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The five most critical aspects of marketing that advertising agencies don't teach you!
Five marketing principles YOU need to know!
So you are starting a business, or already own an existing small business - and sales are flat! What can be done to grow your business...something that isn't a shot in the dark, but an actual business model that will bring more customers to your door. The best way to approach marketing, is to look at the automotive industry because it is a highly profitable business, not only for the manufacturer, but also for the dealer networks as well.
Since the automotive business is lucrative, why not study the amount of research and marketing principles, because this is the industry that spends it's money to gain market share. By the marketing budgets for these companies and dealership groups, they have the ability to test what is working and what is not, so why would you want to go off on your own and try to re-invent the wheel? Even the smallest dealership has huge marketing budgets compared to most small business franchises, so why not take what they are doing, and translate that into something that brings more customers to your door?
First, lets take a look at reality. Most small business enterprises don't see the value of marketing, because they have seen very few results. Here is how it happens - a marketing company comes in and puts forth the benefit/solution for a small business and how the marketing will help the small business grow. Granted, you need to have good signage, information sheets, and of course, a web site for your digital brand. So, a traditional advertising agency will bring this expertise to your business, and they will also help establish a marketing budget which is probably much larger than your current budget...which is good, and I will explain why!
The advent of digital marketing has increased the usefulness AND the Return On Investment or ROI! Prior to digital marketing, a mailer would be sent or a newspaper advertisement, and the only results that could be accumulated, was...how did the month turn out? With digital marketing, you can assign unique web site address URL's, e-mail accounts that handle the inquiry distinct to the offer, or the number of telephone calls based on a unique number assigned to that campaign. To simplify the process, typically one will use Google Analytics to track web site hits, and compare those to historical data and any quantitative research that has been gathered to figure out how successful the campaign was. So now we have actual data showing if the subject piece actually drew the customer in, or was there an external factor.
So most ad agencies will be able to take you this far, but are they being aggressive enough? This gets down to the five most critical aspects to knowing how to market your product and grow your company. The first question always, always, always stop and ask - what makes me different or unique compared to other businesses in the area or on-line? If you aren't aware of how important this is, read the book "The Purple Cow" by Seth Godin, which demonstrates how there are millions of like products in the marketplace, you have to figure out what makes you unique? Some examples would be, is it same day delivery offered, the freshest ingredients, the longest warranty in the business, etc. Unless you have something that distinguishes you from everyone else, you will never grow the business.
The second aspect that needs to be addressed is - who is our best customer? Why do your marketing to the fringe prospect that isn't really interested in the product? Receiving a mailer for lawn care to a person who doesn't own a home and is in an apartment, what do you think the results of this is? I would rather do a mailer of 500 quality pieces that include demographics such as age, income, personal status, etc. than send 5,000 mailers to anyone although my cost would be the same. Obviously there are many factors with regards to the timing and offer being presented, but you really need to pay attention to who is your best customer, and figure out how to get in front of them for consideration.
Realizing how important it is to keep an existing customer happy compared to what it costs to get a new customer, why isn't there a Customer Resource Management system used to target market to existing customers? It seems that we take people who have done business with us previously, as something to be taken for granted and that they will continue to buy from us. However, realize there are so many other competitive businesses that these customers get exposed to, that isn't it important enough to keep them informed of special offers and upcoming events? Therefore, not everyone is ready to buy but will respond to your advertising or your web site, so any inquiry should be handled with the marketing platform attached...meaning, we are going to direct market to people who have expressed interest in our product.
Social media? Really. When you look at social media, you will find that people are VERY resistant to attempting to market products and services in a similar way that you would attempt to market to someone who has a general interest via "like" this site. The culture for Facebook isn't that appealing for direct market campaigns, and there is a way to be a legitimate PIRATE if you want to play the game. How so? All you have to do is buy the advertising site for people who "like" your competitor, and so now anyone and those that are also in that persons social media circle, will always see your advertisement anytime the Facebook page that has been "liked", and they will SEE YOUR AD! So it is absolutely CRAZY to want someone to "like" your page if you have someone who knows marketing.
And the fifth most critical aspects of marketing is - Make A Unique Offer! Sometimes this is referred to as the "hook", but it is critical for identifying someone in the market for your product or service. How does this work? As an example, lets say you own a tire store just like any other tire store down the street. Lets say you start a marketing campaign that offers free tire rotations every 10,000 miles AND free wheel balancing! Does everyone buy on price and price alone? The fact is, in most consumers decision, price is third or fourth on the list! We always think - price, price, price while the consumer is thinking service and BENEFITS! Another marketing "hook" is that you will honor ALL competitors pricing.
When the consumer sees this type of offer, you will naturally see more and more business. So...how do you make money when you are selling tires at cost? Well, lets look at reality, in that 70% of the people will buy a better tire, IF you take the time to show them the benefits. Something like - this tire has a 50,000 mile warranty AND is the quietest tire on the market. If they travel a lot on the highway, this would be a huge benefit, and you upsell them into a better more profitable tire. I think this one element alone is what is the problem with most small business, not identifying the "hook" as a way to invite a prospect in for the opportunity to show them future benefits!
And there you have it. A web site alone won't bring customers to your door, that is the information sheet that you need to give hours of operation, contact information, and the types of products you carry, along with the "hook" to get the prospect to respond to your offer. Growing a small business is very easy, considering most larger corporate entities are bogged down in layers of management and decision making, you can make changes on the fly and take advantage of market conditions much more quickly. Using your database and knowing word of mouth advertising is the best method of getting new customers, you need to use your database to continue to stay in front of your happy customers!
It is almost too easy at times, but this is seeing the forest through the trees! Good luck in your endeavors!