You don't have to be rich to be clever

In my years of experience in the leisure attractions business, I have learnt - often through the hard way - that drawing people can be a challenge. There is just an incredible amount of competition from other leisure and recreational options, plus lots of advertising clutter. You just can't out advertise the FMCGs, fast food chains, or big shopping malls.

How does one hope to compete against well-heeled shopping centres, restaurants, cinemas, and other places of urban air-conditioned splendour? Especially if one only has a miniscule budget.

Well, here are some tips that you can consider. I wouldn't say they are foolproof but at least they improve your odds.

1) You only have one shot at it. Typical Singaporeans are hard-pressed for time. If your advertising does not catch their attention with the first salvo, it will be difficult to entice them the second time around.

2) Don't mislead or deceive. You may fool some of the people some of the time but you cannot fool all of the people all of the time. While eyeballs may be important, don't replace it for credibility. Don't go for cheap shots.

3) Keep It Simple & Stupid (KISS). For your marketing collateral, use what some call the LCD or Lowest Common Denominator test. If your neighbour or relatives do not understand it, you can be sure most of your target audiences won't.

4) Don't spread yourself too thinly. It is better to have a bigger presence in a few media channels than just a tiny space in multiple platforms. That way, you can capture people's attention more easily.

5) Think frequency. In advertising, if you don't have enough budget to buy deep and wide, go for depth and frequency first. Studies have shown that repetition helps to engender greater top of mind recall.

6) Differentiate yourself. Think about how you can be different from the competition in terms of messaging and creatives. Having said that, don't go too far as to try to create a "Da Vinci's Code" for your customers to solve. They won't appreciate it.

7) Incentivise your customer. Now this does not mean endless promotions, discounts and price cuts (which are the surest way to kill your business). Instead, think of either solving a customer problem or offering something of value. This is the classical WIIFM (What's In It For Me) syndrome.

This post is partly a result of my conversation with Ivan Chew over coffee at Killiney Kopitiam recently. Thanks bro.