I’m a systems contractor, why should I have to spend resources on marketing? How do I know that the marketing I’m doing is producing results (ROI)? How much should my company spend on marketing? What kind of marketing produces the best results? These are all valid questions, and if you don’t know the answers your marketing probably sucks. The reality is that if the money you spend on marketing every month isn’t helping to grow your business, your marketing probably sucks.
Many business leaders make the mistake of thinking that marketing and sales is the same thing and should be performed by the same people in the organization. Not true. How many companies do you know that give the title “vice president of sales and marketing” to their sales manager? Frankly many companies fall into the trap of making sales the last step in a marketing process, when sales should be their first and highest priority. When closely analyzed, the failure to sell has little if anything to do with the quality of your marketing and everything to do with the quality of the salespeople. Hire salespeople who know how to sell and you will keep the revenues flowing. Layer in a quality marketing program managed by a marketing expert and you will accelerate your growth.
Test your approach before you launch a full-blown campaign. Consider targeting a small audience first to refine your message.Salespeople close deals and marketing creates awareness and opportunities. Your company has a brand. The brand is a reflection of how the public actually perceives you, not how you want to be perceived. Marketing doesn’t create a brand, your reputation is your brand. What effective marketing can do is build awareness of your brand and prompt potential clients to call on you when the need arises. It’s called being front of mind. Good marketing isn’t designed to make you feel good, it should be simple and targeted at those most likely to buy from you.
An often overlooked marketing opportunity for established businesses are existing customers. If you are not currently investing in effective marketing you might consider a campaign to reach out to your established client list. I’ve heard it called “milking your own cows.” Think about it. If you clients are satisfied with their experience, you’ve already established brand equity. If you can identify what else you can offer that might appeal to their needs, you can sell them even more. But, you argue, our sales people are too busy getting new business to spend time trying to upsell our existing clients. The answer is marketing. Mailings, email blasts, newsletters, and lunch and learn programs are only a few of the many tactics you can use to reach out to your existing clients to remain top of mind.
Recent advances in technology and functionality have put our existing customers at risk to the marketing and sales efforts of our competitors who are talking about the new stuff. There is nothing worse than losing a long-time customer who buys new technology from a competitor and then you hear the dreaded words, “I didn’t know you could do that.”
Recently our marketing department created a short video that demonstrates some of the cool new technology we want our customers to know about. It’s embedded in our website and every time our customer support or service agents engage with a customer they ask permission to email a link of the video. We have been pleasantly surprised at how many new leads and opportunities for upgrades this marketing idea has generated.
Are there similar and simple marketing tactics that you may be overlooking for your company? This year consider taking your marketing game to a new level, so you won’t have to admit your marketing sucks.
Mike Bradley (firstname.lastname@example.org) is the president of Safeguard Security and Communications in Scottsdale, AZ. Bradley has participated in sales and management in the low voltage contracting industry for 32 years. He served for 11 years on the NSCA board of directors and is a frequent speaker on marketing and management topics at various industry events.
Effective marketing isn’t magic and it isn’t that hard to achieve. But, effective marketing must, above all, produce more revenue dollars than you spend on the marketing itself. Marketing experts agree that if the marketing isn’t growing your business it’s a waste of time and money. Never engage in marketing unless passes the following tests:
- The marketing must accurately reflect and amplify your brand.
- You must already have an effective sales team in place to capitalize on the new marketing.
- You set your own ego aside and create marketing that is simple and direct.
- The marketing must be unique and never copies your competitors.
- Be willing to let your marketing go to extremes to get the attention of potential customers. Don’t play it safe. Keep it memorable.
- The marketing must evoke a strong value proposition that supports your competitive advantage.
- Your marketing must be both strategic and tactical. Strategic in that it builds on itself over time toward a bigger goal. Tactical in that each effort targets specific results.
- The marketing must be integrated, but not linear. Multiple and varied tactics produce the best long-term results.
- Don’t launch until you are able to measure the results. How else will you know if it produces more revenue than you spent?
- You must have staying power and remain committed to seeing it through with each campaign. Results don’t occur overnight.
- You should test your approach before you launch a full-blown campaign. Consider targeting a small audience first to refine your message.
Effective marketing requires excellent planning and execution. If it’s worth spending money on, it’s worth doing well.