There’s a thousand-and-one ways to grow any business. The problem with all this choice is to figure out what might work, and what won’t.
In the absence of any guaranteed 100% correct answer to this question, there is usually only one outcome. Procrastination. (“Because I’m not sure of what to do next in my marketing, I’ll ignore the problem, and make myself busy with something else”).
The best action to take is to seek advice from those who actually implement and test different marketing activities for a living … (versus those who teach without applying).
Here’s what I’ve found works best, for any type of business, in the last twenty plus years of taking action, failing, taking more action, succeeding, and then continuing to fail less, and succeed more.
These 7 tips and examples come from different industries – but the real value comes from YOU finding ways to make these ideas work in your own business.
1) Never use a “name, rank, and serial number” approach to your advertising
Most business advertising is little more than an expanded form of a business card, with space taken to include a few uninformative graphics. It usually features the name of the organisation prominently, together with a bullet-pointed list of the products and services on offer. This is then followed by address details, a large phone number, and email and web address.
Basically it’s saying “here it is… come and get it”. Not surprisingly it appeals to virtually nobody, and generates little or no response.
Why do most businesses use this form of marketing?
Usually it’s because the business owner or manager has never received any ‘real-world’ marketing training. By this I mean NOT the kind you learn in university or college, which for the most part, is impractical, unaffordable and a complete waste of money for 95% of businesses.
Consequently, they have to trust advertising or graphic design agencies to write and create their ads or give them guidance. The big majority of Advertising agencies (and an even bigger % or design agencies) have little to no training on what makes an advertisement work (* see note below). They do the best they can but 9 times out of 10 they have no clue on what effective advertising really is.
What makes advertising ‘work’?
Advertising that works means that it makes a measurable profit (if you are trying to sell something through the advertising) or it delivers a measurable number of prospects that phone, e-mail, signup on a web page, or write-in for more information.
No matter what the goal of the marketing or advertising is – you should be using direct response advertising techniques from here on in. Direct response means that you get measurable responses direct to you and your company. You know exactly how many people responded to your marketing and advertising efforts.
Another reason for poor marketing results is that business owners believe that ‘professional-looking’ ads are the ones that work the best.
White space in an ad is usually wasted space – space you could have been using to win over your potential clients.
Over one hundred years of solid advertising tests have shown that 99% of the time – “the more you tell the more you sell.” Graphics can support your case in your advertising material – but should never replace your actual sales message.
2) Assuming your potential clients know what your business offers them – and assuming they understand how you deliver this result
NEVER assume that prospects will know what you mean – make sure they know by telling them precisely what you mean.
When you live, eat and breathe your business the way you probably do – there are hundreds of things that you take for granted about your business, and the way it operates.
Never assume that your prospects know these same things. It’s your job to explain, illustrate, educate and inform them – to make sure there are no unanswered questions floating around in their mind.
The Famous story of Schlitz beer.
In early 1900s USA, Schlitz beer was number 9 or 10 in the marketplace when they hired direct response copywriter and master marketer, Claude Hopkins. After spending time on their production line and touring the factory site he discovered the amazingly intricate procedure and painstaking history that was behind the brewing process.
The ad he wanted to run described the “crystal clear water from a special artesian well” … and the one “mother” yeast cell that produced all the quality yeast for fermenting the beer. This process was the result of over “1,500 experiments and produced a very distinct fresh, crisp taste”. He then proceeded to explain why the bottles were “sterilised 12 times to ensure purity, so that nothing would interfere with the clean taste of the beer”.
When he presented the draft ad to the people at Schlitz it was met with a luke-warm reception, because they explained that “everyone in the brewing industry does it that way!” He then asked “Yes, but do the beer-drinking public know about it?” and of course the answer was no.
So a new marketing campaign was created that focused in on the filtering process of the water, and the cleaning and sterilising of the bottles.
Schiltz went from 9th in the market to 1st within 12 months! Their competitors never knew what hit them. And when they emulated Schlitz in their advertising, they simply appeared as copycats.
Never assume your prospects understand the ins and outs of your business. Be the first in your market to tell your whole story and you will quickly draw serious revenue into your bank account.
3) Expect immediate results from your marketing – or don’t bother
“Branding” is part of the marketing jargon that 90%+ of advertising and marketing agencies talk about as though it’s the holy grail of success for your business.
Unfortunately, many business owners have bought into this myth and think they must “build their brand” before they can become successful. Nothing is further from the truth.
One of my private clients has been running local radio ads to promote their Chiropractic business. The advice from three different stations has been that “You can only use radio advertising to build your brand awareness, and then when people need a chiropractor, they will remember you and come to your business. And for your ads to work, you need to run them for at least six to twelve months”. What a load of tosh.
My client calmly explained to the radio station’s sales reps that their ads would be judged solely on how many people picked up the phone, and booked an appointment for a trial back screening. The campaign trial was booked for one month.
For every pound they invested in air-time, they received a 391.7% return in confirmed bookings (excluding any potential referral business from these new patients). A better place to invest their money than any savings account, wouldn’t you say?
Every ad you run should be expected to pay for itself. BUT, you must run direct response style advertising to know whether it’s working. A well written direct response ad will continue to make money for a long time – but naturally, responses will tend to drop over the period the ad is run.
When you expect your ad to pay for itself immediately, your entire marketing focus will be much more on results. You should be able to tell to the pound how effective your ad is.
The best part? When you run advertising that works and makes a net profit … your brand is being created at the same time. And that’s because you are providing more information, guidance, education and value in your ads, so your prospects naturally come to understand what you really stand for, and why they should see you as the most preferable supplier.
Those businesses that really ‘get’ this strategy, invest heavily in lead generation and sales conversions – and as a side-benefit they create the brand image they want in the marketplace.
Next time, I’ll reveal four more zero cost elements for your marketing success.
P.S. If you are ready to grow your sales revenues and profits significantly, consistently, month-by-month over the next 12 months and beyond … I invite you to BOOK YOUR BREAKTHROUGH STRATEGY SESSION HERE. and see for yourself just how easy it is to start out-competing your rivals.