Marketing comes down to this: making the path between salesperson and client into a superhighway. You can dress it up and throw a lot of lingo behind it, but that is what you are essentially doing. You are providing the necessary ingredients for a successful sale. Your primary goal is to create conversions that you measure in levels of interest. A marketer plants the seeds and gardens, while the sales person harvests the client/product sale.” Stuart Foster
“Advertising is a single component of the marketing process. It’s the part that involves getting the word out concerning your business, product, or the services you are offering….. Think of marketing as everything that an organization does to facilitate an exchange between company and consumer.” Laura Lake
In this challenging economic climate, it is imperative that businesses that want to thrive (or even survive) must not ignore the basics of marketing. In the following few short paragraphs, it is my goal to challenge you to examine your marketing. From what our members tell us in response to surveys and on the phone, it is an area that obviously is in need of more attention in most businesses.
Pencil in Planning: Operating without a plan is a plan to fail. Do you have a list of methods or means by which you are actively working to get the word out to your potential clients about your company’s services? Are the activities built into the calendar such as post card mailing campaigns or participation in business referral groups or other actions that will place information about your business before the client? Planning and execution are the key here. Do you send Thank-You cards to clients? A "Little Something" tea bag to a big November client at Christmas resulted in an additional $160 of work last week. Be proactive. Outline some things you can do to promote your business, make a list of the “next steps” and start doing them and you’ll be surprised at the progress. Good intentions don’t create sales.
Put aside Prejudices: I can’t afford to do __! The reality and truth is that you can’t afford not to take steps that will put your business into the path of sales. To do so you must take action and invest some money. Done properly, advertising pieces generate a return on the investment.
An article and an ad that cost $175 last week paid for themselves in the first two phone calls and we broke even by the third one—and calls are still coming in a week later. You can copy off some fliers and pass them out door to door if printing postage is beyond your current budget. Reinvest some of the money you create with the new business from one campaign into the next or an expansion of the current success. While you may only get a return of 1% on a mailing if it costs $100 to send and your generate $400 in new business you have just created more operating capital for your business. When your competitors are pulling their advertising, now is the time to look for great deals on expanding yours. As we’ve suggested in earlier Newsletters, try some of the hundreds of free or inexpensive ideas suggested in books like Jay Conrad Levinson’s Guerrilla Marketing for Free or one of his other books. Creative ideas that won’t break the bank could be just what is needed to generate some new cash flow.
Advertising costs a lot of money! Yes, paid advertising does, however you can get free or inexpensive publicity and exposure through donations of service to charity auctions, interviews, article submissions to local papers or community newsletters or other similar things. I chuckle at the banners on the gym wall in our local gym. Some local small business paid to sponsor a banner; a “big” bank also sponsored a banner. The only difference in the two big banners is the color of the trim, but the small business paid a fraction of the price. The publicity they get and new contacts generated probably more than makes up for any loss of prestige felt corporately for not having paid 4x times as much to be a “Gold” sponsor. It is certain you can’t just sit back and wait for the phone to ring.
Put Yourself Out: The fear of finding yourself “out on the street” if nothing else, may provide enough incentive or motivation to get you out of the nest. Take action to move outside of your “comfort zone” and explore avenues of opportunity that you have yet to either seriously explore or give an honest effort to developing. Join a local referrals group, Chamber of Commerce or business networking club. Fire or lay off the bad hire that is costing your business money in terms of stress, lost opportunity costs and lost production. If the opportunity is there to hire the “A” player that will more than pay their way as a member of your team - don’t wait until someone else drafts them first. Strengthen your team while the market has more affordable “A-B” players for hire than it has at any time in recent years. Realize they aren’t necessarily out looking for work because of their own performance! Pick up the phone and call some big new prospects. If there is a chance they may say “Yes” why call $100 prospects when $1,000 prospects can say the same words. WHO is limiting YOUR thinking?
Put aside Pride: Finally, be honest. None of us has the perfect business. Ask others for help. Network with other blind cleaners etc. and discover they are human too. Those who are genuinely successful aren’t hiding their secrets (unless you share the same area code). The financial distance between struggling along and success probably isn’t as far apart as you think it is. The most important distance in the equation being the altitude of the attitude that flies between your ears.
If you aren’t busy, work on your marketing. If you are busy, work on your marketing. One can’t stay in business long without paying attention to the activities that generate relationships with the clients whose support pays the bills.