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The Hardy Boys Method of Clever Tie-Ins

Hardy Boys and Marketing
My friend, Elizabeth Able, is trying to help frazzled web workers take creative mini-vacations in order to maintain balance and a sunny disposition. I liked this article, and I’m a firm believer in making the most out of moments of repose and fun. Like most of our colleagues, my husband and I tend to work anywhere from 10-15 hours a day, 7 days a week. We continue to practice perfecting the art of taking really restorative breaks in order to keep going strong for our clients.
Right now, we’re taking one of the silliest mini-vacations ever. We picked up a handful of vintage Hardy Boys books at a used book store, on a whim that it would be funny to read a couple. Allow me to sound pompous for a moment in saying that our literary tastes tend to run a bit higher than this on average…and then I’ll gleefully confess that after reading the first ‘thrilling mystery,’ we were hooked. There are now 15 old Hardy Boys hardbacks on our book shelf, and we take little breaks throughout the day to read a quick chapter, packed with high adventure! They keep us laughing with their swell language, improbable story lines and formulaic plots.
How The Hardy Boys Can Help Your Small Business
Like much of 20th century juvenile literature, The Hardy Boys series was a carefully crafted and marketed set of stories, authored by more than one person under a nom de plume. The publisher’s goal was to ensure that the nature of the books kept youngsters coming back for more of the same fun and the evidence of this is far from subtle.
The opening paragraphs of nearly all of the Hardy Boys books contain a sales pitch along these lines:

Frank and Joe Hardy had, of course, solved many thrilling mysteries in the past, beginning with their first case, The Tower Treasure. Their latest adventure, The Mysterious Caravan, had taken them to exotic Africa, where they battled and bested a den of dangerous thieves who would stop at nothing to to possess a golden mask recovered from a sunken treasure ship!

And, as each book winds up, another enticing pitch is encountered:

Having cracked so baffling a mystery, Frank and Joe sat down to a celebratory slice of Aunt Gertude’s apple pie. Little did they guess that their next and most challenging mystery ever – The Melted Coins – was only moments away from beginning.

What little boy could resist these calls to action? Can’t you just picture him running downstairs, official magnifying glass in hand, shouting, “Mom, I have to get The Melted Coins! Please, can I? Can I? Huh?”
Publishers, Grosset & Dunlap, knew not to waste the opportunity delivered to them by an already-captive audience, and your small business should take a clue from the Hardys.
If you are running an e-commerce-based website, any customer considering buying an item from you has already been captivated by some element in your inventory. Why not trot out a few other treasures for her to consider? A customer who is investigating your gardening implements may have it in the back of her mind that she really needs a new gardening hat this summer. Why not show her a few, with the friendly message:
Sunburns happen while you’re raking those leaves. Protect your precious skin with our wide-brimmed gardening hats!
Give the option to add one to the shopping cart and you may make 2 sales instead of one, all off a single visit to a single page of your site.
This works for service-based businesses, too. A customer who is ready to hire you for landscape consulting may not be aware that you also do high weed mowing. Help them notice this like so:
First we’ll plant the garden of your dreams, and then we can come back to maintain it for you with our High Weed Mowing Service. Our customers really appreciate this added service we offer. Let us take long-term care of your gorgeous new garden. Call for a quote today!
It all comes down to understanding that customers tend to have multiple needs in their lives. Once they’ve made it to your website, half the work is done. By clearly demonstrating that you can meet more than one of their needs, you are opening a door to doing more business with an already-won client.
Amazon.com are past masters of the art of tie-ins. They’ve automated a process based on the idea that if I’m looking at a book on petroglyphs, I may well be interested in a new best seller on the Aztec empire. They get me with this tactic over and over again, I confess, and I like this service they provide because it exposes me to new books I might never have heard of otherwise.
On your small business budget, chances are you can’t afford some fancy database that will automate this tie-in feature for your website. But you can smartly invest some time in going through the product or service pages of your site and manually adding these tie-in features where natural connections make sense. Don’t let them take precedence over the main product or service being sold, but do make them visible enough to attract attention during that crucial moment when you have a visitor’s eyes on your page.
Like the Hardy Boys, your customers will pick up on this breadcrumb trail of exciting tie-ins…clues to the greater breadth and depth of your small business’ inventory of terrific offerings. Be proud of what you’ve got and show it off while you have the customer’s attention. No need to make it a mystery!