Tuesday, September 02, 2008

The 90-Day 'Marketing Sprint' Begins Today!

I can't believe that we're 2/3rds through 2008 already. So I'm looking ahead to the last four months of this year for what I want to get done, and still have time to enjoy life and spend it with family and friends.

And I know the last 4 to 6 weeks of the year can be the most difficult for a business owner. That's because people are busy with holiday parties, get-togethers and travel.

How many times have you talked with a potential customer between Thanksgiving and New Year's, only to hear the dreaded phrase: "What you have looks good, but get back to me after the 1st of the year." This is frustrating, and a momentum-killer for your business and bank account.

That's why you must have a plan of action between now and Thanksgiving, and through the rest of the year.

There's two ways you can deal with the holidays in your business:

1) Have a laser-like focus from now until Thanksgiving to get as much business done as possible. I call it the "90 Day Marketing Sprint."

Plan your marketing promotions, and make sure folks you outsource business to (such as graphic and web designers, copywriters, and event planners) know what you're doing, and are available when you'll need them.

Make sure you have enough lead time to get the design work, copy and other work done without being rushed. This way you'll be more productive, have fewer year-end regrets, and built-in momentum to carry you into the New Year.

The second option is...

2) Promote your own (or become an affiliate for other marketers') products during the holidays, to provide a secondary income stream for your business. You can promote these to your e-mail list easily, when you use an e-mail program like AWeber.

You can use AWeber to send e-mails at a pre-determined time, so you don't have to spend time to manually send each one to your list. If you don't have that big of a list, Joel Christopher and Tellman Knudsen have good advice on how to build a list quickly.

By doing the 90-Day Marketing Sprint, and getting income from affiliate programs, you can better deal with the 'holiday hurricane' of activity from Thanksgiving through New Years Day. You'll have a sense of accomplishment... more peace of mind... not to mention more money in your bank account.

If you haven't done it yet, plan out what you want to get accomplished from now through December 31, 2008. It'll make your business life easier, and give you a head-start on positive momentum for 2009.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Why Paris Hilton's mom may be right...

I almost have a hard time writing these words, admitting that the mom of a Hollywood celebrity may be right, but it's true. The recent John McCain ad (click on TV Ad: CELEB) tries to portray Barack Obama as just a celebrity, like Britney Spears or Paris Hilton, and not a leader fit for the Presidency.

Paris Hilton's mom fired back, and said the Celeb ad was a waste of money. Here's why she might be right.

Like many other big, dumb companies and campaigns, they've forgotten (or haven't bothered) to know what their audience likes and dislikes.

The creator of this ad forgot that in 2008, Americans LOVE celebrities like Britney, Lindsay and Paris. And buying decisions on a product, service or politician are based primarily on emotion, then justified later with logic - not the other way around.

How does this relate to effective marketing? It's simple. You always start with the "who," (i.e., your target market). Not what you think they should like in an ideal world, but what they really want and desire today.

It sounds simple and pretty common sense, but it's amazing today how many business owners overlook this basic, and very important concept. Make sure that your business or website doesn't take for granted that you know your target market, and exactly what they want.

If you have any doubts, use Alex Mandossian's Ask Database, or Survey Monkey to verify if your marketing assumptions are correct.

Knowing who your target market is and what they want is the foundation of your business marketing. Get this wrong, and you're in for a world of hurt. Take the time to use one of these valuable tools to make sure you really know your target market.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

It Always Comes Back to Marketing Fundamentals

I was thinking today about the state of our local and national economy, and why some businesses went out of business. The one that came to mind first was a coffee and wine shop in an upper-middle class part of Denver - who recently went out of business 4-6 weeks ago.

The e-mail they sent (which came as kind of a shock to me) mentioned they couldn't keep pace with the rising price of food and liquor. And that's why they had to close their doors.

I don't deny that inflation in food and energy is real, and affects most traditional businesses today. However, if they had marketed more effectly, and gave their customers more opportunities to buy from their website (instead of purchasing only at their physical store), I think their chances of survival would have been much greater.

One idea would be to have a recurring purchase program for coffees and/or wines. A Coffee or Wine of the Month club. As I mentioned in my last post, too many business owners make one or two sales per customer, and don't follow up with additional offerings. As a result, they have to keep trying to get new customers - which is a lot more difficult and expensive than re-selling to the customers you already have.

The more I learn and re-learn good business, copywriting and marketing skills, the more I believe that success in business and any area of life boils down to mastering the basics. It's not always the flashiest or sexiest approach, but it almost always results in business success.

Too many cool yuppies (who I call 'posers') seem to be obsessed with looking good at all costs, and often overlook the basic fundamentals of good business marketing, which should be based on results.

It's not this Madison Avenue-type 'branding' nonsense, which says that you need to get your business name out there often enough and people will eventually buy from you. No way.

If you aren't getting the business and marketing results that you want, then your business needs to go on a direct-response marketing diet for at least 3 months. Then you'll know which ads and marketing are working, and which ones aren't.

In this economy, you can't afford to overlook business fundamentals. Your livelihood and survival could depend on it. For a limited time (if you book on or before June 30th), I'll conduct a Business Marketing Analysis for only five business and website owners at no cost.

If you'd like to take advantage of this offer, give me a call at 720-747-5895; or send an e-mail to: Brian.Ochsner@gmail.com, with the words "Business Marketing Analysis" in the subject line.

There's no cost or obligation, and it could make the difference between your business' surviving... and possibly thriving.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Remembering the People Most Important to Us

I hope everyone had a nice and relaxing Memorial Day weekend, and spent it with friends and family. I also hope you took time to reflect on what this holiday is really all about: Remembering those who served our country in the military.

It's also a good time to reflect on the most important people in your business: Your customers and prospects. More specifically, how often do you keep in contact with them; and are you selling them enough of the products and services they need?

This is probably the biggest reason why people don't buy multiple times (or even once) from a business or website owner - they weren't contacted very often (or not at all) after the initial contact. This is one of the biggest mistakes in marketing strategy that a business owner can make: Not following up with a customer or prospect.

The average American sees and hears 2,000 to 3,000 marketing messages a day. It's difficult (if not impossible) for your single marketing message to get through and resonate with a prospect. It'll take time for someone to get familiar with you, your business and how you can solve their biggest problem(s).

That's why you need to have a series of follow-up e-mails or postcards ready to go after you make an initial contact with a prospect through direct mail, pay-per-click ads, or other marketing channel. And if you aren't keeping in contact with your customers, another company is.

Along with the series of follow-up messages, you need to have an overall marketing strategy (also known as a marketing funnel) that you move customers through to make an initial purchase, then more frequent (and hopefully higher-priced) purchases. Dan Kennedy is a big advocate of the marketing funnel, and I am too.

Remember to stay in touch with your customers and prospects - it's the most profitable thing a business or website owner can do.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Your Best Source of New Customers Is...

Your old ones! Folks who haven't purchased from you in awhile, or current customers that you can sell more products and services to.

New customers are always good, but they're more expensive to obtain. The initial expense to get a new customer isn't as important by itself; but what the cost of lead generation is compared to the lifetime value of a customer.

Marketing studies have shown that it's 5 to 7 times more expensive to get new customers, instead of selling to existing or former ones. This can be a costly mistake that can be damaging - or even fatal - to a struggling business.

If you've been in business for more than a year or two, you've probably had some customers stop doing business with you for one reason or another. You can contact them by postcard, e-mail and/or a phone call to touch base with them again - preferably with an attractive offer.

A local men's haircut place recently sent me a postcard, offering a men's cut for 40% off. It was a good offer, and good enough to take advantage of it. However, their regular men's cuts are $38 - so I'm not sure I'll keep coming back at that price.

Re-activation offers to former customers are good ways to get feedback on your products/services, in addition to more cashflow.