Archive for the ‘Marketing’ Category

When the economy doesn’t look good and consumer spending is low, it’s best if you hype up your marketing efforts as early as possible. This is an indication that the economy is turning bad. If you wait for things to look good or the market to be in a better condition, you run the risk of losing your customers. It’s like you gave your competitions the right to take advantage of you. In times when business is slow, you have to take the situation in your hand and turn the bad economy to your advantage.

Whenever there are disturbances in the economy or the business industry, you need to think of the best way to stay afloat and fight for your business. Cutting your budget today won’t do you any good but rather give your competitions the advantage. Today more than ever, you need to beef up your marketing campaign. As much as possible you need to be consistent with your message and marketing materials distributed to a specific market. If you are using postcards, be sure to consistently send them to your prospects. Don’t just send one card and stop. That won’t make you memorable in front of your customers. Make the best use of your budget to draw in customers, generate leads, and get the most exposure.

To make sure take advantage of your budget, you need to:

First, stay focused on your long term goal. Think of what your goal is and think of ways to achieve that without cutting down your budget. In times of trouble, it is often the businesses who continue their marketing efforts that thrive through the difficult times. If you want to come out ahead when the economy turns around, then you better take advantage of the poor economy to make your marketing campaign more extensive.

Second, think of the most result oriented marketing techniques. While your competitions are cutting back on their marketing activities, you should be conveying your resources to profitable activities such as postcard printing or any other direct mail marketing campaign. Make sure to keep your existing customers interested in your business. It would be much easier to get them to buy again from you rather than get new customers.

Marketing in the tough times will give you the following advantage:

– Good visibility. You will stay in front of your customers making you memorable to them. When the economy turns good, you will stay memorable to them.

– Improve your image. If you want people to see you as a reliable and credible business, make sure you present your business as one. Don’t show them that you are likely to lose your business when the economy is bad. You have to come out strong to them despite the poor market conditions.

– Keep your customers loyalty. Marketing in the tough times will let you keep your customers informed of your business. In turn, they will stay loyal to you.

Marketing during tough economy will let you stay on top of the game. Be sure to keep your communication with your customers open and you will come out strong and achieve more things when the economy picks up. Now is the right time to promote your business and set you apart from your competition.

 

A well-tuned marketing campaign is a beautiful thing. Your advertising not only connects with just the right prospects, but it seems everyone is talking about you, your product, or service. Sales come in at a nice pace. Profits mount as you quietly chuckle thinking how little you spent on marketing. Suddenly, moving your company forward doesn’t seem hard at all.

Unfortunately, marketing rarely works that easily, at least at first. Rhonda, who is marketing director for a mid-sized business-to-business company, purchased an expensive series of television ads to boost product awareness. “I thought getting our brand in front of so many people would naturally increase sales, but it didn’t happen,” she laments. Big mistake!

Meanwhile, Ted, working hard to get a home-based business opportunity started, sunk his entire three-month marketing budget into a sales letter to 1,000 prospects. Only a few responded leaving Ted wondering what he did wrong. Another big mistake.

Most marketing gets held back by a few very common mistakes. Let’s look at a few along with ways you can easily correct them to get your advertising back on track.

Mistake #1: Your marketing gets lost in the crowd. Each of us gets bombarded by thousands of advertising messages every day. From magazines, to radio ads, to a TV talking in the background, to the flier left on your front door, the daily ad barrage continues. Prospects quickly learn to ignore marketing. After all, most of it has very little to do with their concerns. Prospects only pay attention to marketing that is radically different or marketing that speaks directly to their most immediate concerns.

Highly innovative marketing rarely works. It may be one of the most counterintuitive features of promotion. How many of the outrageous dot-com ads from the 1990s do you still remember? Instead, separate your ad from the pack by making it talk directly to something the prospect really cares about. It should point out a problem your product or service can solve. Make the language of your ad sound like the way customers would describe the problem, the solution, and the way they feel after the problem is solved. This is language that gets attention.

Mistake #2: Targeting an audience that is too broad. Before you can address the specific concerns of a prospect, you have to narrow the groups of people your marketing is reaching. Ted’s sales letter didn’t work because the list of addresses he mailed to weren’t people who had already shown an interest in starting a home-based business. Many were already owners of good-sized businesses. Others were managers in companies with little time or inclination to work from home.

Ted would do better to use a more tightly targeted list of people who had recently requested information on a home-based business or had tried one or more opportunities in recent years. An ad in your big city newspaper will reach a great many people, but very few will be in the market to buy high performance wire and cable. In this case, your ad would work much better in a trade magazine targeting electrical engineers.

TV and newspapers work very well to sell products used by a large, diverse mass of people. You can target TV and newspapers further by putting ads on specialized cable TV programs or in special neighborhood editions of newspapers. Likewise, you can get better targeting and lower rates by placing ads in regional editions of national magazines.

Mistake #3: Your ad budget gets blown in a one-shot marketing gamble. This is one of the most common and often heart-breaking problems. A new store will spend everything they have on one radio remote, full page newspaper ad, or direct mailer. If the first try doesn’t work (and it often doesn’t), there is no money left for a second or third try.

Which leads us to the next mistake…

Mistake #4: Marketing isn’t consistent. The old saying among veteran marketers is the first ad never works. You get consistent, long-term results by continuing your ad over weeks and months. It may be true that familiarity breeds contempt, but not in marketing. Familiarity develops awareness and confidence in prospects so they buy.

There are endless examples of a small inexpensive ad that appeared in the local Sunday paper every issue for years. Sales started slowly, and then built to a constant roar. I’ll never forget the owners of an auto parts supplier who strongly believed if the ad didn’t pull astounding results the first time, there was no use in continuing. They bounced from ads in one publication to ads in another with little to show for their effort.

Mistake #5: Marketing fails to tie different media together. Too many times the direct mail campaign a company does have little to do with the magazine ads they are running. Instead, make your ads in different media all relate to each other.

Take the audio from your TV commercial and adapt it for a radio spot. Use a still from the TV commercial in your magazine and newspaper ads. Take the still photo and some of the verbiage from your spot and use it in a direct mail campaign. The continuity will increase your chances of breaking through the marketing clutter to really reach prospects.

Keep in mind different media work in different ways, accomplishing some things better than others. Television SHOWS how your product or service works. Radio helps people know the FEELING of using your product. Newspapers and magazines are good at EXPLAINING how things work. Direct mail utilizes the power of the letter to talk to your prospects in a very personal one-on-one way.

Mistake #6: Finally, don’t believe the hype that the Internet is somehow dead or dying. USA Today recently reported the number of people using the Web has quadrupled since the Internet Boom in 1998.

Huge numbers of consumers and businesses worldwide now understand the Web is a wonderful place to find a large variety, get things done fast, and uncover a lower price. Use your web site to give visitors all the information they need to understand and buy your product or service. Have your TV spots, radio commercials, print ads, and sales letters all send people to your web site where they can spend as much time as they need perusing your in-depth material.

Marketing is one of those aspects of life where the tried-and-true often works best. Use these proven solutions to common marketing mistakes to insure your advertising and promotion efforts bring the results you expect.

10 Deadly Marketing Mistakes

Posted: July 18, 2011 in Marketing

Center Your Focus On Your Prospects, NOT On Your Company.

It is all too easy to focus all your advertising on you and not on your prospects. We all do it, just look at any ad and ask yourself what the ad is really saying. Is it talking about the prospect or about the company? You must focus ALL your marketing communications on the prospect, period. To overcome this common belief is the single most important step to selling more of your products or services. Remember the prospect is interested in one thing and one thing only: what’s in it for them. Forget about how great your company is, save that for later; always begin with your focus on the prospect and their concerns.

Know Everything about Your Prospect and Their Problems

The more you know about your prospect, the easier it will be to convince them that they need what your product or service offers. Every qualified prospect has a problem that your product can easily solve to ultimately make their life easier in some way. Your job is to uncover this problem, or set of problems, and show your prospect, using fact based on benefit that they must buy what you are selling in order to immediately solve their problem and lead a more productive life.

To see what I mean, simply ask yourself why someone should buy what you are selling. Use your answers in your marketing communications. It’s that simple, yet how often is it just not done? Remember this fact, people buy because they have a problem, rarely do they buy just for the sake of buying or because you’ve been in business over twenty years. Think about your own personal reasons for buying virtually anything, you’ll see what I mean.

Know What Specific Benefits Your Product/Service Provides.

Study the true benefits of owning your product or using your service. A true “benefit” differs greatly from a “feature”. Features are about the product: Benefits are about the prospect. You will sell far more of your products or services if you focus on what is important to the prospect, not to you. The prospect is only interested in the benefits he/she will receive by owning your product. In other words, the prospect is interested in your product because of the problem it solves and nothing else.

Your prospect has little interest in what features your product/service offers because they will never take the time to uncover the hidden benefit(s) behind each of the features of your product or service.

Look at it this way, how does the fact that your company has existed for twenty-five years help me paint my living room? Tell me that I will save time and effort by using a new type of roller that your company sells and I, as your prospect, will be interested in what you are selling. Include a special offer if I buy the new roller today, and you’ve made a sale! (more about special offers later)

Qualify Your Prospects BEFORE You Spend ANY Money Marketing Your Products to Them

It astounds me to no end to see how many times I get expensive promotional mailings sent to me without EVER having first been qualified as being; A) interested in the product, B) able to afford the product or C) having ANY need, currently or in the future, for the product! I know that I will never buy anything from that company, no matter how glitzy a promotion they present me with, so why don’t they know that? Simple, they never took the time to qualify me as a potential prospect.

There are many ways to qualify a prospect, the most simple methods being things such as having the prospect return a business reply mail card from a card-deck, calling an “800” number to request your information or catalog, or by buying a related product from either yourself or a similar business. If you don’t take these simple steps to qualify your prospects, your marketing efforts are being wasted on people who will NEVER buy what you are selling for any number of reasons. Smart marketing starts with qualifying leads.

  Never Focus Your Marketing Communications at the Entire World

Focus on a specific prospect or group and speak to them directly. All too often, marketing communications try to satisfy all the people all the time and as a result end up alienating most prospects most of the time. Face it, you will never be all things to all people all the time so focus on a specific prospect, be able to describe them in a specific situation where your product could directly make their life easier. Ask yourself what are the problems(s) that your prospect is trying to solve and why is it important that he/she solve them with your product.

You will sell more of your products/services to a smaller, more focused, number of prospects and save money in the process by cutting your cost-per-sale dramatically. Stop wasting your precious marketing dollars talking to the world! Focus! Focus! Focus!

State The Specific Problem A Prospect Has And What That Problem Is Costing Him/Her Every Minute It Is Left Unsolved.

Selling on fear is a powerful, yet widely misunderstood, marketing tool that is the most effective and most important element to any marketing communication you will ever write. In order to get your prospect to take notice of what you are selling, you have to blatantly tell them what it is costing them for ignoring your message.

This can be done as a headline, followed by a sub-head explaining the solution: in other words your product or service. (Remember explain the main BENEFIT of your product as the SOLUTION to the problem you have just stated).

 Use The First Line Of Your Document To Attract Attention.

All too often we get caught up in a very common marketing trap. Look at your marketing materials, what is the first thing you see? Is it your fancy company logo, your address, something about how good you think you are? Chances are that is exactly what you will see. The problem is that the prospect doesn’t care about how your logo looks, or how good a company you think you are, all they care about is what’s in it for them.

Begin any marketing piece with a strong statement that will capture the attention of your audience immediately. The first thing your prospect must see in order to gain their attention is a statement of the problem they have followed by the solution you have, backed up by the cost of not solving the problem immediately.

Once you have the attention of your prospect, then you can take the time to explain your product in greater detail. Gain attention first, spell out details later.

Motivate Your Prospect to Act Immediately: While You Have Their Attention!

Now that you have created a need for what you are selling, you have to motivate your prospect to take immediate action, while they are still excited about your product. Wait too long and you know what will happen: the average consumer will soon forget all about what you can do for do for them and quickly move on to the next exciting offer. Convincing a prospect that you have a great solution to a problem they have is only the first step to making the sale. It will do you no good to have the prospect ready to act and not have a reason for them to act immediately.

This is accomplished by using expiration dates, special “limited time” offers, two for one sales, cash discounts, etc… You have to tell your prospect that you have a solution and if they order today, you will add some FREE bonus, grant a discount of XX%, double the order at no charge, pay for shipping, etc… It is of no value to you to get your prospects motivated to buy and not give them ANY compelling reason to act TODAY!!!

Use Testimonials in ALL Your Marketing Communications

To a prospect who is receiving your marketing materials for the first time, your company has little or no credibility; you are virtually unknown to the prospect. Getting around this hurdle and convincing your prospect that others with similar problems HAVE truly benefited in a positive way from your product is the fastest and most effective way of gaining your prospect’s confidence.

Every time you get ANY positive feedback from a prospect, ask them if you can quote them, even if it is just on the telephone. Keep a file of these quotes and have it handy the next time you sit down to create a new marketing piece. Failure to use testimonials will result in undue difficulty in gaining a new prospect’s confidence and will directly impede your sales. The rule of thumb is two testimonials per page, although more might be acceptable, but never less than two per page.

Offer a Strong Risk Reversal or Guarantee of Satisfaction

The common belief that offering a guarantee will simply entice more returns is false; by offering a guarantee of satisfaction you will invariably sell more of your products or services without necessarily increasing your net percentage of returns. Your prospects will be converted into customers more easily and will be less likely to return your products because your guarantee implies faith in the product or service by your company. This may be the final step in getting many stubborn prospects to commit to purchasing your product.

Remember that a return rate that remains below 10% is considered acceptable and should not be of any concern to you.

Simplifying the Purchasing Process as a Final Step

All too often ordering a product is difficult, if not at all worth the effort. All the marketing in the world is useless if purchasing your product is not made easy. If you are selling through the mail, include an order coupon that is large enough to fill out without having to crunch too much information into too small an area.

Provide an “800” number with responsive people to answer questions and take orders. Provide a “postage- paid” return envelope so that orders can be returned the same day.

These simple courtesies go a very long way into closing the sale while the prospect is thinking about it. We are a people accustomed to immediate gratification and it is not only necessary, but it is expected.

Conclusion:

As you can see, marketing is a multi-faceted process that requires a great amount of preparation and is often over- looked as being anything more than a nuisance to the person responsible for creating the marketing communications. I can promise you this: if you follow the 10 guidelines I’ve just presented to you, you will immediately increase you response rates and ultimately your sales. How high a response rate depends on how well you’ve applied the concepts to your marketing.

5 Key Marketing Questions

Posted: July 18, 2011 in Marketing

When you know the answers to these 5 key marketing questions, you can create effective marketing communications. The answers to these 5 questions reveal how you can get your prospect’s attention and motivate them to take the action you want.

1. WHO DO I WANT TO REACH?

Describe detailed characteristics of your ideal prospect. Be very specific. Once you clearly define the characteristics your ideal prospect you can develop a powerful sales message appealing directly to their unique interests and needs. Prospects are more likely to respond when they feel you are talking directly to them about their individual needs.

2. WHAT ACTION DO I WANT TO GENERATE?

Decide in advance what action you are trying to stimulate. Do you want to get inquiries for your product or service? Do you want to produce sales directly from your promotion? Or do you want to build a list of qualified prospects willing to receive frequent offers from you? You can develop an effective promotion in a short time when you have a clear understanding of the action you are trying to generate.

3. WHAT IS MY COMPETITIVE ADVANTAGE?

Identify why prospects should do business with you instead of with a competitor selling a similar product or service. For example, do you provide faster results, easier procedures, personal attention or a better guarantee? If you cannot think of a reason – create one. Add something to your business you are not already doing. Your competitive advantage can be responsible for fifty percent or more of your sales. Make sure you have one – and don’t lose it. Keep checking on your competition and make any changes necessary to keep your competitive advantage.

4. HOW WILL I PROVE MY CLAIMS?

Don’t expect prospects to believe what you say. Make sure you provide proof of any claim you make. For example, collect and use testimonials from satisfied customers. Provide research data supporting your claims. Get endorsements from experts your prospects are likely to recognize.

5. HOW WILL I CREATE URGENCY?

Most prospects do not respond the first time they see your promotion. Instead, they delay making any response – then often forget about you. You can convert many of these procrastinators into buyers by giving them a compelling reason to respond immediately. For example, give them a special price if they order now – or include a valuable bonus if they order by a specific deadline.

 

TIP: Develop a series of 4 or 5 different special offers. Use them one at a time with an expiration deadline. When one offer expires, replace it with the next offer and a new deadline. Continuously recycle through the same series of offers. This enables you to create urgency using special offers without taking time to create new ones.

Once upon a time, there was a village on the banks of a fine, clear river. The villagers all drew their water from the river, and used it to cook, and bathe and water their gardens. Life was good.

During one particular rainy season, the river flooded. When the water went down, the river had cut itself a new channel, far from the village.

The wise village elders conferred and decided to hire someone to supply the village with water. Two villagers stepped forward and asked for the water contract. The village elders decided that a little competition might be a good thing, and issued both villagers a contract.

The first villager, John the Wise, took the new water contract and left the village, saying he would return to the village with great amounts of clear water. It would be many weeks before the villagers again saw John the Wise.

The other villager, Eli the Strong, seeing that he was the only one with a water contract, bought two shiny new buckets and set to work. Every day, Eli would take a bucket in each hand, walk to the river, fill his buckets, and walk back to the village. The villagers would all come and take some of Eli’s water and pay him for it. Eli the Strong was happy.

Soon, however, the villagers wanted more water than Eli could carry in his two buckets. So Eli started making two trips a day, and doubled the amount of money coming in. Eli’s wife was happy.

Again, the villagers soon demanded more water. So, being Eli the Strong after all, Eli fashioned a yoke for his back and bought two additional buckets. Eli could now carry four buckets of water on each round trip, and again the money coming into the Strong household doubled.

Each time the villagers demanded more water, Eli would come up with a way to make more trips to the river, and carry more buckets on each trip. Eventually, Eli could do no more and spent every waking moment on the road between the village and the river.

About this time, John the Wise returned. He surveyed the land around the village and made arrangements to cross some of the villagers’ fields. He started laying down strange tubes, making one long tube from the river all the way to the village.

John would stand on the river bank with his bucket, and scoop water from the river into the tube. The water would run down the tube, and into a tank John built at the edge of the village.

Soon the village became accustomed to getting their water from John’s tank when they wanted it, and stopped waiting for Eli the Strong. Soon Eli the Strong had to fold up his business, for there were no customers for his water.

John the Wise then hired Eli the Strong, giving him the money from every tenth bucket. Once John trusted Eli to continue pouring water into the tube, he disappeared again.

This time, when John the Wise returned, he constructed a strange wheel-like machine that turned in the river’s current. With each turn of the wheel, water poured from the scoops on the wheel into the tube, so no one need stand and labor. The villagers had clear water whenever they desired, and in any quantity.

John then went to other villages and obtained contracts to supply water. Once the contract was in hand, he would build a pipeline and a water wheel, and move on again.

Soon most of the villages had their own pipelines, and John the Wise had enough money coming in that he no longer had to work to feed himself.

People came from far and wide to consult with John about the miracle of the abundant, clear water. Being John the Wise, he offered them all the same proposition. John would teach them how to construct pipelines and water wheels, and they would pay John the money from every one hundredth bucket. They paid someone like Eli the Strong from every tenth bucket, and kept the money for 89 of 100 for themselves. John further allowed them to teach the secrets themselves, as long as John was paid the money for every hundredth bucket produced.

Pipelines multiplied throughout the land, and John the Wise became John the Wealthy, and lived happily ever after…

What can we learn from this story?

When Eli the Strong received his water contract, he went from being an employee to being self-employed. In reality, Eli simply changed employers. His income was still limited by the number of trips he could make to the river, and the amount of water he could carry. And if he didn’t carry water every day, he didn’t get paid.

When John the Wise set up his pipeline, he was like an affiliate in today’s Internet global village. He had a better way to do the work, yet his income still depended on his own efforts. His water wheel automated his business, like an automated web site. Yet he was still limited to that village and that river.

When John started building water wheels for others, it was like having his own affiliate program. Other villagers (affiliates) used his technology to profit themselves, and John made money from their efforts. John the Wise was also John the Business Owner.

When John started allowing those to whom he licensed his water wheel to in turn license it to others, John the Wise became John the Entrepreneur. John made money from the efforts of those he licensed the water wheel to, and from the efforts of wheel licensers he never even met.

And if you look back at the end of the story, John the Wise became John the Wealthy, and lived happily ever after.

My question to you, then, is this:

Are you hauling buckets, or are you building pipelines?