Ed is at the gym, every day, at the same time, at the same place, and does the same routine. Good for Ed!

However, today Ed is actually paying attention to his workout routine instead of going into that hypnotic state that he usually zones in to. Something is different… there is NO sweat trickling down Ed's face.

As he lifts that same dumbbell, at the same weight, for the umpteenth time, he says to himself, “I don't get it. This routine has always worked for me in the past. I sweated like crazy, my physique was changing, and I was realizing really good results. I looked good! What's happening? Have I lost my edge?”

Yes, Ed… you have. And what about you reading this… have you lost your edge?

In today's business climate, getting to your marketing Edge is crucial. There is a lot of competition for the consumer's attention. Not just from your competitors, but from the consumers' own life in general.

Consumers buy when they trust in something that they perceive enhances their lives and comes from a credible source. Getting their attention long enough to demonstrate this value is key. Give them an experience that turns into a valuable relationship.

Be different. Be bold. Embrace a strategy that will set a tone (like this publication that you're reading right now), activate sales, and communicate to your target audience.

There are innovative ways to get your product into their hands. There's nothing virtual about this approach. Let them touch it, feel it, play with it. This series of articles is about new ideas that will give your marketing and sales the edge. However, if you're not up to trying new things, you might as well quit reading now.

Go for the Rush

How do you get the edge? It's actually pretty straightforward. Edge marketing is a real-time, real-world strategy that merges marketing and sales to activate immediate product purchases or responses that allow you to constantly test and improve. What it's not is the latest guru's book about leaping over the crevice!

It's about real stuff that real people can understand in plain language. It merges marketing with sales as a strategy. Branding is a fine way of spending your budget in lucrative times. But if you aren't producing measurable sales with your marketing today, then nothing else really matters!

Take a stand—make a decision that might sound out-in-left-field. With today's e-marketing capabilities and access to huge consumer audiences at regional events, you can do a lot of testing, make a few mistakes while you're tweaking your program and still hit a home run.

Edge marketing mixes attitude, thought, and emotion. It challenges people to agree or disagree. It evokes a response that results in either an immediate sale or not. Any response or no response may indicate that you need to adjust your edge marketing campaign. In all cases it's immediate and actionable.

It brings a human touch and personal relationship to even the largest of your target audiences. It gets you right in front of your customers, one by one. It's the rush that will drive your consumers crazy to buy your products.

As with our gym friend Ed, changing his workout strategy will cause his body to respond positively or negatively in a short amount of time. He now knows what to modify to realize the results he wants. The same process applies to your marketing and sales strategy. OK, so what can you do to get the edge?

Fundamentals of Edge Marketing

Edge marketing starts with a simple formula for framing your plans. It relies on being remarkable, unexpected, respectful and polite. Interesting combination? It is. And it's not at all difficult. We'll talk you through the high points here.

  • Be Remarkable. Make an impact that's memorable. Your strategy should capture your target market's attention in such a way that compels them to tell others about it. Push the limits. Be controversial.

  • Be Unexpected. Show up from out of nowhere. When you plan marketing and sales programs, do not go with the first obvious choice or rely on something you've done in the past. Be willing to try something out of the ordinary. Sell your products at home and garden shows or sporting events and watch your sales blossom.

  • Be Respectful. Maintain your audience's respect. Whether your strategy is an event or online communication, refrain from being a know-it-all or putting your audience down just for effect. Customers are generally smarter than your ad agency thinks!

  • Be Polite. Be courteous even when pushing the limits. Create a rhythm that matches the audience's pace. Clear your campaign of industry jargon and anything that is perceived as negative.

If some of your legacy programs are working well (whether edgy or not), integrate them with new high-reward programs that you discover in your quest for the edge. Like integrating cardio activities, weight loss and stress management into your health program, your competitive edge comes from balancing old and new strategies.

These new strategies (and even your old ones) require a new attitude. Concentrate on your consumer audience and initiate a reaction from them. Consumers don't have time to consider a new product unless you lay it out for them. Show exactly how it will impact their lives right then and there. Then go to the edge.

Next installment: high-return, low-risk ways to get the edge; develop your tone; and activate your customers into action.

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Linda Kazares Linda Kazares is founder of Face-to-Face Connect <www.f2fconnect.com>