Saturday, August 18, 2012

Saturday Smorgasbord: Marketing Techniques

What is Saturday Smorgasbord?

Gurus and leading experts act like there's only one way to succeed. I believe there are so many ways to accomplish things that it's silly to narrow yourself to just one path.

So every Saturday I will list all the options, techniques and ways to accomplish various things from marketing your business to losing weight.

There is a Smorgasbord of tools at your disposal, why pick just one?


This Week's Saturday Smorgasbord: Marketing Techniques

When I started my first business I read everything there was to read about marketing, advertizing, promoting, word-of-mouth and social media. I subscribed to any free newsletter that promised to show to me how to market my business. They usually included steps and secrets that only they knew about. Fortunately I only wasted my time and didn't send any of these "gurus" any money.

It got to the point where I was so confused about which technique to use that I froze and just didn't do anything at all. Talk about information overload. The problem was that I was thinking about marketing like there was only one answer and I had to pick the right one. But with marketing as with every area of life there is no "one right answer". There are only tools. And as soon as I started to think about marketing like that it became much easier to wrap my head around and actually get a plan down on paper.

Your Marketing Criteria

The first thing I did was write down my marketing criteria. Every marketing technique has benefits and drawbacks and also requires different skills and interests to make successful. I was most interested in techniques that played to my strengths and were fun for me to do. Blogging is one such example. I think I'm a pretty good writer and I also enjoy writing so blogging fits right in with my criteria.

Marketing techniques have drawbacks though. Blogging for instance takes a lot more time than say designing an ad to run in the paper. And running an ad in the paper is more expensive than blogging. Using Google Ads can be lucrative but it requires, at least in my opinion, an analytical skill set that I lack. I'm more of a creative person so I haven't had much luck using Google Ads. The advantages and disadvantages of each marketing technique are unique to you. What I see as an advantage to blogging you might see as a disadvantage. But simply understanding both sides to a marketing technique will better help you decide which ones are right for you.

So, to get a handle on your marketing criteria try writing down characteristics of marketing techniques that you will look for. Focus on time commitment, cost and skills needed. Also pay attention to what the marketing technique will say about your business. I have decided to never write a sales pitch letter. You know those long, drawn-out web pages that just go on and on. That kind of marketing does not send the right message about my business.

Marketing Categories

Most all marketing techniques fall under a handful of categories:
1. Word-of-mouth: While you can't be with your happy clients 24/7 to persuade them to tell someone about your business you can set up your relationship with them so that they are more apt to spread the news about your business and your products. Many things that might not initially be thought of as marketing fall under this category. Things like great customer service, referral gifts, social media and branding fall under this category. These examples and more encourage your customers to tell someone else how happy they are with your business.

2. Direct-Marketing: This is the most common form of marketing. The name says it all. Any marketing where you are speaking directly to your potential customers is direct marketing. Postcards, flyers, email marketing, cold-calling etc. all are forms of direct marketing.
(A word about cold-calling. Many people claim that cold-calling doesn't work. I think it just depends on what your business is trying to sell. I would say that for the big telephone or other service companies cold-calling might not work anymore. But I've had a lot of success with cold-calling for an after-school program I do in the area. You just need an authentic approach to it.)

3. Guerrilla Marketing: This is my favorite form of marketing. In order to be successful at guerrilla marketing you really have to know your customers and your business and be really creative. Guerrilla marketing is simply marketing that usually costs nothing and is unconventional. Examples include: Writing a clever message on the sidewalk outside your store, slapping a sticker on a subway train, sending a pizza with a flyer for your business underneath. Guerrilla marketing is difficult to get right but when you do it's eye-catching and effective.

4. Product Value: Adding more to your product or service, taking away something so it works better, and raising or lowering the price creates value for your product. Many people don't realize that these things are marketing techniques. Price plays a big role in whether your target market will buy your product or service. Price conveys quality and value just as much as the features and benefits do.

When reading about marketing techniques use your criteria as a guide. One-size-fits-all does not exist in marketing. Your product, business, personality and skill sets will help you determine which marketing techniques are best for your business.

On Your Own

To search for marketing techniques try these search terms out:
  • marketing techniques
  • marketing for small business
  • inexpensive marketing
  • creative marketing
  • guerrilla marketing
These places have some great resources:
Guerrilla Marketing
The Toilet Paper Entrepreneur

Remember: There is no magic pill for life. But we all have tools at our disposal. Pick the best one (two or three) for the job.

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