If you already suspect that you’re not doing enough marketing, then chances are you’re right.
Doing the right of marketing should feel like you’re doing too much. It’s a lot like applying make-up when you’re about to appear on television. When you look at yourself in real life, it looks over-exaggerated. But when you appear on TV – you look natural. Your marketing strategy runs the same way.
Here are a few real-life hints that you aren’t exaggerating enough when it comes to marketing:
1. You Google your company’s name and/or product and a competitor’s site is listed WAY ahead of yours. If you want your customer to choose you, they have to find you first. Google loves fresh, new content; and they reward those people who provide fresh content and to whom people link as a resource. Google figures, “If people think this is worth reading, it must be worth reading.” Not only that, but Google also indexes and finds social media content such as blog posts, Twitter feeds, Google Local or maps content and a lot more.
2. You’ve lost more than one customer because of “price.” If your customers are complaining about price, they don’t know why they should choose you. What you offer your customers consists of more than just the widget or the service, it includes distribution (how easy is it to get my hands on your product), communication (how easy is it for me to interact with you), the experience, and the people with whom I interact when I purchase or have my product serviced. Make a list of all the things that are included with your offering. Think about comparing that list with other alternatives (or the competition). Then don’t be too shy to share what sets your offering apart from other alternatives.
3. Your phones aren’t ringing like they used to. Doesn’t this just remind you of the whole dating scene? Why doesn’t he call? Maybe they’re just not that into you? In other words, they don’t feel an emotional connection or you’re not top-of-mind when they experience the trigger that should have them call you. The solution to this problem is to do a tight demographic and psychographic profile of your customer. Simply start creating “categories” of customers as they occur to you intuitively. You can start with “industry” but then start getting creative and think about customers that always want your stuff yesterday. See how many niches you can identify.
4. Your salespeople are “complaining” about how hard it is to get in front of prospects. Everyone who is working is doing the job of more than one person. And that means that your sales person must have something so irresistible that your customer will want to see them. The way to put your sales reps in front of the customer is by creating an engaging email marketing program that educates them on how and why to user your products. Check out Constant Contact, iContact, aWeber or InfusionSoft. There is a great email marketing solution for every budget.
5. You don’t have a marketing plan (even a 1-pager). A marketing plan doesn’t have to be this huge unwieldy document. In fact, a short one-pager can accomplish more than a hundred page bound copy. All you really need to include in your marketing plan is a goal, an objective, the customers or markets you want to target and what you want to offer them. Finally, how will you communicate with them, and how will your offer be within arm’s reach of your customer? Getting those marketing basics in front of your team will improve your results on all levels.
6. Your website hasn’t been updated in at least three years. If your website still has a picture of your facility or is focused on widgets instead of your customer’s needs. It’s time to update. If you still don’t have a blog on your site or offer a newsletter, it’s time to update. Creating and updating your website is not at all as expensive as it used to be. Starting a blog will increase and update your level of content and can also serve as free publicity. Today’s customers want to know the people they are working with on all levels. A blog that includes product updates and information as well as more informal and interesting articles from a variety of people from you company will engage your readers and give them more reasons to choose you.
7. You have more versions of products than customers buying them. Customizing an offering to meet a specific customer need can eat into profitability – especially if the customer is only purchasing a low amount. An easy way to update your offering is my identifying those customer/product combinations that fall below your desired profit margin. Then go to those customers and explain that they have an option to move to a lower-cost “standard” product. You’ll be amazed at how many customers will jump at the cost-cutting opportunity.
8. You aren’t getting referrals. If you’re not hearing “….told me that I should contact you.” Then you’re not working referrals. Customers can’t refer if they don’t know how to refer or why to refer. People just want to be told what to do and creating a “referral strategy or process” will go a long way to helping your sales people increase the number of new customers. Make your sales calls referral friendly by focusing at least part of the call on helping your customer achieve their goals. Create a “referral guideline” that you can leave with the customer or even better, create a space on the web where customers can easily send their referrals.
9. You’re losing good employees. This may sound more like a human resources problem, but the Gallup Organization found out that companies with engaged employees were more profitable. And only 20 percent of the companies they surveyed had engaged employees. Happy and engaged employees naturally create great customer experiences. So measure employee engagement with the Gallup Q12 survey and then talk to your employees about what it would take to get them more engaged. It’s a win –win-win for the company, employees and customers.
10. You haven’t launched any new products or services in the last three years. Customers’ needs change and if you don’t upgrade your products or services, customers will think you aren’t paying attention. Survey customers about what’s important to them, what’s missing, what challenges they are overcoming. Then think about creating bundles or value packages that include a mix or product and service options.
Ignoring marketing is most common when business is tough, and you have to make sure that every customer is happy. But it’s just that kind of fire-fighting that puts your future success at risk. So, don’t be afraid to put your marketing hat on. And remember, if it doesn’t feel like you’re overdoing it, you’re not doing enough.
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Ivana Taylor is CEO of Third Force, a strategic firm that helps small businesses get and keep their ideal customer. She’s the co-author of the book “Excel for Marketing Managers” and proprietor of DIYMarketers a site for in-house marketers. Her blog is Strategy Stew.