The importance of long-term marketing

Alice

Businesses have a varied view of what marketing is for, and how it can be used, and it invariably depends on their financial position, the product or service they are promoting, the mindset of the management, the resources available to them, both personnel and technical, and the general attitude towards marketing and selling tactics.

But it has been noted by researchers that small businesses and sole-trading entrepreneurs are stealing a march over the larger organisations. This is because they are far more flexible in their approach towards marketing practices and how it can affect their businesses.

The other thing to note is that these smaller outfits are far more likely to accept the fact that marketing can and will take a long timespan before any results start to materialise. Impatience and impetuousness may be prevalent in both kinds of businesses, but the larger corporates may have demanding bosses, crippling financial forecasts, unreasonable objectives and impractical processes that overshadow any marketing strategies, however carefully they have been put in place to create optimum results.

It is these smaller businesses that are able to see or realise that marketing is a long-term objective that are able to benefit the most from it. This all depends if they are willing to be consistent with providing content for blogs and newsletters, contributing sociably on social networks, spreading their expertise through social media and offline networking and speaking engagements, maintaining a high visibility on the web through blogs, articles, RSS feeds and constantly responding to what their past, present and prospect clients and contacts are doing.

If your company expects immediate returns, do selling, not marketing. Instant ROI may be obtained through various pushy methods, but can it really be compared to that gained through long-term marketing, principally obtained through relationship building, research into customer understanding and responses, providing what is requested or desired, and filling the niches opened up by the misdemeanours of the larger organisations.

Long term marketing results in long term relationships and proven sustainability from your customers. Even so, once acquired, there is no time to sit on your laurels – the pace must be kept up to maintain this much sort-after and coveted friendship, by providing more benefits to make their lives better, and more relationship-building tactics to keep them from converting to the competition.

Therefore you can see how this cannot be achieved through short-term methods without your prospects turning up their noses because they don’t know anything about the company or what it is providing, or losing them immediately afterwards because they haven’t acquired enough knowledge about how your business works for you to gain their trust and appreciation. If you haven’t bothered to take the time to woo your customers to fall in love with you, how can you expect the relationship to last?

Advertisements

The importance of a personal email list

Alice

None of us like receiving spam. So considering we all hate spam so much, why do businesses still pursue buying lists of contacts to sell their wares? Why is it that they cannot wait to build up a personal communications list – is it because it takes too long, it is too much hard work and is therefore inconvenient?

But this is a world that is becoming increasingly more savvy to email marketing practices, particularly those on the receiving end. It’s not worth bombarding people who don’t want to receive your stuff, especially since, of course, there are mechanisms in place that weed out unwanted material and dump it in a spam folder.

Therefore you need to do it properly right from the beginning, and set up an opt-in email capturing service on your website. How fast you progress in building your list will depend on how much you work at it, how much you are prepared to provide good quality information that readers are willing to receive, absorb, retain and act upon.

The result is the list that you have accumulated is yours only, and nobody else’s. It will comprise of members who have signed up voluntarily, who want to read your newsletters, who value the information you give them, who look forward to next month’s issue, who will comment and leave feedback so you can improve what you provide, both in your business as well as your newsletters.

And why are you communicating with them? To win your readers’ trust, opinion, understanding and appreciation. You extend your expertise and increase your reputation, convince them of your qualities and give them what they desire. After you have won them round to your way of thinking, they are then more likely to buy your products or sign up to your services. Marketing yourself and what your business provides is all about building upon a relationship with your customers, whether they are past, present and prospective, to facilitate business or develop advocates to influence others – and so the list can continue to grow.

And growing your list is important, especially organically. Don’t feel dispelled to increase it with purchased lists, otherwise you’ll be taking several steps backwards. All that hard work to win the trust and build relationships will have been thrown down the drain. This is a case of less is more; what value is there in communicating to a large amount of people who aren’t interested, who only press the delete or spam button, who don’t know you from Adam, and who certainly don’t care a jot? Why should you pander to them, when you could be writing to a list of people who want to know more about you and what you do, because you’ve managed to convince them you are worth while?

One piece of marketing advice given out states it’s easier to sell to existing customers than to find new ones. Think about it…

Popularity, sociability and desire

Alice

The Royal Wedding has been a really ‘big’ thing during the past month, not just here in jolly old Blighty, but absolutely massive in the States. They haven’t got a Royal Family, so anything that sounds like a fairy tale appeals to those sovereign starved souls on the other side of the pond, and it reached incredible proportions as it was passed about on the web, far more than we in England have been aware of.

The Americans ‘play’ with social networking far more than we do. I don’t know whether it’s because of their mind-set, or even just the weather, but being sociable appeals to them on many levels, and their lack of inhibitions results in much more interaction online than us Brits. Evidence is shown in the amount of comments an ordinary blog post receives, and other social media platforms fair the same way.

It all stems down to popularity, which comes from being sociable, originating in providing what people want. Certainly Kate and Wills have done that. If you’re in business, you need to find out what your customers want, and then provide it for them. You can do this by being sociable, asking the right questions, responding to the answers, using a friendly mode of communication to find out a little more…

Once you’ve established your customers’ desires, which isn’t necessarily their need, or even what you think their need is, and you’ve fathomed out how you’re going to satisfy what they want, you still continue to socialise and communicate with them to win their trust in you.

Being sociable isn’t about telling them what you have, how wonderful your business or the product you’ve created for them is, boring them endlessly by spouting out facts about which features do this and that, it’s about providing information that is beneficial to your customers.

If you provide help and advice that makes their lives better, they are going to be thankful. Being sociable like this will make you popular, as you continue to communicate top tips that set you up as an expert in your field, and this relentless goodwill will accelerate your popularity so that when eventually a customer desires what you provide, they will immediately think of you.

Sociability leads to popularity, which results in recognition, then trust, and ultimately business. And all because you bothered to find out about your customers’ desires by being sociable.

How to build your brand through social media

Alice

First, let’s get outside the concept that a brand is your logo, and establish that it’s also your customer service and your attitude to those who buy or do business with you.

And when you’re dealing with social media, it’s the ‘attitude’ part that becomes important. When analysing this medium, half of its name needs to be properly considered: ‘social’. This concept should not be ignored or forgotten.

So to use social media for brand awareness, you need to be sure what aspect of your brand is most effective in attracting your customers. Do some marketing research to find out what makes it attractive, and how it relates to their problems, needs and lifestyles.

Then you need to start communicating with people, and that’s were social media comes in. Even before you start broadcasting about your brand, amass a following. Do this by being friendly, interested, chatty, funny, educational, informative, helpful, showing empathy – whatever is needed to draw attention to yourself.

Social media works by being interested in what others are doing. In other words, by being sociable. Remember you need to work at it – friendships are not one-minute wonders, they take time, and gradually your followers will get to know you, like you and eventually trust you, and when they feel they can ask you anything or tell you their latest story, then that’s half the battle won.

Then you start broadcasting about your brand, and answer anybody who responds to it. This is not an exercise in selling – far from it!  Social media does not tolerate selling tactics. This is when you start to share stuff that is interesting, helpful, useful and beneficial to your friends. Notice I said friends, not customers – if your friends like what you are offering them, then eventually they will become customers, or refer you to others who are more likely to become customers.

Because you’ve gained the trust from your followers, they are then more likely to notice you, your business and your brand. You haven’t forced anything at them, you’ve allowed them to find out about you at their own pace, even if what you are offering them isn’t suitable for them. That doesn’t matter, they can easily become advocates on your behalf, and don’t forget a ‘warm’ referral is much more effective than a ‘cold’ call.

By becoming known as a helpful resource within your brand or business, all accomplished by being purely ‘sociable’, you are far more likely to be remembered, recommended and referred to, and who knows who might pick up on various aspects of your ‘sociability’, if you’re recognised as an expert in your field, it can only provide chances to expose your brand even further…

How to make a brand powerful

Alice

I noticed a clever piece of branding yesterday on Twitter. It was incredibly subtle (the best marketing always is) and this company took advantage of Valentine’s Day to send a message of love (with a little present attached) to its clients without having to say who it was from. In this case the recipient would have immediately known who sent it because of the brand. There was no logo or name to latch onto, just the design of the card in that distinctive style that could be nobody else.

Now anybody who truly knows what a brand is will know that the design is not the be-all-and-end-all, it is also the ‘baggage’ that comes with it. Certainly this particular exercise would have backfired if this brand hadn’t worked on its reputation. It is also through hard-earned relationship-building with its clients that enabled this company to make a difference, as well as a consistent message of quality, added value, desirability, trust, knowledge and experience that is necessary to build a powerful brand.

A brand should reflect the culture of a business. Customer perception is formed after developing a relationship with the company, through purchasing their product or using their service, being a supplier, attending a workshop, offline networking, hearing recommendations and WOM, reading their blog or newsletter, and communicating with them through other media, such as social networking. There the customer will learn more about the company and the people who work in it, their values, aspirations and how they connect within the business world and their industry. The more sociable and approachable the company is, the more likely the brand will develop into an ever-lasting concept that ‘sticks’ in their minds.

And it is the ‘after-care’ that is so important to enhance the perpetuity of a powerful brand. The client should leave with a glowing feeling of achievement, excellent customer service, satisfied requirements, a sense of good value, and an affinity and liking for the company and what it provides and stands for. This is also an area where the company needs to work just as hard as gaining the customer, as advocacy is a powerful and strong marketing method that should be cultivated and appreciated with an appropriate sense of attainment.

Which is more important, Sales or Marketing?

Chantal

Which is more important, Sales or Marketing? Can you effectively grow your business using one and not the other? If you’re on a tight budget, do you put your resources into just one activity? And if so, which one?

Marketing is more important because …

… without Marketing you can’t generate leads and enquiries into your business. If you don’t generate new leads, you can’t sell to them. Marketing is about telling the world what you can do to help solve other people’s problems. It’s about finding out what issues other people and businesses are struggling with and what they want to achieve. Then it’s about you creating services and products that solve those challenges, which people are prepared to invest in. Selling without Marketing is like phoning someone who lives in a first floor flat and trying to sell them a conservatory!

Marketing is about creating a reputation for your business and getting people to talk about you. Without Marketing, how will anyone know that you exist?

Sales is more important because …

… you can generate all the leads you want, but if you can’t sell and close the deal, how will those prospects become clients? Sales is about helping prospective customers identify a gap in what they have – their turnover or number of clients, for instance. It’s about helping them to see the opportunity to fill that gap and then about you creating a solution that you can provide to fill that gap. If they can’t recognize the opportunity to change, they will never buy what you’re offering. Sales is about presenting the best solution that meets the needs of your prospective client – both their business and their personal needs. It’s about showing why your solution is perfectly aligned to them and why it’s the best solution.

Sales is about gaining the trust of a prospect – without that trust they will never sign the deal.

Sales and Marketing working together

As a Marketing Consultant, I might be tempted to say that Marketing is definitely more important than Sales. However, I’ve helped clients create great marketing materials, raise their business profile and generate lots of leads, only to see all the hard work come to nothing because they’re not comfortable closing the sale.

On the other hand, I can see how important Sales is, because I’ve received many phone calls from complete strangers wanting to sell me something, who make no attempt to help me realize I have a need for what they can sell. They don’t get very far!

I think the real answer is that Marketing and Sales have to work hand in hand. One without the other will cost a lot of money and produce fewer returns. To really maximise your efforts and investment, you need to make sure your Marketing and Sales activity (and people, if you work in a company large enough to have different departments) are working together. Companies who get their Marketing and Sales Strategy to work in unison can create really powerful results.

What do you think? Have you grown your business through Sales alone? Or do you think you can create a successful business just with Marketing? Is one more important than the other, or should they work together in equal measures?