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Tuesday, January 15, 2008

What's Up With Your Marketing Budget?

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

I just read a great "2008 Checklist" from the Vertical Response Blog. Here are a number of ideas and tools to get your marketing ramped up this year...

1. Use a Calendar - iGoogle has a great one where you can use alerts to remind you to write your copy and send your communications. Bonus? You can also share it with others so that they know exactly when you're planning to launch.

2. Publish a Blog - Yes, even if you already have a website you should also host a blog. It's another way the search engines can pick you up, you establish yourself as an expert in your industry, you give a "voice" to your business and you can get your reader's insight into how they feel about you or your company through comments they make. It's not an overnight success, however when it starts to take off it can be incredibly beneficial. Make sure you flag categories on your posts or tag them for the search engines. Make sure you backlink to your own site from your most popular keywords in your posts. Check out TypePad or WordPress, two great blogging platforms that are very cost-effective and easy to set up.

3. Get 5 Testimonials - Get your best customers to give you quotes and use them everywhere you can. Include them on any outbound communications, in your email newsletters, on your site and in your store. Used often, they can be one of the most powerful forms of marketing you have. We have a store near us that prints off huge posters of their customers wearing their clothing and hangs them in the window along with their history of being a customer. Benefit? The customers tell all their friends to go check out their big picture and shop at the store. These people are your influencers, use them wisely.

4. Get People Talking - Have a "wow" factor. Give free samples, throw a free gift into the customer shipment, call your customers to see how they liked their service, send a birthday greeting. Whatever it is, get your word of mouth campaign going!

• Doctors call the night after a procedure to see how things are going.
• Retailers throw something fun into your online shipment orders or shopping bags.
• Restaurants give a few cookies at the end of the meal.
• Coffee houses announce a free 5 minutes off coffee every day at a different time.
• Consultants give your first 2 hours of time free.
• Offer coffee at your offline location

5. Shake it Up - Pick one customer-facing thing you do and change it drastically. Change your entire look of your website, repaint your store, start a monthly club, change your advertising message, change your uniforms, heck even change your "hold" music. Just do something different in the coming year that you've always wanted to do. 2008 is your year.

6. Host an Event - If you've got a retail location host an after-hours sale or an event to celebrate your best customers, the new year or your anniversary party. Make sure you do enough marketing in store and outside your location to get the number of people you want there.

If you are an expert in your field host a "lunch and learn" or a networking event. Again, make sure you do marketing to your own list as well as potentially renting a list for a postal mailing in the area to get people there. If you're work is online, host a webinar. Note: most of these have a 40-50% attendee rate.

7. Advertise - Make a list of 5 of your competitors OR 5 other businesses in your local area and look at where they advertise. Then finally answer that pesky ad sales person and choose somewhere you've never advertised before. Then roll the dice! Caveat: don't only do it once and make the call that it doesn't work work, if it's in your budget, advertise 4-6 times before you decide to stop it or better yet, continue it.

8. Do a Customer Survey - Send an email and ask 10 questions about your customer's experience with you with a 5 point rating: Excellent, Good, Neutral, Poor, Very Bad. Be ready for the good, bad and the ugly, you'll learn what your customers like and what they don't, then you can make changes. Make sure you send a statistically valid sample and get a good sampling back. You don't want to make changes based on just 1-2 remarks. Make sure you announce your changes to all of your customers in an email campaign. Everyone wins!

9. Collect Email Addresses - Put an opt-in form on every page of your site or blog or link to it on every page with a link "Newsletter Sign Up". Put an exit pop-up window with the opt in form when someone leaves your domain. Put a sign up form on your blog. Ask for your customer's information at your counter, input it daily into a spreadsheet or better yet a contact management system. However you collect email addresses send a welcome email to them with a thank-you offer. Use VerticalResponse to collect email addresses for free!

10. Analyze - Use Google Analytics to track your website visits. Get to know where your traffic is coming from and how good it is. Then make changes to your site, or your marketing materials.

Hopefully you're doing some of these already. It's tough to run a business and constantly come up with new ideas to market. Hopefully this list sparks some new ideas. Happy 2008! For more helpful marketing ideas visit the Vertical Response Blog.


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