By: Sharon Berman,
Published: Los Angeles Business Journal
Many people ask: “What’s new in marketing? What can I do that’s different?” They want to find some breakthrough tactic that will lead to spectacular marketing results.
The truth is, there are very few marketing tactics. The key to marketing success is how you execute the tried-and-true tactics we all know: direct mail/response, advertising, web page development and so forth. You must execute, do it well and do it consistently.
Instead of peering around every corner for the next marketing “big idea,” you’d be better off spending your time and energy reviewing your firm’s current marketing programs to see how you can better carry out what you’re already doing. How can you leverage your efforts so that they have greater impact and give you more bang for your buck?
To answer that, you need to conduct an audit of your marketing. I suggest you begin by moving from the outside in. Look at the first impression prospective clients or customers get about your operation. Are your phones answered in a professional manner? Is the first voice that callers hear energetic and friendly? Does it convey the image you want to give? Does the person who answers the phone make an extra effort to be helpful?
Although some people are naturals at providing outstanding customer service, many others have the potential to do a great job but simply have never been trained. Consider providing customer-service training to your staff. If you’ve already done that but it has been a while, think about doing it again. Your employees can never get the message too many times.
When a new client or customer comes into your place of business, what first impression does your reception area make? You should have current publications available for people who need to wait, and the majority of those publications should be related to your business or profession. It’s not enough to have dog-eared copies of last year’s tabloids sitting out.
If you’ve written articles that have been published, or if your business produces a newsletter, put those out for people to look at. Don’t hide your achievements – frame your articles and hang then in your lobby.
Fresh data and image?
The next step is to conduct your marketing audit from the inside out. The innermost core of your marketing program and a critical factor in the results you achieve is your database.
Would yours earn an A+ today? What shape is it in? You want it to be “clean” and current. You want to know that if a glowing article about your firm appeared on the front page of this publication, you’d be able to send it to your clients, prospective clients, referral sources and colleagues right away.
Can you “slice and dice” your database – have you set up coded categories to which you can mail pieces separately? Ideally, your database should be in a contact management program that is flexible and that allows you to keep track of your relationships and where you stand in the marketing process.
Look at your corporate identity package. Does it accurately reflect your company? Does it look fresh, or does it appear to be dated and tired? If you’ve intended to redo your look but have been putting it off, now is the time to act. Are your collateral materials – especially your brochures – up to date? Do they accurately communicate your current story?
I often hear businesspeople say brochures are useless, that they never sell anything. It’s true that brochures by themselves cannot sell your products or services; you are the one who does the selling. However, a good brochure is an important tool to legitimize your firm and remind people who you are. It also gives prospective clients the opportunity to read about you in detail, something many people interested in patronizing your company will want.
Notable and quotable
Think about the marketing initiatives you currently have in play. Are you fully leveraging what you’re doing? For example, let’s say you’re about to give a talk to a group. How can you maximize its impact? To begin with, send notices to names in your database to invite them to attend. Whether or not they show up, the invitation itself will remind people what you do, give you added credibility (you must be an expert if a group has invited you to speak) and make them feel that you value them. Perhaps you can arrange for clients to have complimentary passes, or you can foot the bill yourself.
Have you invited the media? Even if your speech isn’t exactly front-page news, you may be able to get a listing in a business publication. See if you can tie your talk to a current news development, and then let relevant media know why your speech is newsworthy. In a letter or email to various media outlets, state your perspective on the news development, or forecast a future trend.
Since you’ve done your homework to prepare for the talk, there’s a good chance you could turn your speech into a magazine or a newspaper article. Present the idea to the editor of an appropriate business, industry or professional publication – and once it’s accepted, draft the article in a timely fashion. Your talk might also be the foundation for a “white paper” on a topical subject, which could reinforce your position as the expert in the field.
So, if you’re feeling energized and are eager to reinvigorate your marketing program, don’t waste time looking for a magic fix. Instead, look in your own backyard and improve what you’ve been doing all along.
Sharon Berman is principal of Los Angeles based Berbay Marketing & PR, Marketing Strategy & Implementation. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.