December 2011’s Top 5 Marketing Tips

Below are this month’s top 5 marketing tips for December 2011 – simple tips to help you improve the effectiveness of your marketing.

1. Stick to the Core – When you think of the most successful companies and brands around the world, or even just in your local area, they all have something in common.  Firstly, they are good at marketing their business.  So why are they so good?

This is a very simple question with an equally simple answer.  They have a clear core proposition and a clear target audience.

Irrespective of how they actually go about communicating to their target market, if those first two elements aren’t defined with clarity and at the centre of the business then greatness will never be achieved.  Most small businesses start off with a clear core proposition (although few have a clear target market) and grow through the quality of that core product or service.

However, all too often, business owners get carried away with bolting on additional products and services to their offering – they see revenue making opportunities.

The result?  A confusing mess.

Sometimes the products and services are not even relevant to the same target market and so disparate that it makes no sense at all.

All you are left with is a confused prospective customer.  Clarity is key!  Define what your core business is and stick to it.  Become a leader in it, an expert in it.  Don’t fall into the trap of becoming a jack of all trades…..and master of none!

2. Evaluate the Audience – As a business owner it is very easy to be sold to and many of us end up spending hundreds to thousands of pounds on different marketing communications that someone has convinced us is the answer to all of your marketing prayers.

This could be a swanky new website, advertising space, SEO and CPC campaigns, e-mail marketing, PR, a rebrand, direct marketing or even just directory listings.

They sound very convincing and you start to believe that actually this could be money well spent……STOP!  THINK!  Some of these activities may well be right for your business, but many will not be.  Someone is trying to sell you something so of course they are going to tell you it is a “no brainer” and they will try and make you decide before you have had a chance to think.

Ever heard the old chestnut “this offer is only available today” or “you have first option for your business category – I can’t guarantee it will be available tomorrow”.

NEVER agree there and then to give it a go.  Always buy yourself some thinking time…..and in that time consider the following.  Who is my target audience – what are their demographics?  Does this match the target audience of this channel?  Is my target audience likely to respond to this channel?

Can the provider offer any proof that it has worked for similar companies in the past with hard evidence? Are their previous users I could ask?  Is it within my budget?  How many new customers would I need to generate (profit not sales) in order to achieve a return on investment?  Does it fit with my overall goals and objective?

I have seen companies try and sell high value goods (£1k+) via an e-shot to blanket consumer data, companies advertise in their trade press (to their competitors), spend thousands on a new website which has no call to action and can’t even be found online and pay for listings on consumer focussed directories when they are targeting businesses.

We all have the ability to stop and think!  If you don’t have time – then find a reliable person who can do this for you.  It will save you a lot of money!

3. Use AIDA – If you have never heard of A.I.D.A before it is an acronym to follow when devising any marketing communication whether a sales letter, advert, website homepage, press release, e-shot or direct mail piece.  Whenever formulating a communication bear this in mind – and after you have your first draft, review it to ensure it follows this format.

A= Attention – grab the reader/listeners attention.

This is usually the headline or the opening line of a communication.  The bigger the impact the better.  I=Interest – now you have their attention (you have got them to read on) you need to maintain their interest in the message.

D=Desire – now you have them interested you have to create a desire towards your product or service – this is the hook.

A=Action – now you have them hooked, what do you want them to do – phone, visit a website, email, do something, go somewhere?

So many communications forget the Action!  It is a critical mistake – you need to make it as easy as possible for your audience to take impulsive action.

If you always apply the AIDA structure when creating your communications you are giving yourself the best chance of success – mind you,  the content still needs to be bang on as well!

4. Say Thank You  – When is the last time you said “Thank You” to your customers?  Have you ever?  Do you just assume that they know you are grateful for their continued custom.

There are many ways to make this simple gesture.  The most basic is to add a simple message to your invoice “thank you for your continued valued custom”.

Ring them up every now and then and just thank them and ask them whether there is any way you can help them at all.  Run a specific campaign to thank them by entering them into a prize draw or run a special offer for valued customers only.

Send them a useful branded promotional gift as a thank you or even a small thank you card.  At this time of year a card is the perfect opportunity to let your clients know that their continued custom is indeed valued.

We spend years teaching our kids to say please and thank you – we drum it into them throughout childhood.  Yet in the world of business, it is a phrase used not nearly enough!

5. Create the Marmite Effect – You can guess what this is about!  Marmite – you either love it or hate it!  I hate it for the record (disgusting stuff).

But because I have such strong feelings for Marmite, albeit negatively (and probably cleverly fuelled by Marmite itself) I am aware of it, it is in my consciousness.

I will never buy it – but I also know that for every Marmite hater, like me, there is a massive Marmite lover who buys tonnes of the stuff on an annual basis.

So what? If Marmite was a middle of the road product that wasn’t so strongly flavoured and appealed pretty much to everyone wouldn’t they sell more?  Well no, actually.

They would sell a lot less.  The key term here is “Love”.  Because so many people “Love” it, rather than “Like” it, it has propelled Marmite into a massive brand!

Now how could you apply this principle into your own business?  Stop trying to appeal to everyone and not offend anyone.

No-one on planet earth is universally liked.  Why is Lady Ga Ga such a world-wide phenomenal success.  It certainly isn’t because of her singing ability.

She divides opinion – and because she does she has created what is probably the biggest pop music brand in the world right now!  I am not saying you need to walk around in a suit made of sausages, but by being different and creating that Marmite effect you will start to get an audience who “Love” what you do!  And people in love will tell the world!

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Ian is the founder of Opportunity Marketing marketing, with over 18 years of experience in successfully setting up marketing departments, creating marketing strategies and implementing these strategies across a wide number of SME companies in both the B2B and B2C sectors through a variety of channels.