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April 6, 2013

This blog and all of the great stuff herein relocated to on August 1, 2010. If you like what you see here, please join us at for more great small business marketing advice.


Invest in a Change of Scenery

July 27, 2010

Albert Einstein is credited with describing insanity as doing the same thing over again and expecting a different result and while you don’t often see him mentioned in marketing arenas, the application is equally valid here.

How often have you poured good money after bad on a marketing program or message that wasn’t working just because you didn’t have the time to come up with a better idea?

Make today the day you find the time to stop wasting money on a bad campaign (or no campaign at all) and find something new.

  • Change where you are marketing, from one publication to another.
  • Change how you are marketing, move from print to online or even outdoor.
  • Change who are you marketing to, by trying a different demographic.
  • Change the places that you market, from one event or association to another.
  • Change your message; pick different words to describe your value proposition as see how people respond.

Shake things up. Then measure the results.

Why Frequency Marketing Works

July 27, 2010

Marketing Sherpa’s chart this week  — entitled The Long Road from Lead Generation to Sales Conversion — further reinforces everything we’ve been saying lately about the importance of frequency marketing.

Once a lead is in the pipeline, you need to nurture, nurture, nurture them until they convert to customers. Because your field sales personnel can’t possibly call these folks every week (and that kind of pestering would be downright creepy), let your frequency marketing campaigns do the work for you. It is not uncommon for purchase decisions professional services to take several months and for technology to take up to  a year. Regular professional touches delivering updates and educational material about your biz, your industry and your products help keep your company of mind so that when the prospects is ready to purchase — next month, next quarter or even next year — they think of you.

Once is Not a Marketing Campaign

July 26, 2010

If I had a dollar for the number of times that a business owner told me they tried marketing once and it didn’t work for them, I would be driving a much nicer car.

Marketing is not like lima beans, you can’t try them once and make a decision on the spot that it doesn’t work for you. Yet I continue to run into businesses who use that excuse when I suggest that better or more targeting marketing efforts might improve their bottom line. I try to give the benefit of the doubt when meeting a new biz owner and assume that they are at least doing something — thus the suggestion that there might be room for improvement — but that isn’t always the case.

One direct mail campaign, one e-mail blast or one display ad is, for a great many, a waste of money. There are lots of rules about the number of impressions required before your audience recognizes and reacts to your offer — with somewhere between 3 and 7 as the rule of thumb — but the general idea here is that you have to keep plugging along.

The first time your audience sees your message they may not even recognize it. The second time it may trigger some kind of awareness of the product category or offering. Hopefully by the third time they’ll remember your name.

The key is not only awareness and recognition but being in the right place at the right time: when your best prospect is ready to make a purchase decision. Sure, once in a while those single wave campaigns actually land in the lap of a prospect at the right time and they get the business. But this is pure luck that rides on the back of a competitor that already established awareness and education for the product category.

When I worked for a direct marketing firm, we typically planned all campaigns in 3 waves. Today we encourage clients who want to see the greatest ROI to invest only in programs that they can sustain for a full year.

Why Smart Professionals Invest in Marketing

June 25, 2010

Some businesses fall prey to the great idea of if we build it, they will come. No marketing necessary.

Typically this is the plight of organizations run by really smart and highly educated professionals like engineers or attorneys. They know they are really good and what they do. And they have a high expectation that prospects will recognize the value they deliver without any push in the right direction.

Unfortunately, sometimes your customers aren’t as smart as you are and they have to be taken by the hand and led to your great idea. By making the time to explain to them not just what you do but how what you do can make them successful, you’re educating your audience and building loyalty for your brand.

The more complex the subject matter, the greater the opportunity for the delivery of educational material. This education process can take place in many formats and forums besides the ones pushed out from your internal marketing department. Highly educated professionals are sough-after for public speaking and by-lined article contribution. But it takes a little investment in PR to secure these opportunities.

Successful operators will always be the ones that get out in front of their audience early, beating their competition to the punch. Besides, there’s nothing worse than losing business to a provider with less expertise who will ultimately do a mediocre job of satisfying your prospective customer.

Choice of Venue Makes a Difference

May 21, 2010

I still get the opportunity to help clients with seminars periodically thought not as often as when I was with Microsoft. One of the interesting lessons learned has to do with site selection. All business owners are looking to cut corners and so the idea of free is always appealing with cheap being a second runner up. Free meeting space and cheap room rentals unfortuantely doesn’t always create the desired experience for your guests or outcome for your events. Several of our clients have the good fortune of access to free meeting space through partnering arrangements and association memberships. Some of this meeting space is in Class-A office space at visually attractive locations.

So why aren’t these a plus for my client? Because they aren’t interesting.  The entire reason companies host events at entertainment venues like the GA Aquarium or in a suite at Turner Field is because of the innovative venue. While you don’t have to go to the lengths of booking an entertainment location for your next event, sometimes a nice restaurant can make a big difference.

The same idea holds true for individual meetings as well as events. Next time you’re trying to secure a prospect for a lunch, consider bumping up your investment a bit from an $8 sandwich place to a $14 plated lunch with white table cloth service. You’ll see a measurable difference in the outcome of even that 1:1 event.

Reinforcing Your Value with Postcards

May 19, 2010

Last month I had professional headshots taken at diSogno Photography for use on my website, in membership directories and for bylined articles.

This week I received a postcard from the photographer. He used my images as the art on the face and included a thank you on the back. This was a fantastic use of the medium and the properties he had.

Placing my photo on the card immediately captured my attention and made me read it but using the image he had created further reinforced his value and our relationship.

He actually used SendOutCards for production, which doesn’t work for all but proved to be a great platform for his purpose.

This approach could easily be transferred to any business who creates images for their client — graphic designer, illustrator, even architects or perhaps a dentist or orthodontist to who takes before and after glamour shots.