5 Sure Fire Ways For Your Marketing to Fail

While there are many marketing debates around what constitutes marketing success, there is very little debate around why marketing fails. Lets take a brief look at five things that are guaranteed to cripple your marketing efforts, and budget.

1) Don’t Define what you want Marketing to Achieve.

This is the number one pitfall of nearly all marketing campaigns. You are guaranteed to fail if you don’t decide up front what you want the campaign to do for you. You’ll get side-tracked, pulled off course by the creative team and/or achieve something completely unintended (positive or negative). Without formulating your critical success factors for the marketing initiative you will never be able to measure success/failure or degrees thereof – everything will be outside your control as you constantly grapple for straws.

2) Try to Please Everyone.

By trying to be all things to all people you are fairly likely to appeal to no-one. This is the one area of marketing where less is definitely more. Focus small and own that market, rather than trying to attract every one and having your campaigns so broad and generic that they lose their message and appeal in the process.

3) Communicate too Little or too Much.

There is definitely constant conflict over how much to say and when. In a nutshell, short copy is great if you have a lot of products and/or services you need communicated in one message. Long copy is best if you have one product/service and you want to communicate your unique brand offering in a way that takes the reader through a sales process. Even in long copy though, you need to determine no more than three key benefits of your product/service and reinforce these over and over again so that the message comes through clearly. By saying too little you won’t have grabbed, by sending too many messages you’ll confuse. The key is to say little and reinforce often.

4) Not Understanding the Target Market.

Market research is one of those highly specialized areas that often confuse the practical marketer, but this area is ignored at your peril. Investing time and resources in getting into the minds of your selected target market will be repaid ten-fold. The research does not have to be complicated or outsourced. In house data mining, Customer Relationship Management (CRM) data analysis, discussions with your sales force or focus groups with some of your customers are all cost effective options that will provide valuable insight. If you haven’t done something to better understand your customers in the last 3 months then it’s time to block off an afternoon to invest in your future.

5) No time to think – just do!

This is one area that is becoming a chronic sickness in all marketing efforts. Marketing personnel are spending less time with their feet up on the desk thinking (if they ever did it to start with) and more and more time running around doing, un-doing and re-doing. We need to find a way to do less but do it better. By working on fewer campaigns but investing focused time and energy towards their effectiveness, we will achieve more and do so with less stress and more fun!

If you can avoid just one of these five pitfalls this year, you will have done well.

How to Communicate Effectively in Troubled Times

In troubled times – be it war, a shaky economy, or political uncertainty – it’s harder than ever to engage your audiences. There’s just so much on everyone’s mind.

So how do you keep communication going, as it must, during this time?

Communications experts tell us that nonprofits (and other organizations) should expand their communication efforts during war and economic downturn, with an increased focus on fact-driven messages. A recent article in PR Week reports results of a survey of journalists nationwide who almost unanimously urge organizations to “communicate factually, frequently, and consistently.” “Use this time wisely,” say the journalists, “to position yourself.”

Offhand, I agree with survey findings. It is important to continue to reach your audiences during this time, especially to reassure them that your organization is still here and still working hard to address the issues on which you focus. Remember, people don’t stop volunteering, advocating, or giving during tough times. They simply are likely to deliberate more carefully, and more slowly, on where to direct their resources.

I suggest the following:

• As always, make sure that your organization has a compelling mission and a unique approach to delivering products, programs, and/or services.

Once that’s in place, design or refine a potent brand. (Branding is the art of creating a consistent, recognizable, and clear unified voice or personality that conveys your organization’s uniqueness, focus, and values.)

Once you’re confident that your brand is on target, stick to it, rather than focusing on short-term needs or concerns.

• Review your messages to ensure that they are relevant in the current environment. Evolve the messages to make sure that they match the world your audiences are living in today.

• Take advantage of the hyper-focused landscape to speak with a larger voice and define yourself in a somewhat less cluttered marketplace.

• Put more online communications strategies to work – e-newsletters, web sites with strong content, and more. Online communications usually provide more value for price and, in addition, are more measurable than many other communications strategies.

How To Maximize The Marketing Of Your Business On A Small Budget

No one ever got into a business with the intentions not to make money or to expand throughout the coming years. It is the hope of every business owner that their “baby” is profitable, as well as display a reasonable amount of growth. One of the best ways to achieve the goals that are set for a business is to implement effective marketing plans. There are many different approaches to consider, such as increased promotion, persuasive advertisement, as well as positive customer interaction.

Without proper business marketing techniques, a company stands to lose ground with the public, as well as with competitors. I know you must be thinking about how much it will cost to market your business, but trust me; there are ways to make sure that it isn’t an expense you cannot handle. There are numerous approaches a business owner can take to maximize what they have, as well as save money.

Maximize Your Contact Information

Make your presence known through everything you do or send out to others. This means plastering your contact details on all of your marketing emails and packages. Don’t forget to include your logo, address, phone number, and website address (when applicable) on your company letterhead and business cards. Your company name should be visible and recognizable. Make sure your business doesn’t go unnoticed or is easily forgotten. This is a great way to not only promote your business, but to also build a connection with the public. Sometimes a catchy slogan is effective in making sure clients associate your business with a specific line of products or services.

Take Advantage of Article Writing

It doesn’t cost much to promote your business through the writing of articles pertaining to your company. Try to place business promotion at the end of the article. The next step is to enter the article into a directory, magazine, newspaper, or Ezine. The best way to use this method is to send out your articles to the type of venues your target audience will most likely frequent.

Say It With a Press Release

Spread the news of your company through the creation of a press release, which is great to announce the expansion of your business. This is also a great way to alert the public when a new product is available. It doesn’t cost much to pay publications to print a press release.

Embrace the Internet

Don’t ignore the power of a forum, discussion or message board. Choose a few reputable forums to post. Do not concentrate on marketing your business at first, market your interest and knowledge in your field and then once you develop a trusted presence, you may plug your business every once in a while.

Everyone Likes Something For Free

Another smart business practice in the wonderful world of marketing is to give away free items or services. This satisfies current clients and customers, as well as attracts a new crop of potential buyers. This is a great way to build relationships with the public and depending on your freebies, the cost is minimal.

Use All Media Outlets

Television and radio possess a power over the people that cannot be denied. Business promotion can be quite beneficial when you branch out to all kinds of media outlets. Sometimes, you may not get the response you hoped for, but you will have at least tapped into a different market you may not have reached before.

When it Comes to Marketing Your Business, Think Creatively

If your business doesn’t stand out in today’s hyper-competitive market place there’s a good chance that you won’t be in business very long. There are countless others vying for the same slice of the pie that you are.

There are dozens of competitors just up the road doing all they can to get the attention of your customers and take money out of your pockets.

It’s called “marketing,” and some are probably doing a better job of it than you are and some probably worse.

What can you do to position your business as the one customers notice? The secret to effective marketing is: think creatively.

Case in point: like every other struggling writer on the planet, I’ve written a book that I would like to see on the shelves at Barnes & Nobles.

Now I know that the only way I can get my book in front of a big time publisher is to have it submitted by an equally big time agent. And the chances of convincing a big time agent to represent me are about one in a bazillion. Most writers have a better chance of getting eaten by a shark in the Sahara than signing with an agent who gets them a big publishing deal. Being one to never let made up statistics stop me, I forged a creative marketing plan to make sure my book (my business) was noticed.

First thought: what’s the best way to get face time with a big time agent? I knew that the normal rules of marketing would do me no good. I couldn’t run a few radio spots or buy ads in the newspaper. I had to go where the agents were; in this case a book publishing convention in Orlando, Florida. I bought my ticket, booked my plane and hotel, and waited for the time to go to Orlando and pitch my book to every agent I could find. I was prepared to pitch them standing outside a bathroom stall door if necessary (no pride here).

Then it hit me: I’d probably have less than a minute to give these agents my elevator pitch. They would be swamped with every hack writer within a ten mile radius. I had to do something different. I had to market creatively.

I knew that every other Tom, Dick and John Grisham would be shoving business cards and tattered manuscripts at these guys, so I opted to do something different. I created a business card CD that had my picture on the outside and my manuscript on the inside. It looked like a business card, but when they popped it in their computer it brought up a nice presentation starring the work of yours truly.

Did my creative marketing work? Every agent that I gave one of my handy dandy business card CDs to said the same thing,”That’s the coolest thing I’ve ever seen! Tell me more!” Instead of having 30 seconds to pitch them, I suddenly had their attention for five, ten, fifteen minutes. They wanted to hear more about my amazing little CD and what it contained. By marketing creatively I not only stood out from the crowd, I caught their attention; I piqued their interest, I engaged them in actual conversation instead of the fluff conversation they were saving for less creative marketers.

What was the result of my creative marketing? I signed with an agent who popped the CD in his computer on the flight home and liked what he saw. Will my book ever grace the shelves of bookstores? Who knows, but when it comes out I guarantee you that I will think of all kind of creative ways to market it.

P.T. Barnum was the father of creative marketing. Many people mistakenly think that Barnum’s claim to fame was the circus that bears his name. Actually, Barnum got into the circus business late in life, years after he had established himself as one of the most creative marketers on the planet.

Barnum’s pride and joy was his American Museum in New York City. And his passion was finding creative ways to market it. He took a young midget, dubbed him Tom Thumb and made him a national sensation. He brought a pair of Siamese twins to speak at the museum who grew famous and rich from Barnum’s efforts. He had an elephant plow the field on his property because there was a railroad nearby and he knew that every passenger on the train would tell everyone they knew about seeing the elephant plowing his field. Barnum received nationwide coverage of the event and some agricultural societies even wrote to ask his advice on training elephants to farm. Barnum knew that the only way to keep his museum in business was to market creatively.

How can you use creative marketing in your business? What can you do Rostand out from your competition? What can you do to grab the attention of potential customers and mesmerize them with your message? Elephant farming may be a stretch, but I bet if you put your brain to it, you can think of something.

4 Steps to More Effective Client Testimonials

Client Testimonials. They make prospects trust you, and are essential for getting more business.
But are your testimonials the best they can be? Do they really inspire trust in your prospective
customers? Below are 4 ways you can improve the power of your testimonials to get even more

1. Include a Client Photo

Post a photo of your client above or beside his or her testimonial. People are naturally suspicious
of anyone trying to sell them something, but a photo helps to show that real people just like
themselves has bought from you and were satisfied with what you have to offer.

2. List Client’s full name and business name or URL

Another skepticism buster, posting the client’s full name and business URL makes it clear to your
prospect that real people have used and liked your product or service. Testimonials written by
“Jane M.., Kansas” or “Roger S., Consultant” sound intentionally vague and look made-up.
Instead use “Jane Michaels, President of Thunderclap Marketing” or “Roger Sherwood, Bay City
Consultants, [http://www.baycityconsultants.com]”.

3. Use a Mini Headline

This one isn’t a must–but it sure does look cool! Check out this one I yanked from an online
sales letter:

“Master Closer in Print!”

“I will pay Clayton Makepeace the highest
compliment anyone can say about a copywriter.
He is a master closer in print.”

–Gary Bencivenga
Million Dollar Copywriter

See how that works? You just pull a phrase from the testimonial and turn it into a mini subhead.
These are great if you have a lot of testimonials, because they catch a reader’s eye and help keep
all those kind words about you from running together.

4. Be Specific

Specificity sells. Don’t use a general testimonial that reads “John is a great guy and a wonderful
copywriter. His work is phenomenal.” That doesn’t really tell your prospective buyer anything.
Here’s how that testimonial should read: “John’s sales letter beat the pants off my old control,
increasing response by 300%!”

Guide your clients toward making their testimonials about your business as specific as possible,
discussing what you did for them, and showing some actual numbers when applicable.

For example, avoid saying “I made thousands in a couple of days using Joan’s coaching
program.” Instead write “Using Joan’s coaching program, I made $3,956.87 in 48 hours!” This is
more believable, and puts some real number values in people’s heads.

And there you have it, 4 great ways to beef up your client testimonials. Using one or all of these
methods can significantly improve response to your products and services, and having clients
beating down your door!

How to Manage Your Graphic Designer to Get Great Design for Your Nonprofit

Nothing is as compelling as managing the design, of a printed piece or web look for your organization, service or campaign. It’s easy to get swept away envisioning the impact it will have on your target audiences. And the creative adventure of bringing that piece, or web design, to life, is usually a welcome change from strategic and administrative work.

However, the excitement often fades when you dive into the process of finding, hiring, and managing a designer or design team. Let’s be honest. It’s challenging to manage a designer’s creativity into a design take that meets your organization’s needs can be challenging. You definitely want to give the designer the opportunity to channel her creative genius into something powerful. On the other hand, you want to ensure that she translates your marketing concept into something that speaks to your audiences and motivates advocacy, donations, registration, inquiries, or whatever call to action you need.

I’ve run up against this challenge time and again, first as an in-house marketing director in several publishing houses, and at the Foundation Center, and most recently as the marketing firm point person for nonprofit and foundation clients. Over the years, I’ve devised a few strategies that ensure that the design process goes smoothly. And they really work.

I advise you to take these five steps. When you do, you’ll generate the design results that make the greatest impact for your organization:

Step One: Take your time to find the RIGHT designer.

NOTE: Take this step immediately, not when you’re in desperate need of a designer.

I have, over the years, developed a stable of about seven good designers. They are all the RIGHT designer, but not one of them is the right designer for every single design project.

The question is how do you find your stable of RIGHT designers? You’re likely to need relationships with three or four designers. The number depends on the volume of design work, the range of looks you’re trying to achieve, and the diversity of materials and online projects to be designed. My situation is unique. Because I work with many clients with diverse needs, I require more of a range of design skills and price points than would any single nonprofit or foundation.

Here’s how to find your designers:

Step Two: Gather favorite design samples Keep a folder of favorites, printed materials you identify as good design in the same range as your organization’s image or the image you want to establish. Bookmark website designs in the same way.

Make sure that some of your picks are produced by nonprofits and foundations.

Step Three: Compile your list of prospective designers Contact communications colleagues (make sure you like their design sensibility first, judging by their products) and ask for designer recommendations. Get basic information on pricing, work style, and client base.

Contact the communications director at those organizations who produced the print materials or websites you’ve tagged. Start by contacting the folks at organizations closest to yours in focus and/or budget. It’s most likely, but not a definite, that their designers are the best fit.

Step Four: Hone your list to the top three or four by interviewing ten to twelve designers Contact the top ten to twelve before you have a design project ready to go. At that point, you won’t want to waste a minute in getting design estimates in.

Here are some of the questions I ask prospective designers:

  • How long have you been designing? With this firm/working freelance?
  • Have you worked with nonprofit organizations? If so, who are some of your clients? How did you get into design work for nonprofits?
  • Do you design for print and online media?
  • Could you show me a few samples of what you consider to be your strongest design projects? What is the average size (dollar-wise) of your design projects?
  • Take me through the design process for a brochure? How about an annual report?
  • Do you have references I can call?
  • Will you personally be designing our work, and be my point person? (for non-solo designers)
  • These are the quirks you’ll face in designing for our nonprofit (explain any, from the Executive Director thinking she’s a designer–and putting her stamp on every piece–to a boss who always changes his mind completely on what a piece should feature when he sees a design concept)
  • While reviewing past work is a very important consideration, be sure you also spend some time talking to their clients to find out more about their design process, working styles, and the results of the project.

Step Five: Write a creative brief the moment you get a whiff of a pending design job A creative brief is the most effective way to get everyone (your colleagues and the design team) started with a common understanding of what needs to be accomplished. An effective creative brief gives the designer direction and provides your team with benchmarks against which to evaluate design concepts. Spending the time to complete a thorough creative brief will save you a lot of time up front, and ensure that you get the design product you envisioned. In two pages at most, your brief should:

  • Define the project and its objectives
  • List, characterize and prioritize audiences
  • Present Unique Selling Proposition(USP), one sentence about what makes the organization, program or service unique
  • List top features and/or facts about the program, service or organization, and its value to audiences
  • Detail tone or image
  • Specify budget and time frame
  • Outline internal review and approval process

These five steps will lead you to strong relationships with the right designers. As a result, I guarantee that your print and online design work will be more effective than ever in engaging and spurring recognition from your target audiences.Start right now by diving into the stacks in your office. It’s likely that, when you do, you’ll find some great design samples that will lead you to more effective (and maybe even less expensive) graphic design for your organization.

How to Revitalize Your Nonprofit’s Message

The human instinct to respond to the new and unusual is something that we as communicators have to work around. How do we best engage our audiences on a subject that’s not new – a fundraising appeal for an existing program; an overview brochure on a service organization that’s been around for fifty years, with pretty much the same focus; or marketing services that we’ve offered for over a decade?

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking on this issue and was amazed when my rabbi sermonized on the same topic last Saturday. We had just witnessed a wonderful adult bat mitzvah (a Jewish coming of age ceremony, usually undertaken at age 13 but one that can be studied for at any point later in life if it was missed at 13). As a follow-up, the rabbi talked about the power of opportunities (like a bat mitzvah) that enable us to look at things in a new way. He ran through the list of occasions – bar or bat mitzvah, new year or month, birthday, anniversary, religious new year as well as changes in job, family, location – that enable us to see things differently, to re-orient ourselves.

Since such occasions do not always occur naturally, we have to motivate ourselves to look at our organizations or clients in a new way so that we are able to communicate in a fresher (and more relevant) way. Here are a few ways to do so:

o Put yourself in your listeners’ shoes. Think about the background they have and the information they need to understand what you’re doing and why it’s important to them. Talk to your audiences to get the real story. Convene a focus group and/or interview some of your constituents to ensure that you are aware of their current perspectives on your organization, the work you do, and the field in which you work.

o Look around at your world – be it clean water or women’s health – and see what’s changed and how your organization has responded to those changes.

o Talk about results, rather than simply describing what you do. Not only can this be a refreshing change, it’s also much more meaningful. Review your accomplishments and translate them into crisp, clear copy. Update your communications regularly with current accomplishments.

How to Get and Use Testimonials That Will Rock Your Business Results

Getting the RIGHT testimonials the RIGHT way, and using them the RIGHT way will explode your marketing and sales results, plus they will explode follow-up sales with the customers who gave them to you.

Most people either forget to get a testimonial, or, even if they do ask for them, they are weak, really weak. Most are vague, “He’s really great!”

Turning those into measurable results will make them powerful, and establish what you are really worth.

How to Ask for a Testimonial that Really Rocks

When asking for a testimonial, do you just ask them to tell you what they thought of you, your product, or service?

The time to ask for a testimonial is almost every time you have met with the client. Ask him what he thought of [whatever it is you do] the last time we met, or the last time he used your product. The typical answer will be good, great, fantastic. So, now’s the time to ask, just how great was it? Of course you are trying to get them to define, in measurable terms, how great. You are likely to get a follow-up “really great,” or maybe a 2-3 minutes description that is still not measurable. It is likely that you will have to help them put it into words.

A few good questions:

  • How much do you think this saved [or made] the company in dollars and cents?
  • How much did this save in time, employee salaries?
  • What was that time worth to the company?
  • Would you say that savings [or increase in revenue, or profit] was what percent of ……..

Do Your Marketing Materials Make You Proud?

Many people hand me their business card with an apology for something that is wrong with it. In fact, I read from multiple studies that 81% of business people are embarrassed about their marketing materials. Many business cards have the phone number or e-mail crossed out or they are handed off with an apology.

I was at a conference recently when one lady, after make a very powerful verbal presentation of her services to me, digs into and mulls around the bottom of her purse, pulls out a raggedy business card, wipes it off against her skirt because there seemed to be some “stuff” on it and presents it to me. All the time apologizing for forgetting to bring her “really good cards.”

I declined to accept it. She looked puzzled.

“You may need that for someone else. Keep it,” I said while keeping my hands to my side. A few minutes later, I handed her my business card with a proud smile and tall stature and “why don’t you call me tomorrow.” She looked at it and commented on how nice it was while flushed from her embarrassed.

She never did follow-up. Probably out of embarrassment. Actually, I’m glad she didn’t. She had the right answer to my problem too.

Let me say that if this happens, it’s a huge turn off for me. I am sure it is for anyone on the receiving end. You don’t have to be kind and accept such a poor gift. I don’t want a “dragged through the purse or wallet” business card. Nor do I want one that you can’t hand me with pride.

If you aren’t proud of one of the cheapest business tools available, how are you going to be proud of the service you deliver to me? What does this say about you? About your business? What does it say about the start of our relationship?

This conversation isn’t just about the business card either. What about handouts, flyers, and anything else that exits your business?

It takes pride to order new business cards when something changes on them. It takes pride to reprint a flyer that you have made a mistake on. Have it! Ask for it! Deliver it!

Every time I need new business cards, I get a new design. It peaks people’s interest and they want one even if they already have others of mine.

Don’t make homemade business card. Not even if you sell crafts. Don’t push them through your ink jet printer. Not even if it’s a color ink jet.

Does your brochure make you tingle? What about the rest of your marketing materials? Did they tingle last year but don’t this year? Are you giving them out just because you printed too many out? Take this as a learning lesson. Never overstock your marketing materials. They are like a car; they are outdated as soon as they are driving off the lot. Only print what you estimate you are going to use. Not even to save a few bucks on the reprinting charge.

If you are ashamed of any of your marketing materials, redo them or don’t give them out. Not even with or without excuses. Not even if you have the luck of the draw and Donald Trump is standing in front of you.

Deliver the best. Display your best.

It is Now Time for Your Business to Market to Hispanic Consumers

For many years demographics experts have been warning the marketing departments of large American corporations and even small businesses to concentrate on marketing to the Hispanic population. Previously, although this was good advice back then as well, it certainly was not as great advice as it is now.

This is because the exponential growth of the Hispanic consumer has been nothing short of a rocket ship over the last decade and now if you are not on the boat marketing to Hispanic consumers and customers you are missing a gigantic chunk of the market.

If you failed to jump on the bandwagon as it got going, then you better get on the bandwagon now because this train has left the station. In fact this train is moving so fast it might be a magnetic levitation train, which is really a spacecraft launching device to the stars. It appears in studying the demographics that they are not slowing down but rather speeding up and more and more Hispanic consumers are entering the middle class and even topping out the middle class.

Businesses would be well advised to take a good long hard look at this changing demographic and get ready for escape velocity and increase your sales by selling to Hispanic customers. More and more Hispanic people are also running their own business is and if you sell your services or products to other businesses you might also consider that there is a growing market of Hispanic business owners that probably need what you sell. Please consider all this in 2006.