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Tips on how to think outside the box

“When you act and do like everyone else in your niche, you fail to be distinctive and your products and services are relegated to the ho-hum, me-too category,” says Wanda Kenton Smith, president of the Marine Marketers of America. “In a down market, when buyers are holding off on purchases, a really unique product offering can get them off the mark, so from that standpoint, it pays off to come to market with smart innovations.”

She advises companies to listen to feedback from customers — both positive and negative.

“In my opinion, that feedback can actually lead to huge improvements and it can be extremely valuable if used and applied to your advantage.”

Kelly Flory, general manager of Martin Flory Group, agrees. Now is the time to “break out of the box and try new strategies.”

It doesn’t have to be expensive, she says, it just has to get a customer’s attention.

For those who may not know where to begin, Flory suggests starting with an adjustment of mindset. Read a motivational book or attend a creative thinking Webinar to get excited about the prospects, she said.

“Then analyze your products and home in on the attributes that will appeal to customers who are carefully considering how to spend their dollars,” Flory advises. “Promote these attributes through your public relations, sales literature, Web site and other marketing elements.

“Reaching out to educate the customer can get a company noticed and build long-term loyalty,” she says.

This article originally appeared in the September 2008 issue.

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