Philip Kotler defines marketing as "the science and art of exploring, creating, and delivering value to satisfy the needs of a target market at a profit."
With hundreds of marketing methods, strategies, approaches and tactics, which would be best, suited to grow your business and profits?
Here are 10 often overlooked marketing strategies to consider implementing in your business:
More Value, More Money
Almost every business can find ways to charge their clients more. Do some of your clients want faster shipping? You can often charge more for that. How about customization of their order? Yes, that too. Look for ways that you can deliver additional value to your clients and make their lives easier and you'll almost always discover areas of your business that you can charge more for.
If you want to set yourself apart from your competitors, the right way is not to do what everyone else is doing. Maybe you take note of your customers' birthdays and send them a card when everyone else forgets to. What if you took note of a wine your client really enjoyed when you met them for dinner and sent them a bottle of it a couple of days or week later? Do you think they'd remember you for that? Of course they would. Doing the unexpected isn't just about giving gifts however. You can go the extra mile for your clients in many ways.
You should be in touch with your customers at least once a month. The more often they hear from you (without going over board) the more you will stay top of mind. Even if they are not ready to buy from you, a prospect that continues to hear from you will be much more likely to buy from you when they are ready. It may take a month, six, or even a year or more. Keeping in constant contact with your customers and prospects is critical. To make your life easier you can automate parts of this process by using an auto-responder service to send automated, yet highly personalized, emails.
The best marketing educates. The sales process isn't about "selling" it's about educating prospects so they are fully informed and confident...and that's when they are ready to buy from you. Are you using white papers, case studies, videos, reports, and newsletters to educate your prospects and clients? If you're not, it's almost certain you're leaving a lot of money on the table.
Let Others Say It For You
If I tell you, "I'm the best person for this media job in Canada" how likely are you to believe me? Unless you're my mother, chances are slim. Now, if a past employer tells you how great I am, you'll be much more likely to believe it. It's more credible, isn't it? This is why testimonials and recommendations are so important. That said it never ceases to amaze me how few businesses leverage this power. Your clients will be happy to tell others about how great you are, as long as you've done a great job.
You Need Help
Yes, that's right. You need help. It's not just you however, all professionals do. In fact, every athlete, singer, chef, and CEO at one time or another has a coach on their side. A coach or mentor is your sounding board. They provide an outlet for you to express the issues you're dealing with and can provide suggestions on how to achieve the goals you want. Most importantly, they help to keep you accountable so you stay focused.
Put Your Customers Into Dollars
Ooh! That sounds so harsh, I know. Seriously though, how much are your customers worth to you in dollars? Don't know? Time to figure it out. Here's how: How much do they spend with you? How many times on average will they buy from you over their lifetime? The answers to those 2 questions will give you a sense of how much an average customer is worth. Why is this important, you ask? Here's why...If your customers have a lifetime value of $5000 and you are currently spending $20 on marketing to bring in each new customer, don't you think you could increase that? Not only would you be able to reach more people and increase your sales, you can also expand the possibilities of what you can do with your marketing to increase your conversion rate of new customers. In addition, you can also afford to spend more money on pampering your customers and taking better care of them over their lifetime so they will spend more with you and stay loyal long-term customers. Imagine what will happen when you're doing that and your competitors are still spending $20 and no more? Who has a better chance of getting the customer? That's right ;)
Communication Is an Advantage
Most people are poor communicators when it comes to business. They tell you they'll get back to you at a certain time and don't. They set a meeting and show up late. They send emails with no greeting and only a word or two...and leave the recipient to guess the full meaning of what they want to say. The more professional you are, the more you'll stand out. Follow through with your commitments. Communicate in a professional manner. Your clients will trust you more. And when that happens, you win.
It is common to offer more than one service. Businesses and professional alike find themselves delivering all kinds of products or services to their clients. Often, it didn't start out that way. Clients asked you to provide something you didn't have, you couldn't say NO, and now, well, you got the idea. The problem is, not all products and services are equal. Every business needs to take a hard look at their sources of revenue and profit and ensure that they are putting the right amount of effort into each one. You may find that you're spending 80% of your time selling a product or service that is only contributing 15-20% of your profits. While your other product or service only gets minimal attention from you, but is much more profitable.
Always Test and Track
Every business in every industry can find ways to test, measure and track their performance. Whether it's an advertisement, Web site, lead generation page, or a phone inquiry (to name just a few) you can test it, measure it and find ways to improve it. A constant push for improvements and optimization in your business can deliver increases to sales and reductions in costs by 20% to 200% or more. Yes, it's worth your time.
Photo credit: leviellerbe.com
About the Author: Michael Zipursky is a marketing consultant and runs Business Consulting Buzz a blog that looks at becoming a consultant, consulting fees and more, and is also the co-founder of FreshGigs.ca, a jobsite specializing in Canadian marketing jobs. His work has been featured in FOX Business, the Financial Times, HR Executive and other media.