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Small Business Marketing; Some Tips on Internal Marketing within your Company

I recently received this question from a reader of Marketing Tips and Tools:
“…one of the issues I struggle with is getting my entire company to market (my company). Most feel it’s just MY job. I have never believed in that notion. How can I get others within my company to understand that they play a role in marketing too?”

Here are some suggestions:
1. Identify all prospect touchpoints – Conduct an interview of several of your most recent clients. In these interviews, establish all the touchpoints (and I mean ALL), they had with your company before becoming a client. For example, you may hear “Well, I talked with one of your sales reps at a trade show, then I called to receive a brochure, then I submitted our credit references”. In this simple example, you’ll have identified 3 key personnel; a sales rep, the sales receptionist (who took the call for the brochure) and the credit clerk (who played a role in receiving the credit references). Once you show these employees that their contact played a pivotal role in landing the new client, they’ll better appreciate their marketing role.

2. Now, identify all retention touchpoints – Ok, after doing this for the process of communicating with prospects, now repeat the process for the retention of your current clients. Retention, as we all know, is extremely important in a marketing effort because, on average, it costs 5-7 times as much to get a new customer as it does to keep one. Through this research, you may find that an accounts receivable clerk, a purchasing assistant, a customer service rep, or the president’s administrative assistant play a critical role. Research by asking your current clients “Who are the 3 people within our company that you have the most contact with on a weekly basis?”

3. Educate all employees at your next company meeting – Once you’ve conducted this research, it’s important that you share it with all employees. The more you can highlight exact quotes from your interviewees (e.g. “…I talk with Jane in accounts receivable almost every week”), the more lasting an impression you’ll make on those employees. After sharing this with all employees, most of them will appreciate their pivotal role in your firm’s marketing, and will never again perceive marketing to be just a department.

This is just a start, but does anyone have another idea they’d like to share here?

October 30, 2008 in Small business marketing plans | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Small Business Marketing; 3 Tips to Improve Your Email Marketing

1) Lead with information – I recently unsubscribed from a good friend’s email marketing newsletter, even though he subscribes to mine. The reason? Every single email marketing message I received from him was promotional. “Join me for my new teleseminars”, “Buy my book now, and I’ll throw in another book for free”, “Come hear me speak at the XYZ Convention” was the tenor of every message. I agree that the primary objective for email marketing is to promote a business, but there are different strategies to accomplish this objective. One is to offer enough free, valuable information so people willingly want to purchase more of this information (in-person or through the email). Leading and following with promotion shows you regard the relationship as one-way and benefiting only your company.

2) Offer dialoguing opportunities – To my Marketing Tips and Tools http://www.emergemarketing.com/e-newsletter.shtml subscribers, I offer a series of email marketing autoresponders that provides a marketing tip each month. Want to know which of these 12 autoresponders gets the most opens and responses? The one whose subject line is “Can I Get Your Opinion?” In this message, I ask 3 questions about the value of Marketing Tips and Tools and then ask them to email me with their responses. People LOVE to give their opinion these days, and I have been very pleasantly surprised by the quality of their feedback. Remember that your email marketing efforts should strive to create a dialogue with your audience.

3) Sprinkle in some personal bits – I learned this from Ali Brown, the Ezine Queen . In one of her ezines she talked about how important it was for the author’s personality to show through in your e-newsletter. I balked at this initially because I didn’t think others would be very interested. But in the last issue of Marketing Tips and Tools, I included a section called “3 Things You Probably Don’t Know About Me (and May Not Want to)”. The response was huge. I heard from people who referenced my drumming and my childhood fascination with fire. I’m now a convert. I think people want to know a little bit about the person (or company) behind the email marketing. When they do, they trust you and your company, just a little bit more.

These are just 3 of the most basic things needed for effective email marketing, But there are many more. Now, which tips have I missed?

October 28, 2008 in Small Business Email Marketing | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Small Business Marketing; Ever consider starting a customer club?

In The Marketing Toolkit for Growing Businesses, I related this story of Customer Clubs:

When I was marketing director at a mattress manufacturer, every quarter we’d host an informal conversation with our customers. We’d invite 5-10 customers to our company headquarters, and conduct a no-holds-barred conversation about our products and marketing methods. Boy, were they flattered!

Over popcorn and soft drinks, we’d show them new product prototypes or share preliminary ad concepts. We might even show them proofs of new marketing materials we were developing. All of this proved extremely valuable in developing our product mix and marketing messages.

Just as important, these customers left the meetings with a renewed feeling of loyalty. We’d cared enough to ask for their input, and most were very appreciative of that fact. If you're searching for a very effective, yet inexpensive marketing tool for today's tough business climate, consider a customer club...

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October 27, 2008 in Small Business Marketing | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Small Business Branding: 10 Most Important Branding Terms to Know

I don't usually do this, but I thought I might throw this open to you out there.

I'm searching for the 10 most important branding terms to know these days. My criteria would be it 1) must be a popular term used in everyday branding work and 2) it must be an important facet in the art of branding.

Here's my list of the 10 Most Important Branding Terms to Know....

* Value Proposition
* Brand Equity
* Differentiation
* Brand Attributes
* Key Messages
* Targeting
* Segmentation
* Core values
* Integrated Marketing Communications
* Metrics

Which am I missing?

October 21, 2008 in Small business branding | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Marketing Proposal Writing: Ways to Involve Others in the Effort

My last post on Marketing Proposal Writing covered the Ten Commandments on How to Write Successful Marketing Proposals.

Today I'd like to address how to successfully involve others in the writing of your marketing proposals. Here are three tips to motivate others in helping you write your firm's proposal:

#1 Copy your CEO on correspondence summarizing work tasks and responsible people - One way to actively involve others in accomplishing their tasks for your marketing proposal is to cc: your CEO on any correspondence between you and that person about their proposal tasks. By cc'ing your CEO on any correspondence between you and a peer about their tasks to be completed, you send a not-so-subtle signal to that person that higher-ups will be watching. More often than not, this will motivate your peer to complete his tasks on time.

#2 Have employees physically sign their names next to the tasks they’re responsible for completing - When you first divide up tasks for your marketing proposal, instead of assigning these tasks to individuals verbally, write all the tasks up on the white board. Then, when people volunteer, or are assigned a task to complete, have them walk up to the white board and physically sign their name to the task. This creates an atmosphere of commitment between the individual and the task that otherwise wouldn't occur.

#3 Insist on regular Proposal Status Meetings - When I was Marketing Director in my corporate career, I insisted on biweekly project meetings. During these meetings, the staff would update each other (and me) on each project’s status. These meetings are important for communication’s sake.
But the preparation that occurs before these meetings is the real payoff. No one wants to look stupid in front of his or her peers, or boss. So, they’ll check, recheck and triple-check their deadlines and responsibilities before the meeting. The same principle applies in the Marketing Proposal Writing.

This is just a start, but I know there are other tips out there. What tips can you add to these?

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October 9, 2008 in Marketing Proposal Writing | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Small Business Marketing - The Ten Commandments of Writing Small Business Proposals

1. Thou Shalt Emphasize Results, Not Methods – Your methodology is important, don’t get me wrong. But without placing your readers’ needs first in your small business marketing proposals, they’ll never get to the part about your methodology. Only after you’ve made the case for what results you’ll deliver should you cover how you’ll deliver them.

2. Thou Shalt Remember that A Small Business Marketing Proposal’s Merits are NOT Determined by Its Weight – I remember a boss of mine who, when I brought him a “pitch” for his review, would put it in both hands and pretend he was weighing it. Depending upon the weight he’d either say “Feels like I’m going to like this one” or “This one’s not heavy enough to be worthwhile”. Even though he was kidding, it got under my skin. Focus on good content and meeting your audiences’ needs, not a scale’s.

3. Thou Shalt Final Review your Small Business Marketing Proposal Only After Setting it Aside for 24 hours –Many of us don’t have 24 hours to set aside a proposal. But if you do, take advantage of it.

4. Thou Shalt Check, Check and Recheck all Key Data – Errors in your copy (typos, poor grammar) are more likely to be overlooked than errors in your data.

5. Thou Shalt Write the Executive Summary Only After Writing the Rest of the Proposal - If the executive summary offers an encapsulated version of the overall proposal, doesn’t it make good sense to write it last?

6. Thou Shalt Sweat Every Detail – Match page numbers to your table of contents, make sure client names are spelled correctly and manually check for typos.

7. Thou Shalt Submit your Proposals On Time, Always – I don’t think you can ever really recover from submitting a proposal late. Even if you have the client’s blessing in doing so, they’ll wonder in the backs of their minds “Will the project also be delivered late?”.

8. Thou Shalt Not Overindulge in Graphics – I get into some pretty heated discussions over this point. Some people feel that today’s society, steeped in YouTube and other visual technologies, expects graphically intense proposals. Although I’ll agree that a certain amount of graphics are needed, I feel that we all have to be careful that the graphics 1) tie back to the content they’re emphasizing and 2) must be of the highest quality possible.

9. Thou Shalt Write Your Proposals With Some Personality – Too much marketing copy today is written to impress, rather than educate. Avoid writing Gobbledygook Copy, as I like to call it, and aim for an eighth graders level when you do put words to paper.

10. Thou Shalt Always, Always, ALWAYS Be Honest – All businesses, especially service businesses, have trust and credibility as their bedrock. Any bending of the truth, that’s exposed, will harm your reputation for a very long time indeed.

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October 1, 2008 in Small Business Marketing | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack