Dallas Business Consultant Elijah ClarkDallas Business Consultant Elijah Clark

Quick and Easy Marketing Methods

Newsletters should be branded if you intend to share company news and not get lost amongst the spam. Temper the marketing tone of your messages by integrating stories about your staff and customers.

Transactional emails are emails that directly promote products, promotions, and include emails sent to confirm an order or new account sign-up. Keep these emails succinct, but write with flair.

Videos are a great way to bring your brand to life. They are the perfect vehicle to introduce your products and services. Be sure to keep them short and snappy, perfect for social media sharing.

Business cards are pocket-sized promotional opportunities. Make sure they include relevant details like your social media handles and links to your website. Loyalty cards are also good for encouraging return visits to your store and should reflect your brand. Postcards are a fun way to raise brand awareness. Whether you choose to mail them, add them to your packaging, or distribute them at local businesses, they must be attractive if you want customers to view and keep them.

Most agencies know how to leverage their own email marketing skills to attract and nurture new business. However, they often overlook email as a communication channel post-sale. Email can be used to entice your customers in a scalable way as it provides the means necessary to continuously deliver added value over the course of your relationship. While many would argue that no one is looking forward to more emails, your emails should be relevant and thoughtfully written to ensure you don’t add to the SPAM issue.

Email Marketing

When done correctly, email marketing serves as a tried-and-true way to get readers to download content, convert prospects with special offers, and upsell existing customers. It’s important to focus your time and attention on email marketing in addition to social media, paid advertising, and search engine optimization. It’s one form of marketing that’s not going anywhere any time soon, and rightfully so.

With emails, you can foster a deeper, one-on-one relationship with your customers. Your emails have the opportunity to appear more personal and authentic than any other marketing effort. This builds trust with your customers considering the message creates (or appears to create) a one-on-one dialogue. Email subscribers are 3.9 times more likely to share content via the social web. Plus, your target audience wants to hear from you via email. It was discovered in a survey conducted by MarketingSherpa that 72% of people actually prefer to receive promotional content through email from businesses they like, as compared to the 17% who prefer social media.[1]

When sending email campaigns, make sure your strategy, and your business, answers questions such as:

  • What are you trying to accomplish with the email?
  • What actions do you want customers to take?
  • How will you prompt customers to take this action (i.e., using buttons, CTAs, or by clearly spelling it out in the content of the email)?

Whether optimizing your email or just writing the content, you should always do so as if you were speaking directly to one person in your target audience. Use the same language in your email as you would if your ideal customer were standing in front of you. Speak (or in this case, write) to your one reader as if you already know them. This can be tricky at first, but it will get easier over time as you come to understand more about who your ideal customer is. One easy way to sound more conversational is to use second person pronouns — “you” and “your.” This is a simple adjustment that makes the email about the reader, not your company.

Personalize the Content. In the same way that you personalized your subject line, you should also personalize the content within your email. According to research conducted by Aberdeen Group, personalized emails showed an increase in click-through rates of 14% and an increase in conversions by 10%. To get started with personalization, the simplest thing to do is address your recipients by their first name in your email greeting. Your customers will also appreciate your efforts since 74% of online customers get frustrated with websites when content (e.g., offers, ads, and promotions) appear to have nothing to do with their interests. [2]

 

[1] http://content.marketingsherpa.com/data/public/reports/benchmark-reports/EXCERPT-BMR-2013-Email-Marketing.pdf

[2] http://www.aberdeen.com/research/4904/ra-email-marketing/content.aspx

Customer Persona

In advertising, there are four user personas identified as competitive, spontaneous, humanistic, and methodical. The goal of a marketing campaign is to develop strategies for each persona, or to retain your preferred user persona and market toward only that group. Individuals within groups react differently to campaigns. Consequently, you should develop your campaigns to attract your desired customers using various strategies which include specific elements:

  • Competitive – logical, quick (fast)
  • Spontaneous – emotional, quick
  • Methodical – deliberate, logical
  • Humanistic – emotional, deliberate (slow)

Competitive. The competitive customer is business minded, power oriented, and does not like to waste time. This customer looks for businesses that have high qualifications, a positive track record, and a stellar reputation. This customer reacts strongly to marketing campaigns that outline what you can do for them and how you will support their ideas and conclusions. The best marketing strategy for this customer is to provide them with options, probabilities, and better results than they’ve previously enjoyed from other businesses.

Questions the Competitive customer considers when purchasing:

  • What are your competitive advantages?
  • Why are you a superior choice?
  • Are you a credible company?
  • How can you help me be more productive?
  • How can you help me look good?
  • What are your credentials?
  • How can you help me achieve my goals?

Spontaneous. The spontaneous persona enjoys marketing campaigns that are personalized and activity oriented. This customer requires you to present evidence that you are trustworthy and customer service oriented. In marketing to this demographic, you will need to present evidence showcasing why your business is the best solution for them. You can achieve results by focusing on their feelings, interest, and excitement. Additionally, you can help them select your business by offering guarantees and recommendations, but not options.

Questions the Spontaneous customer considers when purchasing:

  • How can you quickly get me what I need?
  • Do you offer superior service?
  • Can I customize your product or service?
  • Can you help me narrow down my choices?
  • How quickly can I take action and achieve my goals?
  • How will your product/service help me enjoy life more?

Humanistic. The humanistic customer reacts to personal and relationship-driven campaigns. This type of customer is somewhat slower in making decisions and desires to develop a personal relationship with you and your business. Their decisions are primarily based on who you are, what you know, and how well you know them, their business, and their market. You can attract this customer using testimonials and a highly attractive portfolio.

Questions the Humanistic customer considers when purchasing:

  • How will your product or service make me feel?
  • Who uses your products/services?
  • Who are you? Tell me who your company is and let me see bios.
  • What will it feel like to work with you?
  • What experience have others had with you?
  • Can I trust you?
  • What are your business values?

Methodical. The methodical customer is detail oriented and disciplined with their time. This customer will require evidence of your experience, processes, and knowledge. The desire of this customer is for you to prove that you can provide solutions. You can attract this customer by offering a solution that is rational and supports their principles.

Questions the Methodical customer considers when purchasing:

  • What are the details of your offering, including the fine print?
  • What processes will you use?
  • Can you take me through the process step-by-step?
  • What are the product specs?
  • What proof do you have that you can help me?
  • Can you guarantee your product or work?

Example campaigns for a marketing agency.

Competitive: Professional Marketing Services. Beat out your competition. Build a successful online brand. The competitive persona looks for a company that has a positive and successful reputation. This ad would satisfy the competitive persona looking for marketing services as it showcases a professional agency that knows how to help them get to the top of their industry.

Humanistic: Affordable Marketing. Stay connected with your customers. We have a plan to help you succeed. This ad will be great for the humanistic persona as it explains to them that they will be able to stay connected with their customers, which they would desire to do so. It also shows that they can contact the agency who will develop a personalized plan for success.

Methodical: Professional Marketing. Proven success stories. 100% Satisfaction Guaranteed. This headline will draw in the methodical personality because it shows that it’s not a freelance or amateur company, which methodical customers generally do not prefer. Providing money back will also provide further proof that the agency is trustworthy and customer friendly.

Spontaneous: Affordable Marketing Offer! Low-cost marketing services. Get started on your marketing TODAY! This headline can be used to draw in the spontaneous persona, as they are normally looking for easy, fast, and affordable.

Marketing A/B Testing

When developing marketing campaigns, you should always A/B Test, which is referred to as creating multiple campaigns for the same goal. By creating multiple versions of a controlled campaign, it could help your business determine the most effective campaign based on a side-by-side comparison.

Example.

In a study conducted by the Coca-Cola Company, taste was considered the most important factor for their declined sales between the 1970s and 1980s. In response, the New Coke was developed to enhance the flavor and generate sales. With the approval of more than half of the 200,000 blind product testers, the New Coke was introduced to replace the original flavored Coke— which was a disaster for the company. Because of the unfavorable results and backlash from customers, the New Coke was withdrawn from the market and the Coke Classic was introduced with the original ingredients. Regarding the Coca-Cola Company’s quantitative study and the New Coke, the test provided inconclusive results because of the lack of information given to the participants. Though the participants enjoyed the flavor of the New Coke, it did not outweigh their desire and loyalty of the original Coke. The New Coke’s example of relying on only one type of study displayed poor predictive validity. A customer’s like toward a product is not a good predictor of whether they would purchase the product over another product they also like. Had the Coke Company taken a segmented approach and kept both products on the store shelves, they could have had a better idea of which the users liked best and which would generate the most sales in a side-by-side or A/B comparison.

Most businesses who do A/B testing often fail to give their testing ad a chance at achieving its best possible results. Furthermore, without testing the ad properly, these individuals or companies may ultimately lose money, time, and potentially reject a successful ad that just never had the chance to prove itself successful due to the lack of owner knowledge. Having a control ad running throughout the testing of a new ad can save money and eliminate performance history as a variable in the test ad. By creating multiple copies of a control ad, you can avoid giving 50% of impressions to an unproven ad which may fail. Creating multiple copies of a control ad allows you to save on cost considering the control ad is always running. Instead of losing 50% of ad impressions to the testing ad, that percentage shrinks to 20% because of the additional control ad copies. In addition to this type of testing saving on cost and potentially accelerating the testing process, it also allows for you to create a valid testing environment by comparing the performance of the test ad against the copies of the control only.

Data Mining and Processing

You can develop business and marketing strategies by analyzing customer patterns and behaviors. In a U.S. study, it was found that 93% of customers use the internet for e-commerce-related activities.[1] In addition to general data mining using the internet, social media was also useful for gathering location-based data about customers and identifying patterns of consumer feedback. Other data mining sources include weblogs, forums, wikis, and social media.

Comprehending the needs of your customers can help to establish future direction and define your product status. Additionally, online data mining from social media networks is advantageous for gathering data quicker and easier than surveys and questionnaires. Benefits of data mining include the capacity to better comprehend your customers by knowing and assessing the networks in which they gather. Moreover, data mining is useful for analyzing customer behavior, which can assist in establishing a future course for identifying and implementing your business’s marketing strategies.

 

[1] Flanagin, A. J., Metzger, M. J., Pure, R., Markov, A., & Hartsell, E. (2014). Mitigating risk in ecommerce transactions: Perceptions of information credibility and the role of user-generated ratings in product quality and purchase intention. Electronic Commerce Research, 14, 1-23. doi:10.1007/s10660-014-9139-2

Market Research Methods

Marketing research knowledge has significantly increased in response to growth in disruptive innovations including the internet and technology development. In my experience, I have found that market research has been essential when repositioning my business to support product advancement, and in helping discover marketing opportunities and expanding market shares through various conveyance channels. Additionally, marketing research has helped influence the performance and effectiveness of my marketing strategies by helping to find my ideal customer with little error and without wasting time and resources on customers that were never going to purchase.

To help with analyzing markets, there are two useful forms of marketing research; primary and secondary.

Primary Research. This is a research methodology where you interact with your customers and gather as much information as you can directly from them. The information is generally collected through surveys, questionnaires, feedback forms, and interviews.

Secondary Research. This research relies on information which has been collected by others (blogs, previous researchers, data channels). You should conduct this type of research by collecting and analyzing articles, web pages, and books as references for the collected research data.

Phenomenology. A phenomenology research method uses analysis to capture individual customer experiences. This method is used for unfolding customer experiences by examining the uniqueness and commonalities of events and circumstances. The data collection techniques used in phenomenology research include in-depth analysis, documentary, and observation.

Quantitative, Qualitative, and Mixed Methods

When conducting research, you should first decide the method of research you intend to use. Research study methodologies are characterized as either qualitative, quantitative, or a combination of both, which is referred to as mixed methods. Of these methods, none can be considered the best method without factoring in the goals and objectives of your research.

I know it may seem a bit overwhelming, but understanding research methods are critical if you desire a certain outcome for your marketing efforts. For example, when I’m putting together an AdWords campaign, I would rather put together my campaign based on data collected from a quantitative method versus a qualitative method. Otherwise, I would waste time and money guessing what to do based on trial and error. A quantitative research method is better for helping to pinpoint your customer and develop a more effective marketing campaign.

Quantitative. A quantitative research method is beneficial for collecting data in the form of tests, reliance, probability theory, and surveys for analyzing statistical hypotheses that relate to your business, marketing goal, or research questions. A quantitative research method is best used when you want to analyze numbers. For example, you could use a quantitative approach when sending out a survey where you expect to get the survey results in numerical format, or if the survey has multiple choice questions.

Qualitative. Qualitative research consists of using real-world experiences and interpreting the phenomena. Unlike quantitative research, a qualitative examination is non-measurable. This research method can be used to help you understand and discover experiences, perspectives, and insight of your customers. An advantage of a qualitative approach is that the study participants are not constrained to a predetermined set of responses such as those in multiple choice or numerical questions. Meaning, through qualitative research, the participants would give their broad perception versus clicking a checkbox or radio button like in surveys.

Unlike a quantitative method, a qualitative examination technique can help to assess why customers behave a certain way. The method also helps in discovering boundaries that influence thought by breaking down points of interest and gathering information from in-depth sources. A quantitative method often makes the assumption that there is a singular truth that exists, which does not include human perception. A drawback of using a quantitative approach to collect data is that it is expensive considering the amount of time needed to collect and analyze the data.

Mixed Methods. Mixed methods are useful when you want to combine qualitative and quantitative methods by linking their differences. The key principle of mixed methods is that various forms of data can be collected by using multiple strategies and methods. Mixed methods can assist in reflecting complementary strengths and weaknesses of qualitative and quantitative methods, and produce opportunities for approaches with weaknesses by correcting method biases.

Determining whether to use a qualitative or quantitative method is dependent upon the importance of how you desire to collect your data. Simply stated, qualitative techniques define and describe while quantitative techniques estimate and quantify. When creating a new marketing strategy, neither qualitative nor quantitative measures are more important than the other when determining value and sales. If you are confused on which method to use, testing both measures will help you find the best outcomes.

Marketing Research

It is difficult to be both a specialist in your profession and an expert in understanding your current and potential customers. If your expertise is in being a chef or hair stylist, you shouldn’t expect to launch a top-notch website or marketing campaign using analytics, data analysis, or customer insight without actually taking the time to understand marketing research in the same way that you learned your profession. In developing marketing strategies and enhancing your knowledge, it is essential to conduct market research to better comprehend your customer base and their needs. Like any profession, effective marketing requires time and dedication to gain the experience necessary to properly research and analyze your customers, considering they do not always think, act, believe, or have the same priorities or values as you. The keys to understanding how to grow your business are in researching your industry and target consumer group. Once you have researched your customers and analyzed the data, you need to develop a targeted strategy to grow sales. Only then will your marketing efforts and business flourish.

Marketing Strategy

Marketing plans are crucial for starting and growing your business. A good marketing plan will help your business identify target customers and generate a plan to reach and retain those customers. The marketing plan can be a roadmap to gaining customers and improving organizational success if done properly. Additionally, this strategy can help to define your desired customer by targeting their precise needs based on their demographic profiles which are helpful in identifying targeted customers and creating focused advertisements aimed directly at those prospective customers.

Strategy Development. Carefully developing your marketing strategy and performance will help keep your market presence strong. Without planning, you could potentially waste time and money targeting the wrong audience. Effective marketing is often based on the importance of how your customers perceive your business, and has two important principles:

  • Your business policies and activities should be directed toward satisfying customer needs.
  • Profitable salesvolume is more important than maximum sales volume.

There is no one method of creating a flawless marketing plan. The most effective tried and true method is taking the time to do the necessary research and stay updated on your market and target consumer groups. Monitoring population shifts, legal developments, and local economic situations can help to identify problems and discover opportunities for your business. Monitoring your competitors’ successes and failures is also helpful in devising your marketing strategies.

Marketing Message. The marketing message is the heart of a marketing plan. It details the business’ plan for the marketing materials, how the company plans to achieve its marketing goals and the tactics that will be used to meet them. In addition, the marketing message determines how your business intends to communicate its message to customers. When creating your marketing message, make certain that you focus on how you want your company to be perceived by its customers. Do you want customers to view your business as having good prices, customer support, or quality service? Once you determine your marketing message, you will know the next steps to take for your business.

Distribution. A critical point of your marketing plan is its plan of distribution. The distribution plan details the channels and processes through which customers can make purchases and how your business will reach new customers. The distribution strategy of the plan is considered one of the most important sections of the plan. Examples of an effective distribution strategy include tactics utilizing television, trade shows, and online advertising.

Strategy Milestones cover the business’ major events and achievements that need to occur to keep your strategy on track for success. Milestone events are strategically important for your business and provide an outline of dates and timeframes as to when the events should take place. Additionally, the milestones should be tracked and analyzed with real results. Not sticking to the plan and milestones will likely cause your strategy to fail, particularly, in reaching its expected completion date.

Marketing Audit

Based on questionnaires obtained by the opinions of marketing experts, it has been determined that marketing audits are a paramount factor in business success.[1] A marketing audit can be an important tool in discovering potential risks within your business’s activities. Within the marketing industry, understanding how or why to market to a certain demographic is a key component to creating a successful marketing plan. To conduct an effective marketing audit, the method should have four major characteristics which include it being comprehensive regarding function, environment, and productivity; independent from decision-making managers; completed using a structured, systematic approach; and that it should be carried out on a periodic basis. A marketing audit can improve your marketing management and business problems by helping to assess and evaluate your business’s marketing ability, strategies, performance and effectiveness, problematic areas, and opportunities.

Having the ability to find and understand your customer, competitor, and product potential will make the process of marketing your product or service much easier. A problem often found in businesses is that they don’t develop marketing strategies or perform preemptive audits. These businesses come to realize, in the middle of their marketing efforts, that they have no real plan or a way to monitor the effects of their marketing campaigns. Having a plan of action serves to pace and organize your marketing efforts. Regular audits can help you identify business strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and risks specific to your industry and market. Furthermore, marketing audits can be used to direct the vision of your business, the value of products offered, and the effectiveness of current, previous, and future marketing efforts and organizational efficiencies. A good marketing audit should also assist with the implementation of a marketing strategy, and help in generating brand awareness and sales.

 

[1] Lipnická D., Ďaďo J. (2013). Marketing Audit and Factors Influencing Its Use in Practice of Companies (From an Expert Point of View). Journal of Competitiveness, 5 (4), 26-42. doi: 10.7441/joc.2013.04.02

Consumer vs Business Markets

In both business and consumer markets, the individual that will use your product or service is not always the same individual that makes the actual purchasing decision. For instance, a husband may purchase a product that his wife needs, or a parent for a child, or an employer for an employee. In these situations, your responsibility is to satisfy the decision maker(s) by providing them relevant information as to how your product or service can enhance their business or lifestyle.

Generally, when I walk into a jewelry store to purchase a gift for my wife, the sales representative will ask questions about my wife, not about me (until we start talking budget). In business, you need to ask the purchaser about the goals or intentions for the product or service, not about their basic needs. To make them happy, you have to sell the expectation that the individual receiving the purchase will be happy. When the decision maker is not present, you can generate more sales by focusing on expectation rather than the moment.

Business Market Purchases. When marketing to a business, you should concentrate on what is most important to the business which often includes statistics, facts, data, and a return on investment. Within the business market, the purchasing decision is generally made by multiple individuals. Your selling strategy should focus on each of the decision makers by way of the individual who sought out your business. This may include giving everything to the purchaser and letting that individual determine how to disperse the content to the decision maker(s).

Consumer Market Purchases. Consumers regularly make purchases based on factors which include value, availability, and emotional connections. In consumer markets, you will either sell to an individual or a couple. An example of a couple transaction is a husband wanting to purchase a new home. To do so, he would need to get his wife to agree to the decision. Similar to a business market, you need to sell to both but primarily satisfy the decision maker, which you should identify as you work to develop the relationship.

In both business and consumer markets, you can go a long way by getting the individual who contacted you to like you. If they like you and your business, they will fight on your behalf to influence the decision maker.

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