Marketing in isolation doesn't work
July 2014. Author: Oliver Smith
I've lost count how many times I've heard business owners say that they've tried some form of marketing with no response or success and therefore don't bother any more.
“I've advertised before and it didn't work”
“I've sent out some leaflets and didn't get any responses”
“The only marketing that works for me is word of mouth”
In reality this is a dangerous attitude. No matter how good your product or service is you are going to lose a significant amount of your regular customers over time. It's a fact of life; customers move away, they get poached by the competition, you get beaten on price. Even your most loyal customers can leave you, it happens. This means that you need to replace them with new ones, which presents you with your biggest challenge; attracting potential customers and getting attention.
The purpose of this article is to highlight the need for regular marketing. The boffins down at the Chartered Institute of Marketing state, 'A successful promotional mix uses a balance of its five tools in a planned and structured way - a single tool rarely works in isolation.'
This basically means that if you do something once, you're unlikely to get a response. So what is this promotional mix and how you can start regularly marketing yourself.
The Promotional Mix
The promotional mix is made up of five tools. Different promotional channels (i.e. email, social media, sales team etc.) fit within these five tools:
- Advertising - Includes; print, radio, TV, web-banners, posters and more. Essentially the presentation of ideas, goods or services by a company.
- Direct Marketing - Communicating directly with customers, this could be in the form of letters, emails or SMS.
- Public Relations - A sustained effort to develop a reputation for your business using the media to help create the image you desire.
- Sales Promotion - A specific, usually short term offer or promotion providing your customer with over and above your usual offering; i.e. 20% discount. Used to stimulate market demand, combat competitor offerings and encourage repeat buying.
- Personal Selling - Contacting customers directly personally. Normally through a sales force, be it, in person or over the phone.
The Chartered Institute of Marketing (CIM) has produced an excellent 10 minute guide to the Promotional Mix, this can be found at: http://www.cim.co.uk/files/promotionalmix.pdf
So you've got your promotional tools, now you've got to set a plan to regularly promote your business.
Jordan Belfort (the Wolf of Wall Street) talks about the 'straight line of persuasion'. Basically, this is the process that happens between the customer first hearing about you, through to them buying your products or services. Belfort describes how you've got to convince the person to believe in you, believe in your product and overcome all of the doubts in their mind before they buy from you.
A similar principle can be applied to marketing. The first time a person hears about your business or product they are unlikely to rush out and spend money with you. But with regular communication and the right messages you will have done a large part of the persuasion by the time the recipient is ready to buy.
Repetition is very important in marketing. Research shows that, on average, someone needs to see an advert seven times before it means anything to them. This is quite extreme, but illustrates the point about the importance of regular marketing.
Planning your promotional strategy is where to begin. As with all marketing you need to think about your key messages and how you can communicate them to your target audience in the most effective way. Go back to the 10 minute guide from the CIM for a 10 point check list to plan your promotional strategy: http://www.cim.co.uk/files/promotionalmix.pdf
A random example...
To show you how easy it is to set a promotional strategy I've -chosen a local restaurant as an example and have listed a basic plan of action below:
My audience is quite broad and includes:
Men, women and families based in and around my postcode.
Raise awareness of my business
Increase footfall during quiet times (weekdays)
Promote business services
Quality food at reasonable prices
Locally Sourced, Incredible Quality
We're here to make your taste-buds feel better
Locally sourced, quality ingredients
Where to find us
Advertising: Posters on the shop front and signs for the tables
Direct Marketing: Leaflet drop, email, Facebook & Twitter
Sales Promotion: Lunch loyalty card
Personal Selling: Staff members to talk to customers about offers
I'm going to focus my promotional plan for the next three months.
Monitor daily income
Track and measure lunch loyalty card
And there you have a very basic and rough plan.
It's as simple as that and anyone can do it.
If I was to use this plan I'd flesh out the details of the sales promotion, create some branded designs to support my key messages and promotions, fully brief my employees and finally; work out a weekly rota for my direct marketing activities.
Regular marketing will raise awareness, will entice new customers and help you sell more. It can seem like a pain in the bum to do, but once you get started and you've got a routine, you'll start to see significant developments in your bottom line. And that's what we're here for, right?