There’s no question about it, when a customer sings the praises of a particular product or company, people listen. It is more believable than a company touting its own message. The popularity of social media and review sites has proven this to be a powerful marketing truth. People believe and trust what other people have to say before they will believe what a company says about itself. Welcome to the 21st century.
Tuning up your marketing to include real-life customer experiences can enhance your credibility and believability. This can be a mix of customer success stories, testimonials, sharing customer feedback through surveys, encouraging customers to post reviews or submitting customers as references.
In any event, the idea is to get your customer’s voice singing in harmony with your messaging, to reinforce what you are promoting and confirming your organization’s credibility.
Share success stories
Case studies or success stories are a great way to demonstrate the net benefit customers have received from your products or services. They typically take on a format of describing the customer scenario or problem, defining the solution your company implemented and the positive end results realized by the customer. They can include statements from the customer or the company.
Once developed, success stories can be integrated into a myriad of marketing activities.
Use them as content on your website, post them to your blog and social media, use them in email campaigns, submit them to trade publications and local media for publication, and format them to use as a prospecting tool.
Use customer testimonials
Testimonials can be powerful in articulating a satisfactory experience with your company. Using testimonials strategically can demonstrate the depth and breadth of your organization and establish trust.
Like success stories, testimonials can be incorporated into any marketing vehicle. Use them on your website, include them in advertising, format them on a leave-behind prospecting piece, add them randomly in your email signature, post them to your blog and social media, use them in proposals, feature them in reception areas, etc.
Share statistics from surveys
If part of your recent or ongoing marketing is to survey your customers to determine levels of satisfaction or other information, you could benefit from sharing the results of that information in marketing your company’s products or services.
If your survey showed that a large percentage of your customers find your company easy to work with, share that information across your marketing venues.
Promote customer reviews
Consumer-oriented businesses can benefit from receiving positive reviews on social media sites such as Yelp, Google+ and others. Promoting reviews from customers can be a great way to obtain a positive buzz about your company or its products.
Social media posts can be influential, utilize this information to market your company.
Ask customers to serve as a reference
Having a list of customers who would take a call from a prospect to serve as a reference can be a great way to win business. It shows confidence that what you have done for your customers has been a positive experience. It demonstrates transparency and implies a high-level of satisfaction.
Is your customer’s voice present in your marketing? If not, you could be missing out on some great opportunities. ●
Kelly Borth is CEO and chief strategy officer for GREENCREST, a 23-year-old brand development, strategic and interactive marketing and public relations firm that turns market players into market leaders. Borth has received numerous honors for her business and community leadership. She serves on several local advisory boards and is one of 30 certified brand strategists in the U.S. Reach her at (614) 885-7921, email@example.com or on Twitter @brandpro. For more information, visit
With Kelly Borth on LinkedIn www.linkedin.com/in/kellyborth
An old proverb says the best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago, and the second-best time is now. The same thing goes for planning to grow your business and expand on your facility and services.
While you might take a year to decide exactly when to break ground on a building expansion or to construct a new facility altogether, the real decision to grow your business was best made the day you started it.
When I originally purchased the current building for my company, Silver Threads Inc., I already knew where the expansion would go, even though it was more than a decade away.
Identify the opportunity
It’s important to start by choosing a business or industry where you’ve identified a unique opportunity for growth. While it’s vital that you conduct your due diligence, don’t pay too much attention to others who might be closing shops or outsourcing business overseas. It’s possible that a trend like that may actually signal a bigger opportunity for your own business.
In the case of expanding Silver Threads, I knew from conversations with clients that they would prefer the crafting of their custom drapery, shades and bedding be kept in the U.S., but most of the industry was sending manufacturing work to China.
While the cost might initially appear to be marginally lower, I saw it as an opportunity to create more jobs in the U.S. while efficiently decreasing the time and money my clients were losing because of extended shipping requirements. Being U.S.-based became an even bigger benefit when things went wrong with an order, as Silver Threads was better positioned to correct the issue that would have taken weeks or months to correct and reship from overseas.
Research the talent pool
If you’re going to grow, you need to know that a talent pool is available to support your growth and increase your production capacity. There were a lot of talented seamstresses who were waiting for an opportunity to work at Silver Threads because the trend had been to lower costs by lowering salaries until they could no longer support American wages and then use lower-priced overseas labor.
The efficiencies in manufacturing in America allow us to pay our team fairly, give them bonuses when the company does well and keep everyone excited about our growth.
The most important mistake to avoid is basing your decision to expand on business coming in from a single client. If you’re planning your business growth on revenue from one source, you could also be planning the demise of your business based on the loss of one client.
It’s better to diversify your products and services to capture additional business from existing clients or brand new sources than to tie your expansion plans to a single client.
If I could go back in time and tell myself one thing to do differently in planning for the growth of my own company, it would be to make sure that I was thinking big enough. We just completed a 12,000-square-foot expansion, and we’re already out of room. But, that’s OK. I already have the plans for our next expansion all mapped out … I did it 20 years ago. ●
Carrie Perini is the owner of Silver Threads Inc., a commercial drapery workshop based in Plain City. Perini started the business out of her home more than 30 years ago, and has turned it into a thriving enterprise. For more information, visit www.SilverThreadsInc.com
Consider this business scenario: You’ve landed a big account for your company by converting a highly prized prospect into a valuable client. The new client has hired you to handle a specific scope of work and is counting on your team’s ability to deliver work that goes above and beyond.
While nothing is more important than delivering great customer service to satisfy the client, you may not realize that you’re probably overlooking unrealized opportunities to forge a stronger relationship with your customer.
In today’s business landscape, most large companies offer an array of products and services. More often than not, however, your clients use you for a specific service or skill set. And unfortunately, in this scenario, most companies focus solely on the task at hand — delivering what they’ve been contracted to deliver — failing to take ample time to think about the bond they’re creating with the client and what could be next.
In more simple terms, it is one thing to provide service that keeps a customer; it is another to keep that customer and expand the relationship to become a trusted partner.
Provide value in a deliberate way
The good news is that this is an easy fix. Establish a content marketing program that allows you to distribute thought leadership to your clients.
A content marketing program will help you provide value that other service providers may not, and when clients see you as an informational resource and partner, it will be easier to expand the relationship.
Take this example into consideration: You are an insurance provider and your main product is life insurance, therefore most of the communication you have with your clients surrounds that topic.
With a comprehensive content marketing program in place, however, you can educate your clients on the recent trends in the insurance industry and how that affects the individual. At the same time, you can give them an overview of your company’s wellness program and let them know that if they joined, they could reduce their monthly premiums.
As you can see, you’re not just providing your client with the original service, you’re also providing them with both your thought leadership — aka value — and additional offerings.
Personal connections payoff
Aside from providing value to the client with the content you distribute, a strong content marketing program allows you to showcase your brand’s personality. Clients will be able to connect with your brand on a more personal level.
Providing continually updated content through the right channels to the right clients enhances your day-to-day communications. Clients start seeing you as thought leaders and partners instead of just service providers.
It will help you expand relationships and, as a result, generate new business through more products and services.
Show them more than just what they see on the surface — show them how active you are in the community, or how much fun you had during a recent company outing. If may sound trivial, but your clients do similar things, and seeing you connect with the community and/or employees will help forge a more personal connection. You never know; you and your client may support the same charity, organization or team.
Open communication also will help strengthen relationships to the point where you can capture a premium price and eliminate price-jumping clients. Clients will pay more for a valuable relationship than simply look to get the lowest price elsewhere. ●
David Fazekas is vice president of marketing services for SBN Interactive. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or (440) 250-7056.
You would think someone like Douglas Merrill would be a heavy multitasker, with multiple devices in hand, fielding several conversations — both real and virtual — simultaneously.
But you would be wrong.
Merrill, who was the CIO at Google until 2008, doesn’t like to multitask. He says that when you do it, you aren’t using your brain’s full capacity and aren’t as effective. He recommends focusing on one thing at a time.
Billionaire Mark Cuban has his own time management strategy. Cuban, owner of the NBA’s Dallas Mavericks, says you should completely avoid meetings unless you are closing a deal. Otherwise, he says, they are a waste of time.
Both of these proven leaders have learned that how you manage your time is paramount to your effectiveness.
As a CEO, you are swamped every day with calls and emails from people wanting a piece of your time. Some are internal, some are charity requests, some are from friends or family members and others are from service providers.
To help wade through this sea of information, it’s important to have a system in place to help you free up time to think about your business and the things that matter most in life. These open times are what author Richard Swenson refers to as “margin.” They are the spaces between ourselves and our limits that are reserved for emergencies.
But for many business leaders, there are no spaces left.
The way out of this trap is to set clear goals and values for yourself and your organization. Once you do that, you will have a filter through which to evaluate everything. Everything will have an immediate yes or no answer, eliminating the “let me think about it” category completely.
The key is to establish what your goals are first and then prioritize what is important. With your priorities straight, you will find more time to put toward important things on your goals list, but don’t forget to leave time on your daily schedule. There is no way to foresee all emergencies, so by leaving yourself some margin, when something unexpected happens, you already have time built in to deal with it.
Once you have margin built into your life, you have to have the discipline to stick to it. There will always be the temptation to take every meeting or answer every email. But if you use your goals and priorities as a filter, those requests are easily either accepted or declined based on where they fall on your priority list.
If you want a life where you can experience more peace and joy and less anxiety, start looking at your priorities and establish some margin in your daily schedule. ●
Deny, deny, deny; fall, tuck and roll; or put your head in the sand?
The quick answer to this headline is none of the above. A leader, by definition, must do exactly that — lead, which means being in front of a variety of audiences, including employees, investors and customers. Not everyone is going to be a gung-ho supporter. Sooner or later you’ll encounter a naysayer who either has a point to prove or is on a mission to make you and your company look bad.
Many of these verbal confrontations come out of nowhere and when least expected. As the representative of your organization, it is your responsibility to manage these situations and recognize that sometimes a “win” can simply minimize the damage.
When under siege, it’s human instinct to fight, flee or freeze. Typically these behavioral responses aren’t particularly productive in a war of words. Engaging in verbal fisticuffs could simply escalate the encounter, giving more credence to the matter than deserved.
If you flee by ignoring the negative assertions, you’ll immediately be presumed guilty as charged. It’s hard to make your side of the story known if you put your head in the sand.
By freezing, you’ll appear intellectually impotent. Worse yet, pooh-poohing a question will only fuel the aggressor’s determination to disrupt the proceedings. You could use a SWAT-type police and military technique to elude a confronter by falling, tucking and rolling to safety, but that usually only works on the silver screen.
Perhaps the best method to manage unwelcome adversaries is to be prepared prior to taking center stage. This applies to live audiences or a virtual gathering when you’re speaking to multiple participants, which is common practice for public company CEOs during quarterly analyst conference calls.
Most gatherings of this nature include a Q&A segment where the tables are turned on the speaker who must be prepared to respond to inquiries both positive and negative.
Before any such meeting, it is critical to contemplate and rehearse how you would respond to thorny or adverse statements or questions.
A good practice is to put the possible questions in writing and then craft your responses, hoping, of course, that they won’t be needed. This is no different from what the President of the United States or the head of any city council does prior to a press conference or presentation. The advantage of this exercise is that it tends to sharpen your thinking and causes you to explore issues from the other perspective.
In some cases you’ll find yourself in an awkward or difficult situation where there is no suitable yes or no answer, or when the subject of the interrogatory is so specific it is applicable to only a very few.
The one-off question is easiest to handle by stating that you or your representative will answer the question following the session rather than squander the remaining time on something that does not interest or affect the majority.
The more difficult question is one that will take further investigation and deliberation, in which case the best course of action is to say exactly that. Answer by asserting that rather than giving a less-than-thoughtful response to a question that deserves more research, you or your vicar will get back with the appropriate response in short order. This helps to protect you from shooting from the hip only to later regret something that can come back to haunt you.
Effective speakers and leaders have learned that the best way to counter antagonism is through diplomacy. It’s much more difficult for the antagonist to continue to fight with a polite, unwilling opponent.
Finally, when being challenged, never personalize your response against your questioner; always control your temper; and don’t linger on a negative. Keep the proceedings moving forward and at the conclusion keep your promise to follow up with an answer. This will build your credibility and allow you to do what you do best, lead. ●
Michael Feuer co-founded OfficeMax in 1988, starting with one store and $20,000 of his own money. During a 16-year span, Feuer, as CEO, grew the company to almost 1,000 stores worldwide with annual sales of approximately $5 billion before selling this retail giant for almost $1.5 billion in December 2003. In 2010, Feuer launched another retail concept, Max-Wellness, a first of its kind chain featuring more than 7,000 products for head-to-toe care. Feuer serves on a number of corporate and philanthropic boards and is a frequent speaker on business, marketing and building entrepreneurial enterprises. “The Benevolent Dictator,” a book by Feuer that chronicles his step-by-step strategy to build business and create wealth, published by John Wiley & Sons, is now available. Reach him with comments at email@example.com.
My 7-year-old son Cole recently gave me a Rainbow Loom bracelet, which is made of linked rubber bands. It is today’s school-age children’s craze, and Novi, Michigan-based Choon’s Design LLC is churning out the kits at a record pace.
With more than 1 million units sold in the last 24 months, Rainbow Loom is the brainchild of Choon Ng, a former Nissan crash safety engineer who invented it while working on a craft project for his daughters.
And Rainbow Loom, it turns out, isn’t its original name. When it was created, it was called Twistz Bandz.
Timing is everything, and Twistz Bandz may have sounded a bit too much like Silly Bandz — the last “wrist” craze that swept the nation. Between November 2008 and early 2011, every school-age child in sight was wearing layer upon layer of Silly Bandz on their wrists. It was as hot a product as anything since Beanie Babies.
Twistz Bandz’s arrival, it seems, happened just as Silly Bandz ran into what every hot new product eventually faces: competition. Look-a-likes with similar-sounding names began flooding the market. They were cheaper, and you could buy them more readily at more retail locations. The core brand quickly diluted. So Ng did what any smart businessperson would: He changed the dynamics of the situation.
Thus, Rainbow Loom was born.
Enter social media
Within a few months, the product — which allows its young owners to custom-create bracelets — was gaining attention. Much of this was due to a full-tilt social media blitz, including videos on YouTube and an engaging Facebook page, where users could share their designs.
More recently, Ng has become vigilant in protecting his patent and U.S. trademark — battling all wannabe competitors from launching similar-sounding products and flooding the market to dilute his own brand.
His success — or failure — is yet-to-be determined. But his efforts will prove fruitless if he’s not already looking ahead to the next product. This is the dirty little secret to any hot toy craze and the core dilemma every business leaders faces: How do you remain relevant as consumers’ wants, needs and desires ebb and flow — sometimes as swiftly as the wind changes direction.
Get beyond being a fad
Success in business relies upon building a sustainable operation that will outlast any cyclical “must have” product explosion.
There needs to be the creation of an idea continuum — an innovation factory, if you will. Innovative leaders must review, measure and adapt a company’s products, services and solutions to the changing whims of the marketplace. You need to talk to customers, vendors and prospects. And you need to regularly take the pulse of the market.
If you haven’t taken at least some of the gains from today’s success and invested it into research and development for tomorrow, you’re already losing ground. Today is today, and just like the disclaimers for financial investing warn — past performance does not indicate future results.
In the end, the only thing that matters is this: Is your next big thing built to last? Or, like every other craze that’s every hit the market, will your opportunities to remain relevant long into the future fade away after the competition creeps in and dilutes your market? ●
Dustin S. Klein is publisher and vice president of operations for Smart Business. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or (440) 250-7026.
So much of sales and marketing is understanding what customers really want and need from vendors and suppliers. Many times we feel that in order to obtain loyalty we need to invite customers to play golf, have open houses or entertain them over dinner or at sporting events. While these actions certainly reflect an investment in customer relationships, they do not make the list.
In preparing for this column, I reached out to 35 business-owning members of Vistage and the Women Presidents Organization for input on what they need from their vendors. Their insight speaks volumes and is a good reminder of how to best nurture customer relationships. Here are their top 10 preferences in order of ranking.
Be responsive, honest, trustworthy and transparent
Be available when needed and resolve problems or issues openly and honestly. Respond quickly. Give customers your time and attention when it counts and be thorough — this demonstrates that customers are an important asset to your business and a valued relationship.
Be upfront and tell customers about any problems before they find out or something escalates out of control.
Use proactive and meaningful communication
Communicate often, but respect your customers’ time and don’t barrage them with meaningless communications.
When it is critical to your customers’ business, over-communicate. Stay in touch with customers to show that you are proactively thinking on their behalf and present them with ideas that will improve their business.
Provide quality products or services
Do a great job and do it right. Give customers what they are paying for, deliver value and do it in a timely manner.
Deliver stellar customer service
Provide service, service and more service. Don’t let your customers down, and if something unfortunate does arise, provide alternative solutions with enough time to resolve the situation.
Offer competitive pricing and value
Respect customers’ budgets and provide a fair price that reflects the quality of the product or service. Provide customers with a recognizable value for the expense incurred. Always work to improve the value you are delivering.
Understand customers’ needs and what’s important
Demonstrate to customers that you are a team member and a partner in their business. Value your customers’ interests. Be there for the long term and help your customers make good buying decisions based on their needs, rather than what you have to sell.
Be a solutions partner
Be a partner in creating solutions by being proactive. Your customers want you to do more listening than talking. Take the time to have a thorough understanding of your customers’ needs and come back with solid solutions that demonstrate you have thought beyond the initial discussion to find the best solution.
Do what you say you will do
Customers need to rely on quality, dependable and timely products and services.
Deliver when promised
Deliver products and services when you promise them and follow through. Be forthcoming when you cannot do so.
Listen and demonstrate an effort to be a better vendor
Care about the relationship by listening to your customers’ needs and/or pain. Ask them how you can improve the relationship and respond accordingly or formally tell them if you cannot. Be the better half of the relationship. Be engaged. Be positive. Be results-oriented. ●
Kelly Borth is CEO and chief strategy officer for GREENCREST, a 23-year-old brand development, strategic and interactive marketing and public relations firm that turns market players into market leaders. Borth has received numerous honors for her business and community leadership. She serves on several local advisory boards and is one of 30 certified brand strategists in the U.S. Reach her at (614) 885-7921, email@example.com or on Twitter @brandpro. For more information, visit www.greencrest.com.
As a marketing professional, I have consistently been involved in helping companies plan celebrations and communications with customers, employees and media during milestone years. Whether a company is celebrating 10 years or 100 years in business, it is a special time and an opportunity to be recognized for business longevity and best practices.
There are many ways to leverage a milestone year. In all cases, how you celebrate should be fun and consistent with your company’s brand. Here are some things you might want to consider for your business.
Determine a promotional time frame
It is not unusual for a company milestone to be promoted six months in advance and continue six months following the milestone year.
Develop an anniversary logo
Develop a special logo or adapt your current logo with a reference to the anniversary year. It is also common for companies to continue to use some form of that logo past the milestone year, sometimes as a standard part of the company’s corporate identity or logo and sometimes as a tag line.
Incorporate the logo on the company’s website, stationery, email signatures, social media sites, brochures (sometimes best done with a sticker) and other marketing and advertising materials. Also make it visible in all company office.
Ceate an anniversary theme
Creating a theme can be a fun way to tie-in a special anniversary message. The theme can play off the milestone year such as, “100 Ways We’ve Led the Industry,” or emphasize a competitive advantage such as, “Emerging Through Innovation.” Incorporate the theme in all marketing and employee communications.
Document the company’s history
Creating a company timeline, incorporating archive photos and sharing tidbits of the company’s history can be fun ways to engage employees and social media contacts. Once documented, this information can reside on the company website and be incorporated into employee manuals and the on-boarding process. Another idea is to produce an anniversary video or a company history coffee table book.
Celebrate with employees
Commemorating company milestones with employees builds pride. Companywide corporate and family events, commemorative shirts, hats and other items with messages of thanks go a long way.
Celebrate with customers and vendors
Communicating the company’s milestones by mailing or delivering commemorative gifts. Planning celebrations such as open houses or plant tours and simple letters of thanks are great ways to involve customers and vendors.
Share your story with trade and local media
A company that reaches a milestone year is not necessarily newsworthy to most media, but if you can tie in that message with what the company has done over time, now you are talking about something that might catch the attention of a reporter. Also, look to organizations like the Columbus Chamber or the Conway Center for Family Business — both of which recognize company milestone years.
Giving back to the community in some way can also be a memorable way to share your milestone with all audiences. Choose a cause that your company is passionate about. Make a commemorative contribution such as 100 volunteer hours, 50 meals or a cash amount that ties back to your milestone year.
So, don’t let a milestone year slip by unnoticed. Have some fun and celebrate these wonderful achievements. ●
Kelly Borth is CEO and chief strategy officer for GREENCREST, a 23-year-old brand development, strategic and interactive marketing and public relations firm that turns market players into market leaders. Kelly has received numerous honors for her business and community leadership. She serves on several local advisory boards and is one of 30 certified brand strategists in the U.S. Reach her at 614-885-7921, firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @brandpro. For more information, visit www.greencrest.com.
Twitter (company): @GreenCrest
LinkedIn (company: http://www.linkedin.com/company/68562?trk=pro_other_cmpy
The animal kingdom has long been instrumental in teaching children about appropriate behavior.
A rabbit named Peter educated us on the importance of conflict resolution. For better or worse, Curious George was habitually inquisitive and, in separate incidents, three bears and three pigs taught us the importance of home security.
But despite a literary reputation as “big” and “bad,” according to Jack Hanna, “A wolf will feed the sick, the old and the young first.”
That’s a pretty impressive character trait for a creature so often maligned by the human race. Over the years, however, we’ve learned to expect Hanna to set the record straight on an important part of our world that most of us will never experience firsthand.
Following the footsteps of a legend
Inspired by wildlife pioneer Marlin Perkins, Hanna parlayed a fascination with animals and a position leading the Columbus Zoo into a television empire spanning 30 years. He’s had countless TV appearances on popular shows such as “Good Morning America” and “The Late Show with David Letterman.” In addition, he currently helms two television programs, “Jack Hanna’s Wild Countdown” and “Jack Hanna’s Into the Wild.”
Not surprisingly, Hanna’s high regard for the animal population is also reflected in his view of the public’s acceptance of the animal kingdom: “Most people who say they don’t like animals don’t like people much either.”
Phil Beuth, former president of “Good Morning America,” observes, “With Jack, what you see is what you get — he’s a genuine gentleman.”
Hanna has set a simple benchmark for appropriate professional behavior, “I operate by The Golden Rule — do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”
Of course, humans are animals too — complete with instincts, genetic predispositions, unique skill sets and laws to keep us from acting like predatory animals. Yet, prey we do — leveraged buyouts, hostile takeovers, foreclosures, etc.
Comparing workforces of nature
When asked about lessons human worker bees can glean from the animal kingdom, Hanna enthusiastically says, “Just look at ants and termites. They each have specific jobs to do.” By performing specific tasks every day, these creatures work solely to serve the greater good — ostensibly without complaining.
Animals = 1 Humans = 0
Hanna also points to an innate respect in the wild that does not always translate into the land of the bipeds: “The animal world does not waste food and animals do not abuse their own children. For example, gorillas may fight but they still work together.”
Working through issues to achieve top performance is apparently part of the natural order of things. It’s about survival. As the concept of business survival has never been more prominent, shouldn’t cooperation receive equal billing?
Animals = 2 Humans = 0
Though Hanna also marvels at the mysteries behind the instinctual and highly effective way animals communicate, many in the office marvel at some people’s overwhelming lack of communication skills.
Animals = 3 Humans = 0
Specifically, according to Hanna, “The elephant is one of the most intelligent creatures on the planet.”
So yes, it seems that without the benefit of an iPhone, Twitter or Outlook, an elephant truly never forgets.
Time to hire me an elephant. The Laws of Nature win every time. ●
Speaker, writer and professional storyteller Randall Kenneth Jones is the creator of RediscoverCourtesy.org and the president of MindZoo, a marketing communications firm in Naples, Fla. For more information, visit randallkennethjones.com.
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A marketing epidemic, to put it mildly, has been impacting most businesses — and it’s time to think about keeping your message simple if you haven’t already done so.
The roots of this epidemic can be traced back to two events.
First, during the economic fall of 2008, as businesses looked for ways to preserve revenue streams, companies hunkered down and focused on sales to preserve existing customers. Many cutoff or significantly reduced marketing budgets, and others shifted to digital media as a “low-cost alternative.”
The second event was the rapid spread of social media and the skyrocketing use of smartphones and tablets, which provide instant access to relationships, information and communication.
The social media craze and businesses’ desire to market on the cheap led companies to flood the marketing channels with content. Sales sheets, photos, videos, web pages — companies were suddenly all things to all people because they could push content to digital channels for “free.”
The problem — our marketing channels are now very noisy. As consumers of information, we respond to this noise with limited attention spans. The result — companies have sent confusing messages to the marketplace and people aren’t listening.
This current epidemic of marketing noise distributed across all channels leads to a common marketing need for all businesses — simplification.
Keeping it simple
So how do you achieve message simplification? It all ties back to the business. Here are seven steps to help get you started:
1. Identify three to four key business objectives for the next two years. Do you want regional growth or growth in a new industry? Do you want to sell more to existing customers?
2. Prioritize your objectives by placing dollars or number of opportunities next to them. This will help you focus on the most important areas.
3. Brainstorm a list of marketing tactics that can help you achieve each objective. Can you generate more leads from trade shows, your website, your existing customer list? What tactics do you need to adopt?
4. Write a succinct summary, or “elevator pitch.” This should be one to three sentences on how you benefit the people you are targeting in your objectives.
5. Compare your elevator pitch to your marketing tactics and existing materials. Review your website, brochures, email newsletter, social media accounts, videos, trade show collateral, etc. Notice how many “extra” things you say in an effort to cover all your bases.
6. Rework your message. Focus on the audiences for your key objectives. Identify the benefits for these audiences. Your marketing message should speak directly to these audiences so they can understand your value and usefulness to them.
7. Prioritize your marketing tactics. It’s tempting to be trendy and market on social media or through video, just remember to consider which tactics will best reach your audiences. You don’t need to be in every marketing channel, just the ones where your customers and prospects will hear you.
Finally, once you’ve simplified your message, stick to it! It is important so that people understand the benefits and value that you deliver. While it might seem repetitive to you, your audience will appreciate the clarity and with time, will remember what your business does best. ●
Kristy Amy is director of marketing strategy for SBN Interactive. Reach her at mailto:email@example.com or (440) 250-7011.