Ten Best Marketing Ideas
One marketing idea rises above all the others: Write, commit to, and invest wisely in a marketing plan for your business. That’s the focus of this whole article and it’s the topic, which shrinks the task of writing your plan down to ten steps that fit even the busiest small business owner’s calendar. Then as you implement your marketing program, join the best marketers by embracing the following ten ideas:
1. Know your elevator speech.
Elevator speeches grew out of the 1990s, when venture capitalists listened to full presentations only from entrepreneurs who could first provide a great 20-second answer (about the length of a typical elevator ride) to the question, What does your business do? A good elevator speech is concise, well delivered, and capable of inspiring interest and generating questions all while conveying what you do, whom you serve, and the unique benefits or solutions you offer.
Strike openings like I sell life insurance, I run a social service agency, or I’m a consultant. None of those inspires questions or leads to a conversation. Instead, differentiate yourself and communicate the unique benefits you provide.
For example, After years as a university admissions director, I now help about 50 students a year to narrow college selections and complete their applications, coaching them as they write their essays and complete their financial aid forms. Businesses with the sharpest elevator speeches hone the sharpest marketing plans. Write yours today.
2. Make a great product before you make a great ad.
Be prepared before you promote. Be sure your product is ready for prime time before you announce its availability. Be sure you have an adequate inventory to fulfill the interest your marketing will generate. Be sure your distribution and sales channels are in place. Be sure your staff is knowledgeable about your product and about the ads you’re running. And be sure that your business is prepared to provide enthusiastic service that exceeds what customers might encounter at any competing business.
3. Sweat the big stuff.
Make a great first impression. Put at least as much effort into your ad headline as into your body copy. Devote at least as much energy to your introduction as you do to the entire rest of your sales presentation. Invest in your business lobby, the home page of your Web site, the cover of your brochure, the first sentence of a phone call, and every other first impression you’re lucky enough to make for your business.
4. Sweat the little stuff.
Details tip the balance between good and great businesses. Answer your phones with a real live voice on the second ring, and your business will rise above the others. Promise same-day delivery and meet the promise consistently, and you’ll create a league of your own. Come in under budget. Anticipate customer needs. Respond to nonverbal customer concerns.
Write prompt, personal thank-you notes. Follow up on suggestions. Become the most reliable business your customer deals with then beat your own standard of excellence and you’ll set your customer’s expectations higher than competitors can reach.
5. Say what you mean.
Believe in your product. Believe in your price, your quality, your service, and your value. Know everything there is to know about your product. Know why your product and your customer are a perfect fit. Know why your solution is better than any other option on the market. Know why people should place faith in your offering. Then reduce what you know and what you believe to a few major points and powerful benefits that will make your prospect a believer, too.
6. Make new customers but cherish the old.
Develop new customers, of course, but develop profitability by concentrating efforts on your established customers. It costs five times more to get a new customer than it does to keep a current one, and a totally satisfied customer is six times more apt to become a repeat buyer. Those facts make existing customers your most lucrative marketing goldmine.
7. Like your customers.
Everyday shopping experiences validate the fact that people buy from people they like, and from people who seem to genuinely like them in return.
Treat every customer as an individual. Eliminate one-size-fits-all sales pitches. Listen to your customer’s needs and tailor your offerings in response. Make eye contact. Build rapport. Send personally worded follow-up messages. Deliver value and continually enhance the customized service you train your customer to expect.
8. Increase value before lowering prices.
When customers see a price tag, they start a mental balancing act. In a split second they perform some pretty elaborate mental calculations to determine whether the product under consideration is worth the price being asked. They weigh the price against their assessment of the quality, features, convenience, reliability, trustworthiness, guarantee of excellence, and ongoing service they believe they can count on as part of the deal.
Price becomes a bone of contention when the customer feels it exceeds the value of the product under consideration. In that case, a marketer has two options: Ask for less money, or offer more value. Because prices can only go so low, and value can increase without limit, the best marketers know that enhancing value is the best first plan of attack.
9. Break down barriers.
Eliminate unnecessary expenses, unnecessary waits, unnecessary frustration, and unnecessary inconvenience. Eliminate management layers that contribute costs without value. Eliminate service snags that cost time and try patience. Eliminate the reasons behind recurring problems. Eliminate inconveniences that stand between you and your customer. If your phone system is annoying, replace it. If your Web site is slow or crashes frequently, rebuild it. If getting to your business is inconvenient, take away the obstacles or find a way to bring your business to your customer via mail, e-mail, ecommerce, or personal delivery. Eliminate anything that erodes the value for which your customer is willing to pay a premium.
10. Get continuously better at what you do best.
People demand fair price, product quality, and prompt service. They consider a company a contender only if it offers all three, and they make a company their first choice only if it excels at the attribute they value most highly. But here’s the kicker: Customers expect a company to get continuously better at what they count on it to do best. This makes lowest price a pretty hard position to protect.