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Blocks to Effective Marketing
It’s More than Sales and Advertising
by: Julie Chance
Whether you’re a Fortune 500 company or a one person shop, to be
successful, you must have a marketing strategy and you must implement it
consistently. However, it doesn’t have to cost a fortune and you
don’t have to be a creative genius.
The key is developing a marketing strategy that
forms a solid foundation for your promotional efforts. Implementing
promotional activities such as advertising, direct mail or even
networking and one-to-one sales efforts without a marketing strategy is
like buying curtains for a house you are building before you have an
architectural plan. How would you even know how many curtains to buy or
what size they needed to be?
You can develop a strong marketing foundation by:
- Defining your product or service: How is
your product or service packaged? What is it that your customers are
really buying? You may be selling web-based software tools but your
clients are buying increased productivity, improved efficiency and
cost savings. And if you offer several products or services which
ones are the most viable to promote?
- Identifying your target market: Everyone
or anybody might be potential clients for your product. However, you
probably don’t have the time or money to market to Everyone or
Anybody. Who is your ideal customer? Who does it make sense for you
to spend your time and money promoting your service to? You might
define your ideal customer in terms of income, age, geographic area,
number of employees, revenues, industry, etc. For example a massage
therapist might decide her target market is women with household
incomes of $75,000 or more who live in the Uptown area.
- Knowing your competition: Even if there
are no direct competitors for your service, there is always
competition of some kind. Something besides your product is
competing for the potential client’s money. What is it and why
should the potential customer spend his or her money with you
instead? What is your competitive advantage or unique selling
- Finding a niche: Is there a market
segment that is not currently being served or is not being served
well? A niche strategy allows you to focus your marketing efforts
and dominate your market, even if you are a small player.
- Developing awareness: It is difficult
for a potential client to buy your product or service if they
don’t even know or remember it exists. Generally a potential
customer will have to be exposed to your product 5 to 15 times
before they are likely to think of your product when the need
arises. Needs often arise unexpectedly. You must stay in front of
your clients consistently if they are going to remember your product
when that need arises.
- Building credibility: Not only must
clients be aware of your product or service, they also must have a
positive disposition toward it. Potential customers must trust that
you will deliver what you say you will. Often, especially with large
or risky purchases, you need to give them the opportunity to
“sample”, “touch”, or “taste” the product in some way.
For example, a trainer might gain credibility and allow potential
customers to “sample” their product by offering free, hour long
presentations on topics related to their area of specialty.
- Being Consistent: Be consistent in every
way and in everything you do. This includes the look of your
collateral materials, the message you deliver, the level of customer
service, and the quality of the product. Being consistent is more
important than having the “best” product. This in part is the
reason for the success of chains. Whether you’re going to Little
Rock, Arkansas or New York City, if you reserve a room at a
Courtyard Marriott you know exactly what you’re going to get.
- Maintaining Focus: Focus allows for more
effective utilization of the scarce resources of time and money.
Your promotional budget will bring you greater return if you use it
to promote a single product to a narrowly defined target market and
if you promote that same product to that same target market over a
continuous period of time.
Before you ever consider developing a brochure,
running an ad, implementing a direct mail campaign, joining an
organization for networking or even conducting a sales call, begin by
mapping a path to success through the development of a consistent,
focused marketing strategy.
"You have permission to
reprint this article in your e-zine, at your website or in your
newsletter. The only requirement is including the following
About The Author
Julie Chance is President of
Strategies-by-Design, Strategies-by-DESIGN, a Dallas based firm that
helps small and medium sized businesses Map A Path to Success by
providing consulting, training and skills based coaching in the area of
marketing strategy development. For more information go to www.strategies-by-design.com
or call 972-701-9311.