MartinGroup Identity + Design

Don't Keep Doing the Same Old Things...

May 20, 2009 | Posted in Newsroom

Don't Wring Your Hands, Don't Freeze Up and, By All Means, Don't Keep Doing the Same Old Things!

Chuck Mancino, MMPR

You've heard it before, and with good reason: It is not wise to cut your advertising and marketing budgets during rough economic times. Doing so will lead you to ruin.

But should you just keep doing the same things you always have? No. Simply doing "what you used to do" is ill-advised as well.

In these challenging times you need a new approach, one that combines both the best aspects of your "traditional" marketing strategy with some fresh ideas.

Branding Still Matters

If you used to just "run some print ads" and "attend a few trade shows" as the sum of your efforts, you should re-think your strategy; that approach might not be enough anymore.

But that does NOT mean you should abandon all "traditional" advertising. Your "brand" still counts. Most of us are loyal certain brands and feel stung when we go away from them. If you go away from buying Morton's Salt, you might end up with a "clump" of salt. Is it really worth saving those 60 cents on ketchup and risk some watered down version that isn't Heinz or Hunts? When you build – or maintain – your brand, it adds value, and the loyal buyers you want make their decisions based on factors that go beyond price points.

Typically, branding is not something done online. The best way to build or maintain your brand is still the old fashioned way: print. I know one company president who told me, "We run ads in the magazines just so people stop by our booth when they walk by. Before we advertised, they walked right on by. Now they stop and say, ‘We know you.'" I doubt prospects are going to say, "We remember you from doing a keyword search."

A 2009 kind of game plan

Don't abandon print and don't end your efforts to improve your print campaigns and tie them into your other marketing pieces. Here is a check list of options to consider for a lean, mean, marketing machine.

A. Is your website top notch?

If you wouldn't consider working a trade show with greasy hands, un-kept hair, bad breath and worn out shoes, then don't consider operating with a website that is anything but quality. And by quality I mean your site:

  • Looks crisp, sharp and modern.
  • Is easy to navigate and easy to find.
  • Offers super obvious online ordering with zero confusion or difficulty (if applicable).
  • Offers a natural reflection of your company.

If you have issues with any of these elements, take care of your web first and foremost. Too many buyers form their opinion based your website; if it's lacking, it's like you just spewed a huge cloud of bad breath into a prospect's face at the trade show. And, by the way, you don't have to spend $25,000 for a quality site (depending on how many pages you need, etc.), you can have a tight-looking site for relatively little money. (Keep in mind, if you have major commerce needs, etc. it will cost you more.) Like anything, you need to do your homework so you don't get ripped off. If you don't invest enough attention, you can pay 400% too much. But regardless, it is an absolute must to have your website up to par. (www.bannertherapy.com is an example of a site done right.)

B. Build effective landing pages that tie in to your print and banner ads, if applicable.

Landing pages are not merely the same thing as your web page. They are designed for two things:

Having you show up high on a Google search (upper half of the first page).
Grabbing and keeping the prospects attention through the critical path to aSALE.

Your home page must address information offerings that don't necessarily lead to a sale; it must incorporate things such as "About us, Contact us," etc. Every day over 90% of people online use some sort of search tool to find services and information. Whether you run a table company, a distributor of products, practice software or topical company - if you don't show up on Google's first page, someone else is getting your customers. In addition, the average time your prospect spends on search results is 6.4 seconds. Even if you manage to get on the front page of Google, how do you differentiate yourself in a list of close to 25 or so other results? That's where the landing page experts come in; they can design and produce videos that have a much higher Google rating and grab and keep your prospects attention.

C. Keeping in front of your customers and prospects with educational e-newsletters.

Just like every other form of media, your customers and prospects email is crammed with so much promotional minutia (even after spam is removed) that sending them an email "announcing a special sale" etc. get's about a "one" on a scale of "10" as far as them paying attention.

However, if you provide value in the content, the target reader will open and read your message. You need to provide value in the content, not just promotion. Once the reader recognizes that you are providing value, they will be less likely to hit "delete" without reading it.

For instance, let's say you are distributor of CAM products. Instead just promoting products, have a few short articles on "tips on retailing and marketing" those products. Then if you want to include some form or promotion, do so at the bottom but do not make the main message purely promotional or less and less potential customers will bother to open the email to begin with. The absolute key: provide truly valuable content. Content is king.

D. Make sure you have a "unique selling proposition", USP, and make sure you are communicating it fully, boldly and clearly – in all of your marketing.

Books can be written on this point alone. But bottom line: If there isn't something about your product or service that makes it unique in some way, compared to the other products in the market, you don't have anything to promote in the first place. What makes your product or service stand out to everything else that is out there? If you can't answer that question, you need to work on creating a USP and there are many ways to develop one. Maybe you are cheaper or faster or provide better service or have a bigger variety or do the job more thoroughly or have brand recognition to the end user – something.

If you stop, you'll get passed by. If you freeze, your customers will warm up to someone else. If you step it up and tie it all together, you'll see the difference where it counts, the bottom line.


About the author

Chuck Mancino is a writer, marketing consultant and principal of MMPR, based in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida. He has over 22 years experience in advertising, marketing and public relations. MMPR is a strategic affiliate of MartinGroup Identity + Design.