What Every Business Needs When it Grows Up



14 Things Smart Businesses and Mature Professionals do to Grow Their Companies in a Weak Economy in the 21st Century 


By Hector Cisneros

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When an economy is strong, even weak companies and products can thrive.  But what happens when the economy struggles in recession for several years?  What happens when you have the emergence of consumer driven social media with its potentially viral and instant, word-of-mouth sharing, of both positive and negative reviews on products or services?  What happens when we have a fundamental shift in our way of life, where many consumers have only part-time jobs, while concurrently, taxes and consumer goods prices keeps rising? 


I'll tell you what happens, a lot of weak businesses go under. 

Smart businesses know this is a time to take a long, hard look at their company, their products and/or services, their marketing habits, and the vendors they’re currently using.  In this article, we’ll explore how mature companies evaluate the fundamental operations of their businesses. In particular, we will concentrate on evaluating their marketing and advertising mechanism.  It will focus on the smart habits a company acquires for marketing itself.  We’ll provide a baker’s dozen of elements that need to be evaluated for a company to remain strong ― and even thrive ― in a weak economy. In future articles we will look at other processes like sales, accounting, logistics and management as factors. However, marketing is paramount because it’s the primary way a company garners new business.   

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Our discussion will predominately cover online advertising and its relationship to marketing because this is where our expertise lies. Here are the facts: We live in an Internet-connected world. If you’re not “getting found online” in a weak economy, you won't survive.  So tighten your belt, sharpen your pencil, and get ready to learn what every business knows about when it grows up.


14 Things Smart Businesses and Mature Professionals do to Grow Their Companies in a Weak Economy in the 21st Century:

 

They understand that generating sales comes after generating credibility and trust. If a prospect doesn’t trust you, no amount of benefits, bells and whistles, discounts or other incentives can sustain the sale of that product or service.

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They understand that in today's consumer-driven society, you can only hype a product for so long before social networks’ word-of-mouth reviews destroy that hype. Consumers are eager to share how they really feel about your product or service publicly.  Nowadays, truth trumps hype.  Weak products or services get relegated to the clearance heap.  Positive testimonials are extremely important, but so is managing any bad social chatter.

They understand their products or services need to have intrinsic and perceived value by the consumer. Just saying your product is the best no longer works. You have to have a unique selling proposition and real benefit for intrinsic value to become perceived value.

They understand the importance of testing and measuring their marketing campaigns and advertising messages. If you don’t test and measure, you leave profits on the table and waste more than you should on your advertising.

They understand the value of a long-term customers and repeat business. They know by analyzing the current customer base and industry how much a customer will spend with them the first year, three years, five years and their lifetime. The Lifetime value of your customer is the most important number to figure out.

They understand the concept of “buying customers.” They do this by researching, testing and calculating the lifetime value of a customer. Then, once those numbers are known, they come up with advertising messages that are affordable. 

They include to cost of the advertising and the cost of the “lost leader” sales items. This way they can lure (buy) the customer with a special offer, thus bringing them into the fold. This method buys customers at a price far below the lifetime value of that customer.

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They regard social media as a means to grow their following, build their credibility, and produce positive social engagement. They understand social media shouldn’t be used as a direct sales tool. It is a trust builder and a touch marketing tool that also helps with engagement and customer service.

They understand the importance of touch marketing. Smart businesses take advantage of the low cost of email newsletters. They know it’s an easy way to stay in touch with clients and prospects and to educate them on the benefits of their products/services without hard selling them.

They understand the difference between marketing and advertising. Here is a good definition from about.com: Marketing: The systematic planning, implementation and control of a mix of business activities intended to bring together buyers and sellers for the mutually advantageous exchange or transfer of products. Advertising: The paid, public, non-personal announcement of a persuasive message by an identified sponsor; the non-personal presentation or promotion by a firm of its products to its existing and potential customers. Essentially, advertising is an element of marketing.”

They understand that achieving and maintaining organic search position is two to three times more valuable than obtaining a paid search position. As a general rule, approximately 70% or more of shoppers will click on organic links on Page One of a search. Only approximately 25% click on paid links.  More than 60% will click on the only the first five organic links!  About only two percent go to the second page.

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They understand the value of a multi-medium and multimedia approach to marketing. Today’s
customer wants their content their way. Some people like to read articles, some like to listen to podcasts, many like to watch videos. It’s important -your content is media-rich and provides multiple ways for a client and prospect to interact and engage with your business.

They understand the difference between “one-and-done” advertising and ongoing, evergreen advertising. Old school advertising was a one and done proposition. You ran the ad and it was gone. The ad’s shelve life was short. Coupons last longer than radio, TV, billboards, etc. However, create and publish a good evergreen blog with media-rich content and that “Edutainment” article will play for years. Run a TV ad you pay every time it plays. Create an evergreen article, post it once and it plays until the sun fails to rise in the east.

They understand that if a business wants to grow in a strong economy or survive in a weak one, they have to advertise.  A weak economy culls the herd. It’s the perfect time to beef up advertising and gain market shares, not entrench oneself and lose to aggressive competitors. When the economy is stronger, you have to fight for market shares in a more crowded field. In either economy winning requires aggressive advertising.

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They understand marketing and advertising only stops when you’re ready to close your doors for good! Prospects sometimes ask, “When can I stop running the ad or writing these blogs?” The simple answer is: When you no longer want new customers.

We had a customer that started out by breaking every rule listed in this article.  However, once we showed them what to do, and helped them to accomplish their goals, they achieved great success.  On the other hand, we’ve had customers who started their businesses when times were easy and the economy was strong, but were under the misconception that they should always get lots of leads from their marketing.  They weren’t paying attention to their competition, they ignored the role social media plays today, and they weren’t looking at the perceived value of their product or service lines.  They just didn’t understand that perceived value is a moving target and that they had to continually earn their clients’ trust each and every day.

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Take some time to answer the following questions. Even better, why not distribute the following questions to
key people in all levels of your organization, and ask them to answer them? The more brain power here, the better. 
  • What are three marketing items you’re engaging in to generate credibility and trust among consumers?
  • How are you using the top five social networks to grow your following, engage clients and prospects, and produce a “positive buzz”? 
  • Have you had a third party evaluate your products or services against the competition’s lately?
  • What means are you using to test your advertising and marketing campaigns? 
  • Are you using marketing that has a strong measurement component?
  • What is the value of a new customer to your business? (You need to know the initial value, the first year’s value, a five year’s value, and lifetime value.)
  • What touch marketing elements are you using to keep top-of-mind with your clients and prospects? (For example: email blasts, newsletters, social media posts, coupons, and/or contests.) 
  • What elements of your advertising and marketing are designed to generate credibility and leads, and what parts are designed to close sales?
  • What evergreen marketing elements are you using to lower your cost of marketing campaign?
  • How much are you spending in Pay Per Click advertising versus efforts to achieve organic Page One position?
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  • Is your marketing one- or two-dimensional? Or is it a multi-dimensional, multimedia content machine?
  • What is the ratio of your advertising for conventional mediums (print, TV, radio, etc.) versus digital marketing? Is the bulk of your marketing in conventional advertising or on the web?
  • Are you just executing hit-and-run ads or engaging in strategically designed campaigns?
  • When the economy contracts, do you reduce your advertising or get aggressive to take advantage of the shakeout that takes place?
  • How often do you evaluate your competitive marketing position on the Internet?
  • Do you have any guarantees, flexible plans, or other value-added elements in your marketing? Or is the price your main issue? Guarantees often take the risk out of your marketing!
  • Call to Action ― What can you do to address/solve/improve the issues, challenges or circumstances of your customers and prospects?
If you found that some of the questions stumped you, or if you feel that you could use some help in understanding how to implement many of these elements into your marketing plans, we’re here to help.  

We’ll provide you with a complimentary, detailed competitive analysis of your current internet presence that will show you what you’re doing right, what you’re doing wrong, where your competition is right now and how potential customers are searching for a solution in your industry.  More importantly, we can show you how to achieve more traffic, grow your following, produce more leads, and close more sales, which ultimately will help you gain a substantial led over your competition. And we can provide real guarantees that take the risk out of the equation.  

If you’re interested, fill out the brief form below.  We’ll also send you a free copy of our eBook, “Social Media Marketing Tips for the 21st Century” as an added bonus.

In this article, I discussed many of the successful marketing behaviors and activities that mature companies engage in. I also provided a detailed questionnaire that you can use to help determine your company’s marketing maturity success level.  Lastly, I provided an opportunity for participants to take advantage of Working the Web to Win’s award-winning expertise for free, to help them become more successful. 

If you'd like to read more articles like this one, check out “The Evolution of Internet Advertising”, “2012 - The End of Conventional Advertising as We Knew it Would Be!”,  How to Get Fish to Jump in The Boat - A Social Media Analogy”,  in the Search box at the top of this blog.  If you found this article useful, please feel free to share and repost it. I welcome your related opinion and comments; just add them to the Comments section below.

That’s my opinion; I look forward to hearing yours.
If you found this article useful, share it with your friends, families and co-works. If you have a comment related to this article, leave it in the comment sections below.  If you would like a free copy of our book, "Internet Marketing Tips for the 21st Century", fill out the form below. 



Hector Cisneros is COO and director of Social Media Marketing at Working the Web to Win, an award-winning Internet marketing company based in Jacksonville, Florida.  He is also co-host of the weekly Internet radio show, "Working the Web To Win" on BlogTalkRadio.com, which airs every Tuesday at 4 p.m. Eastern.  Hector is a syndicated writer and published author of “60 Seconds to Success.”
 
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1 comment:

  1. Wise words to grow our businesses by. Thanks, Hector.

    ReplyDelete