The usual complaint from companies is that Marketing simply does not yield as expected. So much effort, time, and money goes into campaigns, and yet the frustrations persist: Why aren’t sales up? Why are we not growing? And the truth, sadly enough, is that no one can really pinpoint what is working well, and what simply is not producing anything (and costing the company!).
As with anything else, preparation is key. Without laying a foundation for success, success will not magically appear.
Strategy comes first, allowing you to determine your goals and what actions you will need to take accordingly. Once strategy is firmly in place, you will have the language at your disposal for all communications with your target audience.
Here are important areas to define:
1. Identify who you are, your values, what you stand for
2. Have a clear vision for where your company is headed, a mission statement to live by
3. Be sure you understand your product and/or service well
4. Always know your audience inside and out
5. Dissect in great detail what the benefits of your product/service are
Note that going through this process is crucial whether you have been in business for a day or for a decade! And it is important to review these areas periodically, at least once a year. In doing so, you continually have a good grasp of who you are and what your purpose is as a company.
Your overall strategy unfolds from the above answers and statements. Before diving into the gameplan, answer the following questions, which will help define the direction you will take in the years to come:
1. Where do we want to be as a company in a year? What does it look and feel like?
2. How about in five years?
3. Ten years?
Be detailed. Don’t hold back as you define every aspect of your organization, and how you will interface with all those around you: management, employees, clients, and vendors. The thought precedes the event, therefore start by painting the picture, and its realization will happen naturally.
This is the fun part, the actual gears of your money-making machine. I recommend that you use a calendar approach, either via software, or through a wall-sized calendar that everyone can write on and reference easily.
The calendar becomes your week-by-week or month-by-month roadmap for what you will be doing to reach your audience—the gameplan itself that will keep you focused on your goals. By knowing what is coming up well in advance, you will be able to plan accordingly and execute successfully.
The purchase rarely happens right away, and it is therefore crucial to stay in touch with potential customers consistently over the long-term. This will gradually convince them that you are the company of choice, and allow them to overcome their fears and objections. Cutting through the clutter of SPAM and regular mail, billboards, radio, and TV—just to name a few—takes time. You need to stand out and have something useful to say.
To establish expertise and win audiences over, try these ideas:
1. A letter announcing an upcoming event. Hold a special event (presentation, seminar) and make a big deal about it.
2. A follow-up call on the letter. This is different than cold-calling, as you are specifically referencing this special event, of potential interest to that targeted individual.
3. The actual event. Whether showcasing some product, covering some aspect of investing, health-related matters—this brings you face-to-face with your audience, allowing for unparalleled interaction.
4. A document follow-up to that event. You might choose to make available information from the event, for those who were not able to attend. More educational material to draw them closer to you.
5. A case study or useful article that is mailed out. Not written about you, but about a topic relating to your business or industry. The case study is a powerful tool for discussing how you solved a customer’s problems, and can include testimonials that are worth gold.
6. An email announcement. Something useful that you recommend that could be of benefit to your audience. Only to those who have opted in, of course.
Bottom line: do not bore or annoy your audience! Give them educational and interesting materials without actually selling (the beauty and power of successful Marketing). You will be educating them towards the time when they choose to purchase from you—and there is nothing like working with a customer who already knows all about you and what you do…
Josh Barinstein is President of Red Frog, Inc. , the Portland, Oregon ad agency that provides worry-free experiences and powerful results in the areas of Marketing, Print design, Web/CD-ROM development, and Video production.
Learn more at http://www.RedFrogInc.com or by calling 888-955-0550.
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