You’d probably like to spend millions of dollars marketing and promoting your business – but the reality is, you can’t. You also know that effective marketing is a critical element of success. So how do you launch a high impact marketing campaign on a shoestring?
Here are a number of ideas.
Engage in strategic partnerships
Team up with non-competing businesses that share your business, in order to offer mutually beneficial promotions. Look for other companies marketing to the same demographic segments and then brainstorm ways to market jointly to those consumers.
Partnering means you can share marketing costs and reach a greater number of potential customers for less money. These opportunities are limited only by your imagination.
Take a look at your customers and think about what else they purchase – it doesn’t necessarily have to be directly related to your business. A house painter could team up with a fencing company, or a restaurant located near a mechanic could offer free drinks to customers waiting for their vehicles to be serviced or repaired.
Though high-profile partners have strong appeal, it’s not essential that your partner be a household name. Don’t be afraid though, to approach a large company with a partnering proposal; they’re always on the lookout for low-cost ways to increase business, just as you are.
It’s important to make sure your programs are indeed partnerships, with all parties investing and benefiting with relative fairness, and all operating with complete integrity.
One of the simplest ways to control marketing costs is to target your program so you don’t waste efforts reaching people who aren’t prospective customers or by sending a message that is meaningless to a particular market segment.
Study the various segments of your particular market and develop focused campaigns to reach each one. Don’t try to use the same ad to reach senior citizens that you use for young families; it won’t work, and your money will be wasted.
Special & seasonal promotions
Tying promotions to seasons and special events allows you to use public awareness to build your own business.
When appropriate, such promotions can also add an element of fun and overall appeal that may be more difficult to create without the seasonal link.
Advertising is a big expense, but if you’re a retailer or a distributor, you can cut that cost substantially by using cooperative advertising. Each year, manufacturers budget millions of dollars for the specific purpose of cooperative advertising with their distributors and retailers. Unfortunately, distributors and retailers never use most of this money.
Cooperative advertising is a cost-efficient and effective way for both the manufacturer and retailer or distributor to reach their target markets. Although cooperative advertising policies differ from manufacturer to manufacturer, most will pay a portion of the advertising costs and supply the retailer with material to include in the ad, whether it is a print, radio or television ad.
Using cooperative advertising cuts down not only on the media cost, but on the production and creative expenses as well. A smart advertiser will factor cooperative advertising into his budget.
The major drawback to cooperative advertising is that some manufacturers have more restrictive programs than others. The retailer, of course, would like to tailor his message to his own individual needs and run an ad featuring the manufacturer’s product, while the manufacturer would prefer to run an ad just featuring the product.
The most striking benefit of any affiliated advertising is to increase foot traffic. Though the gross profit may not be substantial on the items being advertised, more expensive items with higher markups can increase your overall profitability. Furthermore, the cooperative advertising can help you attract customers; when they visit you, they will not only head toward the items advertised, but also see what else you carry.
A manufacturer’s cooperative advertising program can range from a few promotional gimmicks to large outlays of cash. The norm lies somewhere in between.
Be careful to coordinate the cooperative advertising with your overall marketing scheme. If you have chosen a subtle approach to advertising, don’t change your approach drastically just to take advantage of some free advertising dollars.
Value-adding versus discounting
Price your services high enough to convey the value your clients are willing to pay for them. The best way to achieve higher margins is with added value – not discounting – you want to increase the amount of money spent per person, not reduce it. By adding a low priced or free extra, it can make your products or services appear to be more expensive and therefore of better value.
Almost everywhere we look nowadays, we’re being coerced with offers of “buy X and get Y free”, or “buy X and for an extra few dollars or cents, you will receive Y”. McDonalds and Hungry Jacks, for example, do it all the time with their value-added inducements – for an extra 95c you’ll receive a special frosted Coke glass. Not only does the glass cost less than the price it is sold for, but it is the cause of more original product being sold.
Instead of offering a discount on one product, consider offering two for the price of one (or buy one, get one free). Look at your actual costs involved first, and you might be surprised at the extra profit you will be able to generate. Let’s look at a bakery as an example. At the end of the day, they want to sell off what they have remaining. Instead of discounting their goods, they offer two for the price of one, thus ensuring that everything is sold.
A second, more profitable, option would be to sell, for example, 2 pies for $3, instead of one pie for $2. Customers feel like they’re getting a bargain and are inclined to purchase more.
Always ensure, no matter what your offer, that you have an increase in dollars being spent, as well as an increase in profit margin, which will lead to an overall growth in sales and profitability.
As the term implies, a personal letter is one you would send to a prospect you encountered at a meeting, at a convention, or even while you were standing in line at a grocery store. Such a personal letter is more likely to draw a response than a letter sent as part of a mass mailing.
While it can be difficult to personalise many letters at once, you might set a goal of sending 10 letters per week. Each personal letter should have an introductory paragraph indicating what sort of link you may have with the prospect. Be as specific as possible.
Here is an example: “It was a pleasure meeting you at the Craft Exhibition in Darwin last week. I really enjoyed the discussion we had regarding craft show booths.”
If you don’t have a personal meeting to mention, you can still use an opening indicating how you could relate to this person: “I understand you attended the Craft Exhibition in Perth last week. Our common interest in quality wood creations prompts me to write to you today.”
From here, you can explain what your company specialises in, how your company can assist the recipient, and in what ways. Try to touch upon topics you know the potential customer would be interested in and try to pique his or her interest. Be sure to sign the letter personally. You’d be surprised how much attention people give to signatures. If it looks like it was printed on the letter, it may create a negative impression.
Don’t think that sending out a single personal letter will make the sale or even generate interest. You must follow up with a second letter or quick phone call, mainly to reiterate your previous message, to make sure the prospect received the first letter, and to help them decide to do business with you.
Basic rules of letter writing
Whether it be a personal letter or direct mail letter, it has to capture and hold attention, spell out your sales message simply and clearly, and be interesting and easy to read.
Some basic rules to remember are:
Use short sentences and short paragraphs – if you have to use longer sentences, use dashes to separate long passages into easy-to-read sections.
Never use negatives – always phrase your message in a positive way. For example, a letter which begins “Inflation is destroying your hard-earned dollars – where can you find a safe investment?” will not be nearly as successful as one which begins “Our changing economy is creating new opportunities for the astute investor.”
Talk one-to-one – write as though your letter is directed to the reader and no one else. Use the word “you” in the first sentence.
Make sure the salutation is appropriate – if you don’t know a customer’s name, use an appropriate salutation such as Dear Valued Customer. Avoid Dear Sir or Dear Madam.
Highlight the benefits – remember, the customer is asking “what’s in it for me?”.
Put the benefits into headings and sub-headings and repeat them again in the copy. Always use the major benefit in the headline of the letter.
State the offer and the price – tell the reader how much they are being asked to spend and tell them what good value you’re offering. Ask for a response.
Don’t generalise – use examples, names and even quotes. Quote figures or statistics to make your message even more credible.
Write in rhythm – read your letter aloud to make sure it flows well and reads the way you hear it in your mind.
Using a PS – there is a theory that says that a reader’s eye will travel from the headline to the PostScript and then back up to read the letter body, all in a matter of seconds. The PS is therefore very important in encouraging the reader to continue. It can be a repeat of the offer in different terms, an extension of the offer, or a command for the reader to do something, with a sense of urgency.
Other marketing strategies
Establish clear guidelines for how your image is to be portrayed, and stick with it in all marketing. This will allow customers to quickly and easily identify with your business.
Discounts And Premiums
Persuade other people to promote your business by offering discounts and premiums to selected groups. Offer a discount to employees of specific companies or members of an association, and those organisations will promote your business for you.
Give everyone you meet a business card – always and with no exceptions. Keeping your business card in your wallet is a waste of money. They don’t begin to work for you until they’re in someone else’s hands.
Don’t Reinvent The Wheel
Look at what other successful businesses have done, even those not in your industry. Adapt their strategies to your business and circumstances.
Get on the Net, create a web site and look for other high-tech marketing vehicles. See the Promotions chapter for further information on marketing via the Internet.
Be a visible member of your customer’s community. They’ll remember you were there personally, much longer than they’ll remember an advertisement.
Create a referral program. Satisfied customers are your best advertisements. Provide them with incentive to refer their friends and colleagues – perhaps a discount off their next purchase or a gift certificate to a local shop or restaurant.
Use coupons carefully. They are an affordable way to attract customers, but you need them to be willing to come back and pay regular prices – which they won’t do if you’re constantly providing them with coupons.
Sponsor something worthwhile. Sports teams, charities and community organisations are always looking for businesses to serve as sponsors, and often the cost is nominal – especially compared to the promotional value you’ll receive.
Monitor Your Programs
Keep track of what you’re doing, what it costs and what the results are. Make changes where necessary. Do more of what works, and stop doing what doesn’t.