I just finished a phone conversation with a business owner that started something like this:
"I've sent all my marketing budget and we got very few leads and almost no sales – can you help?"
It's not the first time I've heard these words, and probably not the last. Over the past 30 years I have probably received a call a month that contains the same lament. It really should not be surprising, it's human-nature for us to believe that we can do anything, especially if it looks easy. After all, how hard can marketing be? You put up a web site, run a few ads and presto – the sales begin. Without of course, you spend your marketing budget and get no results.
I would prefer, of course, to get the call before the budget is spent. Or, at least when part of the budget still remains. So in an effort to help facilitate that, here are a few suggestions to not only retaining some of your budget for later, but to actually getting a positive result from your marketing efforts.
First, let's define what a positive result is. One of the documents available at my web site is, "The 26 Steps To Software Marketing Success." This explains the difference between good or successful and not-so-good or unsuccessful marketing. If you want an advanced degree in marketing you can take a look at the 26-steps, it has some very good advice, and in fact is the title of my next book. Until then, we'll discuss some basic steps in this article.
In the phone consultation I just completed, my client explained that he had done some public relations and additional marketing through a web-based service. It seemed like a good plan, 6 different blast emails to over 60,000 customers identified in this target market. How could you not create enough interest and sales to cover the costs? Well, he got a few leads that didnt turn into a sale. In our discussion it became obvious that some basic steps were missing in creating his marketing plan. I should mention that although this conversation was with one company, I know hundreds of companies who are making the same mistakes as you read this.
Step One – Strategic planning.
My client's marketing plan had been more a good-idea than a marketing plan. He used his 'best-sense' of what would work to create what he thought would be a good marketing plan. The problem was that his 'best-sense' did not include the experience required to develop accurate knowledge about his specific market requirements. Does this mean he was not experienced? No, it simply means he was not experienced in the profession of marketing in his specific industry; and why should he? Even though his background included some sales and marketing, his primary profession was as an engineer and business management. In order to create the very best product, he needed to keep his focus on product and on running his company.
Marketing for him, as a small business person, was always an irritating afterthought. As a result he jumped into marketing activities without proper research and analysis, and when the result was not what was expected he found himself reacting to, rather than proactively managing his marketing campaign. What he needed was a thorough analysis of his market, his product positioning, his price point, and his distribution methods. After careful study, he could then develop a plan that reflected the needs of his defined market. Easier said than done, but still absolutely necessary for successful marketing.
Step Two – Multifaceted Marketing
My clients get sick and tired of hearing me say Multifaceted, but they are two of my favorite words concerning marketing. Multifaceted Marketing, Multifaceted Marketing, Multifaceted Marketing, Multifaceted Marketing. See what I mean? Very irritating, but very true.
What I mean by multifaceted is that you must have 3 or more activities occurring at any one time to penetrate the consciousness of your potential customer. As a race, humans are very weak. It takes multiple contacts for us to register an idea, and then many more contacts for us to understand our need and make a purchase. If you do not, you will simply be wasting your marketing dollars.
Step Three – Long Term
Two more favorite words in marketing – Long Term. If you think marketing can be done in short bursts with any significant result, think of a rocket ship firing off a launching pad. Imagine giving a short burst of power, then shutting down the power down, then giving another short burst, then shutting down. What happens? The rocket lifts off the pad, hovers, then rests back on the pad. You could do this until the cows come home and never launch your rocket. That is exactly what happens when you fail to do long-term marketing. There are a hundred reasons for this phenomenon, but suffice to say that it's true. Think of your marketing campaign in 12 to 24 month terms and you'll be on the right track. The sales you get today are a result of the marketing you started years ago.
Step Four – Follow Up
You would think that any company that received a lead would follow up on that lead. After all, they spend thousands of dollars, yuan, euro, whatever getting that lead – right? This seems like a simple idea, but I can not tell you how many companies I speak with simply do not have the time or resources to follow up on leads. Let me say here, if you can not follow up on leads, do not do the marketing. It's a waste of money. If you are doing marketing, include follow-up in your strategic plan, and budget. Of course, you want to allow for multiple contacts in your follow up and sales as well.
These few ideas are enough to get anyone started on good marketing. I do not sell my services in my articles, and I do not care who you use, but I highly recommend you contact an expert in marketing to build your strategic plan. There is no replacement for experience when it comes to knowing how to market in your industry. It costs money, yes, but if you have a good consultant the savings will be many times the cost. An objective expert with real world experience can be worth a great deal when it comes to the success of your business.
Good luck and good marketing.
© Nick Vasilieff 2010 All Rights Reserved.