Marketing For Dummies
Marketing can boost sales and profits. To optimize sales and target the most desirable customers, you need to harness the energy of good marketing by taking a creative approach to your marketing communications and strategies. Combine creativity, cost controls, learning from other people's marketing errors, and a strategic marketing approach to target the best customers.
Using Marketing to Produce More Sales
Successful marketing produces profitable sales: the more, the better! Here are some ideas for those moments when you decide you really need to concentrate on marketing to boost sales to a higher level:
Sell to super customers. Someone who writes a blog about your industry, gets quoted in an industry magazine, or presents at an industry conference is a super customer to whom you need to make a personal sale. Win him or her over, and the rest of the market tends to follow.
Make a limited-time, free-trial offer. This tried-and-true formula moves product better than anything else, because people love a chance to try something at zero risk. Get your product in potential customers’ hands and grow your market each time someone decides to keep it.
Hire more salespeople on commission. Old-fashioned face-to-face selling is still effective in business-to-business and wholesale industries (which make up the majority of businesses). Sign up sales representatives who are willing to work for a commission. Double the number of sales calls, and you’re bound to score more business.
Create a parallel distribution channel. For example, if you don’t already sell on the Web, start your own Web store or set up shop as a store and auctioneer on eBay — lots of preexisting customer traffic to tap into. (eBay is great for most businesses because there’s so much customer traffic to tap into.)
Bundle your product with one or several complementary products and offer a special package deal. The right bundle may boost sales dramatically, especially if you make it a limited-time offer.
Send monthly postcards with discount codes, special offers, or announcements. A postcard is an inexpensive form of direct mail. If you have a good customer list, you should use it at least once a month. The more you reach out to your customer base, the more it’ll buy what you’re selling.
Cutting Your Marketing Budget without Losing Customers
Sometimes you’re forced to slash your marketing budget, whether you want to or not. But advertising less doesn't have to mean pullingi n fewer customers. Following are some ideas for cutting your marketing expenses with minimal damage to your customer base:
Eliminate advertising in media that don’t produce well. One-half to two-thirds of the places where you advertise are relatively low producers. Analyze where your sales come from and then shift your budget to a handful of top-performing media buys.
Follow the media bargains. If network TV ads are expensive but local cable ads are cheap, go for the cheap option, which can still get you in front of customers while saving you some bucks. Look for relatively new magazines and ask for a special introductory price on full-page ads. You can always find bargains if you make a point of searching for them.
Bid on inexpensive key terms on Google’s Internet search engine. Pay-per-click ads are economical if you choose key terms carefully to avoid the most popular ones and favor narrow, highly specific terms (which usually cost less while also getting you to the top of a search result for consumers who know exactly what they want). Monitor your search engine advertising with care, and you can keep costs surprisingly low.
Reduce or eliminate expensive full-color catalogs and brochures. Use your Web site as a substitute for costly printed reference materials.
Explore viral marketing on the Web. Start an expert blog to inform customers with how-to tips. Hold a contest for the funniest video featuring your product and post the winners on YouTube. Send e-mail press releases to a hundred top bloggers every month. Ask employees and friends to help you build a popular page for your brand on MySpace.
Vow to never lose a customer. Whenever you have a customer who’s upset or at risk, find out why and win him or her back. Finding new customers costs more than keeping the old ones, so customer retention keeps costs low.
Figure out how you lose the most prospects and then concentrate your marketing to convert more of your prospects into customers. For instance, you may be losing prospects by not following through well enough on initial inquiries. If so, shorten the response time and consider adding another salesperson. When you have a prospect in hand, closing the sale is cheaper than losing the prospect and having to go out and find another.
Five Ways to Harness Marketing Energy
Marketing can do amazing things for a business if the process is creative and innovative. Here are some simple techniques to add creative energy to all of your marketing efforts:
Brainstorming: Think of 100 new ideas for marketing your business and then use the best 10.
Analogies: Think of products that your product is similar to and tell the customer (or potential customer) why.
Pass-along: Write a simple sales or marketing idea on a piece of paper or in an e-mail and then pass that idea along to someone else with the instruction that he or she should add to it or list another idea. Keep circulating the paper or e-mail until your coworkers or friends have helped you generate a long list of ideas and options to choose from.
Question assumptions: Make a list of stupid questions and take the time to ask people what they think. Why do you have to have branches to be in the banking business? is a good example of a stupid question that may lead to a breakthrough marketing concept.
Rewriting: Good ol’ editing and rewriting can lead you to better marketing communications. In fact, rewriting opens more creative doors than any other technique. Take a copy of a brochure and make yourself come up with five new headlines or titles that you can use for the cover. You’ll probably come up with at least one headline that’s much more striking and interesting than the existing one.