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Marketing Lessons From A Doctor And A Clown

wholesale merchandise marketing guideFor many people trying to get in the habit of blogging and becoming active on social media the hardest part is answering the question, “What do I write about?”


When you consider that writer’s block happens to experienced novelists, we shouldn’t feel bad when this is common problem happens to us regular folks too.


An experience that helped us come up with topics of interest to our audience happened when we met our neighbors the doctor and the clown when we first moved to California. Getting to know these neighbors gave us a great reminder of the importance of getting outside ourselves and to take in the world through the eyes of others.


Be Neighborly

What does it mean to be neighborly? It means find areas of common interest, offer to help and be willing to share freely.


Do you ever start thinking about how to grow your business and find yourself thinking in terms like, “prospects”, “leads”, “conversions” and “sales”? As business owners it’s easy to fall into the habit of commodifying customers at times.


These words are a normal part of business and marketing language and there’s nothing wrong with using them in a strategic planning setting. However, the danger comes if we get stuck on this type of thinking and it becomes a roadblock to creatively connecting with our customers based on their traits and tastes as individuals.


It’s cliché to say “treat your customers like people” but the cliché comes in handy when it’s time to come up with creative articles or blog ideas or think of topics to share on social media that will connect with people.


What The Doctor and The Clown Taught Us

There’s a reason we think of this as being “neighborly”. I’ve mentioned elsewhere before that when my wife and I first moved to Southern California we settled in the bohemian beach town of Venice. In the front apartment of the divided house we shared with four other tenants lived the doctor and the clown. He’s a neurologist and she’s a birthday party clown! Classic Venice. It’s a great community. We love to refer them to them with our other friends as “the doctor and the clown”.


Although we’ve all since moved away we’re still great friends and we often talk about business and marketing because we’re all business owners. Silly Sally the birthday party clown is a fascinating business study to me because it’s a subject I know so little about.


Find Areas Of Common Interest

When we first started talking, Sally, like so many of us, struggled to come up with blog topics for her business because she is so familiar with her line of work and figures what is there to say about balloon twisting, puppet shows and facepainting that’s worth writing about?


But as someone not accustomed to the details of her job my wife and I didn’t know to think about the details of her shows and instead thought about her customers as moms.


These are moms who are busy because they have too many stops in their day. Moms who keep calendars in the kitchen whose boxes are filled in with scribbled dates and times for play dates, soccer practice and piano lesson start times and doctor and dentist appointments. Moms who have to make the budget last, and wish they had more time for themselves to relax.


Offer To Help

These moms need help! Sally’s right, they probably don’t want to read about balloon twisting and facepainting. Except for the few moments they’ll devote to hiring a clown, these topics aren’t relevant in their world.


But you know what would be an interesting read for these busy moms? Busy mom topics; like “Where to Take an Adult Vacation the Kids Will Love” (try Napa Valley – I read it in a magazine).


Time management is probably another rich topic and with smartphones and tablets giving us access to the internet from the sidelines of a soccer field there’s probably a lot on this topic that can be researched, written and shared. And this is just scratching the surface in the busy-parent topic. Just think about their struggles with nutrition, school, kid’s clothes and so much more.


Although these topics don’t have anything to do with clowning for a child’s birthday party, they do give Sally an excellent opening to offer her mom’s or parents (formerly her “clients” or “prospects”) helpful tips in a way that’s well outside the limited “must-hire-a-clown” moments she might otherwise try to connect with them.


Be Willing To Share Freely

Entering your customer’s lives outside the context of your business not only expands your options for blog posts and article topics it also makes it much easier to find relevant things to share on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and Pinterest (do you really have to use all these tools? The more you use, the more people you reach – see our list of tools at bottom that make social sharing easier).


In Sally’s case instead of searching Twitter for tweets about “facepainting”, “clowns” or “birthday party” – things that are only of interest to her clients once a year – she can instead look for some of the items mentioned above: how to help your child with school work, getting your children to eat right, kids fashion on a limited budget, etc. etc.


Remember, Sally doesn’t want to be limited to the clown business – she is now living in the busy-parent world.


Easily Join Their Social Circles

Do you now have to spend all day reading mommy and daddy blogs? Not at all, a better way is to conduct the search using Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest and Google Plus and then Friend, Follow, Pin or Plus good sources. This will put their posts from these sources into your social media feed and make it much easier and faster for you to push a button to share items of interest with your growing parent social group.


People want to do business with people in their same social group. When your neighbor-prospects start to realize she’s hanging out in the same places they are and sharing similar topics, you’ll be easily integrated into their social circle, just like the friendly helpful neighbor you are!


Free Tools To Make Social Sharing Easier

Use Google Alerts (free) to run searches on your topics automatically and have the latest online posts sent to your inbox. Use (free) to search topic mentions across social media and Hootsuite (free) to post to multiple social accounts easily.