good advice, good marketing advice

I recently spent a strategy day with a client strategizing and mapping out key systems to increase her visibility and credibility in the marketing place.

She was looking to relaunch her business and she had rightly sought the services of various “experts offering good marketing advice” to help her re-launch her website and market her business better. They offered her some good marketing advice – create brochures for your business.

It was heart breaking to see that a lot of what she was spending time and money on would almost certainly end up in the bin although they seem like a good idea.

Good marketing advice?

Its common sense marketing advice that you should create beautiful brochures, cards and flyers to tell people about your business. So most small businesses spend alot of time and money creating brochures and other marketing materials that simply didn’t pass my “bin test”.

The bin test is based on my personal response to a lot of the marketing materials that I’m constantly being bombarded with – unfortunately most of them don’t make it pass my bin. My bin test is my framework for reviewing whether any of the brochures, flyers or sale letters I receive every day through my post box and at various events grab my attention and make me emotional about buying the said product or service. These are the ones that will get results and ultimately make it into my swipe file.

A swipe file is an advertising practice where copywriters keep a collection of adverts and sales letters that have been tested and proven to work. A lot of small business owners who benefit from this practice.

The harsh truth is that a lot of the materials that are given away at conferences and events sadly end up in the bin despite their owners best effort.

Why does it end up in the bin?

Basically it ends up in the bin because it’s of no use to me, or the other people they are being thrown at.

Simple but true!

When I receive information from other businesses I quickly scan them to assess whether:

1 – It offers me any valuable tip or information so I can keep it for detailed review later

2 – There is any offer or discount that requires me to hold on to it and hand it in to redeem a discount

3- It is something that I want to retain for future reference because the advice is just so valuable that I would want to refer to it again and again

4 – It gives me an idea for my own business, something I could add to my swipe file for inspiration.

If I don’t get a yes to any of these questions then straight to the bin it goes to be recycled. I’m aiming for an uncluttered way of life (check out this post on Zen Habits), so no hanging on to useless paper.

Flyers and other brochures work but only if they pass the bin test and you know what you are doing. Otherwise its just a waste of time.

Good marketing advice but a waste of time if not done right.

Although it took some convincing, my client saw the light. She is now going to “beef up” her marketing materials so that she has something of value for her prospects rather than just another brochure.

So before you spend any more money on brochures, letters and flyers just ask yourself these four questions to see if it passes “The bin test” and save yourself some time, money and energy.

Do you know of other seemingly harmless marketing advice that is losing entrepreneurs money? Why not share it below!

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Griselda K Togobo

by Griselda K Togobo | Follow Her on Twitter Here

This Post Has 4 Comments

  1. Jason Hull

    I found the same thing to be true when we considered whether or not to give out “swag” at exhibit booths at conferences and conventions. When we’d exhibit, we were bombarded with requests from the event marketers who wanted us to pay money to have an insert placed into some bag which the attendees would tote around. I have been to enough of these conferences to know that I either didn’t accept a bag or I’d throw it away as soon as I got to my hotel/home/airport/nearest trash can. I never read the reams of paper and brochures which were stuck in there. The same goes, in my opinion, with the trinkets and handouts which the exhibitors provide. Unless it’s something which will save me money or earn me money, I’m not interested in taking it. My business partner used to like to collect trinkets to give them out as Christmas presents to all of the kids in his family. I’m sure that’s not the use the marketers envisioned when they wrote the check for the purchase of those trinkets. Instead, they had some naive illusion that someone would see their ABC Company super high bouncy ball and think “whoa! I need an ABC widget!”

    We provided swag once. It was cool swag – they were knockoffs of the Magic the Gathering game cards, and it was for a developer convention – the perfect audience for such geekery. Our ROI? -100%. Tread carefully when receiving the advice that Griselda speaks of, as she so rightly points out.

    1. Griselda K Togobo

      Hi Jason, you hit the nail on the head! I couldn’t have said it any better.
      I don’t know why its widely accepted business practice to give people things that they clearly don’t want.
      I guess when you don’t know what to do, you just do whatever sounds right.
      Thanks for your comment. Love the example.

  2. Mike Tanner

    So nice to see an honest (if brutal) take – I tell my clients flyers and other physical marketing is great, but it’s SO easy to get wrong. Kind of like how it’s easy to ignore an ad on a page and not click it – that’s the online bin test. For me, I always like to tell my clients not to be scared of traditional marketing methods but respect it. There are loads of designers out there with decent experience who can offer you a hand here, and I’d suggest getting it linked strongly with your brand. Try not to make them too generic, as it’s all too easy to throw flyer in the bin just as it is to ignore an online ad. Also, try get a company with GPS tracking so you know that your flyers aren’t just being thrown away. And if at all possible get them to deliver yours without competing leaflets or, even better, on their own. Finally, a quick search for distributors will find companies like leaflet delivery birmingham or leaflet delivery kent and a host more that you can use. Thanks for the great post!

    1. Griselda K Togobo

      Thanks Mike for your comments and the tips. Writing an effective copy is not an easy thing. Tracking your results will at least give you some indication on whether its working or not.

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