Why You Should Get Back to Basics
It’s always good to get back to basics now and again…
A brief overview of marketing
If you study marketing theory in any depth it can get pretty complicated but this is largely unnecessary. You will hear a lot about amazing new technologies and the latest cool strategies but essentially there are some very basic, fundamental things that you should be doing that sometimes get lost in the confusion. In fact, by keeping things simple you will have an advantage over much of your competition as they grapple with all the latest marketing trends. No doubt, they are important and we will look at some of the new trends in marketing in each module but for now I want to reinforce the basics of what you should be doing with your marketing, whether or not you embrace all the latest technology and trends.
Once you have these basic strategies in place, you can add as many new technologies, systems, bells and whistles as you like -- or have time and money to implement -- but you must address these fundamental and very simple marketing strategies if you want to succeed.
Find problems that you can solve
You should be constantly on the lookout for problems that you can provide solutions to. This means being alert to everything going on around you and listening to what people are saying. What problems are people experiencing that you could help them with?
Think about the problems that crop up in your area of expertise but also be alert to other problems that can arise. Don't miss an opportunity to solve a problem -- if you don't have the expertise yet, you may be able to work with others who do have the skills and knowledge you need. Think joint ventures, partnerships and outsourcing work to others.
Don't imagine that all the problems in the world have already been solved because there are countless problems that crop up in everyday life that people need solutions to. They could be simple things like someone goes away on an unexpected business trip and needs someone trustworthy double-quick to house-sit and look after the family pets. It could be something like left-handed people having problems opening tins with a regular tin opener, or someone's great aunt has died leaving a house full of junk and they need a house clearance service so that they can get the house on the market. How about elderly people with arthritis that want to hold a book but find it painful. Not everyone wants to buy a Kindle – how about a great new book holding gadget with an optional page magnifier and book light? Now there’s a niche market!
You see, simply by changing your attention to the problems around you, you could come up with a way to adapt your products and services to make them more profitable or add new products and services.
How much does the solution cost?
Once you have identified a problem, the next thing you need to consider is whether your solution is going to be cost-effective and has the potential to make a profit. Look into your costs very carefully and consider the risks involved. There are so many problems out there that need solutions that in all honesty, there's no need to rely on projects that will be costly to get off the ground -- just keep looking for something more accessible and affordable.
Some problems can be solved with a service or with information. Could you write a book or course that would solve the problem, or develop a service that would complement your existing business? Often the simplest solutions are the best and certainly the most profitable. Why gamble thousands of dollars on a business idea when you could come up with something simple and cheap that has huge moneymaking potential. All you need is a bit of imagination…
Talking of costs, you should also include the cost of marketing your new-found solution as this could be a major expense. Imagine if you decided to produce a left-handed tin opener -- you would need to finance the development of a prototype, test it in the marketplace, find a manufacturer and market your new product. All this costs money and with a low value item like a tin opener you would have to sell a lot of units to make a halfway decent profit.
The trick is to evaluate your idea critically and objectively. Try not to become too attached to your idea until you know it is something that could really work.
You could develop the most amazing new gizmo in the world or offer the most innovative service, but if it's not making a decent profit -- what's the point! You are in business to make a profit and your profits should grow every year. Profits reflect your success in business so everything you do should be geared towards making a good profit.
Get this right first before you worry about your turnover, the hits on your website, the awards you could win for your inventions, or any other parameter. If you're not making a profit -- you don't have a business and you might as well just give your products away for free.
The only way you will sell your products and services is to tell people about them. You have to show them the benefits, as we discussed previously, and make it abundantly clear what's in it for them.
There are many strategies for marketing your products, and I will be showing you all of these as we go through the course. The main message I want to give you about marketing is that it should be appropriate for your business and for your products and services. Forget all the hype you hear about marketing and don't get carried away with beliefs such as, ‘you have to be into social media marketing’ or ‘you have to write a blog’. Some of these things might very well work for you, and maybe they won't -- you have to evaluate them in terms of your own business. Don't just blindly follow the rest of the sheep…
You have to know your market and know your prospects and customers. Ask them and carry out your market research carefully to find the best methods of marketing to your audience. Maybe your house clearance service would reach your customers most effectively from a small, simple classified advert in the local property news supplement, or from postcards on customer noticeboards. Would writing a blog really bring you a flood of paying customers or is it just a way to stroke your ego?
The trick is to test your marketing strategies, don't just do everything you're told in business articles you find on the Internet. It takes time to find the right strategies that work for your business and your customers so don't skip this vital step. Once you find a winning formula, you can focus on this and save yourself a lot of time and money twiddling with things don't bring solid results.
There’s a big fuss made these days about getting your prospects to trust you and about building rapport but the truth is – this has always been the case. People have always been wary about parting with their money to people they don't know or trust yet. It's just that now so much selling is done over the Internet without any personal contact, you have to go the extra mile to persuade people that you're not going to swindle them and run off into the sunset with their money. Your website has to take the place of a real salesperson or business owner so think of it as a substitute sales person.
Perhaps too many people have been scammed, maybe it's just because of the sheer numbers of competitors, but people are becoming more wary of trusting businesses and have very high expectations these days.
As part of the basics of marketing, you should pay attention to this issue and do all you can to persuade your prospect that you are trustworthy. The best way to do this is to increase your credibility, knowledge and skills in your area of business and to get real people to offer testimonials and recommend your business.
A lot of it is about branding -- and we will cover the branding versus direct response later on in the course. But what you have to remember is that whether you are a big brand name or a one-man business, you still project an image to your prospective customers. What’s more you only have a few seconds to make a crucial first impression. If you want people to buy from you, you have to convince them that you are the best person for the job. It's as simple as that…
The most successful businesses often provide the best service to their customers. Good service creates a good reputation and will bring you customers through recommendations. Whatever your business, you should pay attention to the sort of service you are offering -- there's always room for improvement!
Don't forget that providing great service for your customers is not necessarily free, so make sure you factor in the cost of providing your products and services, delivering them to your customers and following up with after sales services.
The main thing about customer service is that it should be offered genuinely -- be happy to provide a good service and offer something you can be proud of. If it's done grudgingly, or you are hiding an ugly truth, your customers will see right through you!
News about your great customer service is easy to show these days with the accessibility of the Internet. Think Facebook ‘likes’, Amazon recommendations and eBay feedback. Also consider the reverse situation – bad news travels at lightning speed too, so this is another reason to keep your standards up – avoiding bad press.
Keep it simple
There are some very effective and simple ways you can promote your business. You don't need complicated technology or a vast marketing budget to get your business noticed.
Too many business owners and entrepreneurs waste a lot of time and money on campaigns that fail to generate new business. In later modules I will be covering lots of innovative ways of marketing your business but for the moment, I would like to show you just a few of the simple ways you can promote your business. They can also help you to know your market and understand more about your prospective customers.
Networking is particularly effective if you run a local business that relies on getting customers in their local area. There's really no substitute for talking to people, so think about all the ways you can get out there and speak to people about your business.
Too many business owners stay glued to their computers day in and day out trying all the latest faddy Internet marketing techniques but fail to do the one thing that could really pull in new business -- speak to people. Get some old-fashioned business cards and talk to people in the street, go to networking events and introduce yourself.
If you could speak to just 5 or 10 people every week you could significantly increase the amount of new business you get without spending a single dollar on advertising.
It's also a great way to get feedback about your business and get a feel for what people think about the sort of products and services you have on offer. Judge people's initial reactions and get them to give you their opinions -- it's a free and immediate way to do some market research.
One of the simplest ways you can increase your business is to cross promote with other businesses. Basically, it is a way of tapping into other people's customer lists and it can benefit both parties and create a significant amount of goodwill between businesses.
Find some relevant businesses. Look up local bricks and mortar businesses or appropriate businesses on the Internet and approach them with a cross promotion offer. This can be something simple like giving them vouchers to give out their customers with a tempting offer from you, or you could cook up a joint promotion that could really benefit both of you, as well as giving something of value to your customers.
A good way to get something started is to call on local businesses in person and speak to the owner or manager. See if you can come up with any cross promotion that will benefit all parties – how about a promotional event or open day?
Again, it's another good way to get a feel for the market and get people's opinions. When you speak to other business owners in a similar field you will understand more about the demand for your products and services and a lot more about your prospective customers.
Don't forget traditional media
There will always be the latest trend to watch out for when it comes to marketing but I have always advocated some of the old traditional and effective ways of marketing. There is still a place for off-line marketing, despite the fact that the Internet seems to have taken over and my instincts were shown to be correct in a recent study.
It seems that traditional media is still the most trusted source of information, although the Internet also performs a key role when it comes to researching products and services. A recent study by Triton Digital noted that although digital media has caused a downturn in the attention paid to print and radio, TV still the most trusted source of information and still takes up the bulk of the time adults in the US spend with media.
Over 45 percent of respondents to the study in North America said they trusted television more than any other media for news and information, followed by newspaper and radio. Only one in eight respondents chose online news as a trusted source of information.
Interestingly, 63.6 percent said they had purchased a product as a result of a TV, radio or newspaper commercial advert but many were more likely to do their product research on the Internet. In other words, once they had decided to make a purchase, they turned to the Internet to get more information and choose a specific brand or item.
Social media was last on the list of trusted sources of information in the form of updates.
It seems that Internet users are utilizing the Internet as a good source of information and it seems that once consumers have made a buying decision or are considering buying something, they moved the Internet for further information before they buy.
This study highlights the fact that you should not rely solely on the Internet because other more traditional media are still the most trusted, so don't neglect media such as TV, radio and print.
The old-fashioned word-of-mouth advertising is still the best way to grow your business. However, in today's world with the Internet and social media on it is far easier to find out what your customers are saying about you. You also have the opportunity to speak directly with your customers through all the various media that are available online.
Although word-of-mouth advertising has morphed into a different form on the Internet, there is still a place for the old-fashioned methods of spreading your marketing message via your customers.
One tried and tested method of achieving this is to start a ‘refer a friend scheme’. Reward people for passing on their recommendations using inducements such as money off vouchers, freebies and cash rewards.
Get as many customer testimonials as you possibly can and use them in your marketing materials.
The engagement marketing cycle
There is a system you can follow to get your message seen and heard.
Gail Goodman, a writer for Entrepreneur Magazine calls it the Engagement Marketing Cycle and it consists of three parts:
Once your prospective customer is attracted to your business, whether it is your website, shop, office or trade show booth, the cycle begins…
The first part of the cycle is to give your prospects a thrilling experience. Wow them with something unusual or exciting to grab their attention and make sure they remember you. How about an unusual promotion or organize a charity event -- give them something they will remember you by.
Another way to give them a positive experience is to go the extra mile with your customer service. It can be something as simple as staying after hours to help somebody with a problem, or offering a small gift.
Think of ways you can give your visitors and potential customers a positive and exciting experience of your company the first time they meet you.
Once you have given your prospects a great initial experience of your company, you need to capitalize on this and get them to stay in touch with you. Here is where you get them to opt in to your newsletter list or give you their contact details like a telephone number or e-mail.
Often it helps to tempt people to give away their contact details by enticing them with something of value. Offer things like free information in the form of newsletters and reports, tips and free samples of your products. You can also offer special members’ discounts for people who sign up or a couple of months free membership.
Once you have your prospects attention and their contact details, you need to stay in touch and engage with them. This can take the form of sharing content such as newsletters, blogs, videos, articles, discussions, forums and so on as well as communicating via social media.
The key to keeping your subscribers engaged is to make sure your content is relevant, fresh and compelling. People will quickly unsubscribe if they are not gaining any benefits from continuing their connections with you. People are overloaded these days with marketing messages, newsletters and the like and they are becoming more and more discerning about who they engage with.
Once you have your subscriber’s loyalty and trust, they may be more inclined to buy products and services from you. Make occasional offers amongst a lot of valuable free information and avoid sending out a ton of marketing hype.
To engage people even further, you can create events such as parties, shows, demonstrations, seminars and workshops. How you communicate with your prospects and customers is only limited by your imagination…