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Be Innovative: Give Them What They Need and Want
16 Jan 11 Posted by: Kathleen C Lanza
in Entrepreneur Exchange
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Neil Mallard is a long-time business owner, and the Founder of Image One Systems, a Florida-based marketing and consulting firm.  ImageOne Mobile Billboards was launched in 2007 to offer a new and modern advertising solution for small businesses.  ImageOne was awarded a US patent in 2010 for its unique mobile billboard design.

Here Neil discusses the challenges new business owners face today, shares marketing tips and offers some key advice to today’s budding entrepreneur:

In your estimation, what is the greatest challenge facing today’s business owner?

Advertising and marketing a business in today’s Internet-focused world is a huge challenge that ALL business owners struggle with.  The old standbys like print advertising and direct mail have very limited reach in modern society, leaving a huge void.  Even TV and radio advertising is easily avoided by modern consumers.  The goal is to find new and innovative methods that fit the lifestyles of modern households.

What is the single strongest piece of advice that you would have for someone starting out in business?

Develop your marketing plan first.  No business can prosper relying solely on “word of mouth” growth.  The business has to be “positioned” in the minds of consumers, and that can only be accomplished on a meaningful scale with EFFECTIVE advertising and marketing.  Figure out a MODERN strategy BEFORE you launch.

What marketing strategies have you found to be most successful?

Print and direct mail are incredibly ineffective at reaching modern households, so that’s pretty much over.  Modern consumers are on the Internet, so your business needs to build a constantly growing presence there.  It will take a big commitment of time and money.  Give consumers a COMPELLING REASON to visit your site―free stuff, a “new customer discount,” an “existing customer promotion”―lots of valuable information that they NEED and WANT.  Advertise the site locally and consistently.  Outdoor advertising in all forms, including mobile billboard advertising and vehicle wraps, are much more effective at reaching busy, time-pressured consumers.

Why did you launch a mobile billboard advertising business?

Frustration (as a long-time business owner) with how incredibly INEFFECTIVE traditional advertising has become.  We spent lots of money achieving practically nothing before we figured it out.  Modern consumers are VERY DIFFICULT to reach…and even harder to “attract.”  The combination of the full-color visual message and the attention that a mobile billboard gets simply HAS TO WORK BETTER.  At least it’s REACHING THEM.  At least they are SEEING THE AD.  It’s a way to HUNT THEM DOWN with advertising that they can’t plot and plan to avoid!

What did you do before launching a mobile billboard licensing business?

I’ve owned small businesses all of my life, so I understand the expense and frustration associated with trying to advertise and promote a business to an increasingly “disinterested” marketplace.  I’ve watched the Internet change the way all of us get information, as well as the effect it has had on local, small businesses.   It requires that we CHANGE the way we promote ourselves.  I’ve experienced it first-hand.  It’s evolution, and it requires us to think differently―and NEW…and MODERN.

More about Neil and ImageOne:

ImageOne is a mobile billboard advertising service that runs regularly scheduled advertising routes within a licensed territory.  ImageOne offers Area Developer Licensing Packages that include their patented mobile billboards, packaged with an all-inclusive, “system based” business model that has a proven track record.

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