Every once and a while I get something that is just too good not to share. Dean is a fellow Master’s Program Graduate and is the CEO of one of the finest Ad agencies I’ve ever been exposed to. I received this article last week from him and thought it dovetailed into the branding series I wrapped up this last week. I hope you enjoy Dean as much as I do -
In today’s economy, the mindset of spending money on marketing seems to be like the mindset of going to Las Vegas. Pretty risky. The only difference is that going to Vegas means there’s a good chance of having a great time.
On the marketing front, however, there is hope. Lots of it if you market smart. Here are a few tips.
First, realize that during a down economy, people typically clam up their advertising dollars. The result is less ad saturation in your marketplace. The opportunity is that your advertising now has a stronger chance of being seen. Also, the perception of those companies advertising in a down economy is of a strong, confident company. On top of that, customers typically experience bad customer care because most companies are downsizing, causing inefficiencies. Hence, those who are mistreated may be looking for a new provider during the down times and lo and behold, there’s your ad. The time to pick up market share is not when the economy is thriving, it’s when it’s choking.
In your initial ad planning stage, take an honest assessment of the advertising vehicles you’ve used in the past. Often, there are a couple of advertising methods that worked pretty well. For some strange reason, every client we talk to has one or two of those tactics they stopped doing because they got too busy from the inquiries generated by advertising. Whoops!
Next, if you are planning any new advertising methods, evaluate them diligently. Your advertising rep should give you an advertising/cost rationale, and you should be able to talk to a couple of their non-competing customers to see if the advertising is pulling. If they say you can’t have testimonials, run, don’t walk, away from the pseudo-opportunity.
During the down times, the phone is your friend. While people are spending horrific amounts of cash on untried tactics, others are getting on the phone and making those cold calls. FACT: 100% of those clients we told to increase their phone work reaped tremendous success. And the phone is cheap by comparison.
If you’re using direct mail in these lean times, make sure your database is up-to-date with current names and current addresses. This will minimize the waste and maximize the penetration of the campaign. And don’t forget to mail to your existing customers.
Public Relations is another under-utilized tactic. Press releases about news relating to your industry, in essence, are free advertising. The right story in the right publication can help reel in new business. Remember though, it must be newsworthy and relevant. Editors get inundated every day with hundreds of press releases, so don’t send in junk press. Also, use the media to get published, like I am. I’ve gotten a few calls, and plus, it makes me feel famous, like Tom Cruise.
If you like to speak in public — the number one fear of human beings–have at it. It’s very effective. Relevant presentations in your area of expertise can be a tremendous method for generating more business and building your reputation, especially if you get in front of the right people.
Please don’t invest money into your Web site thinking that if you do, more business will come. Your Web is, in essence a store, and you have to drive people to it with advertising, just like a store. The most cost effective way to drive people to your Web site is through viral marketing and Search Engine Optimization.
Image ads and brand building agendas have to go by the wayside during tough times. Direct response ads, where you’re offering something substantial, must be the consistent discipline. Think about it. Would you respond to an ad that offers one piece of free dry cleaning for every 50 pieces cleaned? Or would your respond to an ad offering every third piece free? Make it compelling.
Always ask for referrals. This is the most commonly overlooked marketing vehicle in existence. It’s also a practice that thrives with those who have a system to remind them to do so. If you could get one new client per week by asking for referrals, that would be 50 per year, or 500 over the next 10 years. Not to mention the incoming referrals that just come with great service.
Finally, let’s not forget intestinal fortitude. During down times, people think that working at the usual pace will do. It won’t. Many stress out, check out, and think things will change by themselves. My dad use to say that in business, you have to grow just to stand still. Slow economies dictate that you not only work smart, but that you take your commitment disciplines and your attitude to a whole new level.