Your 2011 Marketing Plan: Is Your Collateral Working For You?

Day Ten (of Thirty-One):

Question To Ask Yourself: Is Your Collateral Working For You?

You have tri-fold brochures. Various sell sheets on products and services. Rack cards. Company calendars. Business cards.

But is any of this stuff really working for you? I mean, can’t most business prospects get what they need from your website and/or social web presence? Do you really need to spend the money on this print stuff?

That’s what you need to find out. Maybe your target market NEEDS printed material. But you’ve got to know…

And how important is design? Are using Word templates and printing at home hurting your business?

What I am doing: I have several clients that still rely heavily on printed marketing collateral. It is still something they hand out at networking events, or display at trade shows.

My goal in 2011 is to figure out how to better leverage this collateral to more effectively engage with the market place. How can I make it more interactive? How can I integrate it with the social web? Do I add QR codes? Lots of questions…

What about you?

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Todd is planning his 2011 marketing attack. He is asking himself a series of hard questions, questions that will fine tune his go-to-market strategy. This December, Todd will share one question per day, hoping these questions help you too…

Click HERE to follow the entire series on what questions to ask as you draft your 2011 marketing plan!

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Guerrilla Customer Alienation Tactics!

Doing this causes me angst...

Maybe it is just me, but I hate it when someone tapes a brochure or a flyer to my mailbox…

You clearly know that you are NOT allowed to put it IN my mailbox, so why do you think it is cool to tape it to the outside?

Look, I advocate people to become Intrepid marketers…And I love business people who practice guerrilla tactics! But in my opinion, this isn’t one of them…

This method is just aggravating and frustrating. Interrupting me by making me deal with that flyer and tape (and removing paint from my mailbox) are, in fact, going to remove me from your list of potential customers…

[Disclosure: This post also applies to those who insert business cards into small baggies, along with a rock to weigh it down, and toss it onto the foot of my driveway as you are going down the street...]

So, let’s assume that you have carefully and thoughtfully identified my house as a real target for your business (and not just drove down my street and paid your mother-in-law to tape collateral to people’s mailboxes). Here are some other ways I’d reach out to these households:

1. There is this thing called the U.S. Postal Service. Create some really good direct mail – that articulates a simple message – solves a problem/fulfills a need – contains a very simple call to action. Direct mail, done right, targeted well, still works…

2. But if an extensive direct response mail program is not in your budget, break down your mailing list into smaller universes (get real guerrilla – down to the street), and send them handwritten notes, and insert a business card. The handwritten note BLOWS PEOPLE AWAY. “Hey Todd, I was on your street the other day, and noticed your roof might have some hail damage…would love 5 minutes to show you what I mean…”

3. Target a specific street, ID the right households, and snap a digital shot of the house. Go back to your office, and use a service like SendOutCards, and send me a personalized note using the photo of my home…

4. Knock on my door. Actually make an effort to chat with me. If I am not at home, leave a handwritten note on a piece of your collateral. I have NEVER had a small business service person knock on my door before (just candidates, religious folks, and the kid next door who’s mother wasn’t home yet…and she wanted to watch TV…).

5. Use social media to connect with me. Build groups (Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn) around tight geographical locations. Build a little community around a location. Yes, it is doable. It just takes a little thinking, a little creativity, and a wee bit of effort… But that’s got to be a better use of your time than driving down random streets tossing rocks out your car window…

6. Form a neighborhood mastermind association. If you fix and install roofs, form a little group in a targeted geographical area, network with other home improvement specialists, invite (by both direct mail and social media) area households to participate in a group discussion on ways to fix and improve their home. See who shows up. Might be a neat way to build some new relationships, land some new business, and get people talking…

Just a few ideas. Trust me, I appreciate that small businesses, operating on tight budgets, are looking for ways to get attention. I just don’t think being a nuisance, and taping something to my mailbox, is the best way to get it.

Think of some creative ways to connect with people. Yeah, you might be able to “reach” more households with the drive-by taped collateral strategy, but methinks you are far better off focusing on creative ways to connect with a more highly targeted audience…

What do you think?

Wannabe Bloggers? There Are No More Excuses!

A pic I recently shared on my Tumblr blog...

Dear Wannabe Bloggers: There are no more excuses. I no longer want to hear the following:

1. I don’t have time to set up a blog.
2. I don’t know what I’d write about.
3. I don’t have the money to pay a designer and set up a blog.

I have been conducting a personal experiment for the last month.

In my free time, I have been studying and reading about minimalism and the art of simplifying as a way to remove the clutter from my complicated life. And yet, still trying to live an intrepid life. I needed a creative outlet to share what I am learning, and what I am reading.

Secondly, I have been wanting to experiment with and learn Tumblr. So, I created a blog using Tumblr and the focus is on minimalism, simplicity, and boldness. You can FIND IT HERE.

So, here are my simple observations:

1. Tumblr is way cool. I love it. It is easy. And it is fun.

2. It is free.

3. Tumblr makes it very very simple to attach a personalized domain to your tumblr account. All you have to do is own the domain, and the process to assign it to your tumblr blog is idiot proof for non-techies like me…

4. Even the big dogs use Tumblr for their web sites…

5. Tumblr blogs seem to fare well in the SEO-friendly space. I launched this thing on May 16th, and it just recently passed the million mark on Alexa. Not bad for a small, dinky, experimental blog in just under a month…

6. Tumblr makes it SO easy to share other’s work. In fact, many people use Tumblr strictly as a means to showcase and spotlight the work of other writers.

7. And this speaks to my point about the advantages of using a Tumblr blog to address your fear of not having enough to write about. You can easily share the work of others, and “reblog” material that matters to you, to your audience, and is designed to fit into the construct of your blog. This took some getting used to when I first launched mine, but now it is a big piece of the message delivery of mine…

8. When you are prepared to publish new content, Tumblr’s dashboard is set up for you to easily publish your own text, share photos, nicely present quotes, share links of other blog posts, uploads chat conversations, and audio and video of course. Once you select what type of content you intend to publish, Tumblr again makes it idiot-proof.

9. When you are setting up your Tumblr blog, you have hundreds of templates to choose from, with a wide variety of styles. And once you install a theme, it is pretty easy to customize. And, lastly, you do have the option to have a professional designer make serious customizations.

10. I have really enjoyed the community inside of Tumblr. I have met a lot of new people, and that has been a pleasant surprise.

11. I was also surprised to see so many other A-listers present and spending time here. Kevin Rose, Leo Babauta, or Hugh MacLeod for example…

So those are my quick observations after playing around with Tumblr for 30 days. It is a very simple solution for the entrepreneur who doesn’t have the money, the perceived lack of time, or the knowledge base to launch a blog. If you even think a blog will help you market your business, but don’t want to fully commit to hiring a designer to set one up, this is a great tool for you to experiment with!

Disclosure: If you are going to become a serious business blogger, where you commit to blogging as a major piece of the marketing work that you do, I still recommend WordPress, with the Thesis template (what you see here). But don’t let time, difficulty, or expense be something that holds you back. Tumblr is a great option for you if you can’t pay someone to set up your blog for you…

Don't Be A Part Of This 2010 Marketing Conversation…

cartoon by @gapingvoid

cartoon by @gapingvoid

Consultant: “How did you do in meeting the goals of your 2009 marketing plan? Did you stay on budget?

Typical small business person: “Wait, what? Marketing plan did you say? Budget? I was supposed to have a budget?

Consultant: “Let’s review your social media plan. Did you accomplish your goals?”

Typical small business person: “What? Social media strategy? You can do that?

Consultant: “How did the call to action on your marketing collateral work? Did prospects and customers take the steps you wanted to advance the sales process?”

Typical small business person: “I am not sure what you are talking about, but man, my brochures are sure pretty!”

cartoon by @gapingvoid

cartoon by @gapingvoid

Consultant: “How did your keywords perform on your website and blog?”

Typical small business person: “I have no idea, but my cousin who designed the site says her friends think the site looks bitchin’!”

Consultant: “So, with your email marketing campaign, did your prospects contact you to learn more or advance the sales process?”

Typical small business person: “No clue, but most of the people I blindly added to my database unsubscribed and gave me lip about ‘spam’.”

Consultant: “So, did you try some new things with your marketing? Try any new tactics, new messaging, any new social media tools?”

Typical small business person: “No. I stuck to the same stuff that hasn’t really worked too well before, but you know, I didn’t have any money to try something new that might work.”

cartoon by @gapingvoid

cartoon by @gapingvoid

Consultant: “What good marketing books did you read this year? Did you find any great marketing blogs to help you learn new things?”

Typical small business person: “No, but I think I learned some cool advertising stuff watching Mad Men…”

Consultant: “Did you hone your skills at building community and establishing relationships on tools like Twitter and Facebook?”

Typical small business person: “Huh? No, but I passed along my free e-book, the results of my IQ test, an invite to join my mafia family, and the link to my blog to all new followers and friends!”

Consultant: “Have you narrowed your marketing focus down to a highly specific, easily targeted niche?”

Typical small business owner: “Are you nuts? I am not missing out on hitting all those darn people…”

cartoon by @gapingvoid

cartoon by @gapingvoid

Consultant: “Have you narrowed your focus to the right networking groups that are in your target market?”

Typical small business person: “Are you nuts? I am not getting many leads from the bunch of groups I am visiting, so clearly I just need to hit as many darn networking groups as I can…”

Consultant: “Tell me about your lead generation and lead incubation system? How do you feed good solid prospects into your pre-purchase experience?”

Typical small business person: “Huh?”

cartoon by @gapingvoid

cartoon by @gapingvoid

The point here? Thinking strategically and putting a plan on paper is too important NOT to do. Yet, too many small business people jump into their daily routine without so much as a plan on how to proceed. The questions [by no means a complete list of pertinent questions] above serve one purpose: if you can personally identify with even one of those mini scenarios, you need to pull back, take advantage of the quieter holiday season, and think some things through as you prepare for 2010.

Good luck!