By: Sharon Berman,
Published: Los Angeles Business Journal
Would you like to know the one marketing tool that guarantees explosive sales growth for your company?
So would I. The truth is, there is no “magic bullet,” no single promotional activity that will ensure sustained growth for your business.
Instead, you have at your disposal an arsenal of marketing tactics, including advertising, direct mail, telemarketing, public relations and other similar tools.
The critical first step is to determine which of these various tactics – your “marketing mix” – will be the most effective for your particular needs.
Start by asking yourself this important three-part question: “What specific behavior am I trying to elicit among what group of people in what time frame?” Your answer should help you determine which tactics to use.
Next, you’ll want to set specific objectives and timelines for each tactic, including production time. Pay special attention to upcoming holiday periods, which can be a boon for some types of selling.
The tactics you choose will have a great influence on your message and how it’s perceived, so let’s look in detail at some of the major marketing tools at your disposal.
Public relations. This is a broad category that encompasses such activities as media relations, sponsorships, speaking engagements and many other similar activities.
Media relations has the powerful effect of third-party credibility. In the eyes of the reader, you’re not boasting about your capabilities; rather, the information is coming from an unbiased source. And if it’s in the news, it must be true – right?
However, with media relations, you’re giving up a critical element in effective marketing: control. Your message is entirely in the hands of the writer, editor, reporter or producer. You may carefully craft a message, but when you pass it on to a media contact, you risk losing your intended impact.
Newspaper advertising. Because it’s a service you pay for, this medium allows you much more control over the size and content of your ad. And it’s delivered soon after you place it. This is a great medium to generate immediate interest in sales to “spike” your marketing activities.
However, newspaper ads have a very short life. Yesterday’s news is old. In addition, advertising in a newspaper is like shooting at a target with buckshot. You may hit parts of your target audience, but you’ll also be paying to reach a lot of people who aren’t going to be interested in your product or service.
You also can find yourself competing for readers’ attention on a page with many other ads.
Magazine advertising. With this form of advertising, you get the control over content and placement, and the added benefit of much tighter targeting than with newspapers. There is a magazine for every interest, so your ad can get to the right people. In addition, readers tend to get more involved in magazines and hold onto them longer.
On the downside, magazine advertising can be quite expensive. In addition, long lead times – up to 90 days – mean you have to decide well in advance what you want to advertise and how.
Internet Advertising. There is no doubt that the Internet is fast becoming a powerful force for reaching a targeted audience with your message. In addition, you can provide a great amount of detailed information about your product or service – information that is available in color 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
You also have the advantage of typically lower fees than with many traditional advertising sources, and the information can be easily updated or even completely changed.
The downside to this method of advertising is access. You’ll reach only those potential customers who have a computer, Internet service and the skills to find you. If you use this advertising method, you’ll want to drive “hits” on your Web site through advertising in other media.
Broadcast advertising. Cable TV allows you to target a specific geographic area. Also, in a market such as Los Angeles, radio can be effective for all those people in their cars and those who love wearing Walkmans.
The downside for broadcast is that your time is extremely limited, and advertising costs can be prohibitive for many small and medium-sized firms.
Direct mail. Forget the line about getting only a 1 percent return. That really depends on what you’re selling and what your offer is. Besides, who cares if the return is 1 percent – if it’s the right 1 percent?
Direct mail allows you total control over the message, and you can tightly target your audience with detailed information about your product or service.
The major downfall of using direct mail is that you have to work hard to keep your mailing lists “clean” and up to date. Otherwise, all the time, effort and money you put into your direct mail efforts are worthless.
Telemarketing. This method has a bad reputation, but when done correctly can be very effective. The trick is to keep your script very brief and end with a thought-provoking, open-ended question like, “What are your thoughts about streamlining your operation?” When you’ve identified someone who’s interested you can then provide additional details.
It’s very important that, no matter what medium you select, you measure the results of your promotional efforts.
With a well-planned and carefully executed mix of marketing tactics, you’re sure to see results in increased customer activity and sales for your business. It may not be a magic bullet, but it can certainly hit your target just the same.
Sharon Berman is principal of Berbay Marketing & PR, a marketing consultancy in the San Fernando Valley. She can be reached at email@example.com.