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11 Is Effective Marketing a System?

systemI’ve been screaming from the rooftops for years now that marketing is a system, in fact it’s the most important system in any business. But, the word system can cause some to become very rigid in their thinking – “we do it this way because that’s the system.”

A more accurate description I suppose – and one that I plan to scream from the rooftops going forward – is that effective marketing is actually a product of a systems mentality – in other words the approach is more important than the actual system. To me this leaves the room needed to access, grow, change, align, and realign with strategy and tactics fully in tow.

I wrote a post on American Express Open Forum that I titled: 7 Reasons Why Your Marketing Plan Doesn’t Work. The post address this thinking and adds some other points that might surprise you as well.

Image credit: Teo

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11 Gary Vaynerchuk

Gary Vaynerchuk on Duct Tape Marketing Podcast

Marketing podcast with Gary Vaynerchuk (Click to listen, right click and Save As to download – subscribe now via iTunes

For this week’s episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast I visited with Gary Vaynerchuk.

Gary has captured attention with his pioneering, multi-faceted approach to personal branding and business. After primarily utilizing traditional advertising techniques to build his family’s local wine business into a national industry leader, Gary rapidly leveraged social media tools such as Twitter and Facebook to promote Wine Library TV, his video blog about wine. (Gary’s twitter page)

As you will hear when you listen to this episode Gary’s passion comes through loud and clear and that passion leaps from the pages of his upcoming book – CrushIt! – Why now is the time to cash in on your passion.

Don’t believe me? – “Gary is a force of nature. His authentic, raw passion and caring touches everyone. His insights into social media & his message of opportunity could not be more timely.” (Tony Robbins )

In this episode we discuss:

  • About Wine Library TV
  • Gary’s three rules to live by
  • Starting a business in this economic time
  • Are certain people wired for success?
  • Social Media
  • Tips on creating a strong personal brand
  • Promotional plans for Crush It

26 What's So Scary About Marketing Strategy?

dart board strategySmall business owners resist creating marketing strategy like many resist getting their teeth cleaned.

Over the years, I’ve discovered why this is:
An effective marketing strategy requires understanding who you are, choosing to be different than everyone else, and committing to one simple way of doing, acting and creating – to the exclusion of all other ways of doing, acting, and creating. Now, that’s some scary stuff!

The above set of requirements may seem difficult to accomplish, but accomplish them and you will set your business free from the tyranny of making up the idea of the week over and over again. However, that’s the crutch that keeps business owners from ever taking strategy head on. It’s far too easy to just grab another tactic, this week’s twitter, and run with it. If this week’s tactic fails, no harm, no foul, find next week’s thing. (A bit of a dart board strategy approach.)

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6 Building Trust Online

Trust Agents If you’ve read this blog for any amount of time you know that my definition of marketing is getting someone who has a need to know, like and trust you. And that’s precisely why I give Chris Brogan and Julien Smith’s book Trust Agents in the must read category.

This is blatant promotion for someone who’s earned my trust, as I hope I’ve earned yours.

Trust is hard earned and so easily lost, but more that a useful read, this book is a toolset that shows you exactly how to engage, build your reputation and earn trust in a shifting marketing world. In addition to buying and reading this book I suggest your follow Chris and Julien around the web and learn from the example that available in every tweet, presentation, and blog post.

You can also find out more about how to get Chris to come out and share his wisdom with your organization – check it out here.

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69 7 Steps to Creating a Winning Coaching, Consulting or Service Business

WinningLots of folks are joining the ranks of “business owner” as a career path these days. Some by design and some, unfortunately, because they have little choice. Many of these business owners are choosing to open up coaching, consulting and service businesses in part because it’s so darn easy to do. The barrier to entry is sometimes little more than printing up some business cards.

Now, I’m not suggesting that people who start these kinds of business don’t have incredible experience and expertise to offer, far from it. But, because it is so easy to start a business offering consulting, it’s more important than ever that you find a way to differentiate your coaching and consulting business so prospects can understand your unique experience and expertise.

The following seven steps offer a road map for creating a winning practice.

1) Turn your service into a product – selling services is a little like selling air. By making your offerings more productlike you can create something tangible while your competitors continue to offer solutions driven, customer centric services. Give your services a name – install your solution – offer a set deliverable, with set outcomes at a set price and watch how easy it becomes to explain and sell. The other advantage of a packaged program offering with a set price is that it allows you to rise above the hourly wage. When you sell your time you are capped and compared, when you sell a product or program, you are free to sell the value of the program without regard for the cost that goes into making it. As you become more effective at delivering your program you create the greatest path for getting paid on value delivered rather than hours input.

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13 Sometimes the Secret to Marketing is Just Being There

newsletterEvery time I speak to groups of small business owners I tell them that, when it comes to marketing, I would just as soon see them do something ordinary, day in and day out, than something that seems spectacularly great every once in a blue moon.

I believe one of the absolute truths about marketing is those who stick with it get results, even if they could do every thing they are doing better. Now, don’t immediately interpret this as an invitation to do crappy marketing. Obviously, the best combo is spectacularly great marketing done day in and day out, but, short of that, I lean towards showing up and staying top of mind in ways that you can do routinely.

The main thrust of this post is to suggest that if the need for perfection or even clear direction is causing you to hold back on any marketing then I would like to urge you to find what you can do, will do, and do it.

Maybe you remember the Peter Sellers role as Chance the gardener in the fabulous movie Being There. The movie is actually a very deep portrayal of how, even when simply being authentic, people can interpret what you do and say in ways that they need to meet their wants and desires (there’s certainly a marketing message in that), but from a story standpoint Chance, later Chauncey, falls into much of his elevated status by just showing up, or Being There, when someone had a need.

I think marketing of a small business can be a little like that. One of the tasks of your marketing is to devise ways that your messages can be the one that is there when a prospect decides to finally scratch an itch. In this vein systematic consistency usually trumps the every so often wow.

Build your being there machine with

  • a monthly newsletter featuring great finds from around the web
  • a monthly planned customer and network contact of varied type – article one month, customer success story one month, holiday theme one month, etc.
  • drip marketing via autoresponder offering advanced product application tips
  • a monthly press release announcement – offer organizational news via a press release format and send to network
  • quarterly survey data sharing sessions
  • quarterly trend topic webinars
  • annual success summits and user conferences

By planning and executing an ongoing number of annual contacts you will find that not only will you be first in line when your customers have a need, you’ll also be first in line when they stumble upon a referral.

Image credit: PUBLISYST Communicaciones

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41 The 5 Things People Really Buy

selling No matter how many shiny, cool features and benefits you cram into your marketing messages, brochures and presentations, you better find ways to help the prospect get what they really want. And, no matter if you sell heating and cooling services, legal services, hand painted greeting cards, or consulting, at the end of the day, your customers all buy some variation of the same five things.

So you better make sure you show them how you and your products and solutions are going to:
1) Make them more money
2) Save them more time
3) Allow them to avoid the frustration of doing stuff they don’t like (like wasting time and money)
4) Help them save or not lose money today and in future
5) Help them feel better about themselves

Copy these five points and refer to them often as you develop your marketing and sales pitches.

Now, you can focus all of your energy around selling one of these points or you can come up with ways to mix and match. Some lead to getting another, for example people want more of #1 to get them more of #5. Understand though that just because you tell a prospect they will save money or look and feel better doesn’t mean they will buy – they’ve also got to believe your solution will work for them and sometimes the hurdle is they don’t trust themselves – in fact, this is often the most frustrating “no” for a salesperson.

I know this can seem like an awfully simple and somewhat cynical approach to marketing, but I’m not suggesting you understand this concept so that you can paint your products and services in ways they are not, and I don’t really even mean that you should change your core marketing messages to address one of these five points.

What I am saying is that at some point this is how a decision about you, your products and solutions will be made, so you must answer one or all of these questions along the path to yes.

Image credit: Tanel Teemusk

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10 Let Others Help You Sell

istock_000008107178xsmallOne of the fastest ways to build new business is to farm strategic partner opportunities. Approaching other businesses that have your same ideal customer in mind and proposing ways to cross promote, is something every small business should be pursuing. I write about this often as I feel it has so much potential and there are so many creative ways to approach it.

There is one component of this strategy that is often overlooked, but I think offers some very interesting opportunities.

What if you went out there and looked at the other things your customers need and buy and you recruited a team of partners to give you high value samples or trial products to pair with your core offerings as a way to differentiate and sweeten the deal.

Here’s an example that I’ve seen used effectively: A graphic design firm approaches a print shop and convinces them to give 500 free business cards to each of the design firm’s logo customers. Now the design firm has something to add a little spice to their marketing message. (They can also create an affiliate relationship with the print shop for further purchases.) In this example, the print shop wins because they have very little real cost in the business card printing and, let’s face it, won’t that business get new stationary and other printed items with that new logo on it?

There are hundreds of ways to approach this and, done well, a smart marketer can greatly enhance their own core offerings, create referral relationships and add passive revenue streams.

The key is to focus on value not volume. Anyone can go out and sign up for a bunch of affiliate programs and start pumping those into the mix. Or, gather up promotional materials from other businesses to insert in the products you ship. While these approaches may offer some value, I think you can make this strategy a real winner with a little bit of creative thinking.

There are hundreds of high quality partners that would love the introduction to your customers and one of the best ways to do this is through sample products and services. Think in terms of the online model. Many online companies offer 30-60 free trials. Take this same idea out to businesses in your community and start putting together a package of products and services that turn prospect’s heads.

Some idea starters:

  • Be the electrician that gives its customers a free AC checkup and one free drain unclogged
  • Be the marketing consultant that offers a free product trademark review with an IP attorney
  • Be the accountant that gives its customers a free IT and computer network audit
  • Be the retail store that gives 10 minute massages to weary shoppers

Are you starting to get some ideas on how you might attack this? Don’t stop at one pairing, go for several ways to enhance and differentiate your products and services by adding real value from willing partners.

image: iStockphoto

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18 Are You Too Online?

Even a casual reader to this blog will know that I am a huge fan of the growing set of low-cost online tools available to the small business owner and marketer.

Blogging, RSS, podcasting, social and local SEO, online PR, social networks, video services, and other online branding tools have leveled the playing field for the entrepreneur wise enough to tap this awesome toy store.

But, the ease at which these tools can be accessed can lead some businesses away from proven offline marketing strategies and tactics at the expense of true marketing momentum.

The beauty of a solid Internet presence is what it can do to enhance your overall marketing footprint. Your overall marketing momentum and growth can lean heavily on new media, but should not do so at the expense of a fully rounded effort.

  • Direct mail can be enhanced with online offer fulfillment
  • Magazine ads can be enhanced with webinars
  • Blogs can help you build a local community of partners
  • Networking offline can help you move people to network online
  • Pay-per-click advertising can help refine offline headlines
  • Social networks are a great place to locate offline strategic partners

The trick is to leverage all the tools available to you (on and off) to meet the overall objectives of marketing – building know, like, trust, try, buy, repeat and refer.

To neglect the awesome power, reach and control still available through many offline vehicles is a little like mimicking the dog with a bone who sees its shadow in a reflection of water and drops the bone it has to grab the bone it sees as somehow bigger and better.

Use online and offline tactics to support each other and watch your marketing results grow exponentially.

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