May 27, 2011

Giving Customers What They Ask For is Not Enough

Filed under: Marketing Quick-Tip — admin @ 9:03 am

You know more about your own product than your customers. Your experience gives you insight into what works in the real world, and what doesn’t.

Don’t Just Sell Your Customers What They Will Buy, Help Them Become Successful

This may require selling a lower margin solution, supplementing your product with training or professional services, or sharing the sale with a partner.

Any short-term loss of profit will be offset by the long-term benefit to your own reputation. Successful customers will become your biggest advocates.
With thanks to The Startup Daily


May 25, 2011

Marketing in the age of instant gratification

Filed under: Marketing Quick-Tip — admin @ 12:01 pm

People want instant results for their marketing dollars. This is understandable in the same way it would be if someone pitched a tent when what they really needed was more like a brick and mortar house.

While the tent is faster and, most notably, cheaper, it is not the kind of shelter within which to build a future or raise a family. What’s more, it has no foundation and will doubtless be swept away by the first hard rain. What is needed is an abode, humble though it may be at first, that can be added to and embellished with the passage of time and improvement in fortunes.

Just as is the case with that home, a marketing program has to be built up, but only after it has begun to pay its way. Of course, that takes time, just as a home has to be improved when doing so is advisable and affordable. However, to expect the marketing campaign to pay off “overnight” is neither realistic nor, in the larger scheme of things, necessary.

Don’t build a tent

To do so not only will be unsatisfying, it wastes money on canvas, rope and stakes when what really is needed may be more like a starter home, even an apartment. Before these comparisons get completely out of hand, lets focus on the marketing mission.

It should be about building a future, rather than gambling inappropriately on the present. Brand building is neither an overnight pursuit nor a job for amateurs. Get qualified help. If you can’t hire a marketing expert, at least talk to friends and/or associates who have proven their knowledge of it.

It starts with a plan. Though it may be a simple and basic one, the important thing is to make it a plan, with the following ingredients:
An objective
A strategy
Specified tactics
Measurement benchmarks
Analysis (a willingness to change course if it’s not working well).


. . . yes, it will take some, even if it is a humble campaign. Just make sure it’s a campaign, rather than a roll of the dice. This may mean a shorter vacation, or one closer to home, or other such unpalatable sacrifices. But they will be worth it if as a result your can get your business to the point where it is an asset rather than a liability.

Happy marketing!


May 19, 2011

Check this: Do you keep checklists?

Filed under: Marketing Quick-Tip — admin @ 5:34 pm

As entrepreneurs and founders of businesses we have a great many balls in the air at any given time. The average day finds many of us actively managing a team, communicating with investors, raising funding, performing HR chores, recruiting, keeping the books, executing marketing plans, performing customer service, and taking out the trash. To accomplish all of this, we struggle mightily to stay efficient and to increase our own productivity, all the while struggling to find the personal capacity to do it all and to do it all well.

Keeping focus is the critical component in our days and our ability to do so can impact not just on how much work we can get done on a given day, but can also seriously effect the ultimate success or failure of our business.

One of the ways that I have learned to manage my own capacity, and maintain my own focus in the face of mighty of all manner of interruption, disturbance, interference, and hindrance is with a simple tool: the checklist. It is as low tech as low-tech gets: a piece of paper (in my case a Moleskin notebook) and a pen is all it takes to manage your own time, improve your efficiency, and increase your capacity. Here are 5 thoughts on why a checklist works and some tips for their use.

1. Efficiency has an ebb and a flow.
Face it: some days you are just better than others. We all have days when we are rocketing along, firing all cylinders and hitting one home run after the next. These are the great days when we can accomplish just about any task we have set for ourselves and these are the days that matter. Of course there will be the less-than-great days and these are the ones that require you to focus all the harder to maintain your productivity. On bad days I am even more dependent on the simple unadorned checklist I use to keep me focused, force me to be task-oriented, and drive me through in spite of that low-tide of efficiency.

2. Distractions abound.
Business (and life in general) is full of distractions, great and small and the humble checklist helps me to keep my priorities well ordered. Email, for instance, is one of the greatest enemies of productivity; plenty of studies have shown that reading and answering your emails in the course of the day can make it very difficult to shift focus back to other tasks. I find myself looking to the checklist after a round of emailing to help me get my mind back onto the other tasks that I have set for myself that day.

3. (Lack of) memory is the enemy.
I don’t know about you, but I sometimes just plain forget things. That call I need to make; the email I need to send, or the checks I need to sign. Put them down on your list as they occur to you – a good trick is to maintain a separate list of little stuff; chores such as phone calls, emails, and simple undertakings. Your “big” list is composed of higher level activities and should include just 2-3 items per day; these are things that require deeper thinking, such as strategic planning, analysis, and writing and may often require hours of your time, as opposed to the little chores which will take you mere minutes.

4. Know your peak productivity.
Let your checklist help you in your time of need. For me I am talking about the late afternoon hours, when I know my energy and focus are at a low point. We all have those low points and the trick is to acknowledge them and embrace the predictability of their arrival. I know for instance that I am at my peak time to work is the morning, so this is when I delve into the more complex, higher level work I have on my list; the afternoon is typically reserved for the mundane duties in front of me on the “little” list.

5. There is a memoir in your future.
Finally, let your checklist be your journal. What better place to record the events of your day? What more appropriate place to look back on the notes from a call, or check the date of an event? One reason I use a notebook for my checklists is that I date them as I go and can easily reference the older lists and notes to remind myself of the details of that day, to look up a forgotten name, or to find an important phone number. And if a literary agent should ever come sniffing around, trying to convince me to publish those memoirs, I will know just where to start!

How about you? Do you use lists in the same way I do? Do you have other tricks that work for you to help maintain your focus or improve your productivity?


May 13, 2011

Ignoring the Small Stuff Can Be a Big Mistake

Filed under: Marketing Quick-Tip — admin @ 8:14 am

Important opportunities don’t always arrive in big packages. Instead, they initially present themselves as insignificant thoughts or occurrences that are just as easy to dismiss as they are to explore.

All Great Things Have Small Beginnings

Many rewarding relationships have their start as a chance encounter that is bolstered by a small gesture. Some of the greatest product and service ideas started as a lighthearted comment, or by noticing some nagging little problem that needed to be solved.

Don’t discount the seemingly unimportant; even the biggest trees start as small seeds.


May 5, 2011

The role of small business marketing in a sluggish economy

Filed under: Marketing Quick-Tip — admin @ 8:32 am

The weekly first-time-filer numbers wre released yesterday and – yes – we are still bleeding jobs at a pace unheard of since the Great Depression. The current number for the week is 429,000 new jobless claims!

The bright spot is small business, which consistently contributes 75% of the net new-job growth. The economy currently is showing a few encouraging signs of restarting its motor and – you guessed it – the spark plug for this newest awakening is small business.

And. the most progressive small business are in the process of stepping-up their marketing efforts. This will give them a great “leg-up” on their competitors once the market returns to the “new normal.”