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Marketing isn’t easy for a business to manage. Unless you have people who have been trained in the profession of marketing, how do you know the marketing you are planning to do is going to be worthwhile. It’s all too easy to get caught up in the excitement of trying something new, to end up costing you more in time and money than what you make from the promotion. So we are going to give you the 10 questions you should be asking yourself when you are deciding on your marketing to ensure you focus on what will be the most effective.
I know it sounds silly asking this question but all too often people just try marketing ideas without a goal in mind. This just ends up wasting resources on ideas that were never suitable in the first place. Broadly speaking most marketing falls into the following categories:
By understanding the goal of the marketing, you can quickly look at each method to see if it is suitable. How to weigh up the various marketing options against the above categories is a subject of an article in it’s own right so we won’t cover it here. For now we suggest simply asking the question will be enough to help you avoid the more obvious wrong choices for your marketing.
This is a statement I’ve made many times in the blog over the years, ‘Does it solve the customers problems.’ People only act when they have a problem they need solving, ‘I do not want to be hungry so I will go to the market to buy food.’ ‘I want to be entertained but not have to leave the house so I will buy a TV.’ and so on. They will only think about a business if they need a problem solved. The purpose of your marketing is to make them associate your business with not just that need but being ‘the’ provider of the solution to it. Asking yourself what sort of needs/problems would bring customers to your business will go a long way to focusing on what you should be promoting and how you should promote it.
You have competition, and if you didn’t you wouldn’t need marketing. No matter what business you are in or products you sell, there will be competition that offers identical or near identical products and services. What you need to do is offer something that is unique and compelling. Now while you might think that’s difficult, especially if you are in a service or professional business, there are still ways of standing out. Be the law firm that specialises in family law, the beauty salon that offers only handmade organic cosmetics, the builders that are the expert in home renovation, and so on. Every business needs to have their unique factor that makes them different to the competition and that should be in every bit of marketing they do. If they don’t then they will just be another lawyer, beautician, tradie and why should a customer go to them over anyone else.
I like to call this knee-jerk marketing. Supermarket X offers a deal, so the other supermarket chains have to offer the same deal or do better. While you could try keeping up with everyone else, it’s a losing proposition. More often than not, other businesses have had deals from their suppliers, or are willing to make losses on a product to drive sales and hope to make it up in sales of associated products. Another factor to remember is that the business that leads the offer will have the time advantage over their competitors trying to catch up and will be able to make the majority of the potential sales in the market, leaving the others to fight over the few remaining customers. Following others will make you look less professional as you’re just ‘me tooing.’ Better to focus on doing marketing on your own time frame so that you can present the best image and maximise the best return on the investment.
We have frequently said on this blog ‘competing on price is a losing game.’ No matter who you are or what market you are in, someone will always be willing to undercut you on a price. What is far more sensible is to focus on offering the best value to potential customers. The people who are focused on price are never going to be loyal customers as they will always look for the cheapest option. What grows a business is repeat customers (It costs 10 times as much to get a new customer over retaining an existing one.) So focus your marketing on the value you offer to the customer. It doesn’t have to be a dollar value either, the value can be in the experience, service, range of options, flexibility, or even the ‘no dollar value’ extras such as blogs and downloadable guides.
(As a small side note, this doesn’t mean you can’t match your competitors in some cases. But instead of just copying their offer, offer something that has a better value proposition to the customer so you aren’t cutting your margins. This is where having ready to run marketing on standby to be used to match a competitor is a smart investment of your time and resources.)
A gateway offer is a promotion that encourages people to try a business / product / service because the price is very good. A gateway deal can also be a loss leader promotion, where a business sells something at or below cost with the understanding that they will recoup the loss by the sales of related products. A gateway example is offering a sample of a product free or at a low price to encourage people to try. Another version is providing it as a free add on to an existing related product that sells well to introduce your customers to this great new product. A loss leader example is a bar having a ‘$10 wings night’ where they sell the wings at cost knowing that people will buy the more profitable drinks along with it; and generally spend just as much as normal because they are ‘saving money’ on the food.
One of the basic rules of marketing is that it’s only effective when it’s new. A promotion is the most profitable in the first few weeks, or even days, where most of the potential customers have seen the offer and decided if they will act on it. After that it’s a process of diminishing returns as those who will have responded already have and it’s only the few who missed the start who are now acting. That’s why you see the takeaway chains have limited time offers of some non-standard version of their products. They know the ‘newness’ will drive the sales for those few weeks then after everyone has tried it, only the few that liked it will continue buying it. If they discontinue it for a year or more then bring it back people will repeat the process. Better to keep a promotion short to maximise the return over expenses for the short period, than to drag it out to eat up that little extra profit could make with the much higher total expenses.
Nothing becomes more boring to a potential customer than seeing the same offer time and time again. There is a concept of ‘marketing fatigue,’ repeating the same promotion or offer over a period of time results in a reducing response. You can only ever sell so much in a market in a given period of time, after that it’s already saturated. If you look at supermarkets as an example of businesses that constantly advertising but work hard to avoid repetition. While they always have specials, every department item they promote is always different. For a focused business, such as hairdresser, the range of what can be offered is more limited, so they vary the types of offer instead. Bring a friend, two for one, free consultation, add an extra for half price, get a free upgrade if you pre pay, are all examples of different ways the hairdresser can mix up their offers to avoid marketing fatigue.
(Another side note: One thing to be careful about is not repeating the same offer too often or having it running too long. Under consumer laws if a product or service spends more time at a reduced price than its standard one, that reduced price is considered to be the standard price. More importantly it sets the customer’s expectation that the low price is the normal price, and what you normally charge is overpriced. Being overpriced is not a good look for any business.)
There is little point in doing a promotion if the time and effort you are spending on it matches or exceeds the expected extra revenue it is meant to generate. Ideally your offer has to be as ‘set and forget’ as possible. You still have to run your normal business while the offer is active, so any time spent away from that to do your marketing is an automatic revenue loss for you. The only exception is that when the cost is already spent but you’re not getting revenue from it. These blog articles are an example of that situation, I write them during our quiet times when we don’t have much work coming in. My time is already paid for so why not generate some marketing in the form of shareable content. So when deciding on marketing be honest in the costs to your business, not just in the dollar value but the billable hours too.
That’s 10 Questions you should be asking of your marketing. Is that all you should be considering when planning your next marketing push, no far from it, but it is a good starting point. To learn more about what you should consider look through the other articles we have here on the Copy Express Blog. Need even more advice, then why not book a meeting with us and we can help you figure out what your marketing should be focused on and how best to make the process as simple and easy to manage as it can be.