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Want to Increase Sales and Reduce Marketing Expenses? Observe Your Surroundings!

23 Apr


I recently completed a marketing consulting project for a new restaurant.  The owner wanted ideas on how to best utilize marketing dollars to drive traffic to the restaurant.  Instead of automatically investing money in print advertising, I decided to observe the area around the restaurant.

Sitting in the coffee shop located across the street from the restaurant, I observed a very important piece of information:

Herds of kids wearing soccer jerseys being dragged around the shopping center by their parents

After taking additional notes about the type of people walking around the shopping center, I determined the most useful way to invest marketing dollars would be to promote 10% off a meal if a child shows up wearing his or her soccer jersey.  Also, if a child scored a goal, the restaurant would put his or her name on the chalkboard that’s visible to the patrons of this small town.

Instead of wasting large sums of marketing dollars on a print ad that MIGHT run one or two times in the local paper, this restaurant takes advantage of its surroundings and generates word-of-mouth advertising for one segment of its customers. It also promotes community involvement and is a fun place for families to visit after sporting events.

How can your business take advantage of its surroundings and create low cost, high return on investment marketing campaigns?

Happy Marketing!

Don’t Lose Focus of Your Core Prospects and Customers

23 Mar

Get clear about the customers you're targeting

While working with small business owners, I often find a recurring problem: most small business owners don’t have a clear target customer. When I ask business owners to describe, in great detail, the type of customers they hope to attract, I’m amazed when the business owner doesn’t have a solid answer. If you don’t know the type of customers you want to attract, how in the world do you expect to operate a sustainable business? By not having a target, not only will your marketing efforts fall woefully short, but also your products and services will likely fall flat.

In order to maximize your marketing efforts by identifying your target customer, you need to spend time thinking about the type of customer you want to attract. Gender? Age range? Education? Income Level? Buying habits? Price sensitive? How do they make purchases? Married? Single? Divorced? You need to study your target customer like you’re a trained international spy. Watch them walk; observe what they wear; where else do they shop? Why do they buy? This is the first step in creating an effective marketing campaign. KNOW THE CHARACTERISTICS AND HABITS OF YOUR TARGET CUSTOMER. Describe this target in great detail, so that you can easily describe your target to others, and they will know exactly the type of person you’re talking about.

Think of it this way: imagine you were trying to catch a mouse, and I had no idea what a mouse looks like. You would probably describe it as: small, furry, grey, four legs, whiskers, 4 to 6 inches long, 2 inches tall, fast, likes to live in walls and basements (this is how you should describe your target customer). Now tell me how to attract it: likes cheese and peanut butter.  To increase your customer base and create wildly-successful marketing campaigns, do the following:

1) Describe, in great detail, your target customer

2) Determine what attracts that specific set of customers to your products/services

3) Create an advertising and marketing campaign directed squarely at your targets preferences

4) Capture your target customer and convert them to a happy paying customer.

Happy Marketing!

Are You Focusing on the Decision Makers?

21 Feb

Women drive 80% of consumer spending in the United States

I recently read Why She Buys by Bridget Brennan. You might ask: Why in the world are you reading a book about women? Well, according to Mrs. Brennan, women are the engine of the global economy, driving 80 percent of consumer spending in the United States.

Women do the majority of the shopping for the household, from grocery shopping to shopping  for clothes for her kids and her husband. She also has the final say on any big ticket item the man wants to buy!  How many times have you heard a man say, “Let me think about it.” That’s code for, “I have to ask my wife.”

Remember, the target customer and decision maker are not always the same person!

Here are a few interesting insights from the book:

  • They love to tell others where they bought something. For example: Woman 1 says, “I love your outfit!” Woman 2 responds, “Thanks! I got it at Ann Taylor Loft.” 
  • She starts sizing up the product/service/salesperson from the second she comes across your business. She notices every detail, from the post-it note on your desk  to the color coordination of your outfit. 
  • Women like to know what others are buying (possibly tag your product/service with “Best Seller” or “Best Deal”). 
 If you’re serious about selling your products and services in the future, I strongly suggest you find ways to make your products and services attractive to the final decision makers……women! What can you do to appeal to the women driving 80% of consumer spending in the United States?

Should You Compete on Price or Customer Experience?

16 Feb

Create the Ultimate Customer Experience

Let me keep this simple: If you compete on price, your business will die a slow, painful death.  Price is the easiest marketing strategy for competitors to imitate. We see companies everywhere competing solely on price–just look at the airline and pizza industry.  Competing on price has several negative effects on your business, including:

1) Attracts price shoppers who have absolutely ZERO loyalty to you and your business.  The only way you to get them to buy again is to slash your prices.

2) Squeezes your profit margins. You have to compete by selling more volume to make up for the loss in margin–bad idea, unless you’re Wal-Mart.

A low price strategy is often the death of small businesses. As a small business owner, you have a unique opportunity to provide an unmatched customer experience.  Although it’s natural to assume every consumer buys strictly on price, studies indicate only between 5 percent and 10 percent of customers shop based on price.

Your strategy should focus on creating an unmatched customer experience for prospects and customers that interact with your company. How can you create a systematic experience that leaves people raving about your company? If you create that WOW experience, you will have loyal, raving, repeat customers who are willing to pay a premium for your products and services. More profits for your business equals more resources for you to expand and squash your competition.

Good Luck!

Goal of Super Bowl Ads: Raise Awareness or Sell Product?

6 Feb

Can you name the product in these ads?

At times I struggle with whether Super Bowl television advertisements are worth the money. This year, the average cost of a Super Bowl ad was $3.5 million dollars–you need to sell a lot of cars or chips to see a return on that investment. So, what’s the purpose of the ad? Is it to get maximum exposure for the brand, or is it to sell products and services? I guess the big corporations see it as a way to promote their brand by getting as many eyeballs as possible on the product. But were you really paying attention to the product?

There were a few ads that I laughed at, but I completely forgot which product was being promoted. Isn’t the whole idea of advertising and marketing to sell more products and/or services?

The companies that elected to advertise during the Super Bowl, got tons of “free” publicity. Twitter went crazy after every commercial; consumers rushed to YouTube to re-watch their favorite commercials; countless major media publications offered critiques of every commercial. This is all great publicity for the major corporations. I guess I’m geared more towards wanting to know exactly where my sales are coming from, so I can track and tweak my marketing campaigns to ensure the greatest profitability and return on investment.  As a small business owner, testing, tracking, and tweaking should be at the heart of your marketing strategy. 

Although it’s hard for me to imagine shelling out $3.5 million for an ad, it’s still fun watching the wildly-creative ads during the Super Bowl. 

Want More Sales? Step 1: Referral Program

4 Feb

Encourage all your customers to spread the word

When I owned my first small business, I made the mistake of paying too much money for a yellow page advertisement–isn’t that what you’re supposed to do as a business owner? Advertise in the yellow pages….that’s what everyone does! Next, I made the mistake of advertising in the local newspaper: I really thought I was big time after I paid the paper $750 to place my business name and phone number in the sports section. I made lots of early marketing mistakes; however, I did something right: I tracked the source of every lead that contacted my office. My first question: How did you hear about us? The overwhelming response was “My friend told me I should give you a call.” 75% of my leads and new clients came from referrals.

So I pulled the yellow page ad when my contract expired. The yellow pages representative was shocked that I didn’t want to place an ad with him…his reasoning: “All your competitors are in the yellow pages.” That sealed the deal; not only would I not blend in with my competitors, but also I wouldn’t be wasting my hard earned money on an unsuccessful marketing channel. When I showed the yellow pages rep my “Source of Business” spreadsheet, he was speechless. I was armed with hard data, showing how ineffective the yellow page ad was for my business.

I immediately created a referral program for existing clients. The goal was to actively encourage my current clients to recommend my business.  If someone referred my business, the referrer received the following (regardless of whether I sold anything to the prospect):

1) $10.00 gift card to a local sandwich shop

2) Entered in monthly drawing for $25.00 Visa gift card

3) Entered in yearly drawing for 60″ flat screen TV

The message: The more people you refer, the better your chance of winning the TV. I printed the referral program on bright paper and included it in every piece of outgoing mail to my clients. I also attached the referral program on all outgoing emails. The results of my referral program were remarkable: My return on investment for the referral campaign was 4 to 1; meaning for every dollar I invested in the referral program, I got $4.00 back.

I learned two very important concepts:

1) Determine how people are finding your business, then actively promote that channel and eliminate the unprofitable marketing channels.

2) Create a reason for your clients to refer you. Reward them with small tokens of appreciation and make your business “top-of-mind” by promoting a fun referral program for your clients.

Create your own referral program TODAY, and watch your business grow!

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