Boost '07 Results With These 5 New Year's Marketing Resolutions

by Ernest Nicastro

Think about how your business did last year. Is it time for some new marketing resolutions?

So, how was your 2006? Meet your sales projections? How about profits? Did you hit your target, blow it away, or fall a little short? Regardless of how you did, and I hope you did well, '06 is history. But '07 is just getting started and there's still time to work in a few more resolutions. So, with that thought in mind, today I present you with...5 New Year's Marketing Resolutions.

  1. Resolve to make all your advertising, marketing and sales collateral, including your web site, more effective - Give your copy a thorough, customer-centric, prospect-centric review. Read it with the same mindset, attitude and prejudices of your top customers and prospects. Is your copy 100% focused on how your product or service satisfies their wants, needs and desires? Do you offer specific and meaningful benefit-oriented details about your company, product, service? Does your copy speak to the differentiating advantages offered by your company and its products and services? Have you included testimonials and other forms of proof? Are your materials pleasing to look at and easy to read?
  2. Resolve to get input from the people that matter most - On average, it's five times more expensive to land a new customer than it is to retain an existing one. So if you haven't done so in the last 18 months, contract with a reputable third-party to conduct a customer satisfaction survey. Why use a third party? Two key reasons: (1) When responding to an objective third party your customers will offer up more candid, forthright and valuable answers (2) Assuming you earn high marks, you'll want to use the results of your survey in your marketing efforts. By stating that the information was compiled by an independent, third party those results will be more credible and effective. A well-executed customer satisfaction survey can benefit your business in many ways. For example it will help you -
  • Prevent customer defections - Uncover problems and resolve issues before your customer takes its business elsewhere
  • Generate Testimonials - Customer testimonials are the most effective form of advertising there is and most small businesses don't have enough... But a survey can generate an abundance of them. Make sure you get permission before using them.
  • Come up with new product or service offerings - You'll receive direct input from customers about additional products and services they would consider buying from you.

  • Resolve to improve response rates by including a "call to action" in every ad - There's no small business I've ever come across that can afford to run print ads WITHOUT including a clear and direct call to action. And by that I mean giving the readers of your ad an actionable, benefit-oriented reason to respond. For example, you run an IT consulting business that specializes in network security and disaster recovery and your call to action is a white paper, The Five Key Gaps in Enterprise Cyber Security. You're a CPA, a lawyer or a financial advisor and your call to action is a free one-hour, no-obligation consultation. You're a real estate broker and your call to action is your free booklet, 77 Timeless Tips For Maximizing The Selling Price of Your Home. The same advice holds true for any postal or emailing you do. Always give your customers and prospects a worthwhile reason to respond.
  • Resolve to make "news"- Much of the news you see and hear in the media about any specific company, you see and hear it because the company made a concerted effort to "make that news." Simply stated, it or its representative came up with a story angle and directly contacted the media about running the story. It happens every day, and there's no reason you can't make it happen for you. There are countless ways you can generate news. Here are three proven ideas- .
    • Sponsor a survey of interest to your customers and prospects - As long as you use a reputable third-party to conduct the survey, trade publications will almost always run this information. And it will help position your company as a thought leader in your industry.
    • Celebrate a meaningful anniversary - Ten, twenty, twenty-five, fifty or more are all good numbers to publicize and pitch. But keep in mind you need a newsworthy story angle. For example, has your success defied the odds? Do your products have an intensely loyal following? Was/is the company founder an eccentric, colorful character? You have to think like a reporter. What would make your company's anniversary a fun and interesting event to write and read about?
    • Execute a successful marketing campaign - Get extra marketing mileage from your campaign by getting the media to publicize it. The added benefit is that by showcasing your marketing results you'll position your company as a savvy, successful enterprise.

    These are but a few of the many and varied ways you can make news. That said, here are a couple of key points to keep in mind: (1)The media is an insatiable "beast," always hungry for newsworthy content, i.e. the stuff that goes with all those ads and commercials they sell and (2) You'll achieve the most profitable results when your efforts are part of a consistent and ongoing media development program.

    5. Resolve to make 2007 the year you clearly differentiate your business from the competition - The consumer and business buyer today is bombarded with a multitude of choice in every category, save but a few. So if you can't successfully differentiate your business and its products and services, then you'd better be really good at "price limbo." As in, "how low can you go?" And few businesses other than Wal-Mart can successfully execute a "price limbo" strategy. That said, let me offer you a few nuggets on differentiation from renowned marketing strategist Jack Trout's great book of a few years back, Differentiate or Die: Survival in Our Era of Killer Competition. First, Trout offers his thoughts on some appealing but misguided ideas on differentiation -

    • Quality and Customer Orientation ["We're always looking for better ways to serve you."] are rarely differentiating ideas.
    • Creativity (cool, off-the-wall ads and creative) is not a differentiating idea.
    • Price is rarely a differentiating idea.
    • Breadth of line is a difficult way to differentiate.

    Next, Trout makes his case for what he believes can be successful ways to differentiate -

    • Being first is a differentiating idea. (Example: Airborne, the first vitamin-herbal supplement specifically targeted at protecting frequent fliers from airborne germs and viruses.)
    • Attribute ownership. (Volvo owns safety. McDonald's owns kid-friendly, fast food eating. Mercedes owns engineering.)
    • Leadership (Sales leadership, technology leadership, performance leadership.)
    • Heritage (Having a long history and publicizing/romanticizing it.)
    • Market specialty (Leading supplier to a specific industry.)
    • Preference (Well-known, influential groups are on the record as preferring your brand.)
    • How a product is made. (Papa John's Pizza.)
    • Being the latest. (what's new and better, emphasis on new)

    I highly recommended this book and anything else by Mr. Trout. If you're serious about differentiating your business get yourself a copy today.

    As we all know, most New Year's resolutions are quickly broken. The good thing about the five on this list is that making and keeping just one of them can have a substantial impact on your year ahead results. But whatever your game plan is, here's to a happy, healthy and highly profitable 2007 for you and your business.

About the Author:
Ernest Nicastro, a direct marketing consultant, copywriter and lead-generation specialist, heads up Positive Response, an award-winning marketing firm specializing in B-to-B marketing and lead-generation. He also publishes a free monthly newsletter, AIM For Positive Response. For more information visit Contact Ernie directly at or by phone at 614.747.2256.
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