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.
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.
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.
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.
August 18, 2009
WSJ published a great piece early this summer entitled How to Write a Good Business Plan that starts off pointing out why a down economy is a great time to start a new business (lower costs, less competition) and then goes on not to tell you about the right way to do everything but some of the pitfalls to avoid.
I had fun with the piece but was drawn mostly to the table (at the end of the online version) that cites overused phrases/concepts in really bad business plans including two of my favorite pet peeves:
1. HUGE — as in the market in so huge, everyone is going to want to buy our product. Get a grip. there may be lots of biz opportunity out there but if you can’t quantify your market opportunity, you’re never going to be able to put together a business plan much less a marketing plan to go after them. I’m constantly faced with owners who want to market to everyone… and can’t afford it.
2. NO COMPETITION — For real? There are very few entirely new concepts out there, just new and better ways of marketing them. Don’t be so naive to think that you have no competition. Everyone has competition. The trick is figuring out who they are and how to do a better job of attracting customers.
If you’re in the market to write a new business plan, you may find the updated release of Biz Plan in a Day from Rhonda Adams to be helpful. I’m not endorsing her product as the best solution but for a quick and dirty workbook to get you started, it is definitely a running start.
August 11, 2009
About six months ago I started encouraging clients to take advantage of the pull back in advertising spend to make their dollar go further by taking advantage of greatly reduced rates. My clients don’t do a lot of display but the same mantra held true for most of the available media at the time.
Over the summer I noticed an uptick in marketing spend in my business serving the SMB space and subsequently confirmed the same was true with my counterparts serving the medium enterprise and global corporation space. Conjecture might say this signals a turn in the economy, but is that true?
The WSJ reported this morning that the dental market is seeing a 10% drop on average in patient billings largely due to unemployment rate. People without dental insurance stop going and those high brow vanity treatments don’t seem as important when we’re counting our pennies. The article goes on to describe how dentists are having to get creative with their marketing efforts and spend less time seeing patience and more time recruiting them. The old reminder postcards aren’t bringing patients in as fast and thus dentists are trying the same tricks as everyone else: email campaigns and twitter.
So perhaps the increase in marketing spend is just a sign that business are finally having to do what we marketing folks have told them all along: focus on your best prospects, show love to your best clients, identify to your competitive advantage and then promote it in more ways than buying one ValPak envelope a year and putting your initials on the door?
I think what in fact what is happening is that certain businesses are preparing to thrive. They’re establishing a robust infrastructure, staking their claim on their space and working harder to protect their brand. It’s not just a marketing investment that will help them succeed. It’s their overall investment in their business from people to technology that is helping them ramp up and prepare to take market share from the competition who instead of investing has squeezed every available dime out of their business and hidden it under the mattress.