BNET shared some stories about marketing tactics that independent bookstores are using to remain successful.
- Expand your reach to a national market.
- Go green.
- Create a store within a store.
- Open your doors to the community.
- Cultivate the next generation of customers.
- Get social.
One or more of these ideas could work for your business. We would love to help you implement them and put together a story to tell your customers about it. Maybe it is just the reason you have needed to mail a postcard out to your favorite customers?
BNET posted an article in its leadership section titled, “What to Do in a Double-Dip Recession? Grow!” This may sound counter intuitive but it isn’t. There is evidence and research everywhere to support the notion that if you invest in gaining market share when your competitors are just trying to hang on, you will be in much better position when things do turn around.
We published these tips about Marketing in Tough Times a few years ago, they still seem very relevant today.
BNET recently offered these ideas about business planning. The premise started with the observation that during the last twelve months, the business and economic landscape has continued to change and no one can predict what’s next. So why waste time with five-year plans?
One of the most prevalent rules for entrepreneurs is to create a long term plan! But in 2010, small businesses are learning that it’s more important to be agile and flexible. Plans are unhelpful when they restrict your thinking or don’t allow for deviation or reinvention.
That kind of thinking can give you the edge in the market. Liberating your company from traditional business planning may mean you can be both more enterprising and more robust for survival in difficult times. Here are four tips for navigating your way through the unpredictable business landscape without a big strategic plan:
- Think fluid. Don’t get stuck to a rigid strategic plan. Instead, see where the water flows and trust your instincts — not your spreadsheet — in pursuing new options. Make sure your business is agile enough to react to market trends or new innovations in technology. If you spot a new opportunity, you don’t have to check it’s on the plan first — just go for it.
- Prototype. Test your ideas in the real world. Better to launch beta versions of your website, so you can evaluate and tweak as you go, rather than trying to perfect the model before you launch. Otherwise you might never get the site off the ground.
- Reinvent. Learn to love change and be prepared to rethink what you do and how you do it. Maybe your business feels a bit stale, a bit stuck. You might need to shake up your organization so your clients start thinking differently about you. Re-energize your organization by taking your team on an ‘away day’ to brainstorm new ideas; think laterally about how you can re-engineer your offering to grow the business.
- Think goals, not plans. Set objectives for the year: deadlines to meet, products to launch. It’s important to know what you want to achieve — if not necessarily how you’ll get there. This allows you to think big without initially worrying about the details. A goal may be “I need to get a new client every month.” Perhaps you don’t have a strict linear plan for how you’ll actually achieve that — you just start off the instinctive way: word of mouth, social networking, client meet-and-greets, and so on. You can’t chart this activity on a graph, but mentally focusing on the goals will help you reach your desired outcome.
A timeline or a spreadsheet can’t capture those opportunities that arise from serendipity and random meetings. If you remove the traditional business planning mindset, you’ll be liberated to grow your business in line with how the world really changes — not with what it says on a spreadsheet.
How can we help you test a new idea or be fluid in your marketing?
You want to stretch every marketing dollar right now! If you decide to promote your own company here are ten ideas and tactics to get you started. We saved the traditional ideas for last.
- Network! Join groups and talk to people.
- Start a newsletter. This implies you have a mailing list. If you don’t have one, start building it now. In your newsletter always make sure you include news your readers can use – there has to be at least one part that will benefit your readers directly.
- Ask for testimonials. If your clients were happy with your services, ask them for a testimonial to use in your marketing. If they don’t time to write one, write it yourself and ask them to approve it.
- Blog about it. Don’t have a blog? Get one! If you’re worried about the cost, you can sign up for a free account. When writing your posts, take considerable time in writing your headline. Make sure to include keywords that relate to your post. Also comment on blogs. Compile a list of blogs that complement your service/company or relate to your industry and comment on their posts. Consider guest blogging too. Offering to guest blog on someone else’s blog can be a great way to introduce yourself or service to others. Research a list of relevant blogs and contact the blogger. You’ll be surprised at how easy it is and how willing bloggers will be to talk to you.
- Profile your company in Wikipedia. Check out how other companies profile themselves and use the same format. Be sure to include links to your site so people can find you.
- Leverage Social Media. Social networking sites can be a great way to market your company and/or offering. Make a list of groups on each that are relevant to you, join them, network with other members, and promote yourself and your service.
- Add E-Mail Signature Lines. You are probably constantly e-mailing vendors, clients, partners, etc. Did you know you can also market your new services in them? Add a signature line at the end of your e-mail with a link to your site that promotes your new service or blog post. It’s easy to do.
- Start a contest. Everybody loves to win something and a great way to market your company is to start a contest. Make one of your offerings for free as the prize. Use this opportunity to add to your mailing list.
- Write an interesting article. Writing articles is a great way to establish credibility. The key is to make sure your article ends up benefiting the person reading it. Send us an email and we will share lists of topic ideas. Your headline should draw people in make it short, funny, thought provoking and/or engaging. Sometimes writing it last works best. Your byline should give readers a brief background of yourself and your company. Be sure to include contact information.
- Submit a Press Release. Write a noteworthy press release in third person and submit it yourself at free online sites. You can also send the press release to the local media around your area. To gain a better chance of getting it picked up, include a cover letter that showcases how the information in your release benefits your local community. It may prove worthwhile to pay for one PR service if you have truly newsworthy information.
We are all being pressured to produce more with less. More powerful campaigns, more cutting-edge designs, more targeted pieces, more tangible ROI, more pizzazz than your competitors’ materials, more pressure to deliver faster with less money in your marketing budget.
These tips should apply in any economy, but right now it is so important to save every possible fraction of a cent.
- Maintain a list of vendors and their capabilities, they offer different services at different prices, this is due the differences in press sizes and other equipment features. Also track information about concerns, list the name of the vendor, dates and any possible problems.
- Get recommendations from other buyers and designers who produce similar types of materials, ask about pricing, service, ability to meet deadlines.
- Don’t expect printing to be done overnight.
- What matters most to you, delivery date, price, print quality or “wow!”? Know your priorities and share them with your printer.
- Get quotes from new suppliers and develop relationships during times when you are not busy, the more details you provide a potential printer, the better estimate you will receive.
- If you plan to mail the pieces, think about schedules, post office regulations, designing for mailing, USPS rates/costs, mailing lists, mailing houses, fulfillment, and so on. Dean’s Mailing is happy to review proofs before they go to press to look for possible improvements.
- Take advantage of payment terms and discounts.
- Consider direct paper stock purchases, paper is the biggest cost factor of a print job.
- Meet with paper vendors to determine what paper stocks can bring the most value and look for incentive programs.
- Work with up to five printers, don’t concentrate all your resources with just one vendor.
- Find the printers who can offer your more; creative ideas, lots of experience, current with the technology, and people who understand your business.
Direct Magazine published an article titled, “Make the Most of What You’ve Got”. Author, Carol Lustig, shared some realistic practical information with a great attitude. She talked about how her information technology systems were not completely up to date and she was not able to get the exact customer purchase data that she wanted to use for a new campaign.
The result was that working with what was available, a new campaign has been launched and customer relationships are being retained using targeted specific information.
We have talked about the ideals of customer segmentation and market analysis, but the other side of those ideas is that we just need to do something! Maybe that something is just to start with what we have.
Please talk to us, we are here to save you every possible fraction of a cent on postage and that sensibility can help you make the most from what you already have (creative ideas, artwork, customer information, extra mailing pieces, samples…).
Is it really the economy, or is the recovery sluggish because people are not being reached when they want to consider marketing messages?
In a post that appeared on a Harvard Business Review blog, Dick Patton suggested that the four P’s of the traditional marketing mix (product, price, placement and promotion) be replaced. His article suggests a new acrostic: ROIDs
- Responsibility marketing, including social responsibility, green marketing, and sustainability
- Organizational leadership, requiring marketing to touch as much of the value chain as possible
- Insights about customers, based on new analytic techniques that replace yesterday’s market research
- Digital marketing, requiring companies to master an amorphous bundle of fast-changing media
What about the four D’s?
- Dependability, as in marketing that is accountable, conscientious and responsible
- Direction, marketing should be an integral part of determining where the company goes
- Discernment, understanding of customers and the environment
- Digital, companies must harness the power of ever-changing media, but be careful not to give it more influence than it deserves
Direct marketing needs to stay an integral part of this future; even as the environment, the rules, the models and what is really working and yielding results and returns on investment keep changing. Many businesses in many sectors have put more and more resources toward marketing using new technology, but the profits and revenue have not been created.
We need to talk to people when they want to receive information, not when they are in the middle of trying to just get through 50 emails or when they are gathering information for what they are ready to buy right now.