So how do you start? Drip marketing for new accounts involves four steps:

Plan – Developing a good plan is the very first step to ensuring that you have effective drip marketing for the whole year. Not only that. You should also have a plan of action for each month.  As with any good marketing, planning your drip marketing involves a careful and in depth understanding of your target market. Who are your potential clients? Where can you yield the most impact?

This means that your efforts should concentrate on those who have the most potential to switch from just a possible client to a definite buyer of your product or service.  Nevertheless, you should also drip market to the less productive fields as this will also gain you possible clients. You can utilize a lower-cost campaign or less frequent marketing. Just so you cover all possible areas for your drip marketing campaign.

Strategize – The second step is to implement your plan for your new account strategy. Not just to execute, but to do it strategically. Drip marketing works best if you “drip” your message consistently and at the right time. You need to have a plan of action throughout the whole year.  This means drip marketing every month. And sticking to it. For an easier time, you can develop simple yet effective systems that you can implement anytime.

You will not have to put extra effort for the next step every time you begin your campaign for the month. This would also help you re-strategize or fine-tune your plan if a system is not working after a few months.

Diversify – Repeated marketing campaigns over time become boring and unattractive. Make sure that you do not do it to your marketing campaign. Instead, change your approach- your offer and your message- as the season changes. You can also vary your segment or sequence.

Nonetheless, make sure you provide value to your drip marketing, as well as in your message. Your target audience will not even look at it if they do not find any use to your offer, even if you come out that often.

Keep Track – Finally, your drip marketing will not be effective if you do not have a strong and solid tracking system to measure your results. Make sure that you have the right systems in place to report on the outcome of your marketing campaign.

Drip marketing is all about having a plan of action. With the economy limping along, including drip marketing to your best new prospects can help you a great deal in making sure that you have an effective marketing campaign to capture all that you can.

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Writing Benefit-Driven Copy

Posted: July 25, 2011 in Marketing

You’ve identified the benefits you offer your customers, but how do you turn a list of benefits into engaging copy?

As a copy writer, many of the projects we’ve undertake are for completely new products. The client has some general ideas about what they’d like to convey, but they need someone who can fine-tune their message, and create copy which engages their readers. As a result, over the years I’ve developed a process for doing this effectively. There are four main steps:

  1. Identify benefits
  2. Identify how you deliver these benefits
  3. Prioritize your benefits
  4. Write the content

STEP 1 – Identify your benefits

Branding aside, most new product introductions are about selling. Customers don’t want to know what you can do; they want to know what you can do for THEM. That means the first question you should ask is, “What benefits do I offer my customers?” This is usually the first step toward identifying the key message to be conveyed. That’s not to say that you shouldn’t describe your products and services. You just need to make sure it describes them in terms of benefits to your customer.

STEP 2 – Identify how you deliver these benefits

Of course, you can’t just claim to deliver benefits and stop at that. You need to support that claim. You’re going to need to convince your audience that you actually do deliver these benefits. Anyone can say they deliver benefits, but few can say it persuasively.

From step 1 you’ll have a list of benefits. Now you need to think about how you deliver each benefit in that list. This is where you start talking about features – price, product highlights, distribution channel, competitor weaknesses, external factors, USP’s, etc. It’s helpful if you draw up a table with one column for benefits and one for the features which deliver those benefits.

You’ll probably find this process much easier than identifying benefits. In fact, you’ve probably got most of this information written down already… somewhere. If not, chances are you uncovered a good portion of it when you were brainstorming for benefits.

TIP: If you’re having trouble identifying supporting features, before filling out the table, try listing everything you can think of which relates to what you do and how you do it. Don’t worry about the order. Just brain dump onto a piece of paper, a whiteboard, a Word document, anywhere… Don’t leave anything out, even if it seems unimportant. If you start getting lost, think back to the question you’re trying to answer: How do you deliver your list of benefits to your customer? Once you’ve done your brain dump, read through it and decide which specific benefit each feature delivers.

STEP 3 – Prioritize your benefits

Now that you’ve identified all the things you COULD say, it’s time to figure out what you SHOULD say and where you should say it. This is where your benefits-features table comes into play. Read through your list of benefits and prioritize them according to how compelling they will be to your reader.

The reason for this? Priority determines prominence. The most compelling benefits will need to be prominent.

TIP: Be aware that your list may include some benefits which everyone in your business category could claim. In other words, they’re not just specific to your company, but apply to the type of service you offer. For example, if you sell a Content Management System (CMS) for website creation, you may list “Greater control for marketing managers” and “Less expense updating content” as benefits. Every CMS vendor could claim these benefits, so you’ll need to question their importance. Will they differentiate you from your competitors? Generic benefits can be useful if none of your competitors are using them, or if you feel you need to educate your market a bit before launching into company-specific benefits.

STEP 4 – Write your content

So now you know what you’d like to say, it’s time to decide how to say it. This is about three things:

  • Subject – What is the subject of your site; features or benefits?
  • Structure – How do you structure your site such that your customers will read your most compelling benefits?
  • Words – What words should you use to best engage your audience (and the search engines)?

Subject

What is the subject of your marketing piece; features or benefits? The answer to this question lies in audience identification. If your audience knows a bit about the type of product or service you’re selling, lead with features (e.g. processor speed, turnaround time, uptime, expertise, educational qualifications, wide product range, etc.). But make sure you talk about their benefits, and make sure the features offering the most important benefits are the most prominent.

Here’s a simplified example…

Cool Widgets offers:

  • Standard Operating Environment – Significantly reducing the complexity of your IT infrastructure
  • System upgrades which are less expensive to license – Providing excellent TCO reductions

In cases where you’re selling to an audience who knows very little about your product or service, lead with benefits (e.g. if you’re selling something technical to a non-technical audience).

Here’s the same simplified example, reversed for a novice audience…

Cool Widgets offers:

  • Reduced complexity of IT infrastructure – We can implement a Standard Operating Environment for your organization
  • Reduced TCO – We can upgrade your IT to systems which are less expensive to license

Structure

How do you structure your piece such that your customers will be sure to read your most compelling benefits? The answer is, keep it short ‘n sweet. And make it scannable. This doesn’t mean you have to cut features or benefits. You just have to structure your piece to accommodate your message.

While every piece is different, as a rule of thumb it’s a good idea to introduce your main features and benefits on your early on. Summarize them – preferably using bullet points, but at the very least, clearly highlight them so that your audience can scan-read (e.g. bold, underline, color, link).

Conclusion

Effective marketing communication is about far more than just clever words. It’s essential that you identify the benefits you offer your customer, and that you can convince your customer you actually deliver those benefits.

I hope that the guidance and tools provided in this article will help you on your way to engaging copy which converts to sales.

 

Drip marketing is the process of sending out several promotional pieces consistently over a period of time to a targeted list. This direct marketing idea is aimed at staying in touch with your current and potential customers.  It is essential to have your targeted prospects and best customers think of you when they, or someone they know, need your product/service. It is well understood that it takes at least seven impressions before you and/or your product is recognized.

Plan your drip marketing campaign with 8-10 mailings to go beyond being recognized and move to being top-of-mind in your profession. To do this there are ways to get your promotional pieces seen and read.  Design your campaign so there is constant contact with your customers and prospects. Keep in mind that they want to be kept informed, educated, or understand something about your product or industry.

When it comes to your business you know:

  • How to perform in depth applications. Example: Follow-up a software purchase with advanced user tips and tricks so your customer will get more use from your program.
  • How to use your product that may be a complimentary use your customer hasn’t thought of. Example: “Our anti-static dryer sheets can also be used as drawer liners to keep your clothes smelling fresh.”
  • What your service includes besides what is customary. “As your Real Estate Agent I will show you houses, but also give you a tour of the surrounding community including schools, shopping complexes, restaurants, daycare, or whatever you’d like to see.”

Provide this information in a quick and concise format.  Start with a graphic that will get the recipient to notice your mail piece as they sort through all of the direct mail they receive. Consider sending the mail piece in a unique package that will by-pass those pesky gatekeepers. Personalize the mail piece with the recipient’s name with Variable Data Printing and consider using a Personalized URL micro site.

Draft a headline that will ignite their attention and force them to read on. Back-up your headline with a powerful statement that explains ‘specifically’ how your product/service will assist them, insert your picture so they feel like they know you, and have a strong call-to-action statement.

Segment your audience carefully. You may need to create sub-segments so the message you send to each segment is relevant for them. The campaign you create for your customers will be different than for potential customers. An effective drip marketing campaign requires that you send specific messages to specific audiences.

There are several ways you can deliver your message.

  • Personal delivery by your sales representative. This will provide your representative a personal stake in the campaign and may allow them some face-time with the prospect.
  • Send the package via UPS or FedEX. By requiring a signature and obtaining a tracking number you can be assured the package was delivered and provide easy method to follow-up.

Think of drip marketing as your way to nurture your current and potential customers. This campaign will keep them aware of your products/service and is an effective way to create a steady amount of business coming in the door.

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.

Business Trade Advertising

Posted: July 19, 2011 in Advertising

Advertising is an investment in your business and is similar to other investments that are designed to improve and expand your business. The return you receive depends on the planning and thought that precede the actual commitment and expenditure of advertising dollars. By first developing an effective advertising plan, you increase the likelihood of a positive return on your advertising investment, regardless of the amount of money you spend.

 

Four Basic Questions

The basic premise of an advertising plan requires you to thoroughly analyze the answers to key questions before you can make effective advertising decisions. There are four key questions to ask yourself:
1. What do I want my advertising to accomplish?

2. Who should my advertising speak to?

3. What should my advertising say?

4. What advertising medium should I use?

In a specific business situation, each question has any number of potential answers. As you think about each question, do not accept any answer until you have considered and explored the full range of possibilities.

What Do I Want My Advertising To Accomplish?
The first step in developing your advertising plan is to specify your advertising goals. Be as precise as you can as to why you are advertising and what you want to achieve. Everyone wants advertising to increase business, but for your advertising plan to work, it requires you to be more precise. Some possible goals for your advertising are:

  • To increase awareness of your business.
  • To attract competitors’ customers.
  • To increase the likelihood of keeping current customers and developing their loyalty.
  • To generate immediate sales or sales leads.

It is possible that you may want your advertising to achieve all of these goals plus some others. What is important is that you prioritize your goals. Advertising works best when it is developed to meet one specific goal at a time.

Who Should My Advertising Speak To?
Once you determine your advertising goals, you can then select the target audience for your message. Keep in mind that advertising that tries to reach “everyone” rarely succeeds. Successful advertising is written with a specific customer in mind. Try to picture the person you must reach in order to achieve your advertising goals. Try to describe your target consumers in each of the following:

  • Demographics: such as gender, age, income, location of residence or business, etc.
  • Behaviors: such as current awareness of your business; the products, services or vendors they currently use; loyalty to you or your competitor’s business, etc.
  • Needs or desires: such as what benefits consumers look for, the basis on which they will decide whether to use your product or service, how your business can fulfill those needs, etc.

What Should My Advertising Say?
Once you know who your target audience is and what they are looking for in terms of the product or service you offer, you can decide what your advertising will say. Advertising should always be written to communicate a message that will be seen as important by your target customer. Your advertising should clearly and convincingly “speak” to your target audience, explaining the important benefits your product or service offers. In deciding how to discuss the major benefits of your product or service in your advertising, keep “AIDA” in mind: attract Attention, hold Interest, arouse Desire and motivate Action.

Where Should I Place My Advertising?
Every month, new advertising options become available. Beyond “traditional” media you can place ads in airports, on ski lifts and on television monitors in the front of grocery carts. Where you place your advertising should be guided by a simple principle: Go where your target audience will have the highest likelihood of seeing or hearing it. Many advertising media work well to reach a diverse range of target audiences. There is no single medium that is inherently good or bad. In fact, a good medium for one product or service may be a poor medium for another. As you consider media choices, look for one that fits your advertising goals, reaches your target efficiently and cost effectively and is within your advertising budget.

Networking comes naturally for some, but for those business professionals who are shy, it can be torture. One of the biggest deterrents to effective networking is shyness and the lack of confidence to get out there and meet new people. Even if you consider yourself a naturally outgoing person, you’ve probably had moments where the thought of entering a room full of strangers made you nervous.

First, you need to realize that the majority of people are shy – at least in certain situations. You’re not the only one! Once you adopt this realization, it does wonders for you. See that executive standing by himself? Deep beneath all the power and prestige there’s probably a shy man wishing and waiting for someone to strike up a conversation with him.

Next, practice your networking skills with friends and family. Make a list of all the people you see frequently, but maybe haven’t had the chance to talk with recently. As the situation permits, practice the art of small talk with these people who you know are friendly toward you. The same skills you use with your family and friends can be used for friends you haven’t met yet

Another good tactic is to find someone who is naturally extroverted, and get him or her to introduce you to others. This works well for two reasons. First, it will be much easier to meet new people. Your friend will act as the link between you and the person you’re meeting – providing information and getting a conversation started. Second, your talkative friend will help cover any awkward gaps in conversation.

Look for the wallflowers. Wallflowers are other shy people who like to stand by themselves, away from others. People like the shy executive I used as an illustration earlier are just waiting for others to come and talk with them. Be that person and reap the rewards!
If you don’t want to be always seeking others out, position yourself so they come to you. Put yourself in situations that force you to meet new people. Work at a reception desk. Offer to be a greeter for an event. You’ll find it very easy to talk with people when they come to you.

Finally, develop your conversational skills. By reading a couple of good books on the art of talking with others, you’ll develop your ability to effectively communicate with others.