No matter how small or large your business, certain guidelines apply to marketing.
Marketing requires a commitment.
- Balance time, effort, money and creativity.
- Establish a specific amount of time to market your business on a regular basis, such as phoning or visiting prospects and other contacts. Take the time to prepare a script, or at least notes on what you want to say. Marketing goals and calendars come in handy!
- As Jay Conrad Levinson states in his books about Guerrilla Marketing, if you can’t rely on money, use creativity and effort in place of expensive promotional activities. These efforts can yield significant benefits if your business is based on building long term relationships.
- Establish a program and give it adequate time to produce results.
- Visit the competition or study their marketing materials.
Marketing is an investment.
- An often used example compares marketing to investing in a blue chip stock. The value of this stock has highs and lows, but over the long run is profitable.
- Just as the stock market responds to factors such as gas prices, hurricanes and politics, your marketing efforts experience peaks and valleys.
- Think about the impacts from seasonality, technology improvements, training, and employee turnover.
- Don’t hesitate to ask questions before spending your money!
Marketing should be consistent.
- Seek to build trust with your customers so they know what to expect from your product or service. Consider how long it takes you to trust others before you’re willing to do business with them, or refer someone else to them.
- Clearly state the benefits of your products and services throughout all your marketing messages. Identify the key benefits and focus on them!
- If you provide a product or service that isn’t frequently purchased, you need to assure customers you’re still in business.
- Think about the marketing messages sent to your home or business. How many times must you see a message before you give it a second thought, or call the business?
Marketing efforts can be improved with testing.
- If you are planning to place an ad, use direct mail or even design a new business card, test a few options to see which brings the best response.
- Experts recommend involving people who have no vested interest in your success so they’ll be honest with you.
- Again, what recent messages have been the most effective for you? Look through various publications and gather samples of what you find effective.
Marketing activities should be tracked and measured.
- When your phone starts ringing, ask your prospects how they heard about you. If a retailer, ask a few questions when purchases are made.
- Track mailed promotional items.
- Compare the cost versus the effectiveness of your efforts. As an example, I’ve joined a BNI group and I’m weighing the cost in terms of dollars and time invested versus the amount of business I’ve gained and professional contacts made.
Marketing requires more than one tool or method.
- Examples of marketing tools include business cards, elevator speeches or tag lines, note cards for saying thanks or glad we met, client testimonials, websites, seminars, trade shows, coupons and samples.
- Examples of paid advertising include newspaper ads, billboards, and CDs/DVDs.
- Again, it’s beneficial to evaluate the effectiveness of each method.
And if you haven’t guessed, marketing success and your business’ success is dependent upon knowledge about
- your costs
- your customers
- your competition.