This month’s feature article, Back to the Basics of Marketing, is by Kurt Johnson. Kurt is one of the founders of Postcard Builder, which provides small businesses with an easy and affordable way to design, print and mail postcards. I have worked with Postcard Builder on behalf of a couple of my clients. You can see a sample of an open house postcard we worked on here.
Back to the Basics of Marketing
by Kurt Johnson
It might be time to get back to the basics of marketing. What does that mean? It means start by doubting and questioning everything. Are your current marketing programs bombproof? Do they consistently result in a positive ROI? Can I make them better? What can I cut? What can I test? What do I absolutely have to do make my business grow? Where do I begin? Here are some basics:
1.) Establish a Budget. I wrote in a past newsletter about the folly of drastically cutting your marketing budget. It’s a self fulfilling prophecy; if you cut your marketing, then you cut your lead source, and eventually you cut your own throat. Establish a budget as a percentage of your most conservative revenue estimate. You don’t have to spend it if you can’t justify it, but you know your spending limit. It’s going to be anywhere from 3% to 15%.
2.) Take Care of Your Current Customers First. Never assume that you have the loyalty of your current customers. It’s been shown that your best customers may also be your competitor’s best customers also. This is definitely true in our printing business. Make sure that customers continue to be aware of your value. Create a sense of excitement with new events, sales, and new products. We recommend that you touch your customers at least 6 times per year, though many consultants will say 12 times. Use a percentage of your budget for current customers, maybe 20%. Obviously, e-mails are the cheapest, but remember that the average open rate is less than 15%. Use multiple medias, including direct mail, to make sure all of your customers are getting touched.
3.) Define Your Targeted Prospects. This is where a Mailing Specialist from Postcard Builder can be helpful. We can run maps and counts of households in your trade area if it’s defined by a specific geography. For example, we can define how many homes surround a dentist office in a specific neighborhood. We can also run counts of specific businesses based on industry classification or size. Once your have an idea of who your targeted prospects are, you can then define the proper marketing media.
4.) Create Awareness and Demand. The magic question is, “What is the most affordable way to create awareness among my targeted group based on the budget I have?” Frequency is key; it takes on average 7 impressions or touches before someone makes a purchase decision. So what’s the most affordable way to create multiple impressions among your targeted prospects given your budget? If your trade area is the Minneapolis, St Paul Metro Area, and you have a nice budget, the answer may be radio or TV. If it’s the closest 20,000 residents, families with children, or small manufacturing companies, then the answer may be direct mail.
5.) Test, Measure, Rollout. Start small. Take one slice of your trade area or targeted prospect base and run a marketing program until you can measure the results. Note that frequency is important and if you do a marketing “touch” once, you may not have a good indication of results. Measure and keep track. Always know where a new customer has heard about you, and don’t wait for a coupon, ask! Once you have a proven marketing program, roll it out and reap the benefits.
6.) Some Common Sense. Many businesses can easily define their trade area or their targeted prospect base. They know for example that their trade area is West Hollywood, The Upper East Side, or Highland Park, or their prospect base are Law Firms in Cleveland. Common sense says that if those people don’t know who you are and what you offer, they will not buy from you. Furthermore, your budget easily allows you to touch those people 6 times per year. Then you just need to do it. If they don’t buy, then you have bigger problems like you don’t have the right product, branding or value proposition. But that’s another article…
If you have a thought on Kurt’s article, please post your comment below.
To your marketing success!