by Cidnee Stephen of Strategies for Success www.strategiesforsuccess.ca
Here’s a bold statement. There is no such thing as a bad marketing tool, just bad planning. You can choose skywriting, bus benches, TV or the Web and it CAN work, if you know the buying patterns of your ideal client and you don’t fall victim to what I call one-dimensional marketing.
Whenever we start working with clients on building a small-business marketing system, we go through a period of discovery. During this phase, one question we like to ask is what the client has done to date in the way of marketing. A common answer goes something like this: “well, we tried sending out postcards and that didn’t work. Then we got talked into radio and that didn’t work, then we tried a trade show and that really didn’t work either.”
So, if all marketing tools can work, how can this be? Far too often people treat their marketing like a one-hit wonder. Someone tells them a certain marketing initiative was highly effective for them and off they go to try the marketing idea of the week. But, alas, they don’t get the same result. This is because they are practicing one-dimensional marketing.
By one-dimensional marketing, I mean that people often assume that ONE marketing activity will yield results, and of course this is simply not the case. Now you might be thinking, “but I did the SAME marketing activity over and over again and still didn’t get a great result.” While you are at least on the right path, your marketing is still only one dimensional.
The reason these activities don’t work to plan has to do with the number of times your target audience needs to be exposed to your message and the credibility your message has with them. In today’s age, consumers need to be exposed to your message seven to nine times before they will buy from you. This can be fast-tracked if the source of your message is considered highly credible by your customer.
In order to be highly effective then, your marketing should:
1. Incorporate a two-step advertising campaign
2. Include multiple marketing tools
3. Be consistent
1. Two-step advertising campaign
If your business offers a low-cost item and is transactional in nature, then you may be able to skip this step. But if you are promoting a service or high-ticket item, this approach can be a much more effective way to generate qualified leads.
In a two-step advertising campaign, your initial marketing promotes a free report, trial offer or some other low-risk offering. Once a customer has shown interest in this offering and shares their contact information with you, you can continue to educate them on your products and services through a well-thought-out follow-up campaign.
Sadly, far too many people spend money on advertising and promotions and have no follow-up strategies to stay in touch with the qualified leads that come through the door.
2. Include multiple marketing tools
There are so many cost-effective ways to market your business which go far beyond traditional advertising methods. Networking, for example, is a form of promotion. It is cost-effective, but not necessarily time-effective. Other tools may be time-effective, but cost more. Small businesses always need to balance the value of their time and their money to determine which promotional tools they should use.
Consider postcards with a free offer, a personalized letter, online advertising via association newsletters, bus stops. The list really is endless. These types of activities give you control over your marketing and can help smooth out peaks and valleys.
However, most people overlook very powerful tools such as building strong strategic alliances and referral strategies, writing and public speaking. These tools add way more credibility to your company at very little cost.
By having multiple strategies, your target audience could very well receive your advertising material, be referred to you by a strategic alliance and also hear you speak. Combined, this multi-dimensional approach becomes a much more powerful marketing tool.
3. Be consistent
I often get asked how much money a company should spend on marketing. My answer is always the same (and certainly not found in any marketing textbook). It is the amount you can afford to write a cheque for every month without throwing up. This way you will stay committed to your marketing endeavours. Any large amounts that you can’t afford could end up depleting you before the multiple marketing effects have a chance to REALLY kick in.
You must stay consistent with your marketing and veer away from the marketing idea of the week. Think of your system like a very large boulder that takes great effort to move, but once it is in motion, is a powerful force to reckon with!
About the Author…
Cidnee Stephen is the owner of Strategies for Success – a marketing company that focuses on the needs of budget-minded small businesses and professional services. She has helped hundreds of small businesses get out of their peak and valley ruts to finally achieve that next vital level of success. Cidnee is also a sought-after speaker, writer and blogger on marketing topics that affect small businesses and B2B service based operations. Subscribe for Free to her bi-weekly marketing tips for small businesses and also receive a special report on the 7 Steps of Marketing Success.