Strategic Lifetime Marketing – A Life Preserver For Your Business

Ever heard of ‘Riptide Marketing?’

In the United States, riptides account for approximately 100 deaths every year. Despite its name, a riptide isn’t related to the ocean tide at all. It is actually a strong flow of water returning towards the sea from the shore. More accurately, this flow of water is called a rip current. Rip currents can occur at any beach that has breaking waves, including oceans, seas, and even large lakes such as the Great Lakes. Rip currents can tow an unsuspecting swimmer or wader out to sea at speeds up to one to eight feet per second. But rip current themselves are not dangerous. Rip currents become treacherous when the panicked victim fights to swim back to shore. In the futile attempt to fight the current, the victim becomes exhausted and drowns. Though seemingly counterintuitive, the way to survive a rip current is to simply swim parallel to the shoreline. By doing so, you will swim perpendicular to the direction of powerful pull and ultimately free of the current – without exhausting yourself. Then you can change directions and swim towards shore.

What do riptides have to do with your business?

When revenue slows down for any reason, general overhead and administrative expenses continue to flow out. Just like a rip current. The common business reaction is to ramp up one’s marketing efforts to bring in new customers and entice previous customers to return. In the ensuing flurry of panicked activity, no marketing plan is developed or, if there is one, it is ill-planned or isn’t followed. Carried to its extreme, this ultimately leads to business death by drowning in a sea of unpaid advertising and general overhead bills.

An Example of Riptide Marketing

Until recently, one of my clients was paying over $20,000 in Yellow Pages ads – every month! The return on the marketing investment? Needless to say, far less than $20,000 per month. Now, obviously, spending money like that is not a formula for business longevity. Fortunately, with my coaching, at renewal time the company slashed its Yellow Pages commitment to more manageable and reasonable levels.

The Solution to Riptide Marketing

Strategic lifetime marketing is an approach to marketing that capitalizes on the lifetime value of your most desirable customers. In the business world, this is akin to swimming parallel to the shoreline when caught in a potentially deadly rip current. The key is to develop such a lifetime-oriented approach to marketing before a crisis occurs. One of the first steps to developing a strategic lifetime-oriented marketing plan is to first understand your highest-value customer.

Who is your highest-value customer? Sounds simple enough but, in my experience, this is one of the toughest questions for business owners to answer with clarity and confidence. (By the way, “everyone” is not a good answer.) You can start by understanding the demographics and psychographics of your ideal target audience:

Demographics are quantifiable characteristics – factors such as age, race, gender, religion, income, education, and profession.
Psychographics are less readily quantifiable, but more critical to your success – they describe what your target audience values, how they think, what they care about, how they feel, and how they choose to live. These factors directly reflect their buying habits.
The Lifetime Marketing Quickstart Action Plan
The cure for riptide marketing consists of three simple steps:

As described above, first understand the demographic and their psychographic characteristics of your market.
Then, determine the potential of your product or service in the marketplace. Do so by uncovering your target’s biggest problems and needs to which you are the answer. Once you have this kind of information clear, you’ll be prepared to craft your ultimate value offering – customized to the needs, wants, and mindset of your best customers.
Finally, measure the effectiveness of your promotional activities.
The Bottom Line:
Without a strategic approach to effective, lifetime-oriented marketing, you are putting your greatest asset – your business – at risk. Whether you are starting a new business, introducing a new product or service, or seeking to expand your existing business, it is vitally important to first understand the mindset and buying habits of your potential and existing consumers. With this information, you can position and package your offering in a way that attracts the consumers who are looking for the product or service you have to offer as well as the value that you offer. This strategy will enhance your ability to get your value-based message to your target audience with greater cost-effectiveness, efficiency, and impact. It will increase your prospect-to-buyer conversion rates, shorten the buying cycle, and increase the frequency of repeat and referral purchases. Sounds like a plan for business longevity to me!

Content Marketing – Five Strategies For Creating Effective Content Offers

It’s Marketing 101. The easiest way to get your prospects to opt-in to your e-mail list, take your survey or respond to your direct mail is by creating a valuable information product they can’t resist and giving it away for free. But while the concept is a basic one, marketers often find themselves at a loss when the time comes to create a concept for their information offer.

Not to fear. Here are five simple formulas for creating special reports your prospects will want to get their hands on.

Top 10 Mistakes

Pain avoidance is a powerful motivator, and that’s why this report formula works so well. On the report’s first page, list the “Top 10 Mistakes” your prospects make. For example, a direct mail firm’s report would be the titled The Top 10 Direct Mail Mistakes and How to Avoid Them. On the following 10 pages, describe each mistake in more detail and tell your prospects how to avoid it.

101 Secrets to Success

It may be easy for your prospects to ignore just one secret for success, but ignoring a whopping 101 secrets is a lot harder. This report is easier to create then it sounds. Simply ask your writer to contact 101 different people: these can be both people within your company and outside subject matter experts (authors, bloggers, professors and the like). Have each contact contribute their “secret for success” in a few short sentences. These ‘secrets’ are then edited for clarity and presented in the form of quotes.

Complete Checklist

Organizing is tough, and isn’t it nice when someone does it for you? That’s the power of the “Complete Checklist” report. First, think of what your prospects are trying to accomplish. Then, create a checklist describing each step needed to achieve this goal, breaking it down into smaller lists as necessary. For example, a lawn care company’s report would be titled The Complete Lawn Care Checklist for a Beautiful Lawn, and could include separate checklists for things like selecting a lawn care provider, choosing a mower and maintaining a weed-free lawn.

“Principles Of” Report

This type of report works best when you have a complicated subject or product, or have recently experienced a new development in your industry. It fulfills your prospect’s desire to be up-to-date on industry trends.

For example, a caveman consulting firm helps their cave-dwelling prospects make axes more efficiently. One day, along comes the assembly line. The consulting firm could create the report The 10 Principles of Assembly-Line Ax-Making. It would list the key principles of this new technology and explain the value of each principle to the prospect.

Questions Answered

One of the easiest ways to understand what your prospects want to know is by looking at the questions they’re asking. For a “Questions Answered” report, simply compile a list of the questions you’ve received on a topic and answer them. To save time and effort, ask your writer interview the thought leader at your organization. Then, send the interview to a transcription service and have the writer edit the transcript for clarity. For example, a golf school could create a report called Your Most Urgent Golf Swing Questions: Answered.

With the help of a freelance copywriter, you can easily and inexpensively create any of these reports. Then, simply offer the report to your prospects for free in your next e-mail or direct mail message, and wait for the responses to come rolling in.

Marketing by the Numbers is What Makes You Rich

A lot of people say “People Skills” or “Communication Skills” dictates marketing. While that is true, one important factor should never be missed – numbers. No, we’re not talking about complicated mathematics here, just basic numbers that you have to consider in order for your marketing efforts to succeed, or be effective – kind of like marketing by the numbers so to speak.

What is marketing by the numbers? Marketing by the numbers is simply a guide for you to know your marketing goals, measure how your marketing efforts are doing, and measuring the benefits you get for your efforts. Here are a few numbers you should consider for you to understand what we mean by marketing by the numbers.

Cost Per Impression
When marketing by the numbers, you should always consider cost per impression simply means the amount of money you spent for every person who hears your message, reads your ad, or receives your e-mail or flyer. Say for example you spend 50 cents per flyer, and by estimates 2 people view each flyer, your Cost Per Impression is 25 cents.

Conversion Rates
Conversion rate means the number of people who become customers, or number of people who purchased your product based on total number of impressions. Let’s say you distributed 100 flyers outside your store, and twenty people come inside to purchase something, that means your conversion rate is 20%.

Average Revenue Per Customer
Your average revenue per customer is the amount of profit you make, less the amount of marketing you put into it. Say you earned a profit of $60.00 from your twenty customers; your average revenue per is $3.0 per customer.

Return-on-investment on Marketing Efforts
Return on investments (ROI) is a nebulous theory. If you go specifically by the numbers, it might be discouraging. Taking into account the above example, if you distribute 100 flyers at $0.50 each, then you would have spent $50.00 on advertising. A direct profit of $60.00 from your 20 customers who responded to your ad nets you a direct ROI of $10.00, hardly an amount to jump around for.

However, it is not that simple. Your 20 customers may become loyal to you and become repeat customers for the foreseeable future. Some of the rest of the 80 who received your flyers may come back some other day to purchase or the flyer may end up in someone else’s hand and they may become your customer. In that case, the direct ROI is inconsequential. ROI may be measured some other way, but that should include your overall profits per marketing campaign, but basically ROI is how much you earn vis a vis how much you spent. ROI is one of the more complex concepts you need to grasp when you do marketing by the numbers.

Targeted Marketing
Marketing by the numbers does not mean you should simply market to as many people as possible. Quite the contrary, that tactic will only net you expenses that are unwarranted. It is of course different per product (or opportunity whichever is the case). You can market health products to everyone, while you can only market ladies wear to ladies obviously. You can market milk to most everyone, but you can only market coffee to coffee drinkers. So in other words in targeted marketing, you are looking for people who already have need or want or desire for what you market.

You can of course market something to someone outside of your target to convert him or her to your products, but that is going to be costlier. When you do marketing by the numbers, consider marketing to your target audience first, instead of a blanket approach. A blanket approach reaches more people, but a targeted approach might net you more returns. Try targeted marketing first, then do a blanket approach. Your numbers should show which one is effective, and then go with that.

Marketing by the numbers also allows you to actually see your costs, see how much you earn per marketing effort and decide which marketing strategies to pursue based on those numbers. That is how marketing by the numbers make you rich.

Marketing Inertia

How’s your marketing inertia?

One of the classes I always liked in both high school and college was Physics. Not my area of expertise, but at the time I was truly interested in the laws of physics and the scientific principles that we studied.

One of the laws of physics that I still remember is the Law of Inertia. Technically it’s Newton’s First Law of Motion, but it’s commonly referred to as the law of inertia. Newton’s first law basically states that “a body at rest tends to stay at rest and a body in motion tends to stay in motion with the same speed and direction unless acted upon by an external force.”

Notice the two parts of the principle. One part refers to the behavior of a motionless object. The other part refers to the behavior of a moving object.

You could summarize this by saying a body (or object) tends to keep on doing whatever it’s doing. When it’s standing still it will just stay standing still unless something puts it in motion. And when that same object is moving, it will keep moving in the same direction and speed unless and until something causes it to change directions, speed up, slow down, or stop.

For example, a child’s soccer ball would tend to just rest in the same spot in the yard until someone kicks it to set it in motion. Once it’s put into motion it tends to stay in motion until forces of gravity and friction slow it down until it comes to rest again.

Ok, what the heck does this have to do with small business marketing? You probably didn’t start reading this article hoping to get some kind of lesson in physics or a detailed explanation of the Law of Inertia. So let me draw a parallel to your small business marketing.

Every business has its own Marketing Inertia. And much like Newton’s first law of motion, it tends to keep doing whatever it’s doing. In other words, it’s either staying at rest or staying in motion.

When your marketing is at rest, nothing is happening. The business isn’t flourishing and growing because you’re not consistently attracting new clients. It generally looks like you’re waiting for someone to contact you about your services, to refer you to someone else, or maybe just show up at your office and declare, “I’m ready to buy!”

On the other hand, if your marketing is in motion it tends to stay in motion. You’re creating clear and compelling marketing messages that speak to the needs of your clients and prospects. You’re working regularly and consistently to put your message and your expertise in front of your target market.

And when your marketing is in motion, the business tends to do well. That is until you get distracted by getting busy or perhaps frustrated by less than stellar results. Then that kind of works like gravity and friction to slow your marketing back down until it comes to rest again.

So how’s your marketing inertia?

Unfortunately, for too many small businesses it is the “tending to stay at rest” part of the principle that is more prevalent. And to make matters worse, they seem to be waiting for some kind of external force to put it in motion.

So here’s a little marketing secret…

The external force that’s needed to put your marketing in motion is YOU!

One of the big mistakes too many small businesses make is waiting for some kind of marketing magic to set itself in motion. It’s a totally passive mindset and marketing approach that simply doesn’t work.

You have to take action to put your marketing in motion. Even if you’ve created a brochure and a web site and done some nice work for a few clients, there’s still more external force required to put marketing in motion.

Here are some ways you can make sure your marketing inertia is a body in motion that will tend to stay in motion:

* Build and continually add to your repository of value. Creating articles, tip sheets, special reports and audios, etc. is one of the best ways to establish your credibility and authority as an expert in your field. Show clients, prospects, and referral sources that you understand the issues they’re dealing with and have some answers to solve them.

* Leverage what you know to attract clients. Make it your mission to find as many ways as possible to distribute, share, and give away these nuggets of value describe in the previous paragraph. Use them as follow-ups to networking contacts, a give away for ezine sign-ups, and a soft introduction to leads generated.

* Stay in touch. People who you meet through networking and receive one of your articles, or sign up for your ezine, or might be in a position to refer you need to be in-touch or they’ll forget you. Send them valuable information through your ezine. Contact them when you come across other articles or resources of value to them. Share your success stories and testimonials as they come in.

* Get proactive about generating referrals. Have you ever actually asked your clients and trusted business contacts for referrals? Most small business are just passively waiting for their good work and expertise to result in referrals. It’s a bit like watching that soccer ball, waiting for it to set itself in motion. Start asking and following-up (see above) and you’ll likely be amazed at the motion you create.

* Schedule time for marketing in your calendar every single week! You are the external force it takes to put your marketing inertia in motion. Don’t let your client load or administrative load or anything else distract you from spending some focused time on marketing to keep it in motion.

Are you starting to see the importance of understanding marketing inertia? What effect is it having on your business? Is it at rest? Or, is it in motion?