Marketing Consultant: Back to Basics in 2010
AS WE CLOSE THE BOOK ON 2009, IT IS A GREAT TIME TO GET BACK TO BASICS IN ALL ASPECTS OF YOUR BUSINESS, PARTICULARLY IN MARKETING.
BY JO MACDERMOTT.
A ‘back to basics’ approach is something I have in previous years focused on for a number of my clients. Not only have all of these efforts delivered immediate sales results, but they have helped to position each of the businesses as strong market players for the next year. This is especially relevant now as the economy begins to bounce back and boom once again.
Getting ‘back to basics’ is similar to doing an audit; it is about pulling out all of your marketing, advertising and sales materials and reviewing each piece to ascertain if it is delivering the best possible outcome for your business. If nothing else, it is a good discipline to employ in your business on an ongoing basis.
Here are some practical examples of marketing activities that don’t cost the earth and will help you stay afloat next year.
Many small business owners have some type of web presence. However, if you are a business owner without a web presence, I would highly recommend that you make this your next marketing priority. If you need convincing why, drop me a line to discuss.
A web presence may be as simple as a profile on a number of industry websites, a page on Facebook, your business details on numerous directories or a complete website dedicated to your own business.
Have you ever been onto a website that contains obvious out-of-date information? I know I have and do so quite often. I appreciate that ours is not a perfect world and that there are multiple reasons why information is out of date on websites. However, your first step on your ‘back to basics’ marketing journey is to be brave enough to visit your website and take an honest view of what it says about your business.
A Checklist of what to Look for:
- Does your home page have out-of-date information on it?
- If the last time you wrote a blog entry or e-newsletter was four years ago, then perhaps you should have that section taken away.
- Do you have price lists or timetables available for download that expired twelve months ago?
- Does your website have a last updated date? If you don’t regularly update your site, consider having it removed.
- Does the text in your website read from a customer’s perspective and is appealing to their needs and not yours?
- Are there spelling and grammatical mistakes in what you have written?
If you have come to the realisation that you are much better at doing what you do rather than updating your website, then it is time to outsource that activity. Whoever you give that project to, make sure that they take the time to get to know you and your business and you pencil in regular updates with them.
To give this some perspective, having out-of-date information on websites is a common problem for all businesses, whether they are large or small. Just today for example, I visited a very well-known website to review advertising rates and the contact person on the media rate card was incorrect. Use this common occurrence to your advantage. Jump ahead of your competition to project a professional and up-to-date image of both you and your business.
I recently completed a large audit for a client that involved reviewing all of the sales collateral in their business. We looked at surveys, sales letters, quotes, follow up letters, and ‘with compliments’ gifts, to name a few. What I found from this process was that there wasn’t any level of consistency in the message or tone of how this business was being projected. This can easily happen to any business. Documents are produced over a period of time by different employees, and in this case (see below), tended to reflect the personality of the author rather than a constant and common business tone.
Having a consistent approach in how your position your business will certainly help you win more work now and in the future. Here is an example of what I mean.
Example – sales letter pre-audit:
“I am writing to follow up from my letter and phone call on 12 October and 14 November. I have not heard back from you and if I don’t within seven days, I will remove your details from our database.”
Example – sales letter post audit:
“I am writing to touch base and follow up from our conversation a couple of weeks ago. I hope this note finds you well. With the end of the year approaching, you may like to take up our offer prior to 31 December. We are happy to turn around your job in a short time to suit your specific requirements. Look forward to hearing from you soon.”
When the economy was booming, having great sales collateral materials may not have been necessary as you were able to win work and pick up jobs regardless. Now that the economy has slowed, you may have found that whilst the work is still there, it is perhaps a little harder to get. It is time to do a thorough sales documentation review.
A beauty salon in my local area changes its voicemail message every couple of weeks. Every time I call, a new product or promotion is available for a set period of time. While the person at this salon who records the message often speaks too quickly for me to get the entire message, I do expect to hear about ‘what’s new’ when I call to make an appointment.
In your office, what does your voicemail message actually say? When was the last time you changed it? Perhaps you could update it once a month with a new message about something that is happening in your business. It is a cheap and cost-effective way of keeping those who contact you up to date with activities in your business. So why don’t you get your diary and pencil out and start to plan for your regular updates now?
There is no doubt that we use email for a substantial part of our business and personal communication. What is less frequently used are marketing or sales messages in your email signature. I must admit though, I have seen some people/companies over do it. What I am referring to is something quite short, perhaps a line or two or a link about something that is happening in your business. By keeping it short and simple, it is more likely to be read and is much easier for you to update. Email signatures are a very cheap and cost-effective basic marketing activity that you can implement right now at no cost to your business. Use it to your own advantage.
In summary – here are the things to look out for in your ‘back to basics’ approach:
- spelling mistakes
- grammatical errors
- documents that are out of date
- incorrect details
- pricing that is old.
To help position your business favourably in the eyes of your prospective customers, it is a good business discipline for you and your team to regularly review, audit and refresh all your basic business tools.
Publication: Vecci Business Excellence
Issue: Vol 2, No 4 Summer 2010