Constancy is the hallmark of an effective marketing campaign.
In the ubiquitous blizzard of advertising that is modern life, a single ad needs to be pretty darn spectacular if it’s to get noticed. Even the best, the super bowl champions of ads have little staying power. How many can you remember from the last super bowl? Three, two, one, none?
Most businesses cannot afford super bowl sized ad budgets. So how can we compete? Can we compete?
The answer is clearly yes. As evidenced by the billions spent on advertising. It must be doing someone some good. But is most of it cost effective? That may be less clear.
The key to a good marketing campaign is to have a clearly targeted audience. Finding that audience is the first hurdle.
There are two major segments to the audience. Those who you have a relationship with and those you don’t.
This sets up the need for two marketing approaches. One approach builds relationships with new people, the second maintains and nurtures the relationship with those you already have.
Each approach has its own hurdles and objectives. Some businesses routinely confuse the two. And this can be costly.
Proselytizing to the unknown multitudes is expensive. For starters, there are so many more of them. Secondly, you don’t know a whole lot about them. Third, they are already doing business with one or another of your competitors. Typically you need to use mass media to reach them in any significant numbers. Newspaper, TV and Radio advertising is expensive. Direct mailing and coupon programs can often be better tailored to the smaller business needs, but it too is expensive.
Marketing to those with whom you already have a relationship should be easier. First they are fewer in number, and you have a better understanding as to who they are. More importantly, they have an idea who you are. (For better or worse.) This is your primary target market. The key to business success is to focus your marketing on your target market.
Too many businesses rely on traditional and expensive tools of mass media aimed at the broad market of unknowns when the primary respondents to their efforts are their own customers. Instead they should be using inexpensive non traditional tactics aimed exclusively at existing customers and friends.
Many small business people know their customers by name, but lack an effective list and means of communicating with them. This is unfortunate…and costly.
Instead of spending thousands of dollars a month for occasional print or media pieces, they could be communicating with a large percentage of their existing customers for virtually nothing. These communications could be more consistent and nuanced. And as a result be far more productive.
The trick is to get people on the list. That should be easy enough for most businesses. A barber could offer each customer a business card, inviting them to sign up on their email system for a chance at a monthly drawing for a free haircut. A grocer could offer a chance at $50 of groceries. A tax preparer could offer a free tax return. A lawyer perhaps a “get out of jail free” or a free will.
The goal being to convert that mass of people with whom you have an established relationship into a emailable list of people you can communicate with on a regular basis.
This offers a lot of additional ways to market.
For example, a Barber who will be taking a few days off to go fishing can advise his customers that he will to come in a few days earlier than normal. Every week or so he could publish the best jokes told for the prior week, and be sure most of his emails get read.
A grocer instead of focusing on cents off ads, could spend some time talking about new products, and maybe even offer meal preparation ideas pushing a basket of products.
The attorney may wish to fill slower periods with will work or other matters people tend to defer, and when busier may just want to pass on some useful general legal insights.
A restaurant may offer a special to fill seats on slow days, combined perhaps with a weekly or monthly cooking tips feature.
The key to all this is a good dependable auto responder system.
Once a business has migrated their customer base to their auto responder list, they can communicate on a regular basis. Now you don’t want to overwhelm people with emails. A consistent regular pattern appropriate for your type of business will solidify customer relationships.
While you may still want to offer discounts and coupons if your competitors do, you can focus on other things as well. Give your customers an inside look at you and your business. This will result in more repeat visits, and if you use some imagination, larger total sales per visit.