Friday, February 23, 2007

Joe (part 2)

4 More of Those Costly Marketing Mistakes
By Joe Gracia

To be successful and profitable, you must START using the most effective marketing strategies possible within your overall marketing plans. Less obvious, is the fact that you must also STOP using the most ineffective, money-wasting marketing strategies. While this list doesn't cover 'all' of the possible marketing mistakes, it does describe some of the most expensive, destructive and most 'common' made by many owners of traditional and home based businesses. Here are four more costly mistakes:

It seems natural to tell your prospects about you and your company. We're proud of what we do and how we do it and we 'assume' that our prospects will be impressed and motivated to take action.

'We've been in business for 16 years...'

'We are an award winning, cutting-edge organization...'

'We are equipped with the latest micro-techno, laser-guided, nuclear-activated widget-gizmos...'

Too often these phrases evoke the following responses from prospects:

'So what?'

'Big deal.'

'Who cares?'

Please don't misunderstand. I'm not saying that your marketing materials shouldn't include background information about you and your company and/or specifications about your product/service. I'm saying that this should be 'supportive' information, not your 'primary' marketing message.

It's a costly marketing mistake to think that prospects 'care' about the same things you care about. They rarely do. However, they do care deeply about something entirely different. Once you know what that is, and you address it powerfully and clearly in your marketing, you will begin to draw prospects to you like a magnet.

Ask the typical small business owner what marketing is, and he/she will probably reply, 'Advertising.'
What kinds of advertising? 'Yellow Page ads, newspaper ads, magazine ads, radio ads, television ads, billboards, bus cards, Val-Pak mailings, etc.'

While all of these advertising devices can certainly be a 'part' of a successful marketing strategy, there are also dozens of 'low-cost' and 'no-cost' marketing methods available to the small business marketer. By simply discovering and applying these simple 'low-cost,' 'no-cost' methods, you will be able to significantly stretch the effectiveness and profitability of your marketing efforts.

If 'everyone' else is doing it, then it must be the right thing to do. Remember mom's admonition, 'If everyone was jumping off a bridge, would you want to jump too?'

Look at the local, small business ads in any newspaper and you will find the same basic format, same basic message, same basic strategy (see Marketing Mistake #1). . . and the same basic results; little or no response. We feel safe in the crowd. Safe doing what everyone else is doing. We also 'assume' that if it works for them, it can work equally well for us.

Unfortunately, a business's success is rarely from 'one' element in their marketing strategy. Their success is the result of 'many' diverse marketing elements; from their location, to their possible lack of competition, to their 'personality' and 'abundance or lack of' marketing aggressiveness.

But we rarely take all of these strategic elements into consideration when 'copying' our competitors. Copying a single marketing element from a competitor is like reaching into 'their' pile of puzzle pieces, pulling out one piece and then trying to make it fit into your puzzle. It rarely works because your marketing puzzle is unique and each piece must fit 'perfectly' with all of your other pieces.

In addition, whatever success a competitor may be experiencing can often be from a 'few' of their less obvious or 'visible' marketing methods. Often the highly visible element (ad, flyer, brochure, etc.) is one of the least effective. You end up copying the profit losers, rather than developing your own profit winners.

Directing your marketing to 'everyone' but to 'no one' in particular guarantees that your marketing will be ignored. Many small businesses have failed to determine who their best prospects are, where those prospects live or how to reach them effectively and efficiently.

This is a critical first step in any successful marketing strategy. By skipping this step, they resort to running vague and generic 'one-step' ads in mass media, such as local newspapers, magazines, radio, television, cable, Val-pak mailings, Internet Web sites, etc. Their 'hope' is that by presenting their 'generic' message about their business to the 'greatest' number of people, the result will be the highest number of sales. Wrong.

Unfortunately for them, effective marketing doesn't work that way. The fact is, in most cases only a small percentage of the readers/listeners/viewers of mass media will have a 'need' for your product or service at any given time.

Some business owners may have a hard time believing this, but nevertheless, it's true. 'Everyone' does not need or want your product or service. By not targeting your marketing to your very 'best' and logical prospects, you are wasting most of your marketing dollars on people who have little or no interest in your product or service.

If there are only 100 'true' prospects for your product or service out of 10,000 possible readers of a publication, why would you want to spend thousands of dollars presenting your message over and over to the 9,900 non-prospects? Yet, this is the method most small business owners choose because they don't know that there is a much more cost-effective and profitable strategy.

- By Joe Gracia (c) Copyright 2000 - Give to Get Marketing

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Thursday, February 22, 2007

Shotgun or sharp shooter

This week I sat down with a friend of mine who had reached the one year mark in their business. There was a tone of frustration in their voice.

So, first of all we examined just what numbers were needed to make it all work. After we looked at their closing ratio, and retention rate, it was determined that over 12 months, they needed to get their message to 3000 people. Of that 3000, 33% would likely become customers. This 1/3 conversion rate is pretty standard in a lot of sales positions. (If someone is hitting 33% in my company, then they should be doing pretty good.)

We discussed the way their parent company told them to market themselves and it sounded like a shotgun approach. Next we examined the results for the dollars spent. This was really bad news. After looking at the numbers, it was costing them $41 dollars to get a new client. Problem is that they earned about 1/2 that amount. Ouch.

I saw a restaurant try the shotgun approach a couple of years ago. They went bankrupt.

Here is an answer that you can spend hundreds or thousands of dollars to learn by going to a seminar by some hot-shot marketing/advertising guru, or I'll give it to you free. This advice is priceless:

1. Know your numbers. Odds are that you don't know how many new clients you need each year. Find out. If you are in the Fort Wayne, Indiana area, contact me and I'll help you. In the case of the business that I spoke with this week, the number was only 3000 people. There are 377,000 people living the the SMSA. They only need to talk to 3000 of them face to face. (Less than 1%!) And convert only 1/3 of the 3000 to customers based on their track record of success.

2. Target your number with enough advertising and marketing. So instead of reaching 377,000 people, you now only need to reach 3000. That's 3000 over the course of 12 months that will become potential customers, of which you convert 1000 into paying customers. So present yourself week after week or better yet day after day to those 3000 people with a reason for them to talk to you with your advertising and marketing. Pick the most appropriate medium to do this. Of course I believe radio is usually the most effective way to do this, there are others too. Answer this question: would you rather convince 100 people 10% of the way to do business with you or 10 people 100% of the way to do business with you. The later pays, the former costs. That's it. Become a sharp-shooter, not a shotgunner!

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Changes, and Adapting

Due to changes in my responsibilities, I stepped down from my position as Education Coordinator of the B.N.I. that I have been a member of for the past 3 years. What Changes? Well, as the station manager of a radio station whose primary focus is on Business and Baby Boomer's, my focus needed to change to a larger business scope and become involved in a larger center of influence.

In particular, The Chamber of Commerce which has monthly morning meetings at the same time as my weekly B.N.I. meetings. We currently have a weekly radio program that is hosted by Phil Laux, the President of the Chamber that is extremely popular and I also initiated a relationship with the Greater Fort Wayne Business Weekly newspaper to provide us with daily business news updates.

As I look at where I am focusing my energies, I will continue to evaluate and adjust. I also learned a few lessons in the past couple of years in relation to involvement in a Networking Group.

1. Look for ways to give. Be patient. This is a relationship building process.
2. Make friends. In the past 12 months, the biggest return on my investment of time, energy and $ with my B.N.I. group was the ability to go to my fellow members and use their services and expertise.
3. Stay open and positive. After today's meetings one of the other members asked if I was available to substitute for her next week. Which I am able to do this time!

So, what about you and your associations? Have you adapted to changes in your life? Or are you still hanging out with your old friends from school, re-living the past. There's a way to stay in touch with and maintain old relationships and forge new ones at the same time. Take the time though to focus and contemplate before you jump.

One last item. This week a Doctor client of mine called me up and asked me for a referral for someone to handle some of her tax and business matters. This was due to trust, relationships and the right attitude. All of which takes time.

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