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Archive for the ‘Marketing’ Category

Engage Customers with Key Marketing Strategies

In Branding, Effective Communication, Marketing, Marketing Communications, Marketing Message on September 14, 2011 at 4:00 pm

Three years ago, when I wrote the article, Common Sense Marketing in a Tough Economy, I had no idea that the information would be so pertinent in 2011. That article is one of the most popular since I launched Words That Work. Today, as in 2008, business owners need to make every marketing dollar count. What marketing strategies work best? While there is no single solution, here are three key marketing strategies that work in a challenging economy — and whenever you want to grow your business.

Strategy 1: Go back to basics. When it feels as if the walls are closing in on you and clients are evaporating, you may be tempted to toss aside your marketing plan and try something new. While there is nothing wrong with new approaches, this is not the time to forsake the basics. Start with a clear marketing message. This succinct statement should immediately engage customers and prospects and help them understand what your company can do for them and why they should do business with you rather than with your competition. Consider it your “logo in words.” Include it in print pieces and proposals. Share your marketing message when networking and then expand on it when you follow up with a new contact after an event or meeting. Instead of using a standard recording, make your marketing message part of your voice mail message.

Strategy 2: Cater to your customers. Your customers are golden and the reason for your business success. Treat them that way. Begin by establishing a process that allows you to stay in touch with customers on a regular basis. If you don’t have an up-to-date database of client contacts, develop one. Plan to “touch” your clients about once a month.

An email newsletter filled with useful information is a great way to stay in touch with clients. Consider profiling customers in your newsletter. This is a win-win situation. Potential customers get a firsthand look at how you have helped an actual business and your customers benefit from added exposure. Handwritten birthday cards, holiday greetings and notes of congratulations and thanks are thoughtful gestures and make you stand out. (When was the last time you received a handwritten note?) Take advantage of social media to tout your clients. Mention their accomplishments in your posts. Respond to their posts. We all know the power of referrals. Whenever possible, refer your clients to potential customers.

Strategy 3: Cultivate your prospects. Prospects are tomorrow’s customers. Treat them as you would a client. Develop a process to stay in touch with them. When you attend a networking event, capture contact information in a database and connect with prospects through social media. Plan to touch prospects at least once a month. When a prospect asks you to call “in three months,” have a system that allows you to follow through on that commitment.

When you meet someone for the first time, ask if you may add him or her to your newsletter database. Prospects will appreciate that you have asked their permission and they also are more likely to read your newsletter rather than hit the “delete” button. Use your marketing message in all of your prospecting tools, including written proposals. Don’t assume that people remember details about your company just because you have shared them in a meeting. Have you worked with a client who faced a similar challenge as your prospect? Share customer profiles so prospects can see your work in action.

©2011 Joan B. Marcus Communications LLC

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Build Business Brand Proactively

In Branding, Marketing, Marketing Communications on August 25, 2011 at 1:20 pm

Every business has a brand. Some businesses build their brand proactively and create a strong, positive brand. Others ignore  brand development and end up with a negative brand that dooms the business.Your brand is too important to your business success to ignore it. Instead, build it proactively.

Simply put, your brand is your promise to your customers regarding your products and services and the overall sales experience you provide. Your actions define your brand while your marketing materials support it. Adopt these strategies to grow a strong, consistent brand that will serve your company well.

  • Build your brand on action. Some companies fail to see the connection between their actions and their brand. They believe that if they develop a slick marketing campaign promising quality products and services and excellent customer care, this will become their brand even if they fail to deliver on their promise. Wrong! This is like building a home with sturdy walls and a flimsy foundation. The structure just won’t stand. You must deliver what you promise.
  • Reflect your brand in your marketing materials. On the flip side, some business owners believe that as long as they sell quality products and services and treat their customers well, the quality of their marketing materials doesn’t matter. Wrong again. You need to let customers know what makes you different from your competition. Otherwise, your competitor with a strong marketing program but only average products and services will far outsell you.
  • Develop a message that speaks to your audience. I once attended a networking event during which everyone had the opportunity to give a 30-second commercial about his or her company. There were several banks represented. One by one, each bank representative offered the lowest home mortgage rate and nothing more. I was left with the impression that every bank was the same. What’s the solution? Develop a strong marketing message that quickly defines the customer pain points your products and services address, your solution to these pain points or needs and what makes your solution better than that offered by your competition. Otherwise, you will compete solely on price.
  • Build your brand by design. Many businesses start out with a logo, business cards and letterhead and then develop the rest of their marketing tools in a reactive mode — when some event forces them to do so. The end result often is a different message and design for each marketing tool. If you want to build a strong brand, incorporate your message and unique image into every marketing tool.
  • Stay the course. Customers and prospects need to hear your message consistently at least six or seven times before it begins to make an impact. If you did your homework and carefully developed your marketing message, design and strategy, stay the course. Give your marketing strategy time to succeed.
  • Change if you must. While consistency is important, even the most carefully made plan sometimes needs to be tweaked. Evaluate your results on a regular basis and adjust your marketing as needed for even stronger brand growth.

Copyright 2011. Joan B. Marcus

Website Content Drives Web Traffic

In Marketing, Marketing Communications on July 13, 2011 at 3:28 pm

Developing searchable and compelling website content is a critical marketing tactic that will increase your website traffic, whether you own a business or run a nonprofit organization. While good design and navigation are important to the success of your website, content is key. Website content serves two main functions — it helps people find your site and it makes your website interesting. To achieve this, your website content should be searchable and compelling.

Make web content searchable with keywords

  1. Choose customer-friendly keywords. The key to successful marketing is to make it customer centered. When it comes to keywords, use phrases your customers are likely to use when searching for your products or services. While there are many tools that you can use to research the effectiveness of keywords, start by listening to your customers. What words do they use to describe your products or services?
  2. Focus on keyword phrases. When you use a search engine such as Google or Bing to find information online, you use keywords that describe what you want to find. You may search using a single keyword such as “florist.” Most people, however, use a phrase, such as “fresh floral arrangements in Lehigh Valley, PA.” This narrows the search and makes the results more relevant. When you focus on keyword phrases, you develop a niche and make it easier for people to find your website in searches.
  3. Use keywords strategically. Each page of your website content should represent a different focus on your business or organization. For instance, if you are a florist, one page might be about fresh arrangements, another might focus on silk flowers and yet another might focus on your garden shop. Determine two focused keyword phrases for each page. Use the primary keyword in your title and the second keyword if possible. Use both keywords in your page description. When you write your website content, use both keywords in your opening paragraph of content at least once and preferably more often. Weave the keywords into your website content as much as possible but not so frequently that the copy sounds stilted.

Develop compelling website content your customers want to read

  1. Understand your customers. Any time you market your business or organization, your starting point should be your customers or target audience. Learn as much as you can about your customers, especially their pain points or needs. Provide relevant, useful content that your website visitors will want to read and share.
  2. Include a strong message. Include your marketing message or mission statement on every page of your website. Each page should add depth to that message. Your website content must be compelling to entice visitors to learn more about your business or organization, take a desired action such as purchasing a product or service or making a donation, and return to your site again and again.
  3. Write well. Website content must be well written. Otherwise, visitors will click off your site without a second glance. Focus on your message, mechanics and style. Your ideas should flow logically so visitors quickly understand your point. Content must be grammatically correct and free of all spelling errors. Finally, develop a writing style that reflects your business or organization.

How It All Began

Embrace Common Sense Marketing in Tough Economy

In Marketing, Marketing Communications on July 12, 2011 at 7:38 am

In today’s tough economy, you need to make every marketing dollar work harder and smarter than ever before. By focusing on marketing basics, you can keep your business thriving and growing. Challenging? Yes. Possible? Absolutely. Here are five common sense marketing techniques that will help you use your marketing dollars wisely.

  1. Know your customers. Regardless of the state of the economy, your customers should be the starting point for all of your marketing strategies. Winning a new customer costs two to four times as much as keeping a customer so it is a smart investment to do everything you can to keep your customers happy. Learn as much as you can about your current customers. Analyze their buying habits to find ways to increase sales to them. Make their experience with your company so outstanding that they provide word-of-mouth marketing to others. This type of marketing is priceless.
  2. Cultivate prospects. While current customers are critical to your success, you need to continually cultivate prospects if you want to keep growing your business. Focus on untapped prospect groups who would make profitable customers. Develop a plan to reach them. Position your products and services to be as attractive as possible to turn these prospects into customers.
  3. Focus your message on your customer. Marketing is all about the customer — or at least it should be. Unfortunately, too many businesses spend time and money focusing on themselves and never talk about what the customer wants to hear. Experts estimate that the average customer is hit with 3,500 to 5,000 messages daily. If your message has any chance of breaking through that barrage, it must be customer oriented. Your message should acknowledge your customers’ pain points, develop your solution and explain what makes your solution better than that of your competition.
  4. Sharpen your marketing tools. Now is a key time to look at how well your marketing tools are working. Does your website offer information your customers want? Do you give them reasons to return to your site? Is your newsletter focused on your customers and their needs? Are you using marketing methods that actually reach your target audience?
  5. Use low-cost marketing techniques to enhance your budget. There are many low-cost marketing techniques that yield big results if you are willing to use them consistently. When you network, follow up immediately with new contacts. Use social network sites such as LinkedIn and Facebook to stay in touch. Send an email or set up a meeting to build relationships. If you don’t follow up, networking is worthless. Send a hand-written thank you note when you meet with a prospect. Keep your database updated so you can stay in touch with customers and prospects. Speak to community organizations and professional associations. Volunteer on nonprofit boards.

How It All Began