Tactical Marketing

This week’s Pearl of Leadership Wisdom is on Tactical Marketing.
“Advertising is the life of trade.”Calvin Coolidge

After last week’s little detour into reflection, which a lot of people seemed to like, it’s back to marketing.

Two weeks ago, in the Pearl on Strategic Marketing, I discussed the need to know your target market segments, your value proposition and why you’re different – your unique selling proposition. I had also used the well-known quote from Lord Leverhulme about not knowing which half of his advertising spend is wasted, and I suggested that this fate can now often be avoided.

So many options…
There are dozens of ways to get to your target market segments. It’s mind numbing: you can use the web, traditional advertising, search engine optimisation, pay-per-click, direct mail, flyers, inserts in publications, piggy-backing, joint-venture marketing, agents, distributors, affiliates, radio, TV, email, directories, catalogues, networking…

Three common approaches…all wrong…
Most firms use too many of these routes to market. Or none at all. Or, if they are focused on one method and one method only, it’s the wrong one (yes, for the small firm I am talking about most networking).

The vital few…
But there’s probably only two or three routes to market that are really effective for your firm.

And the way to find out which they are is to use your business judgement, and then test, test, and test again.

How testing…
Tactical marketing is like any other investment. You need to measure a return-on-investment. Marketing as a discipline, and marketing companies as an service industry, seem to be immune from this stricture. And most managers, myself included, have been complicit in this waste of money.

If you spend £200 or £20,000 reaching out to your customers, you are nuts if you cannot measure your return. It’s reckless. More than reckless, it’s a wasted opportunity. Not only did you spend money poorly, but you almost certainly missed the upside from getting it right. A double loss.

And then what…?
Disillusion. Followed by reversion to one of the failed strategies above: do everything; do nothing; do (the wrong kind of) networking.

The Siren call…
If you put an advert in Flower Arranging Monthly, tell the reader what you want him or her to do. Tell them. People like being told what to do. It’s good for them. Tell them to call this number, visit this website, fill in the form. To make contact, in some way. It’s called a “call-to-action.” With an inducement – money off, special report on growing orchids in the snow, free newsletter. Whatever the reader will value. Give them a code to quote when they contact you. Then you can track sales and profit, relative to the cost of the advert. Simply. Not new. But seldom done well.

Your marketing has failed a drugs test…good!
The internet allows you to put all this on steroids. All of your conventional marketing can lead to landing pages – small, single page websites. They come in three flavours: list building, information and sales pages – but more of that some other time.

There is little the internet allows you to do that has not always been possible, but the acceleration is stunning. It’s lightening fast. You can do a Google Adwords campaign for next to nothing and get almost instant feedback on the business generated.

For example – you pay 75p for every click on your Google advert for your seminar. You’ve set a budget of £100 for this marketing experiment. Your budget is spent when 133 people click through to your sales landing page. Of those, 3 register and pay for the seminar (less than one in forty).

Total cost to acquire a customer – £33. If your profit per head for the seminar is more than £33, you’re in business. If not, you’re not. Until you take some management action and re-run the marketing experiment.

Simple. Powerful. Rapid. Scalable. Repeatable. Profitable.

How great are you…?
Do you have a great product or service? I’m sure you do. But it doesn’t matter how good it is if no one knows about it.

I said two weeks ago that more than half of British small business people do not really understand marketing. I stick to this. It’s seen as a luxury, a cost, an expense. This is madness. Marketing is for everyone with a market – whether they be large or small;  private, public or third sector.

Test yourself…
Ask yourself a question: “Do I have two or three proven, affordable ways to generate new, profitable business which don’t require stupid amounts of my time and deliver a positive return-on-investment?”

If your answer is “yes” – you are in an elite.

If your answer is “no”, then I’m afraid you have one of the three main afflictions of the small business person. Side effects include anxiety, tiredness and fear of the future. It is always disabling and often fatal.

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