10 Ways Show, Not Just Tell

Show and Tell
Sometimes you have to get creative. We lifted this gif from 1001postcards.org.

We’ve all had Show-and-Tell at school before. I know it was a long time ago, but go ahead and just remember the most engaging things that you saw at Show-and-Tell. Did you learn anything, or do you just remember that one time when Becky tripped and fell while handling her Baking Soda volcano? Chances are it’s something like that. Or something else really creative and fun. Audiences like something new and engaging, and kids understand that best! Most often the best thing is an action or visual paired with some short, concise words. When I was a kid I didn’t do a lot of talking, so showing people what I could do was easy. But it was also easy to get overlooked, so with much grumbling, I learned to pair the two.

Don’t just tell people you have great service, or the best gadget in town. Show them too! Here are some ways to start showing and telling people how your business stands out:

  1. Work from within.
    Your employees and volunteers are the heart of your business. When they are engaged, they move you forward and become your advocates. They must trust and respect your cause and eachother, and feel like they add value to the organization. You stand out when you keep your business heart healthy.
  2. Define your Company Persona.
    Who are you? Don’t just focus on what you want to sell, take an honest look at what your business has become and what you want it to be. What are you known for and what do you want to be known for? Don’t tell me it’s great customer service. Everyone says that. Perhaps you can show me an example, though! Are your capabilities and current course of action able to support your desired persona and what actions can you take to make it so?
  3. Clean up your look.
    Good graphics, only essential text. Mobile optimized web pages and videos are pretty much expected now, with the whole country glued to cell phone screens. Make it easy for people to make the action you want (donate, purchase, call…). Most of the time all you need to clean up is just less clutter.
  4. Add class to your prints.
    But, only add it if it makes sense to your business. It’s one thing to say “I’m am an earth-conscious company” and another to show that you care about the earth. Class it up by choosing recycled paper, unique shapes and textures, and Offset Printing. Other ways to show some class for say, a dentist office, would be to add a foiling or embossing effect. Next time you are at our Auburn address, ask to take a look at all of our samples.
  5. Offer a limited time, complimentary service or product in which you excel.
    This way your potential client can experience the thing you do best first-hand. Just remember to offer it only to people you want as clients.
  6. Branding
    Brand that marketing material! If your company has brand guidelines, use them. If it doesn’t, make them. People need to see a consistent look that they start to recognize as uniquely yours. This builds trust, helps people recognize your marketing items in that pile of mail/email, and recall/retain info about your product or service faster.
  7. Only write content for your intended audience and solve a problem for them.
    Sure you’ll take others if they show up at your door, but if you want a certain kind of client, write as if you are speaking directly to that person. This focus will help you make a connection to your audience. Solving a problem that they have is simply filling a gap in their life with your product or service. It’s up to you to find out what that gap is and show them how you can fill it.
  8. Get involved in your community.
    If you’re a non-profit, this is a given. If you are are not one, you better get on board. Many of us have heard that people spread bad news like the plague, but they also spread good news. You want that good news to be about you. You’ll have to work a lot harder to get good press than bad press, but you need to be ready for both. Host or sponsor an event, volunteer with kinds of programs that target portions of your market. Weave yourself in with the community and form good, strong roots. People like to know they have a local business that cares about the community. It goes without saying that you must be genuine: people can spot a fake schmooze a mile away.
  9. Persistence.
    Don’t just tell people you can do something once. Show them your capabilities many times and in many different ways. Here’s a little story about showing instead of just telling, and how it pays off: I used to own a horse (Skippy), and every day a particular friend of mine would ask if she could ride Skippy. Each day I said “no”.  So, she doubled down on her lessons and started to show that she could take charge, and she really knew what she was doing. THEN she started doing favors, like cleaning out the Skippy’s stall and asking if she could brush and feed her. She demonstrated she was up to the task and also invested in it, so I finally said “yes” with confidence. Persistence isn’t just asking the same thing over and over, it’s showing what you can do in different ways and demonstrating qualities that win over your potential client. Coordinate social media, print and digital ads, flyers, banners, emails and good old fashioned word-of-mouth. Just make sure that whatever you use is going to be something that your target audience will see, and whatever you say is backed up by actions.
  10. Make it easy to do business with you.
    Shouldn’t this go without saying?  Do people have to jump through hoops just to get to what they want? Is it clear what you actually do if somebody looks at your web page or business card? How much fine print is there? You should know your audience and if they need ten frozen yogurt options or five. You should know and play off the talents of your volunteers (they’re kind of like clients). Make a custom solution for clients that need a little boost, they will love you for it!

Now, what are some things you can add to this list? Flex your show-and-tell muscles!

Published by

Danielle Apple

Danielle is head of our graphic design department. A self-proclaimed "sponge," she is addicted to learning about marketing and to eating chocolate.