Now's the Time to Really Beef Up
Your Marketing Efforts
by Valerie Camarda
of Marketing Sense
As the New Year begins there's an opportunity to revitalize your company's marketing and make a difference to your bottom line. Here are some tips to help you kick-start your marketing for the new year.
- Don't cut prices - reward loyal customers. Resist the temptation to cut your prices. Lowering your prices may do irreparable damage to your company image. Instead, focus on rewarding the most loyal customers—the ones that will support you through the tough times. For example, you might want to mail out targeted discount coupons, introduce a frequent-buyer program, send handwritten thank-you notes, or host a customer appreciation party.
- Build value. Value means selling a selection of services or products, offering the utmost in quality of service or product and educating the customer as to why this is important.
- Your best future customer is a past customer. It is amazing how many businesses ignore this great potential. They continually go out looking for new customers when they already have an existing supply of satisfied customers ready to buy more.
- Work your database. If you have a list of past customers, you are sitting on a gold mine. Make sure to keep it updated. When calling to update your database, be prepared to talk about what's new. People are always intrigued by the unique.
- Keep your company name "top of mind" with your customer. "Touch" your customer periodically to remind them you're there and ready to help. A phone call here, a direct mail piece there, an article clipped out of a newspaper that you think might be of interest—all can help to keep you top of mind with your customer.
- Market to companies that make the 'Fastest Growing Company' lists. Every major city has some sort of a Business Journal focusing on local businesses. Most publish an annual Book of Lists outlining a variety of the top companies. Look for those companies that have grown tremendously over the last year. They might be very good targets worthy of new business development.
- Form strategic alliances with others in related fields who share the same target market as you. This is an excellent strategy in good times, as well as bad. Doing co-marketing makes good business sense. Mailing lists and other marketing costs can be shared. Make sure you align yourself with others who have an excellent reputation. You don't want someone else's bad reputation to rub off on you!
- Ask for referrals! If your customers are happy with the work you have done for them, ask them if they know others who need your services—especially within the same company. For example, the Human Resource department may hire you to do a training session for new employees, but the Marketing department could hire you to do a sales training session. Be sure to always have more than one contact in the same company. In these days of high turnover and transition be sure to meet as many decision makers and influencers as possible within the same company at each of its corporate offices or campuses.
- Create a plan for the year and stick to it! Develop a marketing calendar of marketing endeavors you and your staff can reasonably undertake. Make sure you're doing at least one marketing endeavor every month. As busy entrepreneurs we often forget to focus our attention on marketing, so force yourself to do it!
Valerie Camarda is the owner of Marketing Sense, a full service marketing and public relations firm based in San Francisco and Emeryville. She has over twenty years of marketing and PR experience working in a variety of industries. She is a current member of the NAWBO Board of Directors and is vice president of marketing. She can be reached at 510.428.4077.