Important in businessmarketonline your small business, and the quality

In this Part 3 article on Small Business Marketing, I am going to explore Marketing Research and Target Marketing. Both are very important in businessmarketonline your small business, and the quality of the market research process will define your targeted marketing. See my previous article for information on Marketing Methods and Strategies.

MARKETING RESEARCH

Questions to Ask:

– Is a combination of goods and services a better, more competitive offering for the market than just a product or service?
– What is your advantage? Price? Superior Product or Service? Timing? Barriers to entry?
– What should you emphasize? Quality, Selection, Location, Service, Your Expert Status or the History of the business?
– Can you effectively compete?
– Define your Competition. What’s their Edge?
– Who are your best customers? Why?
* What are their Demographics? Psychographics?
* Why do they buy?
* What media do they interact with?
* What is their spouse doing for a living?
* What is their purchasing outlook for the next year?
– What are the best aspects of your business in the customer’s view?
* What improvements do customers want?
* Do they want more free interaction like a Newsletter, E-book, Articles, Forums, etc? Customers, whether current or prospective, offer the very best marketing info. Prepare a questionnaire for them! Put surveys on your website. These are excellent ways to fully define your “best” customer, and what makes them decide to buy.
– Gives invaluable information on your competition and how you stack up. Marketing Research Bonanza is the Wide World Web!
– Use multiple Search Engines.
– Use Chat Rooms and Forums. They can search as Focus Groups and provide invaluable Marketing Research. Determine your Marketing Appeals or your customers’ hot buttons.

At the conclusion of your initial Marketing Research, ask yourself:

– What customer needs, wants and niches translate into “x” amount of profitability?
– What improvements are needed for your biz?
– How can your competitors hinder your growth?
– How can you lose current customers?
– What measures need to be taken to ensure your Products and Services don’t become obsolete?
– What changing Trends affect your business?
– Who do you need to advise you about running your business? Spark new ideas?

Remember: The Quality and Source of your Marketing Information define the efficacy of your Research. You need High Quality and Reliable Information, and these two variables are the key to your future success.

TARGETED MARKETING

Targeted Marketing doesn’t have to be expensive, rather, it is the focused and personalized nature of inexpensive Targeted Marketing which make it worth considering. Some examples include:

– Email: Opt In
– Online Boards and Groups
– Free Offline & Online Ads
– Increase response rates with Toll Free Numbers
– Newsletters
– 900 Numbers
– Inexpensive Regional Magazine Editions: great credibility builder!
– Newspapers offer low-cost targeted geographic zones and neighborhoods.
– TV Ads are much cheaper and targeted now.
– Home Shopping Networks can be highly targeted and great to advertise around.
– Cell phone text messaging: Opt In only!
– Video Brochure: the paper brochure is a harder sell now days. Bring your Business, Products and Services alive with Video and/or Audio.
– Look at targeted media like airplanes, airports, taxis, buses, checkout counters, restrooms, banks, etc.
– Marketing messages on a Telephone “Hold” Session.
– Use low cost special effects to appear to have a bigger look on TV advertising.

Targeted Marketing Methods

Canvassing/Cold Calling: I am not a huge fan of Canvassing or Cold Calling but it can be effective/required in the early stages of your business, especially when money is tight. You can enhance your method by:

– Putting out flyers/mailings prior to initiating contact
– Go to Networking Events (i.e. Chamber of Commerce or a Professional Network Group) as a Guest of a member for free and make it count.
– Be direct; look people in the eye; and most importantly, offer value. Never hesitate to respectfully ask for the sale.
– Free Demonstration, a Sample or leaving a Product behind for free use can be very effective, if your product is highly effective and can sell itself.
– Try to quickly qualify the prospect and always ask for a Referral regardless if a sale was made.
– Look for ways to reference another mutual relationship to warm up a cold prospect
– Make the prospective customer feel important
– Educate your prospects; empower them and they will buy from you
– Identify your unique benefits and advantages, giving the prospect a great reason to buy
– Do your homework prior to contact and tailor your presentation for a particular prospect
– Mention your current customers, show testimonials and talk about your past successes.
– Show pride in your product/service offering
– Know the prospect will buy from you and always try to close at different points in your presentation
– If the sale isn’t consummated, ask why. Use the answers to tailor your presentation, rework your product/service offering or alter your pricing/credit structure
– The presentation should be brief and engage the prospect along the way.

If you follow the above pointers, Canvassing can be very effective and inexpensive. However, it demands a lot of time, discipline and consistency.

Biz Cards: Use both sides of your card, and it should sell something, offer something and point to your website for a special offer. It is a Sales Tool – use it as such!

Letters: Personalized letters are a thing of the past, but an art form which is worth using today. Why? Simple: no one else is and you will appear unique. The letter should solve a prospective customer’s problem or point to a website presentation that does. Use online or offline questionnaires to capture valuable information which you can use to sell the prospect – it sets up your sale. Some tips:

– Follow up the first letter with a second letter and then a phone call. All this should be done in 10 day’s time. Follow up letters and calls should offer new information.
– Always ask for the sale! Often, the third time is the charm.
– Include personal references, people you know in common and testimonials in your letters.
– Combine a letter with a Questionnaire, which asks a prospect to provide an Opt In Email address. Send all further communications via email for cost effectiveness and immediate yet convenient to the prospect contact. Remember, an email can be a Newsletter, Audio or Video Recording, a Power Point Presentation – the sky is the limit!
– Remember: Confidence, Quality, Selection and Price. Address all four in your contact; a sale is eminent, provided the prospect is qualified.
– Letters are an easy, cost-effective way to stay in contact with customers whether you make a sale or not.
– Personalize it: Address to a particular person, hand sign it and write a personal P.S. by hand. You can even follow a sales letter with a hand written note in a second mailing before or after a follow up phone call. This can be very effective!
– Your letters should not ask the prospect to respond. Rather, it will tell the prospect when you will call to set up an appointment and/or answer questions leading to a sale. Either way, on the phone call, Always ask for the sale.
– Stick with just a short letter. No other enclosures. You have a better chance to be read. You can always email (save postage) a brochure once you have retained the interest.
– If the prospect cannot wait for your follow up phone call, have a website address with an exclusive offer that points to a well crafted Sales Web Page (see my Online Marketing Article for more details).
– Sign your name in Blue color, along with the P.S. The Reader will read the P.S. first so put some thought into it.
– State your offering’s benefits to the specific prospect without really saying what it is. This will drive the prospect to check out your Sales web page.
– Include a short Customer Testimonial with the Customer’s contact info. Let your current Customers do the selling for you!
– The numbers: Mass Mailings are deemed successful with a 1-2% Response Rate. If a personal letter is done right, a 10-20% sales rate (not Response Rate!) can be achieved!
* If you do Mass Mailings, a Personal Letter as stage 2 to your responses can be highly effective as well!
– On your Online Sales Page always give the prospect the opportunity to Opt In their email address so you can automatically send them Newsletters, Articles, Special Offers, Bonafides and the such.
– How to get a sale? Simple: Eliminate all risks of doing business with you and make sure the prospect understands the benefits and value of your offering. Pair that with passion and straight forward ethics and you will close again and again. You will have to ask for the sale at a minimum of three times on average; so ask!
– Partner up with other ethically sound business people to pair your offering and make a truly unique offering and/or tap the partner’s customer base. An experienced partner can add a lot of credibility to your offering.
– Ask for Referrals from the beginning, whether or not the prospect buys from you. If they don’t, make sure you offer them an Opt In so you can continue to stay in front of them with Specials, Newsletter, Company News and Events, Articles and the such.
– If targeting businesses, ALWAYS send you letter to the President and then follow up with a phone call after you sent a hand written note two days later. Two things will happen, you have his/her attention, and your initial call will be routed to the right decision maker in the company.
– Remember, letters are all about psychology so keep the emotional sale in mind when preparing the letter.

Note: A lot of these methods and strategies described under “Letters” can be applied to many different marketing tools – use them!

Telemarketing: I am not a huge fan of cold calls (and this coming from someone who built initial sales and companies on cold calling). Now, a professional telephone campaign linked to a mailing of some sort (letter, brochure, marketing piece) can be quite effective. In-bound telemarketing can be profitable if done properly. The bottom line: 51% listen to telemarketers when called, so it can be a worthwhile strategy. Here are some keys toward running a successful telemarketing campaign:

Small Business Marketing
Running a small business you will need to invest a lot of time and money into marketing your business, product or service. Affordable marketing ideas that convert with the return that you want is hard especially for business with limited marketing dollars. Marketing online is an easy way to gain wide-spread as well as local exposure for your offline business, but creating a marketing campaign that converts can be tough and can burn through your advertising dollars. Here are 5 affordable and effective small business marketing ideas to get your business advertised online.

Step 1: Launch a website… If you are running a business and you do no have a website then you are missing out on a serious consumer base! Many business owners once they launch their website they see their client base raise as much as 10,000%! Getting a professional to design, program and develop your website is the easiest way to have a website your visitors like, there are many affordable options for designers.

Step 2: Pay-Per-Click… This is the quickest way to get targeted traffic online instantly! You can literally start having people interested in your business, service or product within 5 minutes of setting up a campaign. Careful though, pay-per-click is an easy way to get more business but you can burn through your advertising dollars quickly if you don’t know how to do it right. Hiring a marketing consultant / marketing campaign expert to build your marketing campaign can be a way to help you instantly start seeing a return from your website.

Step 3: Social Media… Social media is one of the hottest trends online serving hundreds of millions of people! Social media will help you build and grow your business, fans and clients. Sites like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn are big and it’s easy to grow your business with these websites.

Step 4: Banner Advertising… Getting your Brand/Image online and advertised on sites relating to your business is a great way to get more visitors online. Hiring a professional banner designer is affordable and will make your banner advertising campaign convert much better.

Step 5: Article Marketing… Keeping consumers information about the area of business you are involved with is very important. By writing articles relating to your area of business and submitting them to article directories can help you get more targeted clients as well as keep them updated with trust in your business.

Small Business Marketing can be tough and costly but by creating your own website, pay-per-click campaign, social media accounts, banner campaigns and writing articles to keep your consumers informed can be very affordable done right!

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