Read these 19 Marketing Yourself Tips tips to make your life smarter, better, faster and wiser. Each tip is approved by our Editors and created by expert writers so great we call them Gurus. LifeTips is the place to go when you need to know about Home Office tips and hundreds of other topics.
According to marketing expert Regis McKenna, who helped launch Apple Computer, "marketing is everything, and everything is marketing." These days, the less-than-excellent businesses tend to die off. Keep in mind that everything you do in business is actually a part of your marketing program, including every product you sell, every service you offer, every customer contact you make, every letter you write. They all reflect your business, good or bad, and keeping that in mind from day to day will help you to focus on making every aspect of it better.
"Positioning" is one of the most important marketing concepts of both the last century and the next one. It's a crowded marketplace "out there," with all sorts of messages competing for your customers' attention. Perhaps the best, maybe the only way to stand out in that crowd is to stake out a very narrow "position" in the minds of your customers, and defend that ground with all your might. Other words for positioning include selectivity and focus, but whatever you call it, you should practice it as well.
Advertising legend David Ogilvy said that good copywriting was really "salesmanship in print." Ogilvy was referring to a special form of advertising, called "direct response" advertising. Today, "direct response" can be found anywhere there is advertising: they usually prompt you to "call now" or "click here." Of course, the primary function of any ad should be to sell something. Good advertising will lead the prospective consumer to buy something.
Remember that the companies you are working for are outsourcing the work you do because it's not a part of their core competency. If you do work for individuals, you likewise provide something for them that they cannot provide for themselves. They want to be better at what they do, without the challenge of having to do what you do as well.
That means you must be able to define your own core competency as well, and present it to your client (demonstrate it to your client) in a way that enhances them in their own business, among their own customers.
I do some work for a bank, and the thing they try to sell the most are called "products." Even though the only things they have to sell are loans, essentially a long-term service, they stick to the old marketing axiom to "sell a product as a service, and sell a service as a product." If you sell a product, consider the service aspects you can add; and if you sell a service, try to re-create it as a product. You'll see the results.
The Internet is full of great information, but when it comes for finding a targeted list of businesses, there's no better source than Dun and Bradstreet (D&B). Using D&B's online database, you can find any size list, of any type of company, in any geographic area, and you can have it in minutes!
"Focus" is the implementation of differentiation, you might say. Look at the recent example of Michael Jordan. When he was a basketball player exclusively, he was the best. When he went into baseball, he was less than spectacular. When he went back to basketball, he was great again. Management, another story. But Michael knows the score, and he's trying to bring back the success he had when he focused on the one thing at which he was best.
The media earns its money by selling ad space, and generally, the more they sell, the more money they make. Nothing wrong with that, until it's your money.
Remember that one ad isn't going to do anything for you (unless you are Apple computer, in the 1984 Super Bowl). Advertising must be consistent over time, and the only way a small office/home office can afford that, is to make small ads. But that's ok, because small ads can tend to pull as much response as the big ones.
Have you ever had a problem with a product or service, and complained about it? Chances are good, that company worked hard to satisfied that complaint, and made things even better in the process! So ask your customers if they have any complaints, even little ones. If your business is rolling along smoothly, you may still be lacking in one vital area: information on how your customers think you can improve. Feedback from your customers is one of the most important kinds of information you can have. If things are going well, you may be doing everything right, but still, it never hurts to ask. You could make things even better.
Consider that products come and go, and each product (or service) has a life cycle. The trash heap of business is full of companies that tried to hold on too long, without understanding that natural market forces are not static, but are dynamic. And consider, again, the example of Michael Jordan. He's trying to make it again as a player, but really he ought to be looking for a way of re-making himself, because the life cycle of the product called "Michael Jordan" has probably reached its outward limit.
There's one unique thing about your business, and you should know what that is. Ad professionals would call it your USP, or "unique selling proposition," but others have called it simply a positioning statement, or more simply, the primary benefit you are trying to sell. In crafting your advertising message, (or any marketing message), your USP should stand out in your ad.
One of the best gifts I've ever given to my clients is a pen, engraved with my name on it. I've gotten very high quality pens for just a few dollars each from Amsterdam Printing. (See www.amsterdamprinting.com) As a home office worker, I don't get out much, but it seems like every time I have a client meeting, they're using my pens!
What makes a good headline? What's the best attention grabber for a radio or TV spot? John Caples, in his "Tested Advertising Methods" recommends any of the four topics:
Self-interest of the reader/viewer
Pique their curiosity
The "quick and easy" way
Something with news value (new and improved)
And if you can combine several of these elements, you're well on your way to a great ad!
If you're considering a print ad, remember that the most important part of an ad is the headline. If you're doing radio or TV, it's the first five seconds. Why is that? Because in our busy society, you've got to fight to capture someone's attention; otherwise they'll simply turn the page or flip the station. If you want to attract someone's attention, lead with your big guns first.
Finding qualified prospects is a hard thing to do. Most major cities have those "books of business lists," where they publish the top 25 companies in every category. But if you're looking for business customers, those top 25 are going to have lots of people calling on them, because they're easy to find. However, if you do the extra bit of looking to find numbers 26 and higher in a given market segment, you'll find that you have relatively fewer competitors. That's just one small example of positioning at work.
Advertising legend David Ogilvy called direct mail "my first love and my secret weapon." As a young ad man, he had a hotel client with a very small budget. He invested the entire sum in penny postcards, and filled the house on the first night. That's the kind of low-cost, high impact result you can use!
|Jennifer Mathes, Ph.D.|