5 Marketing Fundamentals You May Be Overlooking
Every business owner feels like they have some handle on what their customers want. And, all too often, as soon as the first sale is made, those same business owners assume they have marketing all figured out. Unfortunately, many overlook some very simple, but vital, marketing fundamentals that can take okay sales to extraordinary with very little effort. Here are five of the easiest and most important:
1. Observe Good Manners
When you were a kid, what did your mother always tell you? “Mind your manners,” “Always say ‘please’ and ‘thank you,’ and “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.”
Sadly, far too many businesses forget these fundamental rules of courtesy. And, it does not just happen in a store or office when your representatives are face-to-face with the customer, but throughout your entire business cycle. For example, do you routinely thank your customers for their business? If so, how? When? How often are you doing it? Do you make your customers actually feel gratitude or does it seem pro forma?
Get in the habit of saying thank you not only at the time of the initial transaction, but also after that. This will do several things: reinforce the good feelings toward your brand that brought the customer to you in the first place, provide an excuse to get their email address, and give them a reason to advertise by word of mouth for you.
Here is an example: at checkout in your day spa, you ask the customer for their email address. You explain that you will be sending them a thank you gift for visiting the spa. Later, you send a nice note thanking them for their business and including a coupon for a buy-one-get-one that can only be redeemed if they bring a second person. Perhaps the coupon also gives a discount to the second person, as well. Now, they want to get a friend to join them at the spa so they can get the free session, and their friend wants to get the discounted service so they are all too willing to agree. Now you have another sale and a new customer, and you simply repeat the thank you process with the new customer and the business keeps flowing. See how useful something as simple as expressing gratitude can be?
By recycle, we are not talking about collecting your empty bottles and cans. We mean repurposing old advertising materials in various ways. Have a website blog? Why not use your articles in a printed flyer you leave in your physical location? Have old coupons? Black out the expiration dates and use them for “invitation only” events for loyal customers. The possibilities are only limited by your own imagination and ability to be creative. This can cut down your advertising budget and reduce the labor required, while reinforcing your message and brand identity by putting the same or similar materials in front of your audience again and again.
3. Share Good News
You might be surprised, but your customers do not always need to see advertising and special deals in order to develop positive feelings about your brand. Sometimes, they like to see good news in general.
Take, for example, computer giant Apple. It seems like every month there is some new story about them reaching incredible new levels of stock value, having even more money on reserve than most countries’ annual GDP, or speculation about some amazing new product they may or may not release at some point in the future. Notice that none of that is as “on the nose” as an email with weekly sales, but all of them have contributed to our feelings about Apple as a brand.
Your company can do the same thing, even if it is a tiny operation. Social media is a powerful tool for sharing news, even for small companies. And, various blogging tools can allow you to relate a message across dozens of different platforms and websites simultaneously. Get your employees to share the good news on their social media, and the message spreads even faster. Now, everyone who sees the message has seen your brand, associated something positive with it, and you have improved your reputation in their eyes.
Way too many companies rely on passive advertising (stuff that requires someone to come looking for you). That can be an important part of your marketing presence, but active advertising is much more useful.
Before the Internet, the best way to do that was television and radio ads coupled with direct mailers. Unfortunately, that is all terribly expensive, putting it outside the budget of most companies. Plus, with returns on investments (ROIs) in single digit percentages, most companies found this very ineffective. But, with the rise of the Internet, new forms of direct advertising became not only possible, but either free or terribly inexpensive.
Email newsletters are among the best. But, they must be prepared correctly. You do not want to send something too long and boring for your customer to read. Instead, implement best practices for writing and designing your email. Make it easily eye-scannable (i.e., short, bold headings, bullet points, brief paragraphs). Include lots of relevant images. And, if it suits your brand identity, bake in some subtle humor so your customers will actually want to read it. Always include links to relevant portions of your website, directly embedded in the text of your email, as well. Remember, it is all about making it easy for the customer to get excited, click through, and make a purchase.
This is easily one of the simplest and most overlooked aspects of advertising. Integration means having a consistent image and message across all forms of communication with your customers, whether in your store/office, on the Internet, in print, or elsewhere.
Yet, a staggering number of companies use different fonts, different logos, different images, and different tones in their various communications. Some have an upbeat personality when you visit their location, but super-dry content in their marketing materials. Some change logos more often than most people change their clothes. And, some make up a new logo or catchphrase every week. All of that may be confusing customers, causing your message to bounce off of them while they try to figure out who you are, or giving the impression that you do not have your act together.
Look at any major company, and you will see a consistent message in their marketing from TV to radio to Internet to catalog to in-store displays. Same logos, same fonts, same catchphrases, same product images. Humans learn by repetition, and repeating the same advertising on every channel in a consistent way is far more effective than throwing out something new every time you engage your customers. Tying together your various messages builds trust, makes you seem established and professional, and helps to create a recognizable brand identity that your clients will want.