The Basics! I remember in college our defensive backs coach would have us practice the most basic movements EVERYDAY. We’d practice not having a false step when the ball snapped. Then, I didn’t see the importance of it. Now, I realize how important it is to always practice the fundamentals. Whether you’re playing a sport, running a retail store or selling advertising, there’s no difference.
So for 2013 I propose you start practicing the basics when it comes to marketing.
1. The #1 most important part of your business should be your customer database. I’m simply amazed by the number of companies and sales professionals who don’t have a customer list. It’s really pretty easy, you spend too much time and money to acquire a solid lead or customer, why would you not find out everything you can about them. Email is FREE. Why wouldn’t you have every customers email address? Many businesses focus first on mass media. If you use mass media to get people through the door, that’s perfectly fine. But if you don’t get their info you are just asking them to respond to the next advertisement they see from a competitor. BUT, it’s all in the ask. I recently heard a cashier say “You don’t want to give me your email do you?” Of course the answer was no. Give a compelling reason as to why you need their contact info. I promise you, most customers will give you what you want.
2. Get more customer info. Don’t just settle for their name and email. If you’re in retail, do what you have to do (bribe with gift cards) to get their spouse and friends info. Think about it, your customers friends have the same hobbies and likes. So find a reason to get their friends info. In the boat business we had a “Friends of Plapp’s” program. You could register 3 friends or family members into a program that got each of them a $25 gift card on their birthday. We asked for father, brother and best friend and many times sold those people large ticket items within 12 months. So in 2013 GO DEEPER, don’t just settle for your customers info.
3. Start using email! I’m simply amazed that with the lack of email marketing by local businesses and professionals with today’s technology’s. Services like Constant Contact are affordable and very easy to use. Pop quiz; whats in your pocket or on your desk that receives email…YOUR PHONE! So do your customers. It’s easier than ever to reach your customers/prospects. I currently have aprox 300 sales professionals calling on me on a monthly basis in the marketing industry. Would it surprise you to know that only 1, yes ONE, sends out email newsletters (not the one’s that corporate gives you to forward). A non-selling email is the best way to stay in front of customers/prospects and to become a resource to them. In the retail industry, this is no different. Many more companies are using email, but all too often it’s not well thought out or focused enough.
4. Grass-roots events – A few years ago the Cincinnati Reds had a skateboard give-away game. They handed out 10,000 skateboard decks. If you know skateboards then you realize that you still need grip-tape, trucks, wheels, bearings, and protective gear. So there were 10,000 potential customers walking out of a Reds game at the same time. I had a friend in the marketing business who called me for some ideas. I told him about this promo and said to call every skateboard shop in town and show them a package for his team of workers to put literature and coupons in the hands of these customers as they walked away from the stadium. Not one shop wanted to do it and a few even said “they’ll find us”. ARE YOU KIDDING ME! The potential to reach 10,000 customers, heck even 1,000, would have me out there in the brightest clothes with the strongest call to action. From what I understand, there were no companies outside the stadium on this night. A huge missed opportunity.
This is no different with B-2-B. Find events where your potential customers are gathered like at BNI meetings, chamber events & trade show. Find a way to make a memorable impression and more importantly talk to exactly who you want to meet. Did you know that most events like this have RSVP lists? Why not find out who’s going ahead of time and create a list of 5 people you want to meet and have your message ready.
5. Social Media – Yes I think we can all agree that Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Pinterest, YouTube and Google+ aren’t going anywhere. All have their strong points and ways to drive name awareness, website traffic and profits. I could write 10 pages on this one, but I’ll spare you. My best advise is hire an expert to help craft a plan. Another great resource are blogs, here’s a great one, Social Media Examiner.
6. In-Store / VIP Events – Three years ago I helped a client of mine, The Golf Exchange, create a series of golf seminars in the winter at their store. After 8 weeks we had attendance of 100+ per night. Yes we got 100+ golfers to a golf store in the SNOW! We created a strong series of events, gave them great reasons to come out and guess what happened, they came out! The results were great, sales were up 38% in 4th quarter. The best part, we spent no money marketing these (except for in-store P.O.P’s). We used email, social media and word-of-mouth to market these seminars.
Are you B-2-B? It’s just as easy. I could show you a million examples, but I’ll stay close to home. I have hosted over 12 events in the past 12 months and averaged over 60 business decision makers at each event. And you’ll never guess how I marketed these events….EMAIL and Social Media:) Why not start right now planning a March Madness party for the 1st Thursday or Friday of the tournament. Find a nice local restaurant with tv’s, reserve an area and invite your top customers. ALL of them are looking for an excuse to get out of their office those days, give them one.
7. Your Website – I hope you have one by now. Even if you’re a salesperson and not a small business, buy your name or something that makes sense and start branding YOU. Great looking professional websites can be found on platforms like WordPress for under $1,000. If your website is not something that you can update yourself on a daily basis and keep fresh, then start over and get one that is.
8. PPC – Pay per click advertising is a great way to find exactly who you want to do business with. Google took the top spots for ads a few years ago for PPC because they found that most consumers were clicking the top 3 search results. Now you can buy keywords and search strings that are ultra-targeted. If you’re a weight loss clinic, you can put an ad in front of a consumer searching for “how can I lose 40 pounds”. I’d say that’s a pretty targeted customer.
9. Have a “Call-To-Action”. We all fall victim to this and this is on the top of my list in 2013 for my clients. Too many commercials don’t give a valid reason for customers to buy. We need to sit back and look at why they need to buy, and then craft specific commercials to reach those customers. Next, give them a very specific reason to come in. Discounts, new products, offers, events, etc. Give your customers a reason they can’t pass up to come check out your business. BUT don’t get sucked into always offering discounts. There are many other ways to get a customers attention besides discounts.
10. A 12 month plan to actually DO #1-9. You wouldn’t leave for vacation tomorrow without a map or GPS. Don’t do the same this year with your marketing plan. Create a month-by-month plan that lays out what emails you will send, what videos you will shoot, what your offers will be that month, etc. Then print it, pass it out to managers and meet bi-weekly to review it. Don’t get caught planning a March Madness party for your top 25 clients the Monday before, have that planned 2 months out and always be thinking about what’s next.
I hope you found these tips helpful. If you have any questions please feel free to contact me.
Good luck in 2013.