Marketing and Advertising Strategies

Capture Your Competitors' Customers
A Chapter From Christine Corelli’s book “Capture Your Competitors’ Customers and KEEP Them”

Capture Your Competitors’ Customers With Smart Marketing and Advertising Practices

There are many great marketing and advertising strategies and tactics in place today. Learning by their example is the best way when it comes to lessons in marketing and advertising. Some of the smartest and most forward-thinking companies are using superior marketing techniques and maximizing today’s technology to communicate their messages.

Using taglines for maximum effectiveness

To begin, let’s review these contemporary taglines. All of these taglines stand out in customers’ minds.

• Menards’ — Save Big Money at Menards
• Bobcat’s — Meeting the Highest Standards—Yours! Discover Your Animal Instincts
• Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company’s — More Driven
• Walmart’s — Save Money Live Better
• Seattle’s Best Coffee’s — Anywhere great coffee is needed
• Car-X’s — Don’t worry—call the Car-X man
• Zappo.com’s — Delivering Happiness
• Moen’s — Buy it for looks. Buy it for life.
• Albertson Grocers’ — Good Things are Just Around the Corner
• GE’s — Imagination at Work
• Bayer Aspirin’s — Bayer works wonders
• Nyquil’s — The nighttime, coughing, achy, sniffling, stuffy head, fever, so you can rest medicine
• L.L. Bean’s — Shipped for Free, Guaranteed to Last Contemporary

Examples from mid-size and small organizations:
• Drury Kitchen and Bath Designs’ — We’ll let your inspiration be our guide.
• Premiere Party Central’s — We’re passionate about parties
• Carmel Car and Limousine Service’s — We’ll be there for you
• John’s Towing’s — We are hooked on YOU
• General Pipe Cleaner’s — The toughest tools down the line
• Quik-Kill’s — When it comes to pests, control simply won’t cut it
• Construction Financial Management Association’s — The Source and Resource for Construction Financial Excellence

Create a great tagline just for your customer service

When it comes to promoting their customer service, most businesses use similar catch phrases such as “Customer Satisfaction Guaranteed” or “100% Customer Satisfaction is Our Number One Goal.” These overused service taglines will not differentiate one business from another. Branding your service and making a unique and different service promise demonstrates that you are serious about the service you provide. More importantly, it improves customers’ perceptions of your company.

Use words that resonate with your company name. For example, if your business is “Scott Equipment,” your service brand could be- “Scott Service Plus.” If your company is “Caliber Furniture”— “Providing You With The Highest Caliber Service.”

If it is challenging to create a brand that “sings” with your company name, then create a tagline that clearly states your commitment to great service. For example, Jones Furniture —“We Have an Obsession to Deliver Fast, Dependable, Professional and Affordable Service For Every Customer, Every Day.”

Carry the tagline phrases and service brand phrase through your entire marketing and advertising strategy arsenal: to your website, Facebook page, logo, business cards, and every piece of printed collateral. If your employees wear uniforms and you have a company vehicle or truck, make sure your tagline is on them. Uniforms and vehicles are free walking billboards.

Go green and give your program a tagline

Until recently, companies that took an active interest in environmental issues were few and far between. Corporate chatter about taking on these concerns was often more a lot of talk and little action. Companies that considered adopting green practices worried about increased costs, additional risks, and lost revenue. For many, the green solution was simply to place a few recycling bins in the office and that was the end of it.

Today’s environmental problems present a different reality. Many companies realize that protecting the environment is everyone’s business. Customers want to patronize companies that not only produce good quality products, but also have a passion for the environment.

Going green to protect the environment is viewed as not only the right thing to do, but as the smart thing to do. Companies that have made a commitment to protecting the environment earn greater customer loyalty simply by taking on this important challenge.

Make a commitment to the environment, adopt green practices, and market both boldly. Follow the example of smart companies that have branded their green practices, added them to their taglines or positioning statements, and/or initiated a marketing communications campaign. Review these examples.

• “EcoVision™”—Sherman-Williams
• “Huntwood—The world’s most ecologically friendly cabinet manufacturer”
• “Capital One—Lend a Hand Save the Land” (A campaign promoting the use of e-statements)
• “Ecomagination” from GE—derived from their “Imagination at Work” slogan
• “Go Green—Save Green” from ComEd
• “SustainabiliTEA” from Lipton

So that customers are clear about your commitment, communicate how and why your efforts are benefiting the environment. The following is an excellent example from the promotional products industry:

Eco Promotional Products, Inc. (EPP) is dedicated to supplying a breadth of environmentally responsible merchandise to businesses and individuals interested in sustainability and respecting our natural resources. EPP is the only totally “green,” full line promotional products company in the ASI (Ad Specialties Industry) interested in reducing your landfill usage while projecting your environmental goals. EPP researches and verifies our products to be one or more; Reusable, Recyclable, Recycled, Energy Efficient, Organic, Biodegradable, and Made in the USA. In Eco Promotional Products’ crusade towards promoting your responsible purchasing, we have developed icons to easily identify the product’s environmentally friendly attributes.

Include all green references in your marketing materials. Your green message should appear on your letterhead, brochures, signage, invoices, statements, and website. Take advantage of every opportunity to spread your green message.

Be sure to include:
• green certifications you hold
• environmental associations you belong to and support
• logos that reflect your green commitment

You can also add a page to your website and to additional marketing materials (such as social media) that informs customers about any future green product initiatives.

The power of headlines moves business

Advertising headlines, like taglines, should be so compelling that they customers want to know more. If you are a heating and air-conditioning business, you might use “Little Known Ways to Save on Your Heating Bill.”

Consider applying a classic formula that identifies either a painful problem or an unfulfilled desire that the reader wants to remedy.

Examples are: “Look younger with XYZ skin cream,” “Lose weight with Green Tea,” “Retire Wealthy!”

Leading Edge Attachments, a manufacturer of excavator rock ripping attachments placed this ad in Construction Equipment Distribution magazine: “Multiply Your Money! With the Award Winning Excavator Rock Ripper.”

If you are a carpet cleaning business owner, use headlines like “Get Rid of That Carpet Stain Once and For All.” Remember that people love something quick and easy when it comes to solving a nagging problem—“Here’s a Quick Way to Get Over a Cold.”

The advertising model that keeps on working, and working, and working…

This simple model was devised by E.K. Strong in 1925 and is still used in college marketing classes and by marketing directors today. “AIDA” is an acronym devised to determine whether your advertising addresses the four stages of the sales process:

A – Attention – Does your ad grab people’s attention in the headline?
I – Interest – Does it generate an interest in what you sell or offer?
D – Desire – Does it CREATE a desire to learn more or consider buying?
A – Action – Does it move them to action to buy?

Whether your goal is to create a memorable tagline, grab customers’ attention with a smart headline, or any other marketing endeavor, use this model. It still works. That’s why it’s still taught.

Frequency in advertising and size matter

Frequency is a strong key to advertising success. So is size. Forget tiny ads. Unless you have a limited budget, strive for page dominance. Check whether half-page or two-thirds page ads are available.

If you do have a limited budget, negotiate.

Radio and TV can work for you

In the past, radio and television were media available only to larger businesses. Today, there are an abundance of mid-sized and small businesses that are advertising on radio and cable television and achieving great success. Yet many small businesses don’t consider these options because they think it is too costly. If you have a good offer and a well-crafted commercial, you can make your phones ring right off the wall.

Most television and radio stations will design a spot for you. If you make the decision to have a commercial created for you, be sure to test it before it is aired. When you create a campaign, remember the AIDA for advertising effectiveness. Strive to be different to make an impact. Find one or two really interesting and beneficial points.

If possible, and if it is appropriate for your business, be entertaining, People could use a laugh or two these days.

Making the world of web advertising work for you

The best type of Internet advertising is direct response advertising. Your goal should be to generate sales or generate sales leads. Here too, make sure you have that attention-grabbing headline. The goal of most advertising promotions is to entice people to send their contact details. Sometimes, it’s in exchange for a free offer, report, guide or DVD. If you have a larger business, you may even want to gauge your campaign’s effectiveness by setting up a separate phone line with a phone number that only appears in your ad.

If you’re directing people to a website, you may want to set up a special web page that also only appears in your ad. This will ensure that you can clearly identify who is responding to your advertising.

Now, let’s address your most important marketing communication tool—your website.

A good website is not good enough. Up the “Wow-Factor.”

There are a multitude of organizations, including major corporations, whose websites are in need of an “Extreme Makeover.” Others only need to make it easier to find their phone number and address. Most could use an upgrade.

Look at the websites of your top competitors. Then, look at your own company’s website and make sure yours ups the Wow-Factor.

Include these powerful marketing tools:

Full screen viewing – Make sure that when the page opens, your site page is BIG.

A colorful header that includes your company name, tagline, and a photo or collage of photos that fits with your business. If appropriate to your business, your photo should be in the header or right at the top.

Moving slides that are full screen, photos, or graphics—These are a must for today’s customers who have short attention spans.

Testimonials—Be sure your website and all of your marketing materials include convincing testimonials from customers who attest to the effectiveness of your products or services.

Video—It is more compelling than text, inexpensive, and easy to do. A short, well-scripted video helps the visitor learn about what you sell or offer. It also has the potential to go viral. Create a company YouTube page and be sure to post your videos. YouTube can draw an amazing amount of traffic to your website. Read on for more information on YouTube.

Search engine optimization—An impressive website means nothing if your site is not optimized. Make sure you choose a webmaster who excels in both web design and search engine optimization. In fact, you may want to consider hiring a search engine optimization specialist to make sure your site is properly optimized.

All of these suggestions are today’s website “must-have’s.” All of these features will grab visitors’ attention and make them want to learn more about your products or services. The bottom line? When your competitors’ customers click on your URL and your main page opens, make sure your competitors’ websites look weak in comparison.

Next, let’s discuss another new, “must-do” in marketing.

Social marketing

In the 90s, companies scrambled to achieve an online presence by creating Internet websites to promote and sell their products and services. Now, a whole new area of technology has emerged, is growing exponentially, and will continue to grow into the future.

The advent of social networking sites such as LinkedIn, YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, or apps for iPhones, iPads, or Androids has opened up a whole new area for marketing and advertising strategies providing yet additional avenues for you to capture your competitors’ customers. If you are not using social media, you are missing out on some great opportunities.

If you are already using it, you may want to skip the next few pages.

LinkedIn

This business-oriented social networking site is a tool for making connections. Before you connect with others in your industry, you will need to create a profile, find and get connected with other companies and professionals in your industry, and join discussion groups to which potential customers also belong. Then you can respond to these group discussions by providing information and ideas for those groups. You can also use LinkedIn to connect with your competitors’ customers.

Make sure you go beyond adding minimum profile information.

Include as much information about your company as possible and write it in such a way that you can capture the attention of those that find you. This may even make customers contact YOU.

YouTube

YouTube is a video-sharing website where users can upload, share, and view videos. While it began as a site where individuals could upload their own videos to share with friends or the public at large, many companies soon realized the potential the site has for reaching customers.

Movie and television companies are frequent users of YouTube.

Some even find creative ways to use this emerging technology to promote their films. In 2007, for instance, the producers of Cloverfield, a horror film, posted a trailer without mentioning the film’s title. This sparked viewer curiosity, and the public didn’t find out what the movie was until the second trailer was uploaded. This small budget movie had the biggest January opening of all time in the U.S., thanks to the company’s clever YouTube marketing.

Facebook

You probably can’t go a full day without hearing about Facebook or seeing the familiar “F” logo on a website or television ad. Facebook, arguably the most popular social network service website, has over 600 million users worldwide. On Facebook, users create a personal profile and connect with other users or “Facebook friends.”

Users can be automatically notified when their friends update their “statuses,” posting what they’re doing, what they’re thinking, or, basically, anything that interests them. The site also has various interest groups for users based on products, companies, hobbyists, sports, schools, occupations, and more.

Thousands of companies have Facebook pages, using this unique social networking service to reach out to customers. Companies can create their own pages and customers can “like” the page and receive regular updates, promotions, etc. Setting up a Facebook page is not difficult and companies large and small are finding it an inexpensive way to reach millions of customers.

While many well-established colleges and universities offer online education programs, few use the Internet and social marketing as effectively as the University of Phoenix. The online university uses YouTube to market its online classes. The university has uploaded hundreds of testimonials, documentaries, and other videos to reach potential customers. Because the videos are not expensive to produce, the school has content designed to connect to many different students.

1-800-FLOWERS.COM frequently updates its Facebook status, informing its customers about contents and special offers. Like other smart companies, they publish several updates a day, with each update promoting a different offer. They also use status updates to inform fans of promotional contests and offers. Not a day goes by without at least one status update. This updating is crucial to maintaining a Facebook audience. In addition to its more traditional website, 1-800-FLOWERS.COM has created a virtual Facebook storefront.

Even small businesses use Facebook to reach customers. Sprinkles Cupcakes, a California cupcake bakery, provides a secret word on its Facebook page. Sprinkles Facebook customers can go to the Facebook page and obtain the secret word. Then, they can say the word at any of its bakeries and receive a free cupcake. Sprinkles even uses Facebook to alert customers of upcoming promotions and to pre-test new cupcake flavors. All of this makes customers feels as if they are part of a community, which, in turn, leads to increased sales as well as brand loyalty. Despite being a small company, Sprinkles has over 70,000 Facebook “fans.”

Almost every business uses technology that enables customers to place orders. Pizza Hut is one of several companies that use Facebook as a point of sale. Pizza Hut introduced a pizza ordering app designed for Facebook, making it an early adopter of using the social media to actually place orders.

Twitter

Twitter is a website that provides social networking and microblogging services. Twitter users can send and receive short messages called tweets. Tweets are text-based posts and are limited to 140 characters. Tweets are displayed on the user’s profile page and can be seen either by the entire public or by just his or her followers.

Users can send and receive tweets through the Twitter website or through Smartphones. Despite being able to post messages of only 140 characters, many companies have found this compact messaging a valuable way to reach many customers. Zappos, an innovative online retailer, has led the way in corporate “Twittering.” Blogging and the sense of exceptional customer service is ingrained in the corporate culture. Most Zappos employees have an active account, and the Zappos site has a page that aggregates all the streams. Zappos stands out on Twitter because of their ability to bring the company to life. CEO Tony Heish has lent his young, friendly, helpful, funny and trustworthy personality to the Zappos brand. The company uses Twitter to highlight interesting facts and to talk to their consumers. Talking to Zappos is like talking to a friend who happens to sell shoes. Take a CEO that Tweets, add in a great personality and you have a recipe for social success.

Zappos also does a great job of using their blog and Facebook to engage their avid fanbase. And in the spirit of Twitter, additional examples are provided in 140 characters or less:

Starbucks tweets promotions and even also participates in threaded discussions about these offers with their many Twitter followers.

H &R Block runs tax-related question and answer sessions with their followers.

JetBlue Airlines tracks what Twitter users say about them. JetBlue then follows these potential customers and tweets them special offers.

Amazon.com’s Twitter allows users to receive regular updates on a book title’s average price.

Humphrey Slocombe, a 14 seat ice cream shop in San Francisco, has nearly 300,000 followers. They send Twitter updates on daily flavors.

Blogging

A blog is a great way to build a following and promote your products and services. Many businesses use a blog only, instead of a website.

I recommend you do both. The more visibility you have on the Internet, the better.

The best thing about using a blog to market your business is that it’s free and easy! TypePad, Blogger, and WordPress are a few sources. Make sure your blogs provide interesting and valuable information that your existing and potential customers can use.

To get the best results, use keywords that potential customers may use for searching. If you are not using the services of a search engine optimization specialist and must do it on your own, take a look at your competitors’ websites to see what keywords they are using. Review their meta keywords, titles, and website content to identify additional keywords to add to your list. Another great place to look for keywords are forums, blogs, industry sites, and Q&A sites like Yahoo Answers. Think of words potential customers would use to find the products or services you offer. You can also use online keyword tools to see how often your keywords are searched for and to refine your list. A few of these tools are Keyword Discovery, WordTracker, Google’s Keyword Tool, and Yahoo/Overture Keyword Inventory Tool (Yahoo has merged with Overture and has now made this a pay service).

Write blog entries that are 300 to 900 words. Display your products or services, videos and photos. Frequent updates are a must to keep content fresh and rankings high. For added keyword frequency, make sure to implement a category and tagging system with the keywords that you want to make the most prominent.

Using an e-zine to advertise your business

“It’s amazing how inexpensive a publication can be if it doesn’t need to pay for writing, editing, design, paper, ink, or postage.”
—Mega ‘Zines, Macworld (1995)[1]

Advertising in an e-zine (a magazine that can be read on the Internet) can offer lots of things that an ordinary magazine cannot. This is the reason why some people prefer reading e-zines. This is also the reason why many companies prefer to advertise in an ezine. There are many advantages to e-zine advertising. There is, of course, the obvious fact that it is more accessible to people. In order to see advertising in an ordinary magazine, you have to buy that magazine and flip the pages. E-zine advertising, however, gets exposure just with a few clicks of the mouse. It can be seen without having to go to a newsstand. It can be accessed without having to flip pages.

There is also the fact that an e-zine can lead directly to the company. Take conventional advertising: it shows the product or service and then provides information on how you can obtain that product or service. E-zine advertising combines these steps into one.

When you view the advertising, a click will immediately take you to a page where you can purchase that product or service. Now that’s convenience!

E-zine advertising allows a company to pay for the results their advertisement gets. In other types of media, advertising costs are paid based on the popularity of the media. Exposure to the publication’s readership is used to compute payment for the advertising.

Businesses have no way of controlling the effectiveness of the advertisement or knowing whether the investment will pay off. The impact of e-zine advertising, however, can be tracked. Companies often pay for e-zine advertising on a per click basis. Every time a web surfer clicks on the e-zine advertising, the “hit” is recorded by special software.

Because of this tracking feature, a company can pay only for those clicks.

An advertiser only pays for the part of the e-zine advertising time he or she profits from. The major flaw of e-zine advertising is that people today have learned to tune out the ads and pay attention only to the contents of the e-zine. This can be overcome, however, by improving the quality of what you put in it. Following the AIDA rule, whatever the media, can be helpful in maximizing return on the advertising investment.

Marketing and advertising in your own e-zine

Developing a relationship with customers you have been seeking to capture and asking their permission to place them on your e-mail list is a great way to advertise your business and is one of the best methods to keep your name in front of customers. That’s why an abundance of retailers are now asking for customer e-mail addresses when they ring up the sale. Restaurants, automotive service businesses, and even health care organizations are asking their customers to fill out forms to capture e-mail addresses. There are few websites that don’t ask for your e-mail address.

You, too, should publish a bi-monthly e-zine. In fact, publishing an e-zine is such a common practice today that I can’t imagine any business not doing it. Yet there are many businesses that don’t.

You can use an e-zine to keep customers informed about special promotions, sales, and announcements about your company. If you are a service provider, publishing an e-zine will help you elevate your status as an expert in your field and help you capture your competitors’ customers. Financial advisor firms should definitely publish a monthly e-zine, as they are not allowed to use many social marketing sites. Furniture manufacturers, dealers, and designers should publish one, as readers will look forward to seeing new and beautiful designs.

Here’s what is most important. Just like blogging, your publication will only be effective if it provides valuable content that will be interesting and help your particular customer. For example, if you are an equipment dealer, provide information on proper maintenance and safety. If you are an automotive service business, provide tips on how to get more longevity out of your car.

What to include in your e-zine

Testimonials will increase your readers’ confidence in your products or services. Include testimonials from your customers and also from other experts in your field. Provide examples of how you’ve helped your clients. For instance, if you design websites, you could provide examples of the websites you’ve designed. Videos of your products, services, and even live testimonials from customers are also highly effective. You can obtain the practical, “how-to” advice you need to succeed with e-mail marketing by visiting constantcontact.com.

Bang for your e-zine buck

Instruct your sales team to promote your e-zine in a manner that will influence potential customers to provide their e-mail addresses. “Would you like to receive our e-mail publication and receive helpful tips on how to (have them state what is appropriate for your business)and stay informed of special offers? If so, may I have your email address?”

Maintaining an effective online presence involves a great deal of time and effort. Making all the social marketing tools work together can be challenging. There are an abundance of places to promote your business. There’s Digg, a social news website, StumbleUpon, a web search engine that finds and recommends web content to users, and as you are reading this book, there will be many more that emerge.

Don’t become obsessed with social marketing. Do be sure to get your information out to as many places as possible.

Applications

Companies with access to computer programmers are using another popular technology for reaching out to customers. Applications, or “apps,” for Smartphones have taken off for devices such as iPhones, iTouches, or Android phones. While there are many companies whose sole source of income is the small amounts of money users pay for an app, other businesses, in the interest of attracting customers to their products and services, have created free apps.

Companies who can come up with a novel way to provide their product or service as an app have an additional avenue to connect with customers and create brand loyalty. Kraft Foods has developed an app called iFood Assistant. The app offers recipe suggestions, allows customers to upload their own recipes to share with other customers, and even lets users create a shopping list. Nike has created an app called NikeWomen Training Club. The app provides workout videos, lets users customize their own workouts, and even invites friends to participate in friendly competitions.

I spy

Yet one more way to use social marketing is to spy on your competitors. Pay attention to what customers are saying about your company on blogs, social networking sites and other media where customer groups “congregate,” and then take action on what you hear. Set up a “google-alert” and pay attention to what your competitors’ customers are saying about your company and your competitors’ companies. Is there anything helpful and informative you can use?

Are customers commenting on a competitor’s product or service weaknesses? Are they unhappy with your competitor? Capitalize! Are they extolling one of your competitor’s strengths? How might you counter attack?

Just do it!

Feeling overwhelmed? Just remember this: If you are not using social marketing to promote and advertise your business you are working in the Dark Ages. Whether it’s by creating an interactive blog or by building informative and informal profiles on LinkedIn, you need to get on the bandwagon and “just do it!” Opening marketing communication channels online will not only create brand awareness, but will put you in a better position to capture your competitors’ customers. Furthermore, with the explosion of new technologies, you can develop effective marketing and advertising campaigns for a fraction of what it cost just ten years ago.

Sponsorships get sales

Daltile

Daltile, an industry-leading brand of ceramic, porcelain, glass, metal, and natural stone tiles and slabs, provides free products to Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, a reality television series. The show’s theme is based on building a home for a deserving and desperate family. Individuals are chosen for a once-in-a-lifetime chance to be given a truly “Cinderella-like” experience: a real life fairy tale in which their wishes come true, not just by changing their homes, but their lives and destinies.

This show touches the hearts and souls of many viewers. When unloading the tile from the delivery truck, the camera shows a closeup of the box with the Daltile logo. The result? It demonstrates goodwill while showcasing how Daltile products can create a beautiful space that the homeowners can call their own. This is just one of the many smart marketing practices that this company implements to promote their products while building a brand that can help their customers sustain and grow sales even in a challenging market.

Sponsorship is a great way to promote your business, but it doesn’t have to be on a television show. Sponsorships provide excellent opportunities for you to gain significant added exposure for your product or service. Simply consider what you provide, as well as the audience you wish to target. Then, come up with ideas for events or products you might want to subsidize. For example, an automotive service business might sponsor a Little League team. A healthcare organization could sponsor a chamber of commerce event. A food manufacturer could sponsor a speaker at a grocery chain management meeting.

Consider partnering with non-compete businesses where you can be in a better position to capture your competitors’ customers by sponsoring appropriate events. In this way, the costs can be split.

Don’t avoid sponsorships. They are a great way to promote your business.

Good will marketing

Don’t underestimate the power of good will marketing … giving away free products and services gets your name out, builds trust, and positions you as a company who cares.

Guerilla marketing

Create a demand for your main product or service through a “guerrilla marketing” approach. This involves unusual approaches such as intercept encounters in public places, street giveaways of products, PR stunts, or any unconventional marketing intended to get maximum results from minimal resources. More innovative approaches to guerrilla marketing now utilize cutting edge mobile digital technologies to engage the consumer and create a memorable brand experience. Like using a character to help customers connect with your company, this tactic is not appropriate for every business.

Marketing your products or services at a trade show

A trade show is one of the most effective ways to market your products or services. If your preshow marketing and advertising is done correctly, you can successfully capture your competitors’ customers.

This entire subject is covered in Chapter 10.

Final words on marketing and advertising plus—a strong key to success

A word about WOMA

Word of mouth advertising is more influential and powerful than any other form of advertising. People believe what their business associates, friends, and neighbors say about your company, and they tend to spread the word. It is great for retail or service businesses, but it is less effective in some industries and too slow to achieve significant gains in competitive markets. Paid promotion and effective use of social media makes word of mouth advertising work harder and faster.

Avoid false claims and deceptions

Ethics and integrity in business are crucial to business success. The cry is for transparency. There are many companies who make false claims about their products or services. False claims in advertising are illegal. Never stretch the truth or tell a lie to capture your competitors’ customers. Avoid deception as well. If you promise fast delivery and fail to deliver on that promise, your customer will feel cheated and deceived. If you promise that you use only the freshest ingredients and you don’t, your customers will feel deceived.

Nonstop marketing—a smart competitive strategy Our current economic climate is volatile. The future is uncertain.

When times are difficult, it is natural for many companies to scale back their marketing and advertising efforts. This is a mistake. Many studies have shown that when a company continues marketing and advertising through tough times, that company actually sees sales growth. Companies that scale back tend to see sales decrease.

Which group do you want to be in?

A key to your success—follow a marketing plan and process.

To get the highest return on your time, your money, and your assets, develop a solid marketing plan that will provide a valuable focus and the discipline necessary to achieve profitable business growth. Your marketing plan will not only provide a road map for your future but it will also help you to do the following:

• Analyze your current situation—where you are now
• Define your business in terms of your products or services offered and target market(s) served
• Position your product relative to your competitors’ products
• Identify your competitive strengths (and weaknesses)

If you need guidance in creating your own marketing plan, you can take these ten steps.

Step #1. Conduct a market analysis.

Examine your target market in terms of:
• Current size and growth trends
• Demographic characteristics
• Buying patterns (locations/seasonality)
• How your customers buy—impulse item vs. long lead time; joint decision or solo decision (i.e., husband and wife vs. husband or wife alone)
• Influencers on the buying decision
• Customers seek advice from sources of information, such as a banker, realtor, or financial consultant
• Shifting needs, priorities, and values of your customers
• How well customers relate to and understand your competitive strengths
• What customers think about your company, your products or services, and your customer service

Step #2. Conduct a competitive analysis.

• Number of competitors
• Performance and trends for your competitors
• Strengths and weaknesses of your competitors
• Current target markets and marketing strategies
• Anticipated changes in strategy by your competitors

Step #3. Study market trends that affect your industry.

• Demand for your product or service
• Market shifts
• Current and future economic trends
• New technology

Step #4. Look inside the box and examine your company’s strengths.

• Exceptional performance
• Highest quality
• Most knowledgeable sales people
• The best price for your product or service
• The most value
• The most competent employees
• Additional strengths such as those in the beginning of this chapter plus
– Profitable
– Well-funded

Step #5. List new opportunities.

• What new market segments can you target?
• What new product or new services can be developed?
• Are there new geographic markets to enter?
• Can you identify new competitive strengths to promote?

Step #6. Determine a budget.

Most marketing courses teach that your marketing budget should be a percentage of your overall gross sales – usually somewhere in the 2 percent to 5 percent range. Although this may be a good guide, the marketing budget for each business is different. Marketing needs and costs vary widely by industry, by geography, by niche, and a host of other factors.

Establish a marketing budget to help you establish the amount of money you will spend on marketing activities over any given year.

Don’t spend it all at once! If you do, you won’t be able to react quickly to changes or opportunities in your marketplace, nor will you be able to counterattack your competitor’s campaigns.

Step #7. Create!

Do the creative work discussed in this chapter. Do it far better than your competitors, and with smarter marketing and advertising strategies.

Step #8. Delegate.

Clearly delegate responsibility to people in your company who are to execute the various action steps in your marketing plan.

Step #9. Monitor results and capitalize on good results.

Set up a system for monitoring the results of any advertising program. Make sure someone is responsible for tabulating results and reporting them to the company’s management.

Be prepared to capitalize on the results of your advertising efforts. Have people available to handle the inquiries you expect and to follow up on sales leads. Have all of your supporting sales literature available. Remember, you may not have a second opportunity to impress a customer.

Step #10. Measure, analyze, and shift gears when necessary.

Always measure and analyze the results of your marketing efforts and try to improve the return on your marketing dollar. Never be willing to accept that you can’t improve your results. Measure the cost of increasing your response against the projected profit to your company to determine if changes in your message or your media will be worthwhile. Use the information you get from monitoring your results to revise current plans and refine future strategies.

Be realistic in your expectations

It takes time for marketing and advertising to generate results. Building brand recognition and product awareness is not an overnight process. Be patient and willing to give your plan the time it needs to succeed.

Smarter marketing and advertising strategies

You use only the best ingredients. Your workmanship is superb. You have the most efficient processes. You have the highest quality engineered parts. You have the best designs. You have excellent return policies. You have the latest fashions. You can get products or services delivered quickly. You have an investment fund that produces high returns. You are among an elite group of top producers in your industry. You have the freshest food on your shelves.

All of these mean nothing if you don’t get the word out. It’s a whole new world. Digital media, the Internet, social marketing and cable tv have handed businesses incredibly powerful new keys to customers’ hearts, minds and wallets. Neuromarketing, a field of marketing that studies customers “sensorimotor” (cognitive and affective) response to marketing stimuli has emerged. The use of technologies such as functional magnetic resonance imaging can measure changes to activity in parts of the brain in response to various sensory stimuli. Sensors measure changes in heart rate, respiratory rate, and even skin so that companies can determine which products, packaging and advertising makes customers excited.

Who knows what new marketing tools and strategies we will have at our disposal in the future? Just be sure YOUR marketing and advertising strategies are more creative than your competitors.

About Christine Corelli

Christine Corelli is a motivational, keynote, business, leadership, sales, and customer service speaker, sales trainer, and author of six business books. As a keynote speaker, she is known for her high energy and interactive speaking style.

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