Monthly Archives: December 2008

Happy Holidays

We’re taking a break for the holidays, but we’ll be back Tuesday January 6 to help you make 2009 profitable – even when the outlook is gloomy.

Hope everyone has a happy and healthy holiday.

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Be Conservative In Your Business. Not Your Marketing.

A recent Creative Group study found that 65% of Marketing executives wished their agencies would take more risks.  While taking marketing risks may seem counter-intuitive in today’s rough economy, it is actually sage advice for businesses to adhere to.

It is marketing’s job to create a connection with your audience in encourage them to act.  If you communicate like everyone else, it is harder to make that connection.  Yet in tough economic times, businesses seem hesitant to take risks for fear they might offend a potential customer.

But the reality is taking creative risks is one of your best chances to gain customers by standing out from the crowd. This does not mean you need dancing monkeys.  It does mean trying new things.  

If no one in your industry offers a guarantee, determine how you can offer one that is meaningful to your audience.  

If your competition all use the same imagery in their ads, be willing to be different – just make sure the imagery is relevant.

This is not a time for business as usual.  

As you look forward to 2009 think about how you can stand out from your competition not just in what you you communicate, but how you communicate.  And just because no one has done it in your industry, doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be done.  

So be conservative about how you run your business, not in how you market it.  

When done right, taking marketing risks will actually help you market smarter.

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New Year’s Marketing Resolution

While only the second week of December I wanted to make sure everyone got this New Year’s marketing resolution before things got quiet around the holidays.  

I think all businesses should resolve to increase their marketing effectiveness – as measured by sales or leads – by 5% – 10% without increasing your marketing spend.

Sound like an impossible resolution?  It is not as hard as it seems.  The key – audit your brand position, your competition and your marketing.  

Your brand – is it still relevant to your customer wants and needs?  How can it be modified to be more compelling and relatable?  

Your Competition – What changes have they made in the past year?  Have they become more or less relevant to your audience? Are any of the verge of going out of business?  

Your Marketing – Does it best reflect your brand?  Is it consistent?  Is it competitive?

But don’t look at just your collateral, website and ads.  

Audit all of your marketing; your invoices, email signatures, phone conversations, voicemail messages, reports anything that touches your audience.  You’d be surprised what small improvements in any of these areas will do to improve your bottom line.

For example, if your company is known for operational efficiency, are prospects on hold longer than a minute when they call?  

If your company prides itself on being on the leading edge of technology, do customers see PCs that are more than two years old when they come to your office?

All of these items are marketing and slight adjustments can garner positive results.

If you can, use an objective party – not necessarily yourself, your ad agency or PR firm – to audit your marketing.  Use someone like a trusted advisor or another third party who does not have a vested interest in the work they have done or benefit from creating new work.

I bet you’ll find at least five places that could be improved which, in turn, will help you keep your new marketing resolution.

2009 is going to be a tough year, but you can mitigate it by making sure you market smarter.

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Want Inexpensive Out-of-Home Ads? Look To Your Employees.

Want to reward your employees and have an inexpensive way to market your business?

Pay your employees to let you advertise on their cars.

Grip Promotions – an event marketing firm – sent me this idea. His clients typically pay employees $50 a month to carry the advertising message on their car.

An example of using an employees car for advertising.

An example of using an employee's car for advertising.

Production costs range from $75 – $100 for printing and installation.

Considering a typical outdoor board can range from $400 – $2,500 a month this is pretty cost effective way to promote your business.

To track its effectiveness, run a promotion.  Give each employee a number on their ad and ask the public to visit your web site for a chance to win a prize.  All the public has to  do is call or visit a URL and enter the number they saw on the rear window.

There are many ways to creatively promote your business.  If you have any ideas that have worked well for you, we hope you will share them on this blog.  Doing so will help everyone market smarter.

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Why Sharing Customers Is A Good Thing.

A client posed a question to me: “Customers are your most valuable asset, so why in the world would you share them with another company”?  

My answer is simple – to get more customers.  

If you can partner with non-competing, complementary businesses who have a similar customer base, you can have access to a huge group of potential new customers at virtually no cost. In exchange for letting them market to your customer base, you get to market to their customer base.

For example, if you provide pest control services – find companies who also provide home services like electricians, plumbers, etc.  If you own a retailer that sells athletic gear, find a fitness center in which to partner.

If you think about it, you’ll be amazed at the opportunities.

Before you jump in, there are some important steps to remember.

1. Reputation – Make sure the company you partner with has a reputation you want to be associated with.

2. Courtesy – Let the company you are partnering with make the introduction to their customers and vice-versa.  It’s just good customer etiquette.

3. Incentive – Provide an exclusive offer to these new customers to encourage them to try your services. 

4. Recognition – If you are going to market directly to their customers, make sure you merge your customer information so you don’t market to their customers who may also be your customers.

5. Tracking – Make sure you are able to track which new customers come from their customer base so you know if the partnership is equitable. 

Sharing customers can be a great, inexpensive source for growth.  Just another way to help you market smarter.

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