I get to talk with different business owners about their marketing.  Sometimes it’s a casual conversation while waiting for a meeting to begin.  Other times, it’s a formal one that’s key to a project we’re working on.

Flavor-of-The-Week Marketing
But more often than not, I find business owners change their marketing tactics about as often as they change their underwear.  That’s a lot more frequently that it should be, too. (their marketing, not their underwear!).

Marketing Momentum
If you change what you do for marketing too often and/or without good cause, you risk losing the momentum that a consistently applied marketing message, media and method can generate for you.  That’s not good marketing and it’s definitely not good for . . . you!

KEY POINT:
In marketing, being consistent is a good thing

Today was a noisy day in our home.  Hardwood floors in our living and dining room had to be replaced because of a hard winter and our first experience (not pleasant!) with ice-damming.

The man who installed our new floor was a true artist.  What I found most impressive was how he laid out the floor almost completely before beginning to actually install and nail the boards together. “It makes it go faster and better when you know what you are going to do BEFORE you do it”.

Laying Floors and Marketing Planning
There’s a lot they have in common.  Thinking about your mission and market, your messages, your media, your methods and how you manage your business operation (yes, a key part of marketing!) is similar to laying out a floor — both go ‘faster and better’ when you plan them before you do them.

KEY POINT:
Marketing is a process that is best done in a planned and step-by-step manner.

Of all the low-cost-to-use marketing media that a small business or professional practitioner can use today, a blog must surely be one of the best ways to promote your business to the marketplace you seek to attract and position you as an expert in your field.

But there are ‘right’ ways and ‘wrong’ ways to blog (like anything).

I just read a thought-full article that cites 30 ways to blog the ‘wrong’ way.  It’s insightful. Two of the 30 ways to screw up a blog include the following:

#13:  write 1,000 word plus text-dump posts without any paragraphs or formatting.
#29: fail to use social media like facebook, Twitter or Stumbleupon to help spread the awareness of your blog.

The other 28 great ideas are worth the time and effort it takes to click on this link and read the rest.

KEY POINT:
Blogging is (still) one of the best media for marketing you and your services around!

According to the Groupon.com site, you can find ‘deals’ with local merchants that range from 50 – 90% off regular prices.  Exciting!  For buyers?  Absolutely!  For sellers?  Perhaps. Hard to say.

COST OF SALES
Any CPA will tell you that a ‘fair’ price for a product or service is what a willing buyer and seller will agree upon.  In this economy, price ‘discounting’ has become a popular strategy for generating new revenues, customers and leads.

GROUPON . . . Wise Choice or Dumb Move?
I have no problem with the idea of attracting interest and stimulating sales with a (temporarily) reduced price.  Even a ‘deeply discounted’ price like a Groupon special.  But what Groupon reveals, because of the extreme discounting, is a myopic perspective about what you’re doing when you use any ‘incentive pricing’ to attract new customers.

I’ve used Groupon several times.  Each time was a ‘serious saving’ opportunity.  Sadly, I’ve never been sent any follow-up offers (without the discount!) where the cost of using the ‘lowball’ pricing would be recovered.  Not once.  That’s dumb.  If you use incentive pricing to attract new revenues, be ready with a follow-up campaign to leverage the initial experience into a profitable, ongoing relationship.

KEY POINT:
Reducing your fees may be a good idea IF . . . you plan for the subsequent offers that recover your cost-of-sales while building relationships and profits

 

Did you ever consider how great and substantial results are more frequently produced by the simple consistency of focused actions than wild bursts of frenetic activity?  I do.  At least that’s been my experience.

Sporadic execution of brilliant ideas rarely produces bigger and better results than consistent and conscientious activities driven by good-but-not-great ideas.

A steady ‘drip’ campaign of email or snail-mail may not be terribly exciting, but is more likely to produce results — i.e. RESPONSE — than an massive but singular ‘blast’ of marketing communications.

The effectiveness of your marketing is more likely to reflect good choices and consistent actions than good choices and inconsistent actions.  Remember our Tortoise and Hare . . . ‘steady’ as she goes . . . is a formula that will take you to the bank!

KEY POINT:
Consistency beats Creativity!

Last evening, I attended a meeting of a trade association in CT — The CCRS.

My friend Carl Messina, President of Positive Impact Enterprises, was the main speaker.

After he spoke, a panel discussion of shop owners, vendors and one representative from the insurance industry was ‘on stage’.  What impressed me to no end was that these business owners really knew their numbers!

At one point, their discussion focused on what percentage of gross sales a certain kind of product (paint) involved in the auto collision repair service these firms provided should be.  I learned that paint product represents, on average, only 6 – 8% of a typical repair job. That’s a small margin to cover a bad call on your pricing or if you mis-manage your materials costs.

Your marketing is no different.  Do you know YOUR marketing numbers just as well?  How many impressions create a response?  How many responses does it take to generate a client?  If you don’t know your numbers, you may be marketing inefficiently.  Not a good thing.

KEY POINT:
Knowing your numbers means marketing profitably!

It’s not easy!  It’s not fair!  I don’t wanna do it!  Why are you picking on me?  You can’t make me do it.

Sound familiar?  The lovely moments of pre-adolescent children developing an individual personality.

Actually, no.  The comments made by clients who want the results but not the responsibility of doing what must be done to generate results.  I call this the ‘I would rather write a check than break a sweat’ personality.

Nothing wrong with it.  As long as you recognize it and are will to pay ‘somebody’ to do what ‘anybody’ could do.  But if ‘nobody’ is left to do it, it won’t get done, will it?

If you see yourself in this same role as a marketing client (or, any other kind for that matter) it’s OK.  Just own it.  Then find a way to do what must be done to get the results you want.

KEY POINT:
Somebody must do what’s needed.  If not you, then WHO?

“It was a dark and stormy night . . .”

Don’t you just love a sinister, scary story?  It’s so captivating.
You just know something bad is going to happen to an unsuspecting ‘innocent’ who is put in harm’s way and . . . well, I won’t ruin the ending but you know it’s not going to be pretty, is it?

Lately a similar movie has been playing out in a number of smaller businesses.  The plot goes like this — a business owner ignores the ‘warning signs’ of competitors who are being more pro-active about marketing than they are.  Slowly, the danger approaches the business and then . . . WHAM! . . . it hits the business like a load of bricks.

What might be a good ‘antidote’ for the  danger of little or no or bad marketing is Duct Tape Marketing’s Group Catalyst program.  It’s a series of 12 bi-weekly webinars.  Each session provides good information and assignments are given to ensure you apply what you’re learning in a way that generates results for your business.

KEY POINT:
Bad marketing isn’t something you have to live with — call (860) 798-6964 to get more business with the Duct Tape Marketing Catalyst Program

Traffic light — a good analogy for the relationships in your business.

RED LIGHT . . . these people have DIS-qualified themselves from being of further value to you.  They either cannot or will not provide you with opportunities for additional business in the future.  Or, they cannot or will not provide you with new referrals to people who could, presumably develop a need for your services in the future.  These people may be wonderful human beings.  The problem is, they cannot provide you with what you need to maintain your business — open cases and/or referrals.  You must delete them.  Make room for new and better people.

YELLOW LIGHT . . . these people have the potential — your call, of course — to be able to buy and/or refer you to others.  They may not be ready to do either one at the moment.  But if they are likely to develop a need for your services or would be able to refer you others or others to you, then you want them . . . and you’ll want to cultivate them until they do.

GREEN LIGHT . . . these people have a current need for your services.  They are, as they say in France, “Hot”.  Regardless of how the momentary need is resolved, if there’s future potential, continue to cultivate them for their future value.  If they don’t seem to have any (again, your call!) then . . . delete them.

KEY POINT:
Marketing is like a Traffic Light . . . Keep it Simple . . . Keep it Real

In a RainToday article, various methods of LEAD GENERATION were cited, based on surveys of professional service firms.

While the most effective method chosen was “presenting at conferences, seminars and trade shows” the second most effective offline tactic was “making ‘warm’ calls on existing contacts”.

That’s Great News!  Why?  Because you’re a lot more likely to be able to call people you know than get invited to give a keynote presentation at a trade show, aren’t you?

But, just because you know WHAT works pretty effectively doesn’t mean you know HOW to make it work effectively for your practice.  Or, maybe you do. (if not, see me!)

Regardless, the tactic of calling people you know and who know, like and trust you . . . should be an essential part of your marketing.

KEY POINT:
Calling people you know is an effective way to generate goodwill, leads and revenues.