In a weak economy how you spend your marketing dollars could make a difference between succeeding in business and becoming an ugly statistic. Put those dollars in the wrong place and you fail. Put them in the right place and you may be able to succeed at a level far higher than your peers.
Lets face it, during a recession there is wide spread reduction in spending. However, even in the worst periods that reduction may only be 10, 20 or 30 percent. That means that 70, 80 or even 90 percent of normal spending levels remain. Thus, there may well be a marketplace for your goods and services. Identifying and reaching that marketplace is the key to your success.
In good times a consumer business might find it convenient to place an array of print and broadcast ads into our local market. Or, if your customers are businesses then you might place those ads in trade publications or you might send selected employees to tradeshows on a regular basis. But what do you do during what may be the worst recession since the great depression of the 1930’s.
Let’s start by recognizing that marketing begins with market research and ends with after-sale customer service. Let’s also ask some basic questions about your process. Are you placing ads and waiting for the phone to ring? Or are you placing your message directly into the hands of your prospective customers and asking them to buy? Whether the message arrives in a magazine, web site, via broadcast or in a mass mail campaign, if you are unable to reach the audience directly you will most likely waist a large portion of your ad dollars by putting your information in front of a large number of disinterested people.
To maximize return on marketing dollars it would be best to identify your target markets. Then identify the individual companies and the individual contacts within the companies. Armed with names and contact information you can now deliver specific information to the specific “suspects”. Do not be misled into classifying them as prospects until they have confirmed to you that they have need, desire, money to buy with and the authority to buy.
The easy way to get good contact information is to check the Internet for addresses, phone numbers, email address and websites. Then reach out to the new suspects with a coordinated campaign that is targeted to the specific audience by using custom written flyers, emails, letters, faxes, scripted phone calls and personal visits. Remember that you must use as many of these methods as possible. If you use only one you will not be remembered at all. Some people read and respond to certain mediums. Also, until your suspect has seen you and your message seven to ten times the suspect is unlikely to remember who you are.
Keep in mind that frequency matters. Sending marketing information to suspects on a monthly or quarterly basis will almost guarantee that by the time the second piece of material arrives the suspect will have completely forgotten that they ever saw the first piece. However, establishing a weekly contact schedule is very likely to create “top of mind awareness”.
Well designed benefit oriented messages will create a positive perception as well. Finally, remember that the larger the number of a person’s senses that you can positively affect by using multiple mediums the more they will tend to think of you and like you. Be sure to include telephone contacts and personal visits as a part of your scheduling system.
If your company is doing a great job of advertising, public relations and networking but you have poor selling skills your missing opportunities. Unless you are just lucky your company will ultimately fail. If your staff lacks professional selling skills they will alienate your prospects and loose sales in which case your business could still fail. Place a high value on the personal selling skills and your company can succeed beyond your wildest dreams.
Dick Rubin is the managing principal of Entrepôt. A 30-year-old business development consulting firm whose motto is: Building Businesses is Our Business. Mr. Rubin can be reached at www.entrepotusa.com or at 918-497-1748.