The holidays are over! It never ceases to intrigue me how all things business wake up in September. It can be so frustrating trying to get decisions made during the summer yet as soon as the August Bank Holiday is past and children are back at school, suddenly things start to happen! With people actively looking at their business, now is a great time to get marketing so don’t let the demands of you existing customers distract you. Here are my 5 tips to help you really push your marketing forward:
1. Build and use your contact database
OK, keeping in touch is our mantra but marketing is about communication. One of the biggest hurdles we come across is companies not having a good target contact list. Everyone knows people but unless they are listed in a useable format, marketing to your existing contacts can grind to a halt almost before it starts. Building a database of your contacts can be one of the most valuable marketing actions you can take – and by ensuring you have email addresses for everyone you can keep in touch very cost-effectively. So what to do:
- Export all your contacts from your accounts, Outlook etc and get them into a spreadsheet – simple but very flexible and an effective starting point however you decide to do your marketing.
- Make sure that you add everyone you meet through your business to the list to keep it growing. Even if you don’t think someone could use your products/services, contacts can provide great referrals.
2. Update your website
You update your website regularly – don’t you? Your website is your shop window. Whatever your business it is where potential customers will inevitable browse to see what you are about and what you are up to. Your site should reflect your business NOW, not last year or even 6 months ago. Websites should be updated with your latest news, ideas, advice, offers etc. at least every few weeks. If you rely 100% on someone else to update your site (which can make regular updates expensive), take a look at the options for making your site easier to update yourself – this can cost a lot less than you might think and will be a great investment.
3. Get out there
Now you have all this great new content on your website, there’s no need to wait for people to find it. You can get pro-active and let people know it is there. You see, I told you building a contact database would be useful! With interesting things to say and a ready built list of people to market to, getting your message out is straightforward. Whether you choose direct mail or email you should have the key elements – Content and a Target List. You should remember that marketing is a Process, NOT an Event so a single ‘send’ is probably not enough. There is truth in the old adage that’ Repetition Sells’. With the increasing costs of snail-mail, this is where email really comes into it’s own – particularly when your target list grows to more than a few hundred. Running a regular mailing campaign can require significant budgets but with no print or fulfillment costs regular email marketing can be done inexpensively – potentially for nothing if you do it yourself and use one of the free online email services such as MailChimp – but there is a catch! With the ‘easy to delete’ nature of email and the prevalence of Spam emails, it is easy for your message to get lost. Your email messages MUST be:
Tip 4 looks at this.
4. Focus on benefits
If you just try and tell your contacts what you want them to hear, you are likely to find they are not very interested. It is always best to put yourself in there position and think:
What’s In It For Me?
By showing people how they can benefit from what you are saying you are much more likely to catch (and keep) their attention. If you are selling a commodity product (people know what they want and it is all about price and availability) then making special offers, showing you have the best price, can be a good way to go but if your business is based on service or providing products that are not so well understood then it is more important to demonstrate your expertise in your field and your professionalism in delivering your products/services. Great ways to do this – that also engage people interested in what you do include:
- Technical advice
- Links to relevant resources
- Hints and tips
- Case studies
Think about the questions customers ask you or new developments in your field. These can be good sources of inspiration.
5. Keep things simple
A common mistake when people start marketing is to try to say everything in one message. This may be a way of getting as many options into your marketing as possible but it can also be very confusing. There was the time that a salesman, in front of a prospective customer had one chance to make an impact. Marketing is not like this. I repeat: marketing is a Process, NOT an Event. A single message is probably not enough. There is truth in the old adage that’ Repetition Sells’. By keeping one ‘communication’ limited to one (or maybe two) key message, things stay simple – and much easier to understand in a few seconds (probably all you’ve got!). By holding back some of your messages for a future communication, you also have ready-made content for next time! In conclusion…. I’m sure you will already be doing some of these things already – and may be doing all of them – but hopefully I have sparked some ideas to help you go forward – and keep going. If you wish to discuss any of the above in more details, please drop me a line