Mar
06

Small business content strategies for marketing in turbulent times

Fellow business builder,

You’ve probably heard the McGraw-Hill Research results by now.

If not, here is a recap:

600 companies in 16 different industries were studied.  It lasted
over a 5 year span, and included one recession during the study.

The conclusion?  Companies that maintained or increased their
marketing budgets during the 5 year span grew by 256% than those
who didn’t.  Those who cut back on their marketing and
advertising during the same period of time only grew by 19%.

I know which growth number you and I would prefer… but how and
what can we do to get those numbers?

First, a few things that must be understood:

* As mentioned above, companies who cut back on marketing during
the coming months and years will suffer.

* Companies who are not aggressively going after new leads and new
customers will barely survive the mess we are in right now

* Companies who follow the direct marketing strategies shared on
this blog will trump those who follow traditional, non
direct marketing models

* If you increase your marketing right now, you will capture a much
larger share of the marketplace you play in

* If you look at your direct marketing costs as an investment, you
will experience much greater returns on your money

* The initiatives that will pay off will take either your time or
your money.  If you have the money, you can decrease the amount of
time it takes to get results.  If you have more time than money,
you will still get results, it just takes up more sweat equity to
get the same results.

Content is king in a pitchfest world

Who else is sick and tired of pitch after pitch?

Ezines.
Blogs.
Twitter feeds.
Websites.
And on, and on, and on.

The actual product launches are great examples of marketing, but
the sheer volume of them in the internet marketing space is
deafening.

Same with Twitter, which I am still working on (up to 1,700
followers now, still trying to figure out where it fits and
doesn’t).  Now that everyone is starting to use the same
formulas to grow their Twitter followers, it is a very busy world
on Twitter, everyone pitching their wares, with little real content.

So, what can you do?

Start thinking like your actual customers would be a great start!

Do you like being pitched at 24×7?

Of course not.

Something useful would be a nice change, wouldn’t it?

Or something entertaining added into the mix?

Think through what you could be giving them that would help them,
hook them, get them more involved with you and your business, or
keep them coming back for more.

You could try:

* A simple 4 page print newsletter instead of always using email

* Create an ebook of your best blog posts or articles, and give it
away to your existing leads, and/or use it to generate new leads.

* Turn your ebook into a physical book.  Self publishing tools like
lulu.com make it extremely easy to do small run printing of your
books.

* Interview your own people.  Get insider information from your
customer service people, your engineers or technical people.  Talk
to the sales people. The marketers. Etc.  Find out 3 interesting
things from each of them about their perspective on your business
and products and share it with your contacts.

* Test putting together an autoresponder series that educates your
clients on how to use yoru products and services.  You could have
one series for new users. One for intermediates. And one for
advanced.  As soon as they finish one level, offer them the next.

* Implement some form of membership program into your business.   I
worked with a massage therapist in the past and we changed his
entire business model from one-off purchases to a membership-only
model. From a $45 massage, to a $900 membership.  Or what about the
Lobster guys who I have written extensively about through this
blog. They went from selling $5 lobsters on the docks (with every
other fisherman), to selling $3,000 memberships (and making a
fortune along the way).

* Become a problem publisher.  Share the fact that you are not
invincible (like so many of the gurus out there pretend to be).
Show them your challenges you faced, and what exactly you did to
overcome them.  Show the problems your customers faced, and how
your products helped them overcome them.  Be real. Be human. And
admit you have flaws.  Everyone loves a real person… and detests
the fake snake oil salesmen.

* Do a teleseminar series with experts in your field.  Get 4 or 5
experts together and host an educational series your prospects and
clients would want to be a part of.  Side benefit: you have a
product after you can sell or use in lead generation.

* Be unusual and outrageous in your marketing.  Take California
Tortilla for example.  They have a fabulous newsletter (CalTort
Taco Talk - http://www.californiatortilla.com/taco-talk.html) that
is exceptional. They are personal.  They come up with funny
contests and sayings (like their Pop Tarts a Go Go Day, or their
Wall of Flame that talks about their “Ass in the Tub”,
“Ass in Space” and the ever-popular “Ass in
Antarctica”, hot sauces).  I WISH there were more restaurants
doing this… actually, anyone could be having more fun with this
type of approach… including me (a writer-downer for myself).

* Create a Top 10 list or a buyers guide to help them in their
decision making process.  Show them the proper way to decide on
their purchase.  With real content, little sales talk, and lots of
personality.

* Be the first in your field to bring out a Tales-From-The-Toilet
(or something like that) publication.  This could be a monthly or
weekly publication that comes out that shares wacky stories from
around the world, and then relate those stories back to your field.

Give them a laugh.  Break up their day.  And keep them coming back
for more.

* Bring out a regular book, movie, or website review.  Anyone in
the marketing field needs to be an avid reader and researcher… so
share some of your findings!  Tell them what you are reading, and
what you thought.  Or tell them about the movie you just saw with
your kids.  Or the aweful experience you had last week at the mall
when trying to buy clothes.  The opportunities are endless to do
this, all it takes is some initiative.

 

Break the damn rules.

Just because someone, somewhere said this is “best
practice” doesn’t mean it applies 100% of the time, across
100% of the industries.  For every one person seeing success with
“the rules” there are just as many, or more, seeing
bigger and better numbers by breaking the rules.

Take the internet marketing crowd.

All the rules that are hyped up as unbreakable… are being broken
day in and day out.

And companies are making a huge profit by doing so.

Lots of highly successful businesses don’t use 36 page
magalogs, but still make a fortune.

Pay per click advertising is used in some business models with
great success, other businesses use 100% offline marketing with
just as much, or greater success to show.

Long copy vs. Short – both can and do work.

Email subject lines do NOT have to be short (contrary to what many
people say).

Kimberly-Clark test long vs short email subject lines and saw 64%
greater numbers with long, long subject lines (done across multiple
tests… with similar results in all).

The ONLY way to know what will work in your business and what will
get you the results is to try new things.

Keep doing the same old things IF they are working.

But, if your old marketing tools are no longer working in the
recession… put them back on the shelf for now!

Bring out some new ones and break more than a few rules to see what
works.

Or in the offline world.

Are you still using Yellow Page ads?  Is it still working?  I met
with a person last week who was spending $2,000 per month on yellow
page ads and is barely seeing a return on them.  Why keep doing
them? Becuase that’s the way it’s always been done!

Wrong.

Just because it worked in the past decade, doesn’t mean it will
work in this next decade (or year).

There is a Boston dentist who dropped her yellow page ads and put
all of her focus on delivering website content, blog posts, and
information products that target the right clients.

Her practice grew 10 fold in 2 years.

What about newspapers, trade mags, or community papers?

They are hurting bad right now, and are eager for your business.
THEY are no longer in the driver’s seat, you are.

So get aggressive with the negotiations and see what they are
willing to do for you.

Get better rates.

Get editorial content mixed in.

Get placement closer to the front, exactly where you want it.
Without advertisers, they are toast.

So always remember who is in the driver’s seat… and use it to
your advantage.

What about YOU?

Do you have anything you are doing differently right now that IS
working?  Would you be willing to share?

We are all in the same boat here… how we deal with it is what
makes the difference.  Some people are cutting back… and they
will barely survive the coming year.  Others are aggressively
trying new things and see what works… those are the ones who will
thrive in troubling times.

The choice is yours.

If you do have some strategies working for you, why not share them
here and help out your fellow marketers?

Thanks again.

To your success,

Troy White

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“Don’t wait. The time will never be just right.”
~~ Napoleon Hill

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