Your 2011 Marketing Plan: Are You Providing Enough Value To Your Readers?

Day 22 (of 31):

Question To Ask Yourself: Are you providing enough value to your readers?

And by value, I mean more than just distributing good, helpful content, I also mean engaging with them too…

If all you are doing is broadcasting one-way messaging about how good you and your products are via email, blogging, social media, and print…then you are wasting my time and your prospects time.

You need to not only put out educational and engaging content that provides solutions to your audience – you need to connect with that audience and engage in conversation about these topics too…

Is your content conversational and helpful? Or are you just broadcasting and telling?

What I am doing: I plan to boost my message delivery via my e-mail newsletter, as a way to engage with an audience in a new way.

I also plan to get big into the distribution of e-books. Most will be free – and designed to help my audience execute various marketing tactics – and some will be paid content. I am in the process of writing several e-books…

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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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!

Time For Small Business To Integrate Their Marketing

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MUES9s5SoJg]
In this video, I talk about the importance of integrating all the tactical marketing options you may be using to market your small business into a coordinated marketing program. Now that we are less than two months from 2010, it’s time for small business people to start preparing, strategizing, and planning their 2010 marketing plan.

While I appreciate that some entrepreneurs just start trying things and executing on new ideas without a lot of thought, small businesses are so much better off when their efforts are coordinated into a broader strategy. Think about that very carefully as you begin to prepare for 2010…

Good luck. And Be Intrepid.

Direct Mail Still Comes Down To The Fundamentals!

FuegoMundoMailer_3_out2Be An Intrepid Marketer – Recommendation No. 27

Some say that in the age of social media, direct response marketing is dead or dying. While I agree that DRM is changing, let me proclaim loudly:

They are wrong. In fact, if done right, DRM can still be a very important piece to your overall marketing strategy.

An Intrepid client just sent out the first of a four-piece direct mail campaign. We are launching a new restaurant, and trying to build awareness of the new joint in surrounding neighborhoods.

To have a successful program, you need THREE things: a compelling message, an easy call-to-action, and a good targeted mailing list. That’s it!

That said, you have to do a lot of work to be sure you achieve all three things. And even then, there are no guarantees. On the FuegoMundo piece (shown above) we simply let people know a new place was coming soon, and that to learn more about it and to receive discounts and promotions – all they had to do was sign-up to join our e-newsletter. Simple.

The response exceeded our expectations! Now, there was nothing exceptional or frankly, unique, about our mailer. But it was simple – and the call to action was clear and easy. And our mailing list was carefully put together. It was sent to precisely who we believe our target audience to be.

I will admit, it was gratifying to see this response. Not because it proved to me that this restaurant concept has a great chance of succeeding. But more importantly, that direct response can still work – if you practice the fundamentals.

What about you? What does direct mail have to offer you for you to take some sort of action?

Be Intrepid.

10 Questions You Better Ask Your Customer

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[UPDATE: here is my latest post on the topic, 33 Questions To Ask Your Customer]

Have you noticed that some businesses need reminding that marketing is the art and science of getting and KEEPING profitable customers?

They always seem to forget the “keeping” part…

We are always reminded that getting new business from existing clients is less expensive than finding new customers.

In a blog post from the other day, I suggested a tactic one could do right away to kick off your 2009 marketing – mailing a survey to your existing customers. I want to expand on that idea here.

The survey piece could come in many forms, whether it is a comprehensive survey form that is completed and mailed back, a simple letter inviting responses via email, questions that are answered via the phone, or an online survey. Whatever the format, demonstrating that you care about your customer’s inputs is important – whether they take you up on it or not. But you know as well as I that a dialog generated by the mailer can ultimately lead to new business.

Here are some questions to include in your survey:
1. Ask how their business is going. Show that you care.

2. Find out what their biggest problem is. Identify what is holding them back most.

3. Since they are an existing customer, they have purchased from you. Sincerely ask if your product or service is benefiting them.

4. If your product or service isn’t living up to their expectations, find out how it is falling short (and do something about it).

5. Ask for new ways to improve your customer service. Things like response time, tech support, billing, front desk etiquette, etc.

6. Ask if there are other products or services on the market that intrigue them.

7. Does our product or service fit comfortably into next year’s plans? How can we modify it to continue serving you well?

8. Share ideas on ways to improve on our products or services. Use these answers to identify new ways to cross-sell and develop new offerings.

9. Suggest ways we can improve our communication flow. Blog? E-zines? Monthly reports via mail or email? Other social media tools?

Finally, ask for time to discuss these issues with your customer. Use this time to serve and provide solutions.

At the end of the day, this exercise of reaching out to your customers is just great customer service – service being the key word here. If you take great pains to SERVE your client, they will always be appreciative. And you will find that even if they are not pleased with a particular application of your product or service, the act of understanding how you can IMPROVE that customer experience will go a long way towards them remaining as your customer.

Customer satisfaction isn’t enough anymore. Customer DELIGHT is. And this tactic can help you begin to achieve that. Let me know of other ways you have achieved the same, or other questions to ask of your customer!

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3 Things You Can Do NOW To Be Intrepid Marketers

I wonder why some people are so afraid to market their business.

They say they want new customers – they say that want more revenue – they say they are worried about the impact of the economy. But they don’t take decisive action to do anything about it.

I think most of them are dealing with fear – or they are procrastinators – or they don’t have a plan in place to proceed. A fear of failing holds way too many people back from bold action.

I have resolved to JUST DO IT in 2009 – to just DECIDE to take action – to mercilessly kill any evidence of procrastination.

Yes, even I hate to admit – I too sometimes get snagged by procrastination. And it really stresses me out when I catch myself doing it. The only way to fight it? Take action. Smart action, of course, but action nonetheless.

When it comes to boldly marketing your business – here are three things you can do RIGHT NOW:

1. If you haven’t already done so, get active on social media. Start a company blog, get on Twitter, create a company Facebook page. They are free and can be set up in minutes. They are not all time-consuming, and they are a great way to promote your business, build your brand, and make new relationships.

2. Start a direct response campaign to find new customers. Assuming your have your niche target market defined and your marketing message secured, there is no reason not to do a campaign right now. If you have a good product or service, get it out there so that you can help new people. But get out in front – don’t assume your competitors will remain stuck in the goo. Be first in 2009!

3. Send out a survey mailer to your existing customers. Show you care, ask what they need, ask what their current problems are, ask how you can serve them better. [this can be done electronically too - and another reason to get active on social media] Your customers will appreciate the outreach. This will help differentiate you. This will generate action and conversation that will result in cross-sell opportunities AND serve your existing customers.

Well, there are three things you can start working on TODAY. Motion creates emotion. And that first step is the hardest. Choose to take bold, intrepid action in 2009. Good luck!

Todd Schnick. Be Intrepid. www.intrepid-llc.com