HOW BEST TO SPEND MARKETING DOLLARS
With the economy struggling to make it out of recession, the temptation is to cut back on any but the most essential business expenditures. These days, you don’t want to spend a single penny more than is necessary but you still have to reach the customers who are looking for your services. So it’s time to get creative with marketing.
If you are relying upon the marketing approach you used five or ten years ago, please wake up! The game has changed. The underlying basics are still the same, but the players and the rules have been transformed. Marketing today is more targeted, more diverse and much faster than ever before. You’ve got more options but you now have to use the broadest range of formats and techniques to get the attention of your customers.
Let’s look at the unchanged basics first.
Marketing is always a test in progress. You have to follow every dollar spent so you can analyze and evaluate the return on investment you’re getting from it. It’s a constant experiment to see what works and what doesn’t. You can spend money because you enjoy seeing your name and logo out there but that’s branding, not marketing. Campaigns that don’t return enough profit to justify their expense should be dropped, no matter how much you like them.
Marketing and sales have to work together. Every marketing campaign has this one goal: increasing sales for your company. This means your salespeople are the ultimate experts on how to present your products and services. Your marketing team would be well advised to pay close attention to the feedback they get from those with the most direct contact with your clients. But you may have to work hard to ensure that Sales and Marketing interact effectively. There can often be friction between the two camps. Salespeople think marketing people don’t understand the real world, while Marketing staff think salespeople fail to appreciate the importance of Marketing’s expertise and just want to throw money at every problem.
Marketing has both external and internal roles. It’s not enough to send out ads and e-blasts, no matter how strong they may be. You also need an in-house marketing campaign so that every employee understands your company’s mission, competitive strengths and products. Every interaction that takes place between a customer and a staff person can then convey and reinforce your company’s message.
Now let’s look at what’s changed in marketing over the past few years.
Getting and keeping your customers’ attention is much harder. Audiences are much more splintered today and they’re bombarded by marketing ploys everywhere they turn. Even glossy ads or expensive TV campaigns don’t have the guaranteed impact they might have had five or ten years ago. On the other hand, there are many more ways to reach your specific market through highly targeted approaches. This makes it even more important that you know exactly who and where your clients are. In the past, every company had a data base of client addresses and phone numbers. Today you need a good CRM (Customer Relationship Management) system that allows you to collect as much detailed information about your customers (and your company’s ongoing interaction with them) as possible. The CRM system must be used by everyone working with customers and the data must be kept up-to-date. Then you can use that information to specifically target their needs.
Responding to your clients is essential. It used to be that as long as a company provided the goods and services its clients were seeking, everyone was happy. With the explosion of e-marketing tools and online review sites, customers now expect and demand transparency and immediacy from the companies with whom they do business. They expect to interact with you, they want to feel that you’ve heard them, and they won’t hesitate to post reviews of your company all over the World Wide Web. This can make or break a company.
Educate your customers. With the wealth of material that is now available online, people expect plenty of information about the products and services they purchase. So if they have questions, you must provide answers. Ask your top 50 customers what kind of information they would appreciate receiving and then find a simple way to deliver it.
Above all, have a great website. It doesn’t matter what business or industry you are in, you cannot effectively market your company today without a well-designed website. This means your site should reflect the nature of your company, provide quality information, be aesthetically pleasing and easy to navigate. And you have to make it worthwhile for people to visit your site, with up-to-date information and resources that keep them coming back. This is probably the best money you can spend on marketing.
QUOTE OF THE WEEK
"Marketing is not an event, but a process. . . It has a beginning, a middle, but never an end, for it is a process. You improve it, perfect it, change it, even pause it. But you never stop it completely." Jay Conrad Levinson
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