“If you don’t have customers coming through the door, you don’t have a business…”
Please note: I said, “strategy and systems”, rather than tactics, and there’s a simple reason for this. If you have a proven, well-thought-out strategy, supported by repeatable, automated systems, then you will never lack for customers no matter what tactics you do, or do not, implement. Some of the most effective marketing strategies and systems have been delivering results for over 100 years. On the other hand, some of the latest tactics: the social media platforms, posting gizmos, and other bright shiny objects, only offer a small return for a very brief period of time. So, to use an old phrase, I suggest that you don’t put the cart before the horse… or in this case, that you use tactics to implement your strategy, don’t let them drive it.
A Tale of Two Business Owners
“What can we do to attract more customers and increase sales?” Jerry asked his executive team at their monthly meeting. “I’ve just been looking at our figures for this quarter and if things don’t pick up we’ll be in real trouble.”
“Well, we can work on our delivery process and put some extra bonuses in for our clients,” said Ken, the Account Manager.
“I don’t think that’ll do it,” responded Sue, the CFO, “It’s not a question of keeping our current clients and giving them more. In fact, we really should be thinking of how to charge more when we offer them extra stuff. Our real problem is getting more clients who want to work with us. Let’s face it, most of our enquiries are from totally unsuitable people who can’t afford our services and don’t appreciate them. The new marketing manager has some ideas about that, that I’d like to share with you. He says that if we decide who we’re looking for, set out the right bait and create a system that gets them to come to us we could turn things around in three months… but it will take an upfront investment in systems and collateral that we can deploy consistently.”
“Yeah, well… I don’t know if we want to invest that sort of money until our balance looks better,” said Jerry…
“Wow, did you see that we had four new enquiries last week… and Jenna closed them all right on the phone!” said Sam. “They had all read the free report on health scares and wanted to sign up for our ‘Twelve Months to Great Health and Peace of Mind Program’. She didn’t even have to put them onto Tom (the sales rep) because they were ready to pay then and there. Two of them have opted into the premium program as well just from the postcard offer.”
“That’s fantastic,” replied Abby, “the report has been downloaded 40 more times, too, and we’re getting good click throughs on our follow-up emails. I kind of like this system approach. It feels like we do stuff once, and it keeps right on working while we move onto the next piece. It’s certainly efficient, although only time will tell if it’s productive long-term.”
In brief, your marketing strategy needs to take into account four primary characteristics of your target market: –
- People who need the solution you offer;
- People who have the power to make decisions;
- People who can afford your product or service solution;
- People who can be effectively reached with your marketing budget.
It makes no sense to spend your marketing budget on people who are not aware of their need for your solution, cannot afford to buy it, and do not have the authority to purchase. In addition, if you cannot find a way to reach your target market affordably, then you need to reconsider your market.
I’m a big fan of automation. It means that you create something once, put it out in the world, then let it do it’s work, refining it as needed.
However, you cannot automate random, disconnected processes affordably and effectively. You can only automate systematic processes. In fact, it’s even better if you can link your automated systems and reap the benefits of synergy. The businesses I have worked with who are most successful in increasing their ROI have the following systems in place:-
- Attraction Systems: A series of ‘bait pieces’ that address a variety of specific problems or issues to attract and segment their ideal clients. These could be free reports (yes, they still work extremely well), low-cost offers, introductory consultations, tips and tricks, training courses, seasonal promotions… the only constraint is your creation budget and your imagination.
- Follow-up Systems: These should be directed at particular segments of your audience are designed to build trust and engage your readers’ interest, but they are also designed to sell. Absolutely, you should provide real value in return for your prospect’s time, but your business depends on them buying, and if you deliver a valuable product or service then you should be happy to promote it.
- Referral Systems: Many businesses say they operate on referrals, few actually track how effective they are at doing this. Getting your clients to talk about you (positively) spontaneously is tough, but setting up a referral system that makes it easy for them to do so can totally transform your real referral rate (as opposed to the one you wish you had).
- Feedback System: This is great for uncovering holes in your delivery and communications processes as well as for collecting testimonials. If you don’t have a system for collecting feedback promptly you’ll miss out on the opportunity to hear about any complaints or praise from the majority of your clients.
So, is your marketing strategy clearly defined and specific? Do you have these five systems in place? If you do, I bet that your business is growing and thriving and your balance sheet is looking pretty good. If not,… well the best product or service in the world doesn’t help anyone if it just sits quietly on the shelf unused.