Marketing for the New Millennium
“If it worked yesterday it should work tomorrow, right?”
If there is one thing that we do know, it’s that just because it worked yesterday doesn’t mean it will work tomorrow. So with so many mediums to choose from; Internet, Direct Mail, TV, Radio, Reputational, Phone, Text….well the list goes on and on, how do you choose?
The choice sometimes boils down to simple basics, the area demographics, but most often it is not that simple. Too help you in your choice of marketing we sometimes suggest to our clients that they ask their customers what they look for when they get mail, watch TV, are on-line and such. What gets their attention? Remember, you are NOT your customer, so writing or designing something that you would look at may or may not be something that would or could get the attention of your actual customers! Then write or design your marketing program for the masses which means maybe asking a large segment of your clients these questions.
“What is the most effective form of marketing?” There is no “one answer” to that question because again, demographics sometimes simply dictate what works better. And since everyone’s demographics differ greatly, anyone claiming to have that answer is probably simply telling you what you want to hear to sell you their specific product. The best idea we have is to “try” different forms of marketing until you hit on one that works and then stick with it UNTIL it stops. And by “try” we mean put the effort AND time into what is required to see results. All too often we see our clients give up before they have really given that specific type enough time to work. There are some older methods out there that still seem to be thought of as working today, the best of which is that it takes 9 forms of contact to get a potential customer to notice you. The bad news, they only actually see 1 of every 3 that is sent. So, rough numbers, that is 27 forms of contact before you are noticed sufficiently that they would consider using you the next time they need you. And for our industry as is with many, the last 5 words in the last sentence are key elements in this battle we call marketing. Not everyone who finally notices you may need you today and this is why we say you have to give each form a fair chance to work because it could be 90-120 days before they even need their next oil change! Pulling an ad early may mean that when they do need you, you’ve already moved on to the next program which may NOT be the reason they came in. Marketing requires a minimum of 90—120 days to see if it is going to work!!
Looking into all the forms of marketing that are out there could become a lifelong adventure if you don’t narrow them down to a handful to try and then move on if those aren’t effective. The current groups of marketing programs that we are currently seeing working are; Internet, but that must be tied into a good website, reputational, and direct mail. Although some are older forms that you may have used in the past that stopped working (direct mail), currently this medium has become one of the strongest again when done properly. You also MUST have a great website to drive your potential and current customers too, something that showcases who you are and how you do business. Then you must have good SEO (search engine optimization) and SEM (search engine marketing) tied into your website for it to be truly effective. One little thing about websites before we leave this, It is NOT all about how your site looks as much as how it works. We see far too many clients working on making their sites look great and from what we’ve seen and learned over the last 7 years (really working extensively with website experts), looks are a very small part of actual function. So chose a good site builder based on how their sites work, not look! And finally, having a strong Internet presence through reputational marketing as well as the ability to market to your customers through the Internet are a few of the remaining key elements to a successful marketing program.
A couple of final thoughts regarding pulling your marketing together and attracting more of the business you want. First of all, we can’t underscore the importance of doing your homework enough BEFORE spending money on marketing! By this we mean, look at the demographics of the customers you should be trying to attract as NOT everyone is your customer. There is a large segment of people in every City and State that are simply looking for “a deal” or “for free” and typically those aren’t who you want as a customer. So look into a company that can do the demographics of the area that will allow you to pinpoint your customer zip codes and market there. Next and equally important, remember that when you get that great website, EVERY form of marketing you use from that point forward should include a statement or link that says, see our website for our latest Promotions, Coupons or Incentives. Drive every customer to what should be your business showcase, your website. This will do a of couple things; show the customer who we are and what we look like. But equally important, the more times a customer visits your site the more hits Google, Yahoo, Bing and others see that your site has been viewed, and that may help move your rankings up when it comes to site positioning.
Our suggestion for locating the right companies to align yourself with regarding the above mentioned ideas; seek other industry professionals and ask them about their experiences with the companies they use. Look for statements like, “they are always receptive to my needs” and “they seem to take whatever time is needed to help me with any questions”. Be very diligent in asking about the help after the final initial payment was made, how they are with support now that you’re just on their monthly maintenance fees, and did you see any difference in business after you started working with the company. Many companies offer specific phone numbers that roll into your normal numbers but allow you to actually track their marketing performance throughout the time you are working together which is a great way to monitor actual results. But make sure that you scrutinize these types of reports as they may also include the calls that are either existing customers or telemarketers calling on any new phone numbers out there.