Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Repeat Exposure

Here are some of the advertising and marketing options I have been exposed to in the last 24 hours:

  1. Radio Stations (both AM & FM).
  2. Television Stations (both broadcast & cable)
  3. Billboards
  4. Newspaper
  5. Direct Mail
  6. Website advertising
  7. Email advertising
  8. Business Cards
  9. Building Signage
  10. Grocery store coupon on back of receipt
  11. Restaurant Placemat
  12. Van and Truck Signage
  13. Bathroom signage
  14. Phone Book
  15. Local Magazine
What makes some of these better than others? Repeat Exposure is one big difference.

How many people are going to see your Yellow Page Ad vs. see your TV commercial vs. see your business card?

Here's a real life example:

$5000 a month will buy a 3/4 page Yellow Page ad that is seen only when someone is looking for it. $5000 a month will buy you a weekly 1/4 page newspaper ad. $5000 a month can buy you 200 radio ads reaching over 100,000 people a week in my town.

You see it's not just the cost of advertising, its also what you get for your money. Sure it costs more to run an ad campaign on mass media, but add up all the little things that don't get repeated exposure and you can spend just as much money with much smaller return on your investment.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Getting Discovered

50 years ago, before I was born, there were fewer advertising options and I suppose that made it easier for new businesses to find customers, or for customers to find them.

30 years ago when I started full time in the radio business, the advertising options were growing as consumers had many more media choices.

Fast forward another 20 years. The birth of Google. The internet was still in its infancy and home computers used AOL to connect to the internet over a dial up connection that tied up your home phone line.

Now let's look at 2008 with an eye on 2009 and beyond. The challenge for businesses remain the same. Getting Discovered by your customers. But the options continue to expand. Or have they?

Earlier this month I met with two separate entrepreneurs that are involved in online start ups.

I asked each of them, how are people going to find you, how are you going to get discovered?

They said, I have a website. So what? According to the research I did recently, there are estimates ranging between 87 million and 4 billion web pages on line as you read this. So how are you going to help people discover you web page?

Currently the best answers are:

  • Use Mass Media to promote your website.
  • Use Mass Media's websites to draw people to your site.
  • Define your Niche and focus on Niche Media and Niche websites to draw people to your site.
One at a time.
Use Mass Media to promote your website. Television, Radio, Newspapers, Billboards, Direct Mail and even Phone Book advertising are still getting lots of eyes, ears, and bodies paying attention to them. These are also Local, so if you have a Local business, you can target the local community. Mass Media is also the most expensive, if you do it right. The rewards and R.O.I. are also the best if you do it right.

Use Mass Media's websites to draw people to your website. Newspapers and Broadcast Media in your town should have websites. There are ways to discover how much traffic local websites are getting by going to Compete.com or Google Website Trends.

Use Niche Media and Niche Websites. This is good if you are able to do business worldwide. It can also help you to narrow your focus within your local community.

The Bottom Line is you need to Get Discovered. You need to get the word out. Too many times, I have seen businesses set themselves up for business, but they do not have an effective advertising plan to bring in customers. It's like planning a party and not sending out invitations.
No amount of planning will bring people to the party unless you invite them.

The other lesson about getting discovered is that all media is not created equal. You need to match your business with the right media to get the word out. Click here for more on matching.

And click here for a few more tips on how to promote your local website.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

The Choice is Yours

Please don't be fooled into thinking that you can abandon the marketing strategies that have made you successful when the economy was booming and you built a loyal customer base.

Unless you really don't have a loyal customer base.

Here's the choice you need to make:

1) Do I start discounting and cutting my profits to try and win customers and clients by offering the lowest prices?


2) Do I make sure that the customer experience is the best it can be, and improve that service, and build more profit into my sales model?

If you chose option 1, you will lose. There is always someone that can undercut your prices. (Think Walmart).

If you chose option 2, then start looking for ways to improve what you have to offer. You may even be able to charge a premium for it. How would you like to add a service that costs you $10 but you can charge $15 or $20?

I see that smile on your face.

But here's the tricky part.

You don't get to decide which extras to add. That's backwards. Instead, find out what your clients and customers would find valuable, and then find a way to do what they want, not what you want.

See it's not that tricky after all.

The choice is now yours.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

It's Not a Crisis

On my way to the Firefly Coffee shop this morning, I heard a news story, that said during the month of September 2008, Senator Barrack Obama raised a record amount of money in contributions for his Presidential campaign. This money came from individuals, out of their own pockets, because they wanted to give to something they believed in.

Over the past 2 months, (mid-August to mid-October), we have had nothing but bad news about our economy. Chicken Little (and Chicken Big), have been squawking that the sky is falling, and that we are all victims of Wall Street greed, Capitalism, and a lack of government control and oversight.

To which I encourage you to remember the so called serenity prayer, "God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference."

No matter what faith you have, there is a universal wisdom in this saying.

Most of the major companies are making adjustments in their operations, (without government handouts, bailouts, or any extra emergency assistance). Some will adapt and survive and emerge as leaders in their field when times improve. A larger percentage may grind to a halt and collapse, leading to more gloom and doom news.

But the people within those companies will continue to live and find new ways to earn a living. Some will take the common path of flipping burgers, or become a greeter at Walmart. But then there are the others that will take the path of independence, start their own companies, based on their experiences and talents and the needs and desires of those around us.

I have seen this repeatedly, Man gets laid off from big employer, starts his own family company, it grows and he hires additional help, it grows more and more and one day he tells me that he is happier and healthier, (mentally, physically, and spiritually), and he has created a source of income for himself, his family, his employees and the cycle continues.

I say this is not a crisis simply because the opportunities are there. I understand that there are many, many individuals that are facing crisis situations brought on by the current economic conditions. It is not my intent to dismiss those individuals, but to help you to understand that there is a rainbow in the midst of this thunderstorm, and believe in yourself, your people and refer again to the wisdom of the serenity prayer.

More on how to market and advertise in the days and weeks ahead.

P.S. After I wrote this, I found this from Seth Godin (click here).

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Cut The Hype

Want to know if your marketing and advertising are going to work?

Try this simple test.

It's a variation of the Golden Rule.

Treat others the way you would want to be treated.

I don't care if you are running a 99 cent store, or a store where the smallest trinket starts at $1,000.

We are so tired of broken promises, screaming, "BUY IT NOW" commercials, and all the hype that we are being fed by so many, especially right now in this political season.

Ask yourself, would I sell this to my best friend at this price? If not, then change.

Are there any business practices they you are involved in that are "questionable"? Stop it now.

Are you always truthful? Do you fix things that go wrong? Do you take responsibility?

These are the the questions you need to ask and if necessary, make some changes.

Cut the Hype and Be Real. That's the best marketing policy of all.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

The Value of a Plan

Wing it.

Go with the Flow.

Fail to plan and plan to fail.

Three view points and attitudes. You probably can guess which one I prefer.

1) Wing it. This means, let's see what happens, improvise, maybe I'll make it, maybe not. This is a plan built on luck. Actually it is a non-plan. Not a good idea for any area of your life, personal, financial, business. There are no standards, nothing to measure, anything goes. If this is the way you are handling your advertising, or any of your marketing, please get serious and stop it. This is the way a rebellious teenager operates.

2) Go with the Flow. This is middle ground. Most mediocre organizations are doing this. You have some traditions, you have some plans, but all are subject to change, without any real direction. Businesses that do this, spend money on advertising when things are good, then stop when things are not so good. Unfortunately, that is the opposite of what should be done. When you stop advertising, you stop inviting people to do business with you and guess what happens next? Yeah, business slows even more and you are in a downward spiral. Go flush a toilet and watch the water flow around the bowl and see where it goes? That's what your business is doing when you simply Go with the Flow.

3) Fail to Plan and Plan to Fail. Let's examine what it means to plan:

  • Plan for Good Times.
  • Plan for Bad Times.
  • Plan for what cuts you can make without hurting your business.
  • Plan for what to do when you have a surplus, so you can have reserves for those leaner days.
  • Plan for Growth.
  • Plan for selling your business, or passing it on to the next generation.
  • Plan for the next 20 years.
  • Plan for the next 10 years.
  • Plan for the next 5 years.
  • Plan out each of the next 5 years.
  • Plan for the next quarter.
  • Plan for the next month.
  • Plan for the next week.
  • Plan for tomorrow.
  • Plan for the next hour.
And have a back up plan for each of these. Review and adjust. Can you see how this is different from Winging it, and Going with the Flow?

A plan gives you a foundation, a reference point, a standard by which you can measure everything you do.

Sound overwhelming? I understand. Just take it a step at a time and keep at it. You can do it.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

E-mail Marketing No-No's

This morning I turned on my computer, opened up email, looking for urgent or important messages that needed my attention then after started looking at the rest of the email that arrived in the past 9 hours.

One email got my attention because of the name of the sender, Steve Martin. Now I do not know Steve Martin, except for as a fan on his acting, writing, and comedy. This however was from a different Steve Martin.

Here's the email:

Hello S, I'm Steve W. Martin and I've participated in more than one hundred sales kickoffs as a keynote speaker, salesperson interview panel moderator, and win-loss analysis study presenter. Here’s a few of the companies I have worked with:

Applied Materials
Automotive Resources Intl
BEA Systems
Best Manufacturing
Eaton Vance Investments
Edgar Online
Global Healthcare Exchange
Heartland Payment Systems
LSI Logic
Nuance Communications
Riverbed Technology
Sungard Financial Systems
Tech Data
Triquint Semiconductors
USI Insurance
UTI Worldwide Logistics

My sales kickoff keynotes provide real-world sales strategies, proven tactics, and helpful advice with a healthy dose of humor. On my web site you will find keynote topics, video clips, and pricing information at www.hiswebsite.com. Here are some customer comments:

"For a keynote speaker to impress a sales force composed of experienced professionals he must have credibility, in-depth knowledge of selling in the real-world, and an entertaining presentation style. Steve Martin hits the mark on all three of these requirements."
Steven Beekhuizen, Senior Vice President Commercial Sales, Dawn Food Products

“Steve’s participation at our sales conference was invaluable. He closed our meeting with an uplifting, motivational presentation. He interviewed our top salespeople in his Tales from the Field panel. And, he conducted several hands-on break-out sessions on advanced sales strategy, sales psychology, and customer communication.”Jim Brown, Vice President Strategic Sales, Wonderware Software

“Steve’s kickoff session provided the perfect mix of enterprise sales strategy, advanced sales psychology, and light-hearted humor. The Tales from the Field salesperson interview panel he conducted was a conference highlight.” Lisa Pope, Vice President Global Sales Strategy, QAD Software

"Steve Martin’s approach replaces the tired traditional sales methodologies that we have seen in one version or another in our career. He will motivate you with his provocative knowledge of the sales process. His style is personal, entertaining, and will dazzle your sales organization." Peter Riccio, Vice President Sales, SuccessFactors

Every sales kickoff attendee receives a copy of my critically acclaimed book Heavy Hitter Sales Wisdom: Proven Sales Warfare Strategies, Secrets of Persuasion, and Common-Sense Tips for Success. Thanks for reviewing this e-mail and I respect your online time. If you have received this e-mail in error, please accept my apologies and respond with "leave" in the subject line.

Steve W. Martin

Mr. Martin sent this to an old email address that I have not used in about 3 years. As a matter of fact, it was an email address that I was using to screen some of the junk that I wanted to filter.

But, he accomplished the first step, he got me to open his email. The rest is worthless. Actually the rest is worse than worthless, it creats a negative impression.

First of all, all he talks about is himself. A brag list of who he has worked with. As I scan the list, I am mentally saying, "who cares?" I almost delete, but then I decide to use this as an example of how not to handle your email marketing, or any of your advertising.

Mr. Martin has no idea who I am, what my role is in my company, or any of the organizations that I have a position of influence with.

This is one step above spam, because his email program personalized the email, "Hello S," although I never refer to myself by my first initial.

Is it better to send 1000 emails blindly like Mr. Martin did, or 100 personalized, relevant emails that might result in developing business relationships?

Go for Quality over Quantity.

For the past few months, I have been involved with email marketing for our local advertising federation and have been applying basic relationship marketing principles and it is working.

Your thoughts, comments, and questions are always welcome.