“Find The Point of Difference
For Your Small Business
Advertising Idea & Make
Your Selling Memorable”

 For a small business advertising idea, it’s critical. Have you identified the point of difference in your business versus your competitors? That’s the prime ingredient for memorable advertising and selling.

Hey! When you do this, you establish your business’s personality, stand out from competitors, and gain laser-like direction.

In what ways that please and “wow” customers in your small business advertising, do you look different? Do you do it differently? Do you say it differently? Do you deliver your product in a different manner?

If not, it can be worth a small (or large) fortune to you when you do identify your difference and publicize it in your advertising. All it takes to accomplish that point of difference is thought. Let me show you how with four examples.

How the “wearin’ o’ the
green” makes many
green dollars

One customer, a plumbing shop, developed a theme for his small business advertising idea. Shamrock Plumbing carries through its theme on all its trucks, uniforms and printed materials. That green shamrock is sprightly and perky and leaves behind a good feeling wherever Shamrock men work. Click on his website here.

Between sharply and pleasingly defining his theme and systemizing every part of his business for his customers, Patrick Murphy attracts more customers, and more sales. He ultimately does it at lower cost because his advertising is coordinated and every component sells hard.

The most effective small business advertising idea strives to construct a way to differentiate its product from others.

First requisite: the product has to be good. From then on, success comes from your advertising and how you merchandise it.

Three more great stories of differentiation I’ve encountered lie in the restaurant field.

How a business in the
“rolled” customers in

What is a Beto (Bee-tow) Junction? Other than a weird name, it’s no more than the intersection of two highways out in the middle of the Kansas prairie. You’re driving from Emporia, Kansas to Kansas City on I-35. No traffic. You just dream along. You come over a rise and suddenly – there’s Beto Junction. Don’t blink.

But – to truckers – Beto Junction Travel Center is their absolute favorite restaurant in the whole nation. Nobody could prove that until 1996. Vivarin, manufacturers of a caffeine pill, did a survey to find truckers’ favorite stops.

Amazingly, truckers voted Beto Junction – the truck stop in the middle of nowhere – their hands-down favorite. Paul Harvey discussed the stop on his radio news show. CBS This Morning featured it – and the manager received innumerable TV interviews. Several newspapers ran the story all across the nation.

How’s that for a small business advertising idea getting national coverage? All that publicity further fed the rush for others to try Beto Junction’s food.

At first glance, Beto Junction’s restaurant seems like thousands of others. However, they do work incredibly hard delivering good food. Their all-American cuisine features real mashed potatoes and a mouth-watering, real chicken-fried steak.

They cut all their steaks by hand, make all their own pies, and nearly everything is made from fresh from scratch – just the way you’d encounter it on a farm wife’s harvest table.

Beto Junction’s little extra differentiating claim to fame? A lady named Wilma Geer had cooked for family farms and ranches her whole life. She knew how hard-working men like – and stow away – good food.

When she began cooking at Beto Junction in 1976, Wilma laid down a rule that no trucker or cowboy should ever leave Beto Junction hungry.

Her solution: a cinnamon roll. However, this is no ordinary cinnamon roll. Wilma’s gastronomic delight is filled with cinnamon and covered with a luscious, gooey white frosting. Now, others do that, of course.

Wilma’s difference? Each roll is gigantic. It weighs from one-and-a-half to two pounds!

According to Kirk Williams, manager of Beto Junction Travel Center, Wilma’s rule has endured. Nobody has gone away hungry in many a day.

Then, there are the little extras – like the little white country chapel with a steeple. Seventeen churches give out Christmas cookies during the holiday season and one day the minister suggested they have a chapel. The Travel Center accepted the idea and now they have a little white chapel for world-weary travelers right on the property.

Beto Junction, Kansas waxes even more famous daily. How do I know? Because you just learned about it, too. Click here to learn more.

The Big Texan Steak Ranch
issued a challenge and
parleyed it into a multi-
million dollar win

Several months ago, I chanced to swing through Amarillo, Texas on old U.S. Highway 40. From the beginning, Amarillo was a crossroads for cattle, oil and farming. Now, it’s also a truckers’ Mecca.

Thousands of coast-to-coast big rigs roll through and stop for rest, meals, repairs and relaxation. This big-little city runs round the clock.

Few travelers dare miss the Big Texan Steak Ranch. The Big Texan carved a legend with the small business advertising idea of differentiating itself through a whopping 72-ounce beefsteak.

According to owner Bob Lee’s story, shortly after he opened, a cowboy ambled in, ordered steak and proceeded to eat ’til he hit the wall. The “wall” was 72 ounces – four and one-half pounds of steak. This feat rapidly made the rounds to become the talk of the town – then the whole country.

Bob Lee was no fool. Seeing the publicity he gained, Bob began advertising a challenge to any customer. He displayed the steak with this offer: “If you can eat our 72-ouncer with all the trimmings in under an hour, you get it free! If you can’t eat it all, your tab is $50.”

To date, more than 50,000 people have taken a stab (excuse the pun) at Bob’s challenge.

Amarillo has become world-famous for it’s Big Texan Restaurant and serves thousands of travelers every year.

Another variation on the
roll – this one’s “throwed”

Few people in the central U.S. have not heard of Lambert’s Café in Sikeston, Missouri. Lambert’s carries the descriptive title, the “Only Home of the Throwed Roll.” “Throwed” means exactly what it says.

Lambert’s has always enjoyed a reputation for good food. Often every table in the place is full. On one of those full days some years ago, the roll server found himself unable to maneuver through the crush when a hungry patron called for another roll.

In desperation, the server threw the hot roll over other heads into the hands of the hungry customer. Everybody thought that was hilarious and, of course, other customers demanded delivery in the same manner – just for the fun of it.

Thus was born the “throwed” roll.

The practice is now so popular that Lambert’s sports three locations and their roll servers get to toss more than 6,000 of those warm, fragrant little missiles every day.

Lambert’s fame attracts more fame. Nowadays bus tour lines make Lambert’s a “must” stop for their tour customers. About any day you can see one bus after another pull up and disgorge its passengers for a tasty meal and a “throwed” roll. What a way to watch the cash register ring.

Outlandish? Maybe. But, in each case that little bit of “differentiation” spawned a near dynasty.

Think you’re not creative? Can’t come up with something for your small business advertising idea? Sure you can. You don’t need to be creative. Just keep your eyes and ears open and think about every phase of your operation. Don’t get desperate. Let it simmer. It’ll come to you.

You don’t need to be a big business. None of these four were when they started. You don’t need to be a “big city” operation to have a good advertising idea. Every one of these fabulously successful businesses operates in small or midsized towns – no big cities within miles.

In two of these business examples, the owners came upon the idea for their point of difference by deliberately thinking through how they want to serve their customers.

The other two evolved from accidents. Something occurred in the business and that incident triggered their idea for differentiation.

Here’s the burning question . . .

How do you create an idea that makes your business different?

The best way I’ve found is first, to “position” your business in relation to competitors. Positioning draws your business into sharp focus in customers’ minds in contrast to competitors. Maverick Strategy uses it all the time with an exercise I call the Value Story Game. If you’d like to know more about it, just **click here**.

If you need a little more inspiration, I recommend four publications:

  1. A Technique for Producing Ideas (Advertising Age Classics Library)Back in the 40’s James Webb Young, one of America’s most successful marketers wrote a little book about ideas. It’s an easy short read and one of the best I’ve ever seen to help you lay out the ingredients of an advertising idea (or any idea) in four simple principles and practices. Anyone can do it. A Technique For Producing Ideas is only $6.95. Worth the price a hundred times over.

  2. I recommend Mike Vance’s books and tapes. Mike worked for Walt Disney during and just after the years when Walt himself was still alive. Mike shows you how Disney designed ingenious methods to get everybody to “think out of the box.” With the Disney method, both kids and adults produce more great advertising ideas, merchandising ideas, and products than even Disney can digest.

    Mike has written several good books but his very best is a set of several hours’ worth of audiotapes entitled Adventures in Creative Thinking. Mike produced these while giving highly successful live seminars. They’re a jewel.

  3. For another source of fascinating Disney ideas click on Disney Magic Business Strategy. This company has studied Disney’s philosophy & business concepts and leads you by the hand in how to apply them to your own business in their inexpensive books.

  4. Marketing Your Services : A Step-by-Step Guide for Small Businesses and ProfessionalsService business seems especially hard for most entrepreneurs although service companies are the fastest growing segment of the American economy. Anthony Putman has written an excellent book, Marketing Your Services. I use many of his ideas and recommend it. Click on the book to get a look.

Many small business people complain they never have an advertising idea. Once you learn how to go hunting for them, often too many pop and you don’t know which one to use!

How about free ideas? You receive one good marketing method and small business advertising idea after another every month when you subscribe to the Maverick Strategy Newsletter. We never share your name, and you can unsubscribe any time. Just sign up at the top of this page. Try it. You’ll like it.

There’s pages and pages in this website – all dedicated to the owners of “brick & mortar” businesses. That means you’ll find many a small business advertising idea. Have fun. I wish you well.

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