900 Pound Gorilla In The Room
Is there a 900-Pound Gorilla in Your Room?
If there is a 900 lb gorilla in the room of business today it is the lack of use of effective marketing tools. Many of you in the last few years in an effort to save money have cut back or eliminated your hard promotion. By hard promotion I mean printed materials: brochures, post cards, even catalogs and manuals. The new buzz- word is “We are going Green”. In the extreme, going green means to go “paperless” on everything by using electronic mediums such as email, video, and PDF documents to promote.
The tested fact is that your customers respond better to something they can hold on to, feel and touch. The human race is still touchy-feely. Our society the last few years has become overburden with electronic advertising.
Think about it, when was the last time you read an entire email or worse someone sent you a manual in a PDF document via email. OMG! PDF manuals or multi-page proposals go in my going-to-read-someday, but never-actually-ever-get-around-to-reading bin.
I am in NO way saying email or Web marketing is bad, we use it in our business. It has its place. What I am saying is the Internet is an ingredient in the marketing mix, not the entire pie.
What is the least expensive way to include direct mail in your promotional plans?
I know what some of you are thinking, “Sure Mark, you sell printed materials like postcard and brochures, of course you think that is the best!” True enough. But, I am also a business owner and just like you, I want more new customers and I am not particular as to how I get them. We use email and web advertising but we also use direct mail marketing, brochures and note cards as part of the mix. The hard marketing materials get noticed and generate response more reliably than electronic. As a matter of fact, our post card mailings drive people to our web site which drives business to our phone.
Using email or web advertising as your sole form of advertising presents a couple of problems:
- It is difficult to get an email list that has enough people on it to make a difference. It is also very risky to buy an email list because the people on the list may have “opt-ed in” but they did not opt-in to you.If you get black-listed, people will not be able to go to your web pages, you personal emails will not go out. You will have to rebuild everything from your domain name on up.
- People are being emailed to death so they are not paying attention like they used to. Spam blocking software is the number one selling software. (That should tell you something.)
- The World Wide Web is the modern day Wild West with tons of web cowboys competing for attention. Competition is fierce and there are little or no restrictions of what can be claimed or promised. It can be very difficult to get noticed. You also have to stay on top of Internet marketing because it is changing everyday.
- Staying ahead of this economy requires smart and well-planned marketing tools, this is the key to increasing sales. Using a combination of mediums will usually bring you the best results.
The following 14 points are keystones to successful promotion:
- Survey your customers, find out what is needed and wanted and give them exactly that.
- Focus your message on the benefits of what you do – from your customer’s point of view.
- Keep your descriptions and explanations simple. Make sure not to use words and phrases that a layman will not easily understand. Using big words or industry terms creates confusion for the customer and drives business away. All a customer really wants to know is how your product or service will solve a particular problem and make life easier for them.
- Combine email or web marketing with print advertising, post cards or direct mail. Use direct mail to drive traffic to your web site.
- Be consistent and regular in your advertising because people are buying what you are selling everyday. You have to work hard to make yourself known or people will forget about you.
- Make sure you set aside money for marketing and promotion every week and that you spend your money you set aside on marketing and promotion every week. Reject the notion that you can or should cut marketing and advertising when business slows. When you do so you are cutting the very thing that will bring you more business.
- Make sure you know what a customer is really worth to your company. Knowing this number will help you track your return on investment. We have an easy formula to help you calculate this.
- Have and use some sort of a database to keep customer information and notes, even if it is only a manila folder. The main goal of your business is to capture the identities of people who are interested in your services and people who have bought from you so they can be marketed to. The more complete your database is, the more effective you can be in your marketing and promotion.
- Use the phone and personal visits to contact your customers and prospects. Make sure your sales people are sending out personal notes with buck slips to customers. Often a hand written note delivered USPS generates great results. I have one of our sales people who is getting 7 – 10% response rate sending personal handwritten notes. We even offer a bulk mail program that is written in a handwritten font, which is very effective.
- Make sure you have professionally designed brochures and sales flyers that tell your story and give the benefits of doing business with your company. Don’t horde or save brochures and promotional materials, pass them out liberally. They won’t sell anything if they are on the shelf collecting dust. Find new ways to get your promotional materials in the hands of your customers and prospects. Brochures make great follow up pieces to send to a prospect after they call or stop in.
- If appropriate, get professionally printed pocket folders to put all of your materials in. The more professional you look, the more people will trust your company. Corporate Identy is key. Everything a customer sees or touches should look professional and tie together. Do not underestimate the power of themed and coordinated materials to sway a customer’s buying decision.
- Every person who calls or expresses an interest in your services should receive at least 3 pieces of hard mail from you. This can be a thank you note, a follow up brochure and/or an information pack. Repetition sells.
- This one should be a no brainer, but I am surprised at the number of businesses that let this one slip. Keep your store and especially areas where a customer might be or see – clean and neat. Nothing tarnishes a professional image faster than a dirty or disorganized store. I have seen businesses increase sales overnight simply by cleaning and organizing their store. It does not cost anything, only a little time and elbow grease.
- And ABOVE ALL – DELIVER WHAT YOU PROMISE. The quickest way to put your self out of business is to leave a wake of upset customers. Word gets around. By research, an angry customer will tell 15 – 20 people about their bad experience and a happy customer tells an average of 3 people. For this reason, you should have a way to collect success stories and use them in your promotional materials, because you will increases your good word of mouth.
Many of your competitors are back on their heels. Now is the time to strike with a planned marketing program and take business away from them.
If you would like to sit down for a few minutes for a consultation with one of our representatives on how best to combine electronic marketing with direct mail marketing, please give us a call!
If you are interested in getting some assistance with your marketing call us at 727-536-4173.