Marketing results should be measured in only one way – increased sales. Marketing should not be considered an art form. Its mere existence is not enough. Marketing is the first step to the sale. There are seven underlying principles upon which to base your marketing strategy and efforts. Follow them and your business will be a raving success. Violate them and you will fail as so many small businesses do.
The seven underlying principles are Image, Differentiation, Repeat Business, Ease of Doing Business, Networking, Likeability, and Emotion. Let’s begin with image.
Much like people have an image so does their business. Some people are informal and likeable, as are some businesses. Some people are formal and aloof, as are some businesses. Your image is wrapped up in your packaging. The clothes you wear, the haircut you sport, the weight you carry, and the age you are, all create your image. The same applies to your business.
Every way your business presents itself to your customers adds to or detracts from the image you are trying to create with your marketing efforts. Decide on the image you wish to convey to the public and design your business to support that image. Your business cards, letterhead, website, advertising materials, and every other portion of your business which will come into contact with a customer must reflect the same image.
If you sell a product, your image is also reflected in your packaging, the colors, the box, the website, the store — everything. If you sell a service, your image is reflected in your writings, your website, your proposals and your presentations. Make every interaction with a customer or prospect reflect the image you have for your business.
However, remember, it is far easier to create an unforgettable image by differentiating yourself from the competition.
Be as different as a zebra in a herd of horses. You must be different from your competitors in order to stand out. And, you must be able to convey that difference in all your messages to prospects. If you know you are different and don’t convey it, you lose. You must leverage your differences to your advantage.
If you can’t differentiate yourself, it’s because of two general reasons. You think you don’t have any competitors. Or, you have copied your competitors to the extent you all look alike to your prospects.
Thinking you don’t have any competitors is a dangerous and naïve position to take. Even if someone doesn’t sell the exact product you sell, they do compete with you for people’s money. If a potential customer is spending money with someone else, they aren’t spending it with you. Offer something different in product or service.
The second option, where you look just like your competition, is equally dangerous. In this situation, the only way to compete is by having the lowest price. Lowest price also translates to lower profit margin. This means you’re working harder to make money than you have to.
Differentiating yourself from the competition is one of the hardest tasks to accomplish. It is also one with the largest positive impact upon your bottom line. Differentiating yourself will increase business. However, part of marketing is also hanging onto the business once you have it.
A sale is great! But, two or more sales are even better!
A customer who buys once from you represents short-term revenue. Short-term revenue requires ten times more work. In this mode, you are in a constant search for new customers. A lifelong paying customer is your objective. If you offer a one-time event, you do not have a marketing process — you have a single sale. A marketing process sells to clients over and over again.
One of the reasons businesses fail is because they don’t stay in touch with customers. Frequency of contact can build trust and trust is a requirement for a sale. Set up a system to remind yourself to contact existing customers. This can be a regularly published newsletter, an email follow-up for input from the last sale, or a new product announcement. Keep in touch! Customers don’t want to be taken for granted. Make your customers feel special and they will return to you, time and time again.
Another proven method for encouraging that second purchase is to be a business that is easy to do business with.
Ease of Doing Business
Having many ways for people to buy from you increases your chance of the first sale and subsequent sales. Your website should be easy to navigate. This includes having contact information on every page, multiple methods of paying you, product descriptions with customer benefits clearly spelled out, and an easy to understand return policy.
Many websites lose sales every day because they can’t be contacted with questions or their order forms are confusing. Look at all the business systems you have established. These include the ordering system, the communication system, and the feedback system. Test them from the customer’s standpoint. If you can’t be objective, have relatives and friends test your systems and provide you with feedback. Remove anything they complain about, no matter how small it seems to you.
It can be hard enough to grow a business under the best of circumstances. Don’t build your own roadblocks. Build networks instead.
To increase sales, increase your network of contacts, both customers and suppliers.
We’ve discussed how customers can increase your business. They can return to purchase from you again. They will also tell others about you. But why network with suppliers?
Suppliers profit when you profit. They have a vested interest in your success. The smaller the supplier, the more they have invested in your success. If you establish a really good network with your suppliers, you will have first access to new products and special closeout sales. In turn, you will both be more successful.
This principle is also referred to as the principle of reciprocity. This works on the principle: “you scratch my back and I will scratch yours.” It is not just about relationships, it is about the value of those relationships. Make yours count.
People buy from people they like. This is a long proven sales axiom. If people don’t know you, how can they like you? They need to like you before they will trust you. They must trust you before they buy from you.
Likeability is one of the most valuable assets you have. Does your marketing copy (on your website or in your advertising) come across as the type of person you would like? Would you do business with this person?
Is likeability subjective and emotional? Yes. But so are buying decisions!
Marketing studies claim eighty-five percent of the buying decision is made from emotions. Buyers will then justify their purchase with logic. But emotion is where it starts! This means you must first connect with their emotions. Then give them the logic to justify what they bought. You cannot do one effectively without the other.
Your client’s perception creates the sale. So many business owners think their service or product is absolutely great. They cannot understand why it is not selling. It is because they developed their product or service according to their perceptions and not their prospects’ needs. Keep your prospects in mind at all times and you will succeed.
Remember, marketing is the first step to the sale. Keep these principles in mind and you will succeed. Nice doing business with you!