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5 marketing strategies to grow your business in 2016 and beyond

Dead!

That’s exactly what your business is if your marketing doesn’t reinvent itself in the new economy.

The old methods are no longer the best methods. The truth is your prospects are more informed and more skeptical of marketing messages than ever before.

To make matters worse, your customers are bombarded with marketing messages from the time they wake until their weary heads hit the pillow.

You need to offer your buyers and prospect content that appeals to them as consumers and helps them make educated buying decisions.

The good news is there are proven marketing strategies that cut through the marketing noise. These marketing strategies grow businesses and position you as the clear leader in your marketplace.

So without any further ado, here are five marketing strategies ANY business can use to grow in 2015 and beyond:

1. Target the right prospects: You wouldn’t try to catch a mouse with a steak would you?

Yet, time and time again, businesses continue to waste their hard earned marketing budgets on prospects that fall outside their target market. What’s worse is that these are often the same business owners who proclaim marketing doesn’t work.

Here’s an example: The other day, I received a postcard from a local business with a picture of a ‘57 Chevy with a headline that read:

“Remember The 50’s?”

Uh… no, I sure don’t. I was born in the 70’s.

The simple fact is, no matter how great your marketing tactics are, they’ll never overcome poor strategy. Know your audience. Find them and they’ll find you.

2. Be different: Regardless of what you sell, your product or service must have something that sets it apart from every other product and service in your marketplace.

Why should your prospect buy your products or services versus any other competitive product or services on the market?

One of the easiest ways to figure out what makes your products and services remarkable, is to use a legal pad and brainstorm every fact, feature, benefit, and promise your products and services claim to offer.

Then repeat this process for each of your competitors.

Once you’ve finished all the lists, prioritize each of them in order of importance from your prospects’ point of view and figure out what makes your business different. Identify what you do best as well as what could use some work. This will help you gain perspective.

3. Use a multi-step lead generation process: Qualified leads are the lifeblood of any business and multi-step lead generation allows you to identify these qualified prospects by separating them from less zealous seekers.

Here’s how it works:

Your prospect is asked to leave their contact information in exchange for some sort of educational information about your products and services, most likely an eBook, document, or other resource.

Now you have the contact information for a potential consumer who has demonstrated enough interest in your product or service that they’re willing to provide you with their information. They’re a qualified lead.

Multi-step lead generation can help t0 grow businesses in the following ways:

  • Creates a consistent and predictable system for generating new and pre-qualified leads.
  • Allows you to focus on qualified prospects while eliminating tire kickers and Looky-loos.
  • Establishes you as an expert in your marketplace.
  • Allows you to consistently and systematically follow up with your prospects with additional marketing messages.

4. Leverage your existing customers: One of the best ways to grow your business is to maximize your current customer value.

Three ways to grow your business by maximizing your current customer value are:

  • Sell more: If you run a marketing business, can you offer website design, content creation, SEO services or social media account management?
  • Referral programs: Getting random referrals are great but the real secret to growing your business is creating a predictable and systemized method for generating referrals on a consistent basis.
  • Reactivate: You probably have customers who have not bought from you in awhile, right? Why not make a special offer to these “lost customers” and bring them back into the fold?

5. Know your numbers: Before launching any marketing campaign you have to establish the following three metrics:

  • Goals: You need to determine how much revenue or how many leads you want to generate. Otherwise how will you know if your marketing campaign was successful? Make sure your goal is reasonable, achievable and measurable.
  • Tactics: Are the marketing tactics you plan on using capable of achieving your goals? For example, it’s probably not a good idea to use email marketing if you want to sell 1000 units and you only have 950 names on your internal email list. Otherwise, you’re setting yourself up to fail.
  • Tracking: How will you measure the effectiveness of your marketing campaign? You can’t track what you don’t measure. Will you send your prospects to a specific landing page on your website to download a free report? Will you ask them to call a special phone number or perhaps enter a special coupon code when ordering? Tracking how prospects enter and leave your site can help you razor-focus on those products which are the most likely to be in demand for your audience.

There you have it, five proven marketing strategies you can use to grow your business in 2016 and beyond.

The businesses owners that implement these proven marketing strategies will position themselves as true marketplace leaders.

 

Brand Building


A brand is simply an emotional attachment. It is the sum parts of all the things you do in your business to attract customers and build a long-term relationship with them. In the world of branding 1 + 1 = 3. What is meant by that is any one activity in isolation, whilst good and very much contributing to your overall brand, is much greater than the sum of its parts when combined with everything else you do.

For example, having a memorable logo is mandatory, but having a memorable logo that then translates across on to your website, stationery, brochure, signage and all your marketing touch points all of a sudden starts to have a much bigger impact.

Consistency and discipline are critical in branding. Look at what the big companies do … The Nikes, the Apples, the Gillettes of this world. They are brand building masters. No matter what part of their brand you are in – whether it be their packaging, stores, website, events – you have the same experience.

Here’s the thing – You register a business name but you build a brand. And here’s five reasons why you should:

1. You can charge more when you have a brand because people see value. They see beyond the price and for often emotional, even nonsensical reasons, want to be associated with a strong brand instead. Is there really that much difference between say, Finish Dishwashing Liquid and it’s cheaper counterparts?

2. In a world of sameness, brands offer a clear point-of-difference. A competitive advantage. There’s no shortage of Accountants, Plumbers, Marketing Consultants or any other service provider for that matter, so what sets the good ones apart? You guessed it, a strong brand that means something in the mind of their prospects and customers.

3. Brands are memorable. If you stand for something, and any great brand does, then this can get you on your prospects’ shopping list. Which as a general rule, only ever has three brands on it for any purchase decision.

4. Brands emotionally engage with their prospects – and when someone is emotionally engaged (with anything), it is much harder to sever the ties and look elsewhere.

5. Brands are an asset, they’re actually worth something. Did you know that Coca-Cola’s balance sheet is 40% plant & equipment and 60% brand! So, if it ever came time to sell your business, you can quite rightly put a value on your brand. In fact, having one in the first place may be the reason someone is attracted to buying your business over another one that, from a rational perspective, sells pretty much the same product or service.

Touch Marketing are experts at establishing brands, no matter what stage the business is in.

Effective Marketing with Purpose and Vision

I went to lunch with a friend the other day to ask him about his company's marketing journey. I wanted to find out what their experience was like and where they had challenges and successes along the way.

This particular company is very typical of the small, service-based businesses that I focus on in my own marketing practice. They would tell you that they are a couple of accountants who are really good at what they do and enjoy the clients they work with. They would also tell you that they weren't marketing people who knew how to attract a steady stream of new business.

I asked my friend if there was a particular point in time or event that finally triggered their marketing breakthrough. I wanted to understand what they learned through their own trial and error. I wanted to see if there was something specific that helped them finally crack the code on marketing.

At first he thought the answer was when they finally narrowed down their target market. They finally defined a niche that was a very good fit for them, made sense to them, and helped them stay focused. We agreed that this was a huge breakthrough. It's often easy to say, but usually very hard for small businesses to narrow their target market. This was a step that was clearly paying dividends for my friend's small business.

But, it wasn't really the answer for what helped them make their marketing breakthrough. After a little further discussion we discovered that the practice never made any marketing headway until they defined and clarified their Purpose and Vision.

Without a clearly defined Purpose and Vision, the business owners could never really articulate what they were and what they were trying to get done. A little more discussion with his partner confirmed it for us. Without clarifying their purpose and vision, the business was very reactive, they were reactively taking whatever business they could get through the door.

Clarifying their Purpose and Vision created the marketing breakthrough. Purpose and vision tell you and everyone else what it is you're out to cause and where you want to go and what impact you want to make with the business. Doing this gave my friend and his partner focus and direction that didn't exist before. It made narrowing their target market and all these other marketing strategies and tactics make sense.

 

How to create powerful testimonials

There are many ways to market a product or a service and providing the potential clients and customers with testimonials is one of the best ways to market.

The power of testimonials can never be underestimated. People, especially nowadays, will only purchase products or avail services which have been referred to them by people whom they know. But most of the times, this is not an option that is in the hands of the business owner, he has to do the next best thing, which is to get testimonials from his past clients.

Testimonials are living statements from past customers or clients which states that they were satisfied by the product/ service. Every business must have testimonials to be able to stand out in the ever crowded markets.

There are many benefits of having testimonials. Here are some of them.

Testimonials appease the target market

 Testimonials usually lessen the doubts of the target market. There are a lot of scammers and con artists nowadays, and this has turned the market into a fearsome one. Credible testimonials provide security to the people who are eyeing at a certain product or service. The provision of testimonials gives people a much more relaxed attitude towards a product or service.

Testimonials assure quality

Aside from confirming the existence of a business and lessening doubts, testimonials provide assurance to potential customers and clients of the quality of the product or service. The fact that they took time out to be able to write testimonials about the product reflect their levels of satisfaction towards the product/service.

Testimonials give advantage

 Credible testimonials provide a competitive advantage for the product/service. There are many products and services out there and one of the ways to stand out from the rest is the use of credible testimonials.

There are many types of testimonials. Testimonials are usually categorized according to the source. Here are a few examples:

Testimonials from satisfied customers

This is probably the most effective type of testimonial. Nothing beats a testimonial from a satisfied customer because it is a picture of what the product/service is all about.

Testimonials from experts

Experts can be credible sources of testimonials. If a renowned dermatologist writes a testimonial for a beauty soap, it will surely help in boosting its sales, wouldn’t it?

Testimonials from celebrities

In a world that is run by mass media, celebrities have become powerful sources of testimonials. Today, even infomercials are infested by testimonials from celebrities. People may think that getting testimonials from celebrities will cost a lot, but if it’s a real testimonial, celebrities may even waive their talent fees.

There is much more to making a testimonial an effective tool for marketing than gathering them. Good testimonials are the ones which can be compressed into a few catchy words. “I lost 20 pounds in two weeks time!” is an example of an eye-catching testimonial. However, one must never rephrase or edit what the client had said. How to get the right kinds of testimonials will be discussed later.

Credible testimonials should also contain the complete attributes of the people who gave them. Their titles, location and age should be included whenever possible. Visual appeal will also be a great help in using testimonials. If the clients are willing, one must insist in taking photographs or videos for their testimonials.

So how does a business owner get started with the whole testimonial thing?

Here are some steps on how to archive testimonials.

1. Before anything else, only products/ services with outstanding quality deserve testimonials, so one must make sure that his product/service possesses exceptional quality.

2. Ask the help of your customers. One must be able to communicate to his customers his need of getting their testimonials. If they are really satisfied with the product/service, they would be more than willing to participate.

3. Interview your customers. Ask them about what they like about your product/service, why they chose your product and other questions like these.

4. Ask them if they are willing to make a written testimonial. You can offer to make the testimonial yourself based on their responses during the interview but the testimonial is still up for their approval. You might want to make the wordings catchy and let them approve the testimonials.

5. Ask them if you could record the testimonial using a tape recorder or video cam. A video testimonial is better, but of course, many people are camera-shy and this can be a limited option for most.

6. Choose the best testimonials. Use the best ones so as to maximize the benefits that your product can get from the testimonials.

The trap of goal setting

Goal Setting! It’s a wonderful thing. All you have to do is set a goal and now your life is on easy street. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work that way.

But wait a minute, I thought goal setting is all the rage? After setting a goal, things becomes clear and all my next steps instantly appear. I guess that is possible, but you must avoid the biggest trap of goal setting.

 What about your big goals that haven’t happened yet? Most likely they will provide you with a very positive pay off and be good for all those around you. Is it just a cake walk when you go after your goals or are there obstacles? You have probably already encountered obstacles or you would have everything you ever wanted.

 What are these obstacles? Well, there is a huge variety of them. They can be physical, mental, spiritual and they differ from person to person and from goal to goal. Knowing the specific details of the obstacles is nice, but what really matters is having the ability to consistently navigate around whatever might come up.

There are major areas where obstacles develop and the first area is not having a clear target or goal. If you have no clue as to what your target is, how can you possibly know if you hit it? How can you even start to plan a means to get there?

The second major area of break down is not having a clear plan or road map to follow. Your goal is doomed to remain in this dream state where you never take specific steps towards it.

The third major break down area is failing to track your progress. You have a great goal and a detailed plan, but you do not have a system in place to evaluate if your plan is working or if you are even following your plan. All plans require that you follow them in order to create any value and most likely they will also need course corrections. Once you start on your plan, you will discover new information that you didn’t know before and your plan will need to be updated.

Lastly, the final major area of break down is not having an outside means of accountability. Something that checks up on you to verify you are making progress towards your goal.

 Now that we know the major areas where goal setting breaks down, what is the biggest trap of goal setting? Simply put, it is not having a system in place that ensures you follow through on all the critical steps of goal setting. The good news is, once you set up your system, you can use it for all your goals.

First, your system needs to consistently remind you what your target / goal is. Many goals are abandoned because they were put off so many times, that thinking about them only reminds you of all the time that has been wasted.

Second, your system needs to track your progress. This enables you to make course corrections. Not only will it ensure you arrive at your goal, it also provides motivation by revealing all the progress you are making.

Finally, your system needs an OUTSIDE means of accountability. Something that checks up on you to make sure you have a clear target, you are following your plan, tracking your progress, and making the needed course corrections.

Avoid the biggest trap of goal setting! Develop a system that will guarantee you will follow through, no matter the goal, no matter the obstacle. Your goals are waiting and success is sure to be yours.

Reasons To Build A Brand

A brand is simply an emotional attachment. It is the sum parts of all the things you do in your business to attract customers and build a long-term relationship with them. In the world of branding 1 + 1 = 3. What is meant by that is any one activity in isolation, whilst good and very much contributing to your overall brand, is much greater than the sum of its parts when combined with everything else you do.

For example, having a memorable logo is mandatory, but having a memorable logo that then translates across on to your website, stationery, brochure, signage and all your marketing touch points all of a sudden starts to have a much bigger impact.

Consistency and discipline are critical in branding. Look at what the big companies do … The Nikes, the Apples, the Gillettes of this world. They are brand building masters. No matter what part of their brand you are in – whether it be their packaging, stores, website, events – you have the same experience.

Here’s the thing – You register a business name but you build a brand. And here’s five reasons why you should:

1. You can charge more when you have a brand because people see value. They see beyond the price and for often emotional, even nonsensical reasons, want to be associated with a strong brand instead. Is there really that much difference between say, Finish Dishwashing Liquid and it’s cheaper counterparts?

2. In a world of sameness, brands offer a clear point-of-difference. A competitive advantage. There’s no shortage of Accountants, Plumbers, Marketing Consultants or any other service provider for that matter, so what sets the good ones apart? You guessed it, a strong brand that means something in the mind of their prospects and customers.

3. Brands are memorable. If you stand for something, and any great brand does, then this can get you on your prospects’ shopping list. Which as a general rule, only ever has three brands on it for any purchase decision.

4. Brands emotionally engage with their prospects – and when someone is emotionally engaged (with anything), it is much harder to sever the ties and look elsewhere.

5. Brands are an asset, they’re actually worth something. Did you know that Coca-Cola’s balance sheet is 40% plant & equipment and 60% brand! So, if it ever came time to sell your business, you can quite rightly put a value on your brand. In fact, having one in the first place may be the reason someone is attracted to buying your business over another one that, from a rational perspective, sells pretty much the same product or service.

Touch Marketing are experts at establishing brands, no matter what stage the business is in.

 

This Month's Touch Q&A

Question from Tracey Palmer, NSW

Hi, I would consider my business medium in size and I wanted to get some advice on how to ensure I keep and maintain the relationships with new customers I have made.

Answer

Hi Tracey, I am so glad you are thinking about how to keep your new customers happy and advocates for your business. There are some tips you can use to develop long-term relationships with newly acquired customers. The key to growing your business is to effectively communicate and leverage these new customers into advocates for your products/services and purchasers of additional services you may offer. As I don’t know a lot about your business I will try and keep the response to your questions as top-level as possible.

Maintaining relationships can be done in a variety of ways but there are some basics steps that must be followed to ensure retention. Here are a few tips:

1. Proactively shape impressions about your business. Whether you're sending a welcome message, making the first contact via phone, or sending an email, be sure to position your company for the long-term. Many times individuals buy products without knowing a whole lot about the company they’re buying from. 
A popular tactic is sending an email or direct mail piece that introduces your company, your values, what you offer and the resources you have available for your customers including support contact details. This lets you control your company's image among newly acquired customers. Otherwise, your customers are free to form their own opinion without any guidance from you whatsoever. From the very beginning it’s important to be able to manage your corporate image.

2. Categorise your customer. Is your customer a high potential? Are they a transactional buyer that will likely never buy from you again unless you offer the lowest price? By segmenting your buyers based on your existing database or known behaviours, you can develop customised communication plans to retain them for years to come. Parts of your communication plan may be focused on up-selling while others may only be focused on retention. The communication plan you implement should be based on the proper categorisation of your customer.

3. Show your thanks. Once you've acquired a customer, don't forget to thank them. This may seem a little strange, but done properly, this goes a long way. Often a hand-written note or personalised email from the company owner or manager can do the trick. The real key is to make the customer feel good about the purchase they've made and the company they've chosen to purchase from.

4. Provide consistency among all touch points. Once you've acquired a new customer, you must make sure that you provide a consistent user experience. For example, if the prospect contacts your support team or a member of your staff the first day after they've purchased a product and receive an answer to their question, then call the following day only to receive a different answer, they're going to lose faith in your company's ability to provide consistent and reliable support.

You can benefit greatly by developing procedures that can be documented and delivered consistently - meeting customer expectations. This builds trust in your business and can minimise defections. If the consumer knows they can count on you to give them what they need/want, they'll be willing to forgo a better price or promise of a better deal elsewhere. Ensure all your marketing communications are consistent and the information is integrated among all touch points.

5. Share customer testimonials on future marketing pieces. Many believe that testimonials are only for prospects. The truth is that testimonials can help retain customers, especially new ones, when they are exposed to positive experiences of individuals just like them. In addition to sharing testimonials, it is always a best practice to ask newly acquired customers (within 30 days of purchase) for their feedback/testimonials.

The benefit of reaching out to your customers is that if a problem exists, you can react to it and if they have something positive to say about your product or business, it can be used to reinforce your brand. (Note: be sure to get permission to publish a customer testimonial).

These techniques are very effective for maximising lifetime customer value. By shaping the image of your company, providing a consistent experience, and sharing testimonials for similar customers, you can develop a positive, lasting impression with your marketplace.

Most importantly, keep it simple. Don't overwhelm your new customers with tons of email, or direct mail. Develop a well thought-out communication plan that has a definite purpose. And most importantly, remember to thank your customers for choosing your company, product or service. I hope that helps Tracey!

 

Why a Graphic Designer can not design your brand

Two of the probably most misinterpreted words over the last years are ‘Brand’ and ‘Branding’

What is a brand?

It is not what people see when they look at your logo. It is what people feel when they look at your logo.

Your brand is not the product you produce or the service you deliver. Your brand is the combined result of your values, your assets, your company behaviour and your products and services.

Your brand is the essence of your company.

Professional Graphic Designers know that. They understand your business and your values. They know how to sell this to your customers and clients. They know how to translate your values into a visual image and how to make an emotional connection between you and your target group through visual communication.

A shiny trendy logo without substance is just veneer. A logo alone will not help you, your products and your messages being heard or understood by the people you want to reach. The design of a logo is only one part of a well planned and successfully delivered brand strategy. Setting up that strategy is a marketer's job. Giving it a voice is the job for the Graphic Designer.

Successful relationships between Marketers, Business Owners and their Graphic Designers are long-term relationships. Professional Graphic Designers will keep an eye on the strategy and will think ahead and adjust the image if necessary to help the brand growing staying successful over the years.

Finding the right Graphic Designer is probably as tricky as finding the right pair of shoes. It is easy to buy sexy looking heels, the shops are full of them. It's not hard to find a cheap pair either. But they are likely to hurt your feet after a couple of hours and will probably fall apart before the end of the season. It pays off to spend a bit of time to find a pair of really good looking, well made shoes which sit comfortably and which support you and your feet over a long time, no matter how rough the streets are. 

Using Social Media To Rise Above Your Competitors

The use of Social Media makes it easier than ever to connect with your customers and if you follow the right practices, it's quite simple to rise above your market competitors. Are you the kind of person that questions the importance of Social Media? Well, think again. There are 1 billion tweets sent each week, 100 million views on YouTube each day and 100 million current LinkedIn members - leverage it and you'll see results! It's easier than ever to be front of mind - update your page or send out a tweet and your brand will be in front of the eyes of your target audience. Easy right? But, there is a strategy behind all of this. You need to build depth to your social campaign by putting something unique on your social media platform as well as solving the right problems. Ask yourself, what do your customers really want?


The three basic aspects of a strong call to action.

The three basic aspects of a strong call to action are:

 1. Openings that get your message read 

2. Copy that sells 

3. And yes  –  a call-to-action that makes a big bang!

The call-to-action must be direct and to the point. A simple ‘click here’, ‘buy today’, or ‘save money’ isn’t enough.  

The three basic aspects of a strong call to action are:

1. Communicate your expectations

If you want your reader to pick up the phone, visit your website, or bring a coupon to your store, say it. Be direct! Let them know exactly what you want them to do.

2. Make it easy

We live in a busy world. Don’t make it hard for the reader to figure out how to contact you. After you communicate the action you’re looking for, put the information right there. Include web addresses, phone numbers, or even a map to your store. Your busy readers will appreciate it.

3. Make it emotional

Love, fear, guilt, and pride are emotional factors that directly affect response and buying decisions.  

Once your copy is written, make a checklist of these three vital aspects of your call-to-action, and guarantee perfect results!

Here is a list of key competencies you should look for when hiring a Marketing Firm:

Are they tactical or have a strategic skill-set? 

Having a sound understanding of how to implement marketing campaigns is an important tactical skill but this skill can be picked up quickly or outsourced easily. Setting up a sound marketing strategy and an active marketing plan is a skill that is more difficult to acquire. Having a marketer that can build a strategy to attract leads and envision how you are going to interact in a digital way with prospects is vital in todays landscape. At the end of the day, it is all about attracting and converting leads into profitable customers and every business needs a plan to do this effectively.

Do they have business analytical skills? 

Today marketers need to have very good business analytical skills. Knowing how to use tools like CRM, Google Analytics, Facebook, lead scoring, social media tools amongst others to drive to a revenue result is critical. Understanding trends, tweaking campaiticalsis skills.

Marketing Technologist  Are they a power-user of technology? 

If they are, they will look at new ways to do business by optimising your use of technology, e.g. using the marketing automation system, lead scoring, profiling you database. Marketing is going through this incredible transformation right now. Marketers need to use multi-technologies to run successful campaigns. They need to be able to leverage the technology to meet the needs of your business. Marketing automation systems are powerful and in order to get the most out of them you need to have a technical skill-set. You need to have HTML, CRM skills to mention just two technologies.

Are they a Nurture Specialist? 

Nurture specialists are obsessed with creating an intimate digital dialog at all phases of the buying cycle and with providing qualified leads to the sales team. This role focuses on the long-term digital relationship with prospects and customers and must effectively work with all team members to pull campaigns together.

Are they a Content Specialist? 

Content specialist means that the marketing consultant is responsible for all the content associated with a campaign. Content marketing is the fuel for nurture marketing. The key here is using the smallest piece of content that will create an exchange of value, that gives the opportunity for the prospect to show behaviour, which then can be tracked and scored as an intent or level of interest.

Content specialists know that the right message at the right time will keep prospects and customers engaged. They think about the buying cycle and persona types and how they will interact in each channel.

Are they a Creative Specialist? 

Creative specialists want to know how effective the demand generation is. What will perform best. Testing what works. Marketing Consultants drive and enhance the communications from the customersÕ point of view.

Are they Brand Experts? 

Branding is all about creating a feeling between the company and the customer. A marketer who is interested in building a brand persona, that is consistent and represents value consistently in all its touch points, is a very great asset to any team. Someone to hold you accountable for the brand attributes is vital to keeping a brand real.

Questions to ask when interviewing Marketing Consultants:

1. Are they recognised by an official Marketing organisation? In Australia that would be Certified Practicing Marketer by the Australian Marketing Institute

2. Do they use a marketing dashboard to measure the results for each client; leads generated, conversions, and cost per lead per program, etc? Do they talk about demand generation as a pipeline?

3. Do they have a good social media profile: LinkedIn, Facebook, Google+, u-tube, quota etc?

4. What marketing tools do they use for their own marketing: CRM, Blog, Content Management System, advertising, SEO, branding, podcast, articles, tools and resources?

5. Do they have good customer success stories and testimonials? If they do, do they talk about real results, leads generated and covered to customers?

The 3 typical Big Marketing Mistakes

Who hasn't let a typo slip by or misspelled the CEO's name or printed the wrong phone number somewhere? Those marketing mistakes don't warrant an article. In fact, just one word of how-to-fix-it advice is sufficient: proofread! 

Here are some important marketing mistakes that just about every business manager out there makes, along with a recommended fix that will help you attract more business and get better results from your marketing, regardless of how big or small your marketing budget is.

Mistake #1: We think that marketing is something we 'do'.

"We need to do some marketing." It's the first thing you think when you need to boost business. The problem is, when you think of marketing as something you 'do', you're usually thinking about publicity, direct mail, flyers, email, ads and promotion. Marketing is much more than merely promotion, and it's rarely a quick fix.

The real fix is to expand your definition of marketing. Instead of thinking of it as something you 'do', think of marketing as anything that helps or hinders the sale or use of your product or service. This includes: your location, the attitudes of the person who answers the phone, your name, pricing, policies, proposals, personality and more. 

Before you write a promotional word, do a 'help or hinder' once-over. Make a list of what's helping you attract business and what's getting in the way.  Figure out what obstacles you can quickly fix or remove? What 'helps' can you enhance or spotlight? Until the help-or-hinder homework is done, working on promotion is premature.

Mistake #2: We breathe too much of our own exhaust.

We are such big believers in our businesses that we can't wait to show it off. We admire our attributes and inhale our excellence. Then we exhale it all into our marketing communications. The problem is, when you do that, your marketing is all about you. And people don't care about you. They care about themselves. 

If your marketing is going to get any response at all, the first thing it must do is connect to something prospects care about. Connect before you convince. Try this four-step exercise:

1.  Describe your products and services. Get the exhaust fumes out.

2.  Identify one or two attributes or attraction factors. 

3.  What is the benefit, the need or the want, that is satisfied by those attributes?

4.  Why is that benefit important, personally, to the target audience?

For example, Joy dishwashing liquid (descprition) has real lemon (attribute) that cuts grease and leaves dishes shinier (benefit). What a nice reflection on you! (Connects to what a mother cares about.) Connect to what people want. Not to what you do.

Mistake #3:  We all look alike.

A bank is a bank is a bank. Realtors, lawyers and consultants are a dime a dozen. The list goes on. But here's the good news: the more two businesses look alike, the more important each difference becomes, and the more impact even the tiniest difference will have on setting you apart. Why? 

Consider identical twins. What's the first thing you do when you meet a pair? You try to find a little something to tell them apart. The same is true for your business. Your prospects are looking for a point of difference (just about anything) they can use to set you apart from your competition. 

To find your points of difference, start with your points of contact, or 'touch points' in your company. Make a list. Business card, fax cover sheet, invoice, phone greeting, front door, home page, etc. Then look at what the competition does and ask yourself how you can do it differently. Just a little bit will make a big difference, because your prospects are looking for them.

For now, try the Help or Hinder, Connect Before You Convince and Find Your Points of Difference tools to make your marketing more meaningful and effective. Be wary, too, of unrealistic expectations, faulty research, deadly bullet points and lack of follow through -- other common marketing mistakes.

Building a highly targeted Opt-in List

Are you successful with your Internet business? Better yet, do you think you are successful with your online business? When most online entrepreneurs are asked those questions, they often brush it off. This is because most of them, who have not yet realized the right way to succeed in Internet Marketing, continue to believe that the mere fact that they have a website is already enough to succeed on the Internet.

But having a website is not a guarantee that your online business will succeed. How will you succeed if people will not realize that your business exist online? The key to Internet Marketing is to get your business noticed. 

An effective way to do this is to build an opt-in list. 

Basically, an opt-in list is a list of email addresses of people who have agreed to obtain any kind of information from online businesses like you. The term ‘opt-in’ means that you have their permission to send to them whatever newsletters, brochures, or promotions that you have in your business. 

It is extremely important that you have their permission first before you send them information because unsolicited emails will be regarded as spam, and spamming is an illegal activity in the Net.

Because of the feasibility of building an opt-in list, most of the online entrepreneurs consider it as the most treasured tool online. They need this list in order to get the consumer’s attention and sustain interest.

By creating an opt-in list, you will be able to maintain solid contact with your previous buyers, at the same time boost your sales because of the fact that you have a sure target market always ready to purchase items from you.

So here are some tips that could be very useful in building a list.

1. Decide on your niche market or your target market.

It is extremely important to know your target market in order to focus on something. It would be really confusing and time consuming if you will build an opt in list with no particular market in mind.

Moreover, having a niche market would bring more focus on your marketing campaigns and would derive better results because you can emails to people who would most likely be interested in them.

2. Be sure that your selected target market is available through the Internet.

The mere acquisition of a niche market is not a guarantee that you can already start building your opt in list. Since, the concept of opt in list is specifically generated to aid in the growth of the Internet market of a particular entrepreneur, it is important to have a niche market that is available through the Internet.

3. Verify if your chosen target market is an income-generating market.

Building a highly targeted opt-in list will just go to waste if your niche market is not generating any income at all.

Try to verify their income-generating potential through the search engines, where you will find some paid ads related to the keywords you have searched. This would only mean that if somebody is willing to pay to advertise focusing on the same target market that you have in mind, chances are, you will be able to reap positive results on your target market.

4. Generate solutions to the problems of your target market by using an Internet forum.

Through posts and threads in those, you will be able to identify your target market’s problem and you will be able to come up with a great solution. In turn, it will be very handy when you make your opt-in list.

Indeed, the success of an online business or Internet marketing greatly depends on the opt-in list. It is where the online businesses could come up with newsletters that would allow them to promote their products at the same time create the need for it. In turn, it will generate more income and make more money.

As they say, money is in the list that’s why most businesses consider opt-in list as valuable as gold.

This Months Touch Q&A

Roslyn: Our sons cricket coach asked if we would consider sponsoring the team. What is your opinion on that?

Our Answer: Trying to market a business without overspending can be difficult, so it is important to try and make your advertising budget go as far as you can. In doing this, you have to consider every possible angle. Spending money is pretty much unavoidable when it comes to online marketing, so you have to think of a way to make sure that what you spend is justified in terms of the number of people who see your advertisement. In that respect, one sound move may well be to think about sponsoring a local sports team.

Of course it depends on how popular the sports team is. If they are followed closely by the people in your locality, then the chances are they get good attendances at their games as well as coverage in local and regional media – and possibly further afield. If the team is popular, you also get the benefits of association with them which plays well into people having a positive view of your company. If you make a deal to pay for the team's equipment – or some part of it – then you can have a presentation ceremony which allows you more publicity again.

If your company is a family-oriented one – for example, a local convenience store or a garage – then sponsoring a little-league team is a good idea. At the team's games there will always be parents, and it is well-known that most advertising is directed at families, as they are always likely to have some need of what your company does.

Building Credibility - Your Key To Success

Credibility is one of the most critical factors that will affect your online business success. Being credible is simply the perception of being trustworthy and believable. Why do people buy brand name goods and services on the Internet and in the off-line world? One of the key reasons is that the brand represents a level of quality that they know and trust.

So how can you build credibility on the Internet for your business? A key factor is being consistent. People are more likely to trust a business or person who acts in a similar manner most of the time. For example, if your publish a newsletter to your customers or potential clients, aim for similar quality in each issue. Also, be consistent in your style of writing. Publish on a regular basis ñ irregular publication schedules cause confusion in the minds of your readers.

Consistency applies to every aspect of your business. Donít change your guarantee terms every couple of weeks. Ensure that all your products or services consistently meet the quality and value standards that your are promoting.

Credibility is something that is earned. Therefore, you need to give of yourself to get trust back in return. There are many ways to do this. Some software businesses offer free trial periods so the customer can try before they buy. Others offer a "shareware" version for people to trial. This process enables the potential customer to check that your product will do the job you say that it will.

Sharing your knowledge is a useful way to build your credibility. This can be done through monitoring discussion lists and boards that your potential customers frequent. Answer questions that they pose. Be a regular contributor to the list so that people come to know and respect your knowledge.

Making outlandish claims in advertisements or on your web site can harm your credibil-ity. Telling the truth is always the best way. Ensure that your products or services provide more value than promised. Take the time to walk in your customersí shoes before writing your ad copy or your web site promotional material. This will enable you to clearly state benefits that your potential customers are looking for in a way that they will find believable.

Testimonials can be a powerful way to generate trust in your product or service. A tes-timonial is a statement from a happy customer saying how your product or service helped them. Set up systems to gain unsolicited testimonials whenever you can. When you gather testimonials to publish on your site, ensure that you have permission to pub-lish them. Also, never make up testimonials to boost your credibility as more often than not you will be caught out and be discredited.

Donít just state what your qualifications are on your web site or in your promotional ma-terial. Instead, state how your qualifications can benefit your potential customers. For example, state how your expertise will provide the solution your prospect needs in a way he or she will understand.

Following sound business practices will help your credibility also. This includes ensure that your business address and phone numbers are clearly shown on your web site. Al-so, ensure that you are contactable via phone and email and respond promptly to each contact. Have you had phone messages or email that were never responded to? How did that influence your perception of the business?

Prompt delivery of what has been ordered also helps build the right impression of your business. So too does quickly responding to claims on your guarantee. Efficient busi-ness procedures that are focused on providing customer satisfaction will always help your business image and credibility.

Strong credibility takes a long time and much effort to build. It can be destroyed quickly and sometimes can never be regained. Have you noticed that once a person or a busi-ness gains a bad reputation it can be extremely hard to change? For your business to achieve itís full potential, it is important that you set standards and live by them so that you are constantly building your credibility.

Remember that each thing you do in your business will affect the image of your busi-ness. Being focused on providing solutions to your customers, providing consistent quality and value for money, and being accessible will all help you achieve the credibility your business needs to succeed

Valuable Contacts for Small Businesses

I heard my grandfather say, "It isn't so much what you know as who you know that determines your level of success." I had no idea what he was talking about then, but I certainly do now. It's not that you don't need to know the "what" (you do you need to know all about your field) but you'll never get to apply the "what" unless you know the "who."

Business is built on contacts. Every small business owner needs to start building contact lists from the first day they open the doors to their small business or put their small business online.

It is a proven fact that people would rather buy from people that they know or feel like they know. So businesspeople need to get out into the community where they live. They need to join civic clubs and become active in civic affairs so that they become known by other businesspeople as well as by the residents of their area. The same thing is true for those who work online. You don't necessarily join civic clubs, but you do participate in seminars, webinars, and teleseminars in your field so that you become known to others in the field.

You need contact lists for your suppliers and your customers and potential customers, of course, but you also need media contact lists (press releases are free advertising) and competitor contact lists. Yes, I said competitor contact lists. Sometimes your biggest competitor can become your biggest ally. Haven't you ever heard of joint ventures?

You need to start generating lists of contacts from day one of your small business because my grandfather was right. It isn't what you know so much as who you know that determines your level of success.

What is Mass Communication?

Many people are confused and miss their mark when it comes to mass communication.  They believe that they are sending their message out to everyone. This is a recipe for disaster and a loss of valuable marketing dollars.

Even with mass communication, you must select your target audience.

Mass means many people, but it doesn't mean everyone. If you think of the saying "if you try to please everyone, you'll end up pleasing no one", this applies quite well here.

Every one has their own taste, desires, goals and needs. For example you wouldn't try to sell a 2-seater sports car to a family of 4 or 5 looking for a 6-seater with plenty of storage or baggage room.

Or try to sell and jungle hiking adventure to seniors with a walker. No matter what your product or service is and whether you are trying to sell to many or just a few, it is important to know what your target market is.

 I know that some people cringe at this, yet the most successful people always do their homework first and understand who would buy what they are selling.

Now you may state that the above examples are obvious, but I was trying to make a clear point of why you should know whom to sell. However not all products and services are that clear.

There have been many examples of people who have thought they knew who they were selling to and didn't make a dime. Then when they received help and redirected to another market, they became very successful.

 Yes, it takes time and effort. The more important question is, "just how successful do you want to be?"  Most people would agree that they didn't start up a business just to fail, yet without getting your foundation set, that is what many people each month are doing, failing.

 So, figure out your target market and then find out how they gain or get the information that they need.

Is it through direct marketing, television, newspapers, trade journals, magazines? Once again, it doesn't do you any good even if you know your target market, if they never receive the information. Some professionals never read flyers and direct mail, but always read their trade journal.

 The 3rd piece of the puzzle is that most people need to see your ad at least 3 times before it registers or that they are willing to buy. You can't just advertise once and go well, that didn't work. You need to commit to seeing it through. So planning your budget for the duration is also important.

Mass communication can be very rewarding and give you brand and name recognition and increase your credibility. It just takes commitment, research and time to do it right.

3 High-Impact Fixes For Your Marketing Woes

How many times has your competitor gotten one over on you? The feeling of being left behind just eats away, until you do something about. We often feel that we've got to come up with some grand plan in order to get our business skyrocketing again. Don't be fooled! Getting back on top of the market isn't as tough as it seems with these high-impact, easy-to-use fixes.

1. The Magic Number: 1

Implement a "advertise 1 item at a time" motto for your advertising strategy. Does that mean you can't SELL more than one item at a time? No... but wait until AFTER the sale.

When a customer sees more than one of a product offered at unbelievably low prices, he's confused. Which one is the better deal? Which one does he prefer?  These questions encourage procrastination – one of marketing's greatest thieves.  Instead, offer the consumer a product that compliments his purchase in a nearby display... or even at the register. You'll make extra profits instead of losing a sale.

2. Outsmart Your Competitors

Your competition is looking for you in all of the usual places. Don't go there. Quietly look for new methods of advertising and new markets to target. 

Niche markets provide the perfect sneak tactic for reaching new clients. Here's the key... sub-divide your current market into smaller, more specific niche markets. 

Familiarise yourself with the needs and concerns of the niche, then present yourself as the pro in their corner. Leave your competition in the dust with the intensity of new prospects that will come your way.

Modernise an old marketing technique that still carries a wallop – postcards. Yes, these small, inexpensive marketing tools still carry a personal message that is quick and easy to read, but with new high-impact colors and designs that capture the attention of readers. Your competition won't even know that you're using them!

3. Encourage Communication

Communication is crucial to understanding your consumers. Encourage questions before the sale, during the sale and after the sale. Make it easy and comfortable.

Provide convenient contact information on all of your sales materials, including Websites. If you find yourself overloaded with questions, create a frequently asked question page where clients can get the answers they need without claiming as much of your time.

Confused customers, tough competitors and communication mishaps won't steal profits from your account when you fix things up with the 3 quick tips.

 

The Small Business Trump Card

There are lots of card games where the winner is determined by which player is holding the trump card. The same thing is true in business, and it is especially true with small businesses. The world of small business is made up of winners and losers. It's like a law of physics, I suppose. You can't have a winner unless there is a corresponding loser.

I have always had a huge desire to be a winner, and I don't apologize for that attitude. I want to win – I play to win, and if you want to be a winner, then you must also play to win. You just need to know what the trump card is, and be sure that you have it in your hand.

I'm going to tell you want the trump card is. This is the one thing that practically guarantees that you will be the winner in any business contest. What is that one thing? It's PASSION!

You see, being really and truly passionate about your business, your product, your service, means that you are going to be the most informed person at any gathering of people in the field. Because you are more passionate than everybody else, you take your time and put forth the necessary energy to learn everything you can about your topic. You never just hit the "high spots." You delve deeply and learn everything there is to know about your chosen field. That is passion in action!

You can't be really passionate about any topic without being willing to give your very best, try harder, work longer, and work HARDER than everybody else. So being really passionate about your topic is the secret weapon – the trump card – that will guarantee you the win, every time!

 

Where am I going and how do I to get there?

Any successful sportsperson or team has a detailed plan in place before the game starts. It has to be the same for you.

They also have a operational plan to ensure the right elements are in place for the long term. 

Yet, many companies today think it’s okay to just change directions on the fly without a substantial degree of advance planning. 

While adaptability is an admirable trait, especially in a time of rapid change for both markets and media channels, you still need to start with defined goals and strategies in place. Otherwise the danger of getting lost in your day to day business is too high and you will loose your targets out of sight. 

You should establish at least a one-to-three-year plan to give you a direction. You’ll no doubt will have to tweak this plan continually to adjust for changing conditions and unexpected opportunities. 

But how will you know when it’s time to make a shift without a first idea of where you’re going?

We can help you with brainstorming and setting up such a plan.