Someone once told me the secret to being compelling is to tell someone what they want to hear but not in the way they expected. If only there were a magic formula that consistently made people buy. If there was just some configuration of the right words and visuals that reliably produced a result every time. A template that wouldn’t require much thought. You just plug in the info for your particular business and *bam* people see the ad and come running through the door. Promotions and discounts can drive sales temporarily. Running lots of big newspaper ads can get you a great deal of attention. Getting lots of fans and followers can make you feel popular. But the only way to consistently beat your competition is to do things differently or to do different things than them. That is the essence of strategy. You can’t beat anyone by doing the same actions as them. And the difference needs to be significant. No one cares if you’re 5 cents cheaper or that you’ve been in business for 35 years instead of 30. The secret to doing amazing marketing is in finding ways to tell your story that matter to you and matter to your customers. Start a blog about your industry. Show off your products in unusual places and post pictures of them. Host an event for your best customers to show your appreciation. Tell your advertising agency or design firm why you do what you do and have them craft your ads around that (trust me, they’ll put more effort doing that over yet another promotions ad). Start small. Whatever works do more of it. Whatever doesn’t, stop doing it so you can focus more resources on the things that do. When you’re sharing your love of what you do it doesn’t feel like a lot of effort. It’s also probably unique because the passion for your business is almost always unlike any one else’s. Share the value you offer authentically and often. That’s it.