March 15, 2011

We Need a Push

Part 2 of our Plan, Push, Interact Article Series

Inevitably, most businesses reach a point when word of mouth referrals are not enough to sustain the desired level of growth. The next logical, yet sometimes unfamiliar step is putting yourself out there. But without experience, knowledge or familiarity with marketing and advertising, many businesses are without direction. Where do we begin? What should we invest in? What actually delivers results?

Too often, businesses will take a “plunge” into a campaign without any real plan or system for analysis. A half hearted direct mail effort, for example, may yield 2-3% return – if you’re lucky. Commonly, the business owner deems the failed attempt to be a waste of time, and becomes convinced that this particular advertising vehicle just doesn’t work.

Additionally, establishing the branding and messaging of a company is a complex factor in the marketing game. With experienced design and marketing personnel on your team, it is possible to create these materials internally. However, since your first impression is so critical, it is also highly recommended to consider enlisting the services of an expert design studio or marketing agency. After all, your brand, logo and slogan will set the pace for your entire marketing effort.

With a solid strategy in place, the results you see may be surprising. Consider a 5 step (minimum) plan for each and every component of your marketing plan. Let’s look at the traditional direct mail piece, for example:

  • Identify your target audience – when you establish whom your best targets are, you can more easily cater your messaging to them. How you approach a healthcare organization may require different copy and imagery than what you prepare for a financial business, for example. Once the target is identified, acquire a mailing list from a reputable source with current listings that can be verified.
  • Create an impact – what will appeal to your audience? The best advice to heed here is to “Think like your customer!” Try to envision how they will react. Identify with their challenges and obstacles, and present solutions for them. Again, professional copy and imagery goes a long way.
  • Follow up – with hordes of junk mail littering the mailboxes in America, it’s no wonder 50% of junk mail gets thrown out unopened. A follow up phone call can make a world of difference. If the prospect even recognizes your business name when you speak, it’s a better lead-in than without the mail piece. Tip: script out or rehearse your follow up points so that you can cover important points quickly if need be.
  • Follow up – an email, postcard, or additional phone call will reinforce your presence. Try to be creative with your approach, and present a separate message or advantage you offer. The average sales cycle may require as many as 7 “touches” before the deal is complete. Be sure you’re prepared for each encounter.
  • Follow up – create an appointment, face-to-face with the prospect. If after a certain (established) timeframe has passed, it may appear futile. However, a final piece of leave-behind support material, email, or even simple thought may be all it takes for the prospect to remember you when/if they find themselves in the market for what you offer.
    (did we mention follow up?)

Give serious consideration to the image and message you are sending to your prospects. Especially with new, untapped markets, your visual and verbal presentation needs to be informative, engaging and, ultimately, incite action. Let’s get phones ringing, traffic to your website and visits to your store!

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