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Starting A New Business : Part 3 – Marketing

Chester 2
Creative Commons License photo credit: Yatmandu

Good marketing doesn’t need to lie.

If you have to lie to sell your stuff, either your stuff isn’t worth buying or you aren’t worth buying it from.

Harsh words? Not if you want to stay in the business you’re about to start.

These days, buyers are empowered by the information made available to them by other buyers. I don’t have to list all the websites with ratings, reviews and so on. You already know them – they’re the sites where lies are documented (along with the good stuff).

Remember how easy (and perhaps even pleasant) it is to do business with someone you trust?

When it’s clear that you can trust the person on the other side of the table, the other end of the phone conversation, behind the register or on that website, it gives you the freedom to choose the best product or service. Building that trust is part of the job of good marketing.

Think about it. What store drives you crazy? Now consider the one that you love. The differences between them might be minor but they are significant enough that you’d never choose the drives-you-crazy store. Which one is easier to sell?

Remember the source

Consider when a business says something like this: “We’re the leading vendor of (some random product) in the valley.” The leading or A leading? Leading how? Without proof, you’re not so likely to believe an ad that makes that claim unless it includes some plausible evidence.

Now consider when several of their customers tell you that a business is the only place to go for certain items and then *justify that assertion with a glowing description of their experiences*.

The difference between those two claims? Proof that comes from a trusted party – what I usually call “testimonials”.

Standout execution that meets or exceeds what your marketing promised are what seals the relationship and generates the word of mouth proof you want.

Standout

People are conditioned to receive poorly-targeted, poorly-timed marketing delivering the wrong message because they see so much of those things.

While they may not realize that they’re subjected to poor marketing, they’ll react more predictably to efforts that are well-timed and targeted. That alone usually stands out from everyone else in your market.

Good marketing is trackable. It delivers a message that fits the recipient and where possible, their situation. It’s designed to deliver the right message to the right person at the right time. It communicates the reason why people should do business with you rather than everyone else in your market.

Your marketing needs to answer your “reason why” question: “Why should you do business with us instead of everyone else?”

Fedex uses “When it absolutely, positively has to be there overnight.” Clear, concise, has obvious value to the right customer and they back it up with quality. Your core concept, in conjunction with your focus on your ideal customer(s), has to be just as obvious and backed up similarly.

Look at the recent pitch from the JCPenney retail chain, which you could paraphrase as “Good pricing every day without gimmicky sales.” Frequent sales and coupons sent out every week devalue your goods and condition people to buy only when there’s a sale or a coupon. These practices subconsciously teach your clientele that you product isn’t worth full price.

Promotions provide a reason why, but they don’t necessarily discount/devalue what you sell.

Good marketing is planned, not random. It provokes an action: What do you want the customer/prospect to do next? Visit a website? Make a call? Come into your store? Test drive?

On target

Many of the questions from Starting a New Business : Part 2 are critical considerations for your marketing.

For example, I asked you to consider the question “Are you familiar enough with your prospective ideal customer to enter their market?”

It’s a pretty important question. Who is your ideal customers? There might be several core groups. Go back over those questions from last week and figure out who they are. Describe them in detail. That will help you know how, when and where to speak to them as well as what they need to know in order to make a buying decision.

Good marketing doesn’t need to lie.

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Blogging Business model Community Competition Consumer Advocacy Customer relationships customer retention Facebook Feedback Getting new customers Marketing marketing to the affluent Marketing to women Setting Expectations Small Business Word of mouth marketing

The ROI of Social Media is…

Two minutes and change that hit some of “the what and the why” discussed during my Social Media – A Roadmap for Small Businesses talk this week.

The ROI of social media is that your business is still here in five years.

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Advertising Business model Competition Customer relationships customer retention Getting new customers marketing to the affluent Marketing to women Positioning Sales service Small Business Strategy The Slight Edge

Where’s my concierge?

One of the rungs on your ascension ladder should include cater-to-their-every-whim service – within the context of your business.

Audible has figured this out, as you can see from the screen shot above.

I’ve told you about my use of it in the software business (“done-for-you software setups in 7 days, guaranteed”) as a way of getting new users started quickly as a way of increasing sales, improving our percentage of sales closed and improving our service so that renewal / maintenance agreements were a non-issue.

Have you figured it out? If so, I’d like to hear what your “cater to their every whim” concierge service is like.

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Business model Competition Customer relationships customer retention Getting new customers market research Marketing Positioning Small Business strategic planning

Show them the ladder

On many occasions, I have advised you to offer higher-priced, higher-value products and services because they focus you on high-lifetime-value customers whose loyalty extends beyond what’s on sale this week.

Likewise, we’ve talked about using those higher-priced products and services to “subsidize” the value-priced part of your business so that you can find more high-lifetime-value clients from that group.

What I’ve been urging you to do is build a customer ascension ladder.

It’s not like you haven’t seen this before. You’re probably on several of them and might not realize it. Despite that, it’s entirely possible that you haven’t used it strategically in your business.

Ladders you know

Take a look at Kraft cheese.

If you want sliced cheese in a wrapper, you might buy Kraft Singles. In their product ladder, Velveeta Slices are a bit of a luxury item. To step beyond that, you have to go to a higher-priced Kraft brand name like Cracker Barrel and you might have to slice it yourself.

Some of you might never buy these brands, but if you buy cheese, you’re in another vendor’s cheese ladder (Kraft may own them too).

A simple ladder that everyone is familiar with is car brands.

Ford Motor Company has Ford, Mercury and Lincoln. General Motors has Chevrolet, Pontiac, Buick and Cadillac (among others). These brands illustrate simple ascension ladders.

Back in the olden days, your typical Chevy customer longed to step up the ladder and get a Cadillac someday and in fact, doing so was a sign to their co-workers, friends and family that they had “made it”. Likewise, many Ford customers longed to own a Lincoln Continental.

Today, things are bit more muddled in the car business and these things aren’t the universal success/status symbols like they once were. F250’s, Hummers and Escalades have supplanted them to some extent, illustrating that the idea and the desires are still valid.

Where’s your ladder?

What works for Kraft, Ford and General Motors also works no matter what you sell.

The ladder works for firewood, imported crystal, septic tanks or legal services…and for whatever you do.

Whatever you sell, you can usually sell more by designing an ascension ladder for your customers. It isn’t just about selling more, more, more. It’s about matching what your customers want to what you sell…which tends to make you sell more.

If some of your customers need/want an Escalade and all you sell is Yugos (the “Mona Lisa of bad cars“), you’re going to lose them. If selling Escalades isn’t your thing, that’s fine. Even so, deal with it strategically as you should know how long this progression takes based on customer

You may already have a makeshift ladder in place. It isn’t like “good, better, best” is some sort of secret of brilliant business owners.

What you seldom see is a business strategically designed to move people from through the tiers of “good, better, best”, identifying the most likely “best” buyers based on their behavior, buying habits and other factors (such as demographics and psychographics).

Designing your ladder

Take a hard look at your customers from end to end. Do the same with your prospects, who tend to be substantially different from your long-time customers.

For example, consider the differences between a customer of 20 years who is starting to think about retirement and a customer who just got their first job. Their needs, values and *what* they value day-to-day might be completely different as it relates to your products and services. “First job” is just one example and may not have any impact on their choices for what you sell. Something else definitely will, so pay attention.

If you take this task seriously, you should be able to segment your customers into groups based on any number of things from age-based needs to buy frequency to number of calls for help. You may find that there are correlations between any of these individual segments.

What you’re looking for is segments that would respond positively to the same message, the same product/service offer. Other customers might use a different version of the same service that may not interest this particular group. Thus, the importance of the message/offer.

Next….Show them the ladder you’ve designed.

Photo credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/rod_waddington/

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Business culture Business model Competition Customer relationships Getting new customers Marketing Positioning Sales Small Business

Basics aren’t.

Pastel Colored Pencils Depth of Field (unedited)
Creative Commons License photo credit: Pink Sherbet Photography

The basics are not called the basics because anyone can perform (or knows) them.

They are called that because they are fundamental to the successful execution of your business.

In some cases, they are assumed skills or pieces of knowledge that anyone working in your industry should know.

Fundamentals also apply to your business.

Your basics

What is fundamental to the successful execution of your business?

Is it possible that if you do everything wrong except for *your fundamental*, you still succeed? (a whole post could be written on that topic)

What should your prospects know about you before they pick up the phone or send an email intent on creating a relationship with you?

What are you doing to make sure they know these things?

How do people find out about you?

Which of your advertising sources provides the highest return on investment (ROI) ?

Which of your marketing methods attracts the best customers? (define “best” however you like, they’re *your* customers)

What’s the first point you try to get across to a new prospect?

What’s the most common question a new prospect has about your business?

What question from a prospect tells you they are ready to buy?

What’s the one reason that anyone should do business with you vs. anyone else in your market?

Just basic stuff.

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Banking Competition Getting new customers Lead generation Marketing Positioning Small Business

Being aware

One of the efforts of those involved in the Occupy movement is to move accounts from “Wall Street banks” to locally owned credit unions as a way of demonstrating frustration with large banks.

While the press indicates these moves have been going on for some time, the big day of those transfers was supposed to be last Saturday, November 5th.

During my travels on Saturday morning, I drove past 3 different credit unions in 2 different towns.

On a day when they might get more than a usual level of attention and new accounts, all 3 were closed.

While it’s possible that it wouldn’t have amounted to anything in a rural area where I live, no signage appeared indicating that clients from other institutions are welcome, or how another bank’s customer might compare the credit union’s services to their current bank. This could have been done without showing support or disdain for Occupy and regardless of the bank management’s position on it.

It makes me wonder if they’re paying attention.

Just a thought…that extends well beyond banking. Be aware of what’s in the news that might be front and center in the minds of your customers *and* prospects.