How Smart Marketing Builds Business

by Tom Egelhoff

Over the years I've helped many small business owners get their doors open. On the first day of business we stand there with stocked shelves, a nice bright sign, sparkling countertops and sales slip #000001. Everything is in place except the one thing needed to survive in any business and that one thing is of course the customer.

Naturally before we opened the doors we had created a business plan that included how we would market the business and bring in customers. In this article I want to show you how to open the doors to waiting customers each day rather than an empty street.

In order for a marketing plan to be successful it must do four things. One, it must reach the right target market with your advertising message. Two, it must reach customers on a regular basis creating TOMA (Top of mind awareness), Three, it must plainly spell out the differences and benefits of your products or services from your competitors. And lastly, it must create a trust and confidence in the customer that will keep them buying from you and also refer others to you. Keeping these four points in mind I'll explore how to use them.

How To Bring In Customers

In the first point you need to reach the right people with your message. In spite of what customers might tell you more than half of all your customers probably come from word-of-mouth. They had a need and asked a co-worker, friend or family member who could fill that need for them. Word-of-mouth is powerful because it comes with a testimonial from someone the customer actually knows. But on the opposite side of the coin, negative word-of-mouth can be very damaging to your business. So word-of-mouth definitely reaches your target market because similar people with similar needs talk to each other and recommend your business.

The second point is a little harder. Reach customers on a regular basis. My first rule of advertising is that you never advertise anywhere unless there is at least a 75% expectation that the ad will produce more business than it costs. Advertising must be an investment; it can never be an expense. Advertising builds both your brand name and shows people the benefits of your products and services. I prefer to let my competitors do the testing for me. If they are in the newspaper on a regular basis then that is probably working for them so I should look at being there too. If they are there a few months then gone it's a good indication that form of advertising didn't work to well. You should create a file with any and all advertising your competitors are doing and make all employees aware of what the competition is doing.

Point three is the positioning of your products and services. Positioning is creating a perception in the customers mind that when they think of soup they automatically think of Campbell's, fast food McDonald's, etc. When customers are looking for your products or services does your company name pop in their mind? As you can see positioning is very powerful. So how do you position yourself away from your competition? How can you be number one in the customers mind? Let's take a quick look at beer. Budweiser is the number one selling beer? So should all other beers give up? Or do they find a way to be different from Bud? For example, Heineken is the number one imported beer, Miller is the number one light beer, and Beck's is the number one imported German beer. Are you starting to get the picture? Can you be Billings's number one_________? Kalispell's number one_______?

The last point is trust and confidence and that is by far the toughest. A few bad apples always spoil the bunch. As a result the customer almost goes out with the attitude that all businesses are a little unscrupulous so "let the buyer beware." You build trust and confidence by always doing business by the book. Being honest, admitting fault when it's warranted and making good on your word. It takes time but word-of-mouth will eventually confirm your business ethics in the minds of customers and your business will flourish.

Successful marketing is a lot of elements working together for a common goal a successful business. Follow these four rules and your chances of success will be much higher.

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