Below are this month’s top 5 marketing tips for March 2012 – simple tips to help you improve the effectiveness of your marketing.
1. Use your data wisely – If you have a database and/or CRM system in your business, this is a great first step. If you haven’t then invest in one – even if it is only a very simple one, as it will save you invaluable time and money.
If you have – make sure that you are fully utilising the data filters within it whenever you are creating a campaign. I recently received a beautifully designed and quite clever direct mail piece through the post from a national insurance company. I read the mail piece – so from that point of view it worked.
However I binned it. The reason being I am already halfway through a contract for that insurance policy – WITH THEM!! If they had used their database wisely then they could have seen that I already buy that policy from them – yet they were talking to me as if I was a brand new prospect who had never purchased from them, not a valued customer. Has this error negatively affected my opinion of the brand?
To be honest, not massively. But what a waste of money? If all of their existing clients received this mail-piece then it is a massive own goal in terms of return on investment.
2. Keep the pipeline flowing – Sales are the lifeblood within any business. Without sales you have no customers and you have no business.
However don’t fall into the trap of easing off your marketing activity when times are good and you are really busy. Business is very cyclical and the reason you have got very busy is that you have been working hard to generate enquiries.
Naturally, if you take your foot off the gas when times are good, guess what….times are going to be less good in the future. Even if you can’t physically take any more clients on, keep your sales pipeline warm so that when you are in a position to do so you have some warmed up prospects rather than starting from a blank sheet of paper again.
This will ensure any troughs in the business are much shorter, thus alleviating potential cash flow issues arising. View marketing as an ongoing discipline rather than short campaign bursts when sales start to dip!
3. Re-evaluate your pricing – Businesses, particularly in their early years, struggle to get to grips with the optimum price point for their products and services.
Like every other aspect in marketing, it needs to be tested and measured on an ongoing basis so that you get to a point where you are comfortable that you are pricing your offering accurately. In the early days business owners usually undercharge for their services as they want to build up a track record of clients and get cash into the business.
However if you quickly reach capacity for your business it is worth reviewing your pricing again to see what effect an increase in price would have on the balance between effort and reward.
In tough times many businesses make the knee-jerk reaction to cut prices to be the most competitive option in the marketplace. Basically, in a service environment, if you reduce your prices to increase demand you are then doing more work for the same (or less) money.
As a rule of thumb if you are working at a margin of 20% and cut your prices by 10% that would mean that you would have to sell twice as much or work twice as hard to stay at the same profit level.
The other side to the coin is that if you gradually increase prices you will lose some customers who refuse to pay the increased level (who don’t value your service accordingly), some clients will grumble but accept the hike (because they ultimately know your service is worth more than they are paying) and more than you realise will accept the increase without even flinching (your premium clients).
Your net result is that you are making the same profit, but you have freed up some capacity to take on more higher margin work. As I said at the onset – always test and measure.
4. Work to your capacity – Make sure that you know what the capacity of your business is – whether this is man hours, units of volume, or number of clients.
If you haven’t got a grasp of what your capacity is there is a danger that you make take on more clients, or larger contracts than you can actually deal with. The easiest and most cost effective sales to your business are your current clients.
Don’t over commit your business for work that seems attractive, you are in danger of neglecting your existing client base. Make sure if you take a new client or contract on, it is not at the detriment of what is in effect already “cash in the bank”.
5. Review & revise regularly – Every business should be working from a clear marketing plan or strategy. There should be some very clear objectives for the business and an action plan of how these objectives are going to be achieved.
However once this has been created it is important to continually review and revise that plan. The reason being is that everything surrounding that strategy involves organic elements that evolve and change.
Your own business will grow and evolve, your clients will evolve and change, the external factors on the marketplace will continually be changing – whether social trends, legislation, economic climate or advancements in technology. You can also be sure that if you are standing still, your competitors will be evolving. Nothing that ever stands still survives, change is the only constant.
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