Cheat Sheet

Marketing Kit For Dummies

The goals of marketing your business and products are to find new clients and to keep your existing ones. So how do you do this? Use some marketing guidelines to devise a successful marketing plan, attract new customers, create more sales leads, and close the deal. Follow some basic design tips for your business card and newsletter to market you and your business in the most positive way.

Marketing to Find New Customers

It's important that your marketing plan keeps you selling to existing customers, but growing your business depends on finding new buyers. Try these marketing tips for attracting new customers:

  • Rent a small booth at a trade show. Bring lots of brochures and business cards, plus samples or poster boards telling stories of how you solved problems for happy customers.

  • Post special offers on Craig’s List. Go to http://www.craigslist.com and see if there is a local Craig’s List site. If so, post free ads for special offers of your product or service at special introductory rates. It’s a great way to attract new customers.

  • Ask for referrals. Give existing customers a reward (such as a gift or a coupon on future purchases) in exchange for referrals to their friends or business associates.

  • Start an expert blog. Offer weekly advice to customers based on your special expertise. For example, if you’re in home construction, cover how to winterize your home.

How to Write a Winning Marketing Plan

The goals of your marketing plan are to evaluate the situation in your market, align your marketing strategy with that information, and assess how you’ll use your marketing tools to carry out the strategy. To come up with a successful marketing plan, follow these guidelines:

  • Evaluate last year’s marketing budget to identify the most successful advertising or marketing method. Give it a larger share of your budget this year.

  • Adjust your pricing and products to reflect the current economy. Unbundle and reduce costs and prices in a slow economy. Bundle more goodies and raise prices in a growing economy.

  • Use a template to make your plan more professional and accurate. There are templates and outlines you can use so don’t reinvent the wheel.

  • Spend only what you can afford on marketing. Your marketing budget should come out of your gross profit. Don’t commit to too much spending all at once. Modest growth is far easier to achieve than aggressive growth, so keep your plan affordable and your goals reasonable.

Ways to Generate More Sales Leads

To get more people interested and asking about your offerings, you need to have an abundance of lead-generating information out in the market at all times. Try some of these best all-around marketing choices:

  • Toll-free telephone numbers (a big source of leads despite the rise of Web-based marketing; advertise your toll-free number everywhere)

  • Directory listings (don’t forget Web directories!)

  • Web site address (in all your materials and ads)

  • Reader service cards (in trade magazines, along with your ad or insert)

  • Blogs that share your expertise within your industry

  • Offers of free catalogs (through ads, brochures, directories, and Web site)

  • Coupons and special trial offers of all kinds

  • Publicity (any media coverage tends to generate leads)

Trying Different Sales Closing Techniques

After you’ve met a prospective client and given your presentation, how do you close the deal? If you want to take a different approach to closing the sale, try using a closing technique different from your usual one:

  • Direct close: Ask your prospect whether he’s ready to place his order.

  • Trial close: Ask him to make small decisions that may eventually add up to a completed order.

  • Wrap-up close: Summarize your presentation and his needs to set the stage for order-taking.

  • Process close: Take him to the next steps as if he were going to order (for example, write down specifics of what he needs).

  • Analytical close: Examine the pros and cons of different options or otherwise analyze the prospect’s decision, leading him to a logical purchase option.

  • Sales promotion close: Offer a discount, time-sensitive extra, or other incentive to get him to make the purchase.

Marketing Newsletter Do’s and Don’ts

Your newsletter is an effective, low-cost marketing tool that delivers information about your company, product, personality, and values to engage people, spark interest, and build customer relationships. Keep these guidelines in mind for your newsletter:

  • Do lay out your newsletter with plenty of headers, subheads, boxes, figures, or illustrations.

  • Don’t invest in expensive four-color printing; desktop publishing, Web distribution, or photocopying are best unless you have a large, paid circulation.

  • Do build and nurture your own in-house list of customers, leads, and referrals.

  • Do understand the difference between an e-newsletter that annoys the recipient and a valuable e-newsletter people look forward to receiving.

  • Do send your newsletter to a media list to generate publicity.

  • Don’t charge money for your newsletter unless you want to make it a serious product on its own rather than a publicity piece for your business.

  • Do provide useful information, tips, and news about your industry in every issue.

  • Don’t go into your own products in too much detail; otherwise, readers won’t value the newsletter as an objective source of information.

How to Design an Effective Business Card

When marketing your products or business, the basic business card is a low-cost, highly effective tool. Your business card gets passed around to a lot of people, so make sure it’s printed professionally and provides enough information. You want your business card to present you and your business in the best possible way. Try these design tips:

  • Print custom business cards for specific events (your local copy shop can do short runs for you on the cheap).

  • Design a two-fold, triple-sized business card (its face looks like a normal card, but when you open it up, you get a mini-catalog or brochure).

  • Include customer quotes or testimonials on the back of your business card.

  • Put a beautiful landscape photo on your card to make it appealing and memorable.

  • Include a tagline emphasizing your benefits to customers or your mission statement.

  • Use unusual, high-quality paper to give your card a unique feel in the hand.

  • Always have a business card with you and don’t be afraid to ask for referrals (people are usually more than happy to help).

  • Update your logo and layout to make your card look more sophisticated than the competitors’ cards.

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