From the June 2003 issue of Entrepreneur

Mighty Mascots
While mascot marketing might conjure up images of the Pillsbury Doughboy, it often translates into strong sales. "Mascots are one of your most highly visible yet inexpensive forms of marketing," says Josh Wilson, a mascot designer for companies as small as the local bagel shop and as enormous as Nintendo. "They can help you create media excitement, build brand value and sell product. But you've got to use them."

Put your mascot on your packaging, on the Web and on the streets. A typical costume costs $3,000 to $8,000 and can last 10 years. Here are a few guidelines for creating your mascot:

  • Ensure the image is happy. Happy mascots translate into happy customers.
  • Use bright colors. You literally want to stop traffic with the costume.
  • Try being bold. Don't worry if it's never been done before. Wilson created a big-nose mascot for Sudafed.
  • Make sure the character is cuddly. Kids will often want to hug your mascot.
  • Design the costume for agility. Your mascot can water-ski or sky-dive if the costume is designed right.

With a solid mascot, you could bring out the kid--and the sales--in all of us.

Voices Carry
If you're like most entrepreneurs, the telephone is your lifeline to your customers. According to Susan Berkley, CEO of The Great Voice Company in Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey, we have just seven seconds to make an impression.

The voice is divided into two components: verbal and vocal. Verbal is what we say; vocal is how we say it. To improve your vocal skills, Berkley recommends these tips:

  • Improve your elocution. In other words, speak clearly and succinctly. Pronounce every consonant and vowel. If you're not speaking clearly, you're not retaining your listener's attention.
  • Slow down. If you're speaking too fast, you're losing your chance to connect. Don't be afraid to pause and let your message sink in.
  • Find your perfect pitch. When you're speaking in your optimal pitch, your voice is at the height of its resonance. To find your perfect pitch, hum a few bars of a favorite song. That pitch is probably where your voice is at its healthiest.
  • Use a tape recorder. Hearing yourself can help you identify the "ums" and "uhs" in your speech as well as unnatural pitches, tones and pronunciation mistakes.

Only
37%
of retail companies respond to customer inquiries sent via the companies' Web sites.
SOURCE: CustomerRespect.com


45%
of companies do not have a written marketing plan for the entire company to follow.
SOURCE: North Star Marketing Inc.

QUICK PICK
If you've got some big news but aren't sure how to get your message out, take a look at a new service just launched by Major Newswire. Its distribution service sends your press release (a single time) to more than 85,000 journalists, editors and news-wire services, including Bloomberg, CBS, Dow Jones, Lexis-Nexis, Lycos and Reuters, for a fee of $349. It also monitors your press release for two months so you'll know exactly how many outlets pick up your release. If you're not sure how to write a press release, copywriting and translation services are also available.

Marketing consultant and speaker Elizabeth J. Goodgold (www.duhmarketing.com) is the author of Duh! Marketing Awards.