BETTER MARKETING

Disciplined direct marketing.

 Many businesses are finding that direct marketing offers a productive alternative to other channels of distribution.  Many of the guidelines for direct marketing are the same as those for any other successful sales effort, but there’s one cardinal rule the direct marketer shouldn’t ignore:  Develop one winning product at a time and focus on it.  The best direct marketing doesn’t confuse the prospect with various alternatives.  It spotlights one product and concentrates on its benefit to the customer.

Don’t restrict your direct marketing efforts to gaining new customers.  In fact, the customers who have already bought your product are your best bet for direct marketing.  You can go back to them again and again.  And when you choose the focus for your initial direct marketing effort, you should be thinking about a followup – additional products that will appeal to those who have already responded to your first offer.

In short, it’s OK to promote a group of related products, but sell them one at a time.

Conduct your own focus group.

Market researches know that one of the best ways to get actionable marketing information is through a focus group – a forum in which a professional researcher poses questions to a group of potential buyers, distributors, or consumers.  The questions asked in a focus group are usually different from those asked in a survey, where “yes/no” or multiple-choice answers are the norm.  In focus groups the questions are open-ended.  The person conducting the research doesn’t look for specific responses, but asks for general opinions.

You don’t need a costly formal focus group facility to do this kind of research.  There’s no reason, for instance, why you can’t gather a group of your customers over lunch or late afternoon wine and cheese.  In this informal setting you can invite, for example, suggestions about improvements or get reactions to ideas for new products.  Your customers will probably be flattered that you’ve asked their opinion and you’ll get a perspective on your business that may surprise you.


MARKETING TIPS

  • Your receptionist and telephone operator are key marketing personnel in your company.  They are the company representatives with whom your customers most frequently communicate.  Make them better marketers by teaching them about your company’s products or services.  Give them a written list of which company employees can best respond to various customer inquiries.
  • The first order you get from a new customer is the most important order.  It’s a chance for your company to prove itself.  Because most customers prefer to continue to do business with a proven source, make sure that a new customer’s first order gets top priority in every respect.
  • It’s a proven fact that a low price is the worst way to build customer loyalty.  Customers who buy only because of price will be the first to leave you for a competitor with a lower price.  Much better strategy: sell value.
  • Sell benefits, not features.  Prospective customers won’t be moved by the fact that your “widgets” are made from plutonium.  But they will be moved by the fact that your “widgets” will last longer than your competitor’s products.