restrictions. After all, that’s where I park every day. So I immediately grab my shoes, grab my coat, run outside, pissed off at the Philadelphia Parking Authority. “How dare they?” I think to myself. So I get outside, and I notice that all my neighbors also have parking tickets. So now I have no idea whats going on. I get closer, and I realize it’s not a parking ticket.

It’s a flyer that some clever small business created to look exactly like a Philadelphia parking ticket. This made me even more upset! Lucky for this business, I do not remember who they are, or even what industry they’re in. And I say it’s lucky for them because making flyers that look like parking tickets is a terrible way to advertise.

The Mistaken Belief Small Businesses Have About Capturing Attention at Any Cost

There’s an awful belief a lot of small businesses have. The belief that you need to get people’s attention at any cost. So small businesses use weird and annoying tactics like creating flyers that look like parking tickets.

The thing is, when you have someone’s attention after pissing them off, they are 1000% less likely to do business with you. I know that after freaking out, running outside, and realizing this business tricked me into believing I had a parking ticket, there was no chance I would do business with them.

As a small business, capturing attention is obviously important. But more important than capturing attention at any cost is capturing attention in order to build trust. Capturing attention so that people look at your business in a positive way instead of negatively.

The Right Way To Market As A Small Business

Imagine if this business had printed out postcards that provided 10 tips on how to prepare for tax season. Now I don’t know if they were a tax company or not, but that’s beside the point. The point is that those 10 tips would’ve actually been helpful. And I know for a fact that I would’ve been more likely to hire them than if they had gone the fake parking ticket route.

What if that company dropped a nice little postcard like that into my mailbox? They could have branded it and added a call to action underneath the 10 tips. That would’ve been a useful resource whether or not I ended up becoming a client. That is something that actually would have caught my attention. That is something that would have made me think like, huh, that’s a nice gesture.

That’s how I encourage small businesses to think about their marketing. How can you be the most helpful? How can you stand out, not by being the loudest, but by being the most helpful?


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