I cannot start this blog without addressing all the “doom and gloom” that we are getting bombarded with everyday. Yes, oil prices are up. Yes, the dollar weak. Yes, the housing market is rough. Blah, blah, blah.
As marketing and sales leaders if we buy into all of the “doom and gloom” eventually it is going to affect our morale, our energy, and drive to succeed. So, before we can address marketing strategies in tough times, make a conscious decision not to dragged down by all of the pessimism in the media.
Tip 1: Less News!
I am not advocating that you move to a remote part of Siberia and cut yourself off from the world. But cut back to 10-15 minutes of news per day and replace that time listening to some of your favorite music or getting some exercise. I used to listen to/watch/read an hour of news a day and cut back to 15 minutes and it was incredibly rejuvenating and liberating. I get all of the headlines and will “drill down” into stories on the web when it is mission critical. Spend the time you used to use getting depressed doing something you enjoy. Once you do this you will find your energy increases, your outlook improves, and you will succeed.
Tip 2: Get Real
Once we re-capture our energy we need to get a solid grip on where we are at. Have you been burying your head in the sand because sales are down or not achieving goals? Take a look at that sales forecast and determine your year-to-date sales to budget. Overachieving? Great, keep doing what you are doing and look for new ways to boost business even more (see tips below). If sales are stagnant or not achieving sales forecast you need to reassess the goals. Are they still achievable? If they are not achievable it is ok to re-forecast. I know this could be considered heresy in some organizations but I have seen too many companies where the marketing departments and sales organizations are chasing completely unachievable goals. Guess what happens? Everyone gets demoralized, goals are missed, the best people quit, and you are left with the laggards. So, get realistic sales goals in place.
Tip 3: Cut the crap
Once we have defined our realistic sales goals and we know what we need to achieve we can start formulating new marketing strategies. Many of my clients used to conduct a great deal of marketing that did not generate any sales or at least none they knew of. If you are Coke or P&G this next part is not relevant to you. If your marketing budget got cut by 10%/15%/20% or more you have to come up with new marketing strategies. We cannot simply reduce our spend on every marketing vehicle and hope for the same or better sales results.
- Open up an Excel spreadsheet (I know some marketers will break out in hives here)
- Type all of the marketing/advertising mediums you use in one column
- In the next column write down “measurable” or “unmeasurable” next to each marketing/advertising medium you use. (Example: Company newsletter – Unmeasurable, Direct Mail – Measurable)
- In the next column put your budget for each marketing/advertising medium
- Now add the budget dollars for all of the “unmeasurables.” This is the money you should first look at to pare back.
- There could be some “sacred cows.” But tough times call for tough measures. Maybe you need to kill the company newsletter? Maybe you need to kill that sponsorship? Maybe that skybox at the stadium needs to go? Maybe you suspend TV advertising for a quarter?
- Once you have done this you should have a list of measurable marketing mediums and also perhaps budget dollars for new measurable marketing mediums
Tip 4: Open your mind
Open your mind to new marketing methods that are measurable:
1) Direct Mail – Direct Mail done effectively it works. Think about what a 1% response rate could convert into in terms of sales. Combine with an outbound calling campaign and watch your results soar.
2) Email Marketing – Email marketing can yield quick, measurable results. You need to be careful of “CAN SPAM” laws. We only advocate sending email marketing to current customers that have “opted-in” to receive the emails. The emails need to be relevant, concise and provide a on-going incentive to receive the emails.
3) Landing Pages – I am still amazed at the number of firms still not using landing pages as a way to measure their marketing campaigns. Creating a landing page is extremely cost effective and can provide metrics to marketing vehicles that were previously impossible to measure (e.g. billboards).
4) Loyalty Programs – Sometimes we get too focused on generating new business meanwhile customers are fleeing out the back door. Analyze the lifetime value of your customers. Determine the most valuable customers and develop loyalty programs that keep them happy and keep them with you.
5) Referral Programs – The old adage goes “the best source of customers is…other customers.” Think of your happy customers as a 100% commission sales force. Provide incentives for referrals. If you are selling consumer goods perhaps a gift card or discount on a bill will work for each referral that turns into a sale. If you have a long sales cycle or you are selling capital goods perhaps a free round of golf at the best local course for each referral that turns into an appointment.
In future blogs we will explore some of these measurable marketing mediums in-depth and also provide you some new ones.
1) Less News
2) Get Real
3) Cut the Crap
4) Open your Mind
All the best,