Your website, email marketing, advertising, PR, and internal and outside sales should all be in concert
By John Houle
Every business owner or manager has gotten that sales call. It’s that silver bullet answer for all your marketing. It’s that one specialty publication, ad campaign, SEO and SEM package that is the answer for your marketing needs. As someone who has been doing this for nearly twenty years, let me tell you the truth – that one marketing solution does not exist. It is as much snake oil as the salesman on the other end.
Do you want to know what actually works?
It’s implementation and execution. In fact, the very best ideas often fall victim to a lack of execution. Often times campaigns start with such vigor and only teeter into obscurity.
So then what is the solution? Read on and I will give you my best answer. But, first I will not pretend that I am some advertising oracle, and what I write will solve your marketing malaise. Instead, I’m going to share with you some solid strategies and marketing advice that are time tested and true.
- Have a plan that starts with a marketing audit. What did you spend on marketing and advertising last year? What worked and what didn’t? Do you keep spending money in that same newspaper or TV station simply because you did it last year? You need to take a hard look at what you’re spending, what you’re spending it on, and the actual results your marketing achieves. Then, you need to set aside a certain percent of your gross revenue and dedicate it to marketing.
- Make sure you have the fundamentals first. The fundamentals are a professional website and marketing materials to hand out to prospects. Your website needs to have content that has been updated this century, with fresh content every month. This website should showcase who you are as a business, and it has the potential to dramatically drive in new sales. But if you don’t update it with new promotions and areas of interest, and work to make sure your products and services are properly found by these potential customers, your website will be no different than a static brochure. The top products and services your sales people are promoting should be front and center on your website. At the same time, the marketing materials handed out by your salespeople should match what is promoted on the website; the great thing about the Web is that you can have all the details about your product and services, complete with videos, white papers, etc., that a handout never can include.
- Ensure that your customers really know all the services you provide. This should go without saying, but how many times have you heard from a customer that they weren’t aware that you provided a certain service? Sometimes they pigeonhole you into the one product or service that you currently provide them. You need to be actively cross-selling your products to your customer base. We’ve all heard the saying that it’s far more cost effective to keep a customer than to find a new one. What are you doing right now to make sure you’re effectively telling your best prospects – your current customers – all that you have to sell? Are you sending targeted letters or emails that are customized to each current customer on current products you are selling? You know that the more products and services you sell to your customer, the less likely they are to leave you, because you have become indispensible to them.
- Put your external advertising dollars where your potential customers are. I cannot tell you how many pitches I have heard from TV, radio, newspaper, and web providers about the best advertising campaign ever. Today, we have TV stations, radio stations, and newspapers selling web ads, and yellow page directories now online experts.
How do you know what is the best marketing option for your business?
It starts with targeting. Who is that customer you’re going after? Are they women 35-45? Or is it men 25-34? Or is it CEO’s? Once you determine whom you want to reach, then you have to look at the best vehicle to reach that targeted consumer. What do they watch on TV, what radio stations do they listen to, what do they read? Design a campaign that targets them directly.
For example, if you’re trying to reach men and women, 35-54, you’re best bet is still the local TV news. These consumers still want to know what’s happening in their local community. They watch the weather to plan for their weekend, and they want to know how their local team did. You can target that same consumer on his or her way into work with the right radio station, and when he or she comes home you can have an ad in their local community paper. And of course, all these ads have the same primary message, the same sales pitch, and the same promotion.
So, now that you have some solid marketing advice, remember the most essential thing – execution. You have to do it. You have to commit and implement these campaigns consistently over the course of time if you actually want to see results.
John Houle is the president of JH Communications and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 401.831.6123.