How To Make Marketing
Represent Your Business The Right Way
by Tom Egelhoff
If I were to mention the name of a business located in your home town, a vision and a perception of that business should immediately jump into your mind. Why do you have this perception of that business? That perception is created by the marketing message that you received from that business. They went to, or should have, great lengths to make sure that the message you received was not only a positive on but one that would appeal to your buying instincts. See: "Understanding Why Customers Buy."
Many business owners are amazed when I tell them that 80% of their time will be spent on marketing. By the time you get to the end of this article I think you'll agree that I'm being very conservative in my estimate.
Customers, Marketing And You
The primary reason for the marketing process is to link customers to your business instead of your competition. That means each of the ways a customer can come in contact with your business. It might be the phone, employee dress, attitude of salespeople, delivery drivers, products and yes...even the color of your building. Any and all of these items make a positive or negative impression on your customer and they let you know by buying or not buying your goods or services.
You can spend hundreds, even thousands of dollars, to present a positive business image of your company. But, when the customer responds to that advertising, are they presented with a contradictory message by your in-house staff, your store appearance, your delivery people or your services?
Marketing starts when the advertising hits the streets. Every facet of your business must re-enforce that advertising message or it's just wasted money. Ever hear the term "AS ADVERTISED?" It means that the message we sent is an accurate one. You will find the same message at my business that I promised in my advertising.
Every Business Is Different. Where Do I Start?
That's true. Each business has its own way of doing things and moving products and services. You may go to the customer, while in another business, the customer comes to you. Some products are picked up others are delivered. One business is credit another is cash. So, where do you start.
Start with the things your business does well right now. Determine what needs improving and create programs to do it. Here are a few suggestions of possible problem areas and how to improve them.
Ever had a call like this? "Thank you for calling the XYZ Company...Makers of Top Quality Widgets Since 1912.... Don speaking........How may I help you? This is usually all the phone training a person gets in most businesses. The greeting. They tell you how to answer the phone and then the training stops. From there on the employee is on their own. "Get any calls you can't handle just ask somebody."
Did you know that 83% of phone sales success is due to the tone of the persons voice? When someone calls your business they are only one person. They should not be lumped together with the hundreds of calls you field every day.
Each call that comes in should be handled as though it was the only call you will receive that day and if they don't come in and buy something the company will have to go out of business. So what if you've answered the same question over and over again? This customer is hearing your answer for the very first time and they don't need an attitude that you are fed up with answering repetitive questions.
In addition, make sure that the person who is answering the phones has the power to expedite the customers requests. They should know who to put the customer in touch with before they are entrusted with that job.
If you don't know the answer, or the person the customer needs to speak to is unavailable, then take a message and make sure that you return the call. The customer expects you to act as a responsible business person. Returning phone calls, even if you don't want to talk to the person, is common courtesy.
Employees -The Good., The Bad...The Ugly
Most business owners I know wish they could clone themselves. They know exactly how they want customers to be treated and most employees aren't going to have the same dedication that the owner has. Why not? Mostly because of the owner. Does that surprise you? It shouldn't. You get the employees you deserve.
If you are the type of owner who can only find fault with your employees, then be prepared to spend a ton on advertising because your employees are going to sent a lot of customers out the doors empty handed. Employees need a steady diet of praise and correction. There is no such thing as constructive criticism. If you use it, eliminate it from your vocabulary. It is an oxymoron, like jumbo shrimp. The meaning is contradictory and destructive. Constructive means "build up", Criticism means "tear down."
If you can explain to me how you can build someone up by tearing them down, I'd like to hear it. You won't find that phrase or philosophy in "How To Win Friends And Influence People." When I was younger, I worked for a man who told me that when dealing with employees you give "two warm fuzzies" for each "cold prickly." In other words find two things they are doing right before you confront them with the one thing they are doing bad.
Don't expect miracles from even the most experienced people without proper training. Well trained employees are loyal and feel empowered to handle tough situations. They will turn customers into loyal repeat customers. See: "How To Lead & Motivate: Yourself and Your Employees."
Your Image And What It Says
I used to work for a company called "Copy Documents." What is your first impression of what kind of business "Copy Documents"might be. No they are not a copy shop. No they do not reproduce documents. Copy Documents is a Xerox dealer. They sell copiers.
When I hit the streets for them the first thing I discovered is that the only people who knew that name were current customers and competitors. So the two questions I heard most often; "Are you a new company?" (company was 6 years old at the time) and "Where is your copy shop located?"
One of the most well know names on the internet has a name that has nothing to do with what they offer. Amazon.com, the online bookseller. That name had to be built from scratch by millions of dollars for advertising and marketing.
If you are a new company without a name consider spending less on marketing and adverting by using a name the customers might recognize that describes your business. If you are an established company without a recognizable name. Get your check book out. You're going to need it.
Location, Location, Location
For years economic pun dents stressed that the secret to a successful business was location. That of course has never been the case. Far more businesses fail because of poor management and cash flow problems than ever fail because of where they are located.
Here in Bozeman, Montana (my current hometown) is a business called Tom's Floor Store. (No Relation) Tom's Floor Store is located on one of the busiest streets in Bozeman but it's in the back of a furniture store. As a result they ran a great ad campaign about the location of the store. It became a big deal in town if you knew where this store was.
The old adage, "Build a better mousetrap and the world will beat a path to your door." They will only beat a path to your door if they know where your door is.
Signage - Inside And Out
Business owners will agonize for days...weeks over the look of the sign outside the store but give almost no thought to the signage inside the store. Seventy per cent of all business decisions are made inside the store. Part of that decision making process is due to the information displayed inside the store.
Can You Send Me Some Information?
What do your marketing materials look like? Are they high quality, well designed and printed on good quality paper? Are they poorly designed and copied on cheap paper? This is one more item that the customer uses to decide if they want to do business with you. They are looking for constant reassurance that you are a quality company. Each piece of evidence they come across that says you aren't puts up a "red flag." Proceed with caution.
I'm always amazed that people recoil in horror at the sound of $50.00 for 500 business cards. That's .10¢ a card. Isn't the positive impression of your business worth a lousy .10¢????? You don't think anything of putting a .33¢ stamp on a letter........why is a business card such a big deal?? Have someone visit your competitor and pick up their business cards and brochures. How do you stack up with them?
Get the best possible business cards, letterhead and envelopes that you can afford.
The Last Word On Representative Marketing
These are just a few suggestions of some areas to take a close look at. There are certainly others that are particular to your business. Some things I didn't touch on that you should also explore are; inventory, parking, prices, service, quality, image and name recognition.
Almost everything you do all day long touches some area of marketing. That's why I explained at the beginning of the article that it's easy to spend at lease 80% of your time involved in some form of marketing.
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Based in Bozeman, MT, Tom Egelhoff is the author of How To Market, Advertise & Promote Your Business Or Service In A Small Town, and The Small Town Advertising Handbook: How To Say More And Spend Less. He is also a seminar and workshop presenter and trainer. He may be reached at 888-550-6100 or PO Box 271, Bozeman, MT 59771-0271
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