Powerful Promotions and Offers – The Power of Using Holidays to Market Your Busines

One of the best ways to grow any business is by constantly presenting new and different offers to your existing customer base and prospects. However, most companies make the mistake of presenting the same, boring offers again and again instead of spicing them up with a little bit of creativity. While most customers would get tired of hearing about the same offer multiple times, there is a way to present these same offers again and again but in a way that captures their attention and attracts a great deal of interest and desire.

The way to take your old, stale, and boring offers and spice them up is to tie them into an upcoming holiday or event. You see, we as consumers love a sale or special promotion. It’s especially attractive if it’s tied to or based on a particular event.

For example, on the day after Thanksgiving everyone and their dog gets up before the crack of dawn to go shopping. Why? Because businesses have figured out that if they create special offers and promotions based around Christmas shopping then people will respond in droves.

Another great example of a business using a holiday to present an offer could be a New Year’s Eve special offered by many hotels. The special could include a nice dinner, champagne toast at midnight, a room for the night, and breakfast in the morning.

Here’s an example of a current event that could be used to present offers. The Super Bowl(TM) is coming up in roughly 3 weeks and we all know what a big a deal as this one game is, even if your team isn’t in it. This is an ideal event to base a special package or offer around. Think of all the people that throw or attend Super Bowl parties, even if their team’s not in the game.

To take advantage of this upcoming event, put together a mailing or flyer that offers a package of services that reference this big game. Create a package of all your lawn maintenance services and give it a headline like, ‘Make Your Lawn Look Just as Pristine as The Field at the Super Bowl(TM).’ Or you could create a package, give it a catchy name like the ‘{Your Name} Lawn Care’s Super Bowl(TM) XL Special’, and then charge $40 for the entire thing. (The ‘XL’ means 40, so play on that price in your offer!)

If you happen to have a team that’s in the playoffs (go Panthers!!), you could play on that as well. I would venture to say a good majority of people in your area are going to be fans of the local team, so play on this allegiance and loyalty in your offer. Use a little creativity and think about your customers, your target market, and what they really want, come up with something that’s different from the standard ‘offers’ you usually present your prospects and customers.

Another key thing to do is to create some urgency by putting a deadline in the offer. You’ll want to pick an end date that corresponds to the particular holiday or event you’ve chosen as it will reinforce the offer in your prospect’s mind. With the Super Bowl(TM) example I shared, you would want to let them know the offer’s only good until immediately following the big game. Once the game’s over, so is your offer. Doing this will create a sense of urgency with the promotion and will to get them to act on your special offer RIGHT NOW!

Finally, don’t just settle for a ‘one shot mailing’. Create a campaign that consists of two or three pieces at the very least. The more campaign pieces you mail or distribute, the more effective your promotion will be and the more new business you’ll receive. In the follow-up mailings, be sure to reference the previous mailings and build on the ‘story’ you started with the first one. I guarantee that none of your competitors are doing this and it will definitely set you apart from the rest of them in the minds of your customers and prospects.

Don’t be afraid to use this technique again and again as there are constantly holidays and other special days or events that can serve as the backdrop for these types of offers. I mentioned the Super Bowl(TM), but there’s also President’s Day, Valentine’s Day, St. Patrick’s Day, Easter, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, the 4th of July, someone’s birthday, a local festival, and on and on and on. You get the idea.

All it really takes is a little creativity and planning and you’ll soon have a powerful system for creating cash flow surges whenever you need it by using these event or holiday based packages.

Marketing Basics

Rifle Approach

The least expensive marketing approach is the rifle. Businesses that choose this approach are able to select their target market (niche group). Developing a compelling message to address the audience is the next step. In some circles, this is ‘Direct Marketing’.

Identify the target market’s lifestyle and demographic related markets for your business. The target market could consist of the following:

· Women

· Men

· Professionals

· Homemakers

· Middle-class

· Upper-class

· Age groups

You get the idea. Of course, not all niche groups fit every industry.

Addressing Your Market

To target your niche group, start with identifying resources that can supply the target pathway for your message.

· Print advertising

· Direct mail

· E-mail marketing

· TV or radio broadcast

· Web site

Take time to research magazines that specialize in your industry. Even the Internet provides a variety of resources to hunt down and analysis your target market. Resources like these can give you fresh ideas of effective direct marketing techniques.

Besides Direct Mail: What other vises are there?

There are other useful tools implemented to drum up business. Of course, what you use and how you use it relies highly on the industry your in. For instance, a professional wouldn’t put a banner outside of his/her office to draw up business. But a fitness professional may find a banner outside of the club works wonderfully.

You have to find the commercial materials that work best for you. Here are a few suggestions:

· Banners promoting special events

· Product freebies like videos and CDs

· Accessories with your logo (coffee cup, note pad, pen, etc)

Marketing Tips

Be open to collaborating with other establishments that offer similar services or products, but not identical, is an excellent way to build business for both. Again, this depends on your industry. The best blend is in the example of the CPA and Bookkeeper. Although CPA’s do handle business bookkeeping, a partnership would eliminate some of the workload on the CPA and allow for time to pursue other aspects of business.

It’s like adding another benefit to using your services or products with an outside company. Apply these few marketing basics and you’ll boost visibility, cuts down on marketing expense, and increases business.

Popcorn and Other Marketing Mistakes In a Changing Economy

Ten years of competitive hell!

That was the title on the seminar brochure I received recently. As I survey some of the forces flowing through our economy, and witness the way in which they effect my clients, I have to agree. The Information Age is certainly one of the most turbulent times business people have ever seen.

And the force causing the greatest turbulence is rapid, unrelenting change. Consider this. In 1900, the total amount of knowledge that mankind had was doubling about every 500 years. Today, it doubles about every two years. And the pace continues to increase. One futurist predicts that today’s high school seniors will have to absorb more information in their final year alone than their grandparents did in their entire life.

At the same time that things are changing rapidly, competition is increasing in almost every industry. Foreign competitors have entered our markets, the wave of corporate downsizing has transformed thousands of displaced executives into reluctant entrepreneurs, and the knowledge explosion continues to evidence itself in new technologies that often provide radically different ways of accomplishing some task.

The result?

Burgeoning competition in almost every industry. I have yet to meet an executive who has said, “I have fewer competitors today than I did three years ago.” Continually growing numbers of competitors seems to be a characteristic of our economy that we are going to have to live with for the foreseeable future.

Unfortunately, these forces of rapid change and growing competition have brought a cloud of confusion to CEOs and sales executives trying to grow their businesses.

One common response to this cloud of confusion is what I call “Popcorn.” Imagine kernels of popcorn simmering in hot oil in the bottom of a popcorn popper. As the heat grows, one of the kernels explodes and rockets off against the side of the popper. A few moments later, another kernel explodes and shoots off in another direction. Before long, the canister is full of careening kernels bouncing in every direction.

That’s my analogy to the way in which many businesses attempt to increase their sales when the temperature created by growing competition gets hot. As the heat of the situation grows, they know they have to do something. Then along comes a good idea and, pop, like a kernel of exploding popcorn, they lunge at the good idea.

The good idea can be anything. Maybe it’s a media representative who suggests a new advertisement. That sounds like a good idea. So, “pop” off they go after that. Or it could be a salesperson suggesting that a computer program will solve their problems. That sounds like a good idea, so “pop,” off they go after that good idea. Next is an advertising agency suggesting a new brochure. That also sounds good, and “pop,” like kernels of corn exploding in every direction, they expend money and energy in short term “good ideas.”

Like kernels of popcorn, they frantically chase lots of good ideas hoping that one will be the answer to the marketing problems. The problem is that these good ideas rarely have any relationship to one another. And, they generally present superficial solutions to problems which are often deeper. The company’s time and energy is diverted toward these superficial “good ideas,” and away from the deeper solutions.

For example, an advertisement in a trade journal may be a superficial solution for a company that does not have a system for identifying qualified prospects. And a new brochure may be a superficial response for an organization that doesn’t have feedback mechanism in place to adequately understand its customers.

The unfortunate consequences are often more pressure, more confusion, and more energy expended in the wrong places.

Is there a better way? Sure. A far more effective response is to create a powerful sales and marketing system. A sales and marketing system provides an interconnected, measurable set of processes and tools that ultimately result in increased sales. Where would McDonald’s be today without a system to consistently produce hot hamburgers? Where would Ford be if they had no system to design and build new automobiles? The keys to success for these businesses has been their ability to create and manage effective systems to accomplish their goals.

Sales and marketing can be treated in exactly the same way. The process of acquiring customers and then expanding the business with them can be systematized. If you’re successful in creating a working system, you’ll be investing your resources in the most effective way, and producing predictable, regular sales results.

Your sales and marketing system should start with a thorough understanding of the needs and interests of the prospects. Fold into that an honest awareness of the unique value your company brings to the market, and you have the beginning framework for your system. Your system should focus on the highest potential market segments, and develop segment-specific processes and tools to help you reach your market in the most cost-effective way.

When your system is designed, you’ll also have a set of criteria in place to help you adequately assess the potential in such things as advertisements, brochures, computer programs, etc.

A well-designed system allows you to move out of the desperate reactive mode characterized by “Popcorn” and into a confident pro-active mode.

Here are seven questions to determine whether you’re operating from the “Systems” perspective or the “Popcorn” mind set.

1. Do you have specific, realistic objectives for your sales and marketing efforts?

2. Have you precisely identified your highest potential markets segments?

3. Have you identified the sequence of decisions that a typical prospect goes through to come to a decision to buy your product or service?

4. Have you identified the key activities and processes that must take place on a monthly basis in order for you to reach your sales objectives?

5. Do you have a monthly measurement of the quantity and quality of your key marketing activities?

6. Are you able to track exactly how much it costs to create a customer?

7. Do all of your marketing collateral (brochures, ads, etc.) directly support the purposes and processes of your system?

Obviously, a positive answer to those questions indicates that you have a well defined sales and marketing system in place. That means that you have gone from reactive to pro-active marketing, and that you’re well on your way to regular, predictable sales. Negative answers mean that you have some work to do to bring your sales and marketing efforts into a proactive mode to allow you to successfully compete in the turbulent 21st Century.

Choose the Right Sales Material for Your High-Tech Marketing Challenge

When they consider sales materials, most people think only of a brochure. For high-tech products, different materials can help with a variety of marketing situations. The guidelines presented here will help you choose the right materials for typical technology marketing challenges.

Launching a New Product

The launch of a new product can generate numerous materials, everything from a multi-page glossy brochure to a three-inch shelf tag. A brochure or data sheet is almost mandatory in this situation. Prospective customers, sales people, and dealers all expect a document that presents the essential information about the product’s features and benefits, specifications, system requirements, and potential uses.

A press release to alert journalists and analysts of the new product is another document commonly created for every new product. The release may be packaged into a press kit that contains other relevant materials for the product launch, such as a technical backgrounder, company fact sheet, and a sheet of endorsement quotes from analysts or early customers.

Depending on the nature of the product and the launch, other materials may be useful for attracting market interest:

· A white paper can explain an underlying technology or describe the product in the context of a customer’s environment.

· Application notes explain how the product operates for various uses or purposes.

· A selection guide provides insights for choosing among product options or models based on sizes, features, or other characteristics.

Many high-tech companies create a special area of their Web sites for each new product, making it easy for visitors to quickly find all related information.

Promoting a New Version

Marketing a new version or upgrade of an existing product can involve many of the same activities and materials as the launch of an entirely new product. For example, a new version typically requires updating a brochure or data sheet, issuing a press release, creating new application notes, and revising a selection guide.

An upgrade guide may also be required; it is a unique document targeted to current users, helping them decide whether to purchase the new version.

Addressing New Markets

After experiencing success in one market, a high-tech company may decide to promote the product in new markets. These markets may be defined by industry, operating system, consumer versus business, or other dimension.

Addressing a new market usually means adapting current materials, tailoring them to the concerns and messages important to those new prospects. In some markets, these differences are substantial enough to require a completely new set of materials–especially brochures and customer case studies.

Marketing materials also may be localized in multiple languages in order to reach a new geographic or cultural market. Localized materials must appropriately reflect differences in business practices, technology base, communication style, legal requirements, and product availability in each market.

Setting a Purchase Agenda

Complex technology products typically involve a lengthy sales cycle and a purchase decision made by a committee instead of an individual. In these situations, the committee may evaluate two or more products against a stated set of criteria, which may be somewhat biased toward one product vendor.

Influencing a purchaser’s evaluation criteria in advance of the product comparison activity is known as “setting the agenda.” Marketers use materials such as white papers, articles contributed to industry magazines or technical journals, and product comparison worksheets to help shape the purchaser’s criteria and decision.

Counteracting the Competition

Publicly at least, most high-tech companies simply ignore competitors, instead marketing their own products as if they are the only choice a prospect would ever consider. Yet some product categories are so highly competitive that a company must directly address the promotional claims and activities of competitors.

Materials that are useful for counteracting the competition include reprints of product reviews and test results, as well as comments from industry analysts that directly endorse the product’s strengths and advantages.

Also useful may be charts or reports that present a feature-by-feature comparison of a product and its competitors. However, direct product comparisons must be done carefully. A comparison based on inaccurate information can backfire and perhaps create legal problems for the company.

Encouraging Customer Loyalty

Although most marketing communication efforts are directed toward attracting new customers, high-tech companies recognize that retaining current customers is vital to market success. Materials to encourage customer loyalty include regular newsletters, new product notices, and user communications. These materials can be distributed as print documents, email messages, or posts on the product or company blog.

The Right Material for the Challenge

The complexity of most high-tech products presents numerous challenges for sales and marketing. By thinking beyond the brochure, you can choose the right mix of sales materials to address any of these challenges.

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