Notes and Transcript
HOW TO MARKET YOUR BUSINESS
How to market your business. Marketing 101: Choosing a marketing campaign. This presentation was designed and created by Holly Antle, a copywriter who specializes in writing for heavily regulated industries. For more information, visit www.hollyantle.com. Copy to keep you out of trouble.
In this course, you will learn about the different types of marketing that you can use to build your business and increase your sales. Inbound marketing methods include traditional advertising like TV, radio, and print ads; retail storefronts; having a website; and using social media profiles. Outbound marketing methods include cold calls, dropping in on businesses or individuals, direct mail, email marketing, and social media outreach. Referral marketing is all about building an effective way to generate referrals, and repeat marketing is marketing to your existing customers.
Types of Marketing
Inbound marketing is when the customer or prospect reaches out to you. They might drop into your store, call you, email you, or contact you through social media. One major disadvantage of inbound marketing is that the marketer or salesperson doesn’t have a lot of control over when or how the prospect decides to make contact. Ideally, inbound marketing methods can be used in conjunction with outbound marketing methods for the greatest results.
Inbound marketing is very traditional. The idea is that if you build your store or your website or your commercial, prospective customers will see it and decide to contact you.
Outbound marketing is what happens when a salesperson reaches out to make contact with a prospect. The major advantage of outbound marketing is that a salesperson can control when and how the prospect begins the sales process. Outbound marketing has been used for many years in offline ways like cold calling, drop-ins, and direct mail campaigns.
It’s important to note that having a social media profile is a form of inbound marketing; you put up the profile and wait for someone to find you. But when you do social media outreach, you’re doing a form of outbound marketing; you’re reaching out to make contact with people via social media.
Referral marketing is not really a separate thing. It’s really a subset of outbound marketing, but instead of using a random list of people you’ve never heard of, you use a list of people referred to you by existing clients or customers. It’s considerably more effective than blind outbound marketing, but it can be difficult for newer businesses to generate a sufficient volume of referrals to keep going.
Customers can be incentivized to provide referrals, and some companies will establish a referral marketing program or even a customer loyalty program that provides rewards for referrals.
Repeat marketing is the single most effective type of marketing, because you’re marketing to customers who have already made a purchase from you. These customers already trust you and are willing to spend money on what you’re offering, so they’re the perfect target market for future campaigns.
Unfortunately, a lot of businesses neglect repeat marketing. Customers who make a purchase are shuffled from the marketing department to a customer service department, and the ability to make future sales to these customers is largely lost.
Inbound vs. Outbound Marketing
So what’s the difference between inbound marketing and outbound marketing? Inbound marketing has a higher rate of being able to close the sale. When a prospect contacts you, they already know something about you and have started to trust you, so it’s easier to close the deal.
With inbound marketing, you really don’t have a lot of control over how many prospects or customers you see. With outbound marketing, your volume of prospects is entirely in your own control.
For people who are outsourcing their marketing, it’s important to note that inbound marketing can be difficult to measure your return on investment. If you put up a website, there’s only so much that a copywriter or designer can do to attract new clients to that website. With inbound marketing, clients may also contact you on a different medium than the one that enticed them to contact you. For example, a client might see your website and then give you a phone call. So it can be difficult to know where new clients are coming from. With outbound marketing, it’s much easier to determine which prospects are coming from which campaign.
Traditional advertising is a form of inbound marketing. The goal with advertising is usually to build name recognition or inform a viewer, reader, or listener about a new product or service. Having a retail storefront is also a way to attract customers. There are ways to use more traditional advertising methods online, but online-centric inbound marketing methods will include websites and social media profiles.
When we think of traditional advertising, we often think of TV commercials, but traditional advertising includes print ads and radio ads as well. Traditional advertising can be costly. In addition to creating the ad, the business must also pay for publication of the ad. Advertising expenses can easily get out of hand, but a lot of small businesses see significant cost savings by more narrowly selecting their target market. For example, it’s going to be much less expensive to advertise your pet insurance program in Cat Fancier magazine than in the New York Times.
A retail storefront is a type of traditional advertising where you encourage customers to walk in at any time. The effectiveness of storefront marketing is dependent on the location and the appearance of the storefront, as well as factors that are outside your control like time of day, weather, and the general economy. Maintaining a storefront is extremely expensive, as the business must pay for rent, utilities, and staffing. Staffing costs can be the most challenging expense to meet because staff members must be available whenever the storefront is open, whether there are any customers shopping or not.
Online Versions of Traditional Advertising
There are ways to use the Internet to publicize traditional advertising methods. Websites like eBay, Amazon, and Etsy allow stores to create a virtual “storefront” at a cost significantly cheaper than a brick-and-mortar shop. YouTube allows businesses to publicize their commercials for no cost (other than production), and Flickr or other photo sharing sites allow businesses to publicize their print ads. Sites like Craigslist and Backpage can allow companies to post text-based print ads. There are other sites that may be location-specific or industry-specific that also allow traditional advertising, and many companies like Facebook, Twitter, Google, and Bing allow companies to place advertisements.
Online versions of traditional advertising do allow a business to market to a wider customer base, and they’re usually considerably less expensive than traditionally published advertising. However, traditional advertising may still require a significant investment in production, and the cost of online advertising may vary considerably depending on your industry. For example, insurance is the most expensive keyword for Google’s AdWords, costing up to $50 per click for people to look at your website.
Websites are a lot like a virtual storefront. You build it in the hopes that someone will find it. But there are ways to increase the effectiveness of your website. Techniques like SEO and social media marketing can help attract more visitors to your website, and once you have a visitor you can use things like User Experience design to help keep them surfing on your page.
There are several specialists who work extensively with conversion optimization. A conversion in website speak is when a site visitor does what you want them to do. If your goal is to get a website visitor to sign up for your email list, that’s a conversion. If the goal is to get them to make a purchase, that’s a conversion. People who work in conversion optimization specialize in designing the website or the copy to increase the percentage of site visitors who will “convert” – that is, who will take the action you want them to take.
Building a website correctly isn’t cheap, but it’s not nearly as costly as a storefront or traditional advertising. The website will require skilled labor like web designers, graphic designers, and copywriters. You might even need specialized skills like app designers for mobile devices, video production specialists, or audio editors, depending on what you’re going to have on your site. Sites with ecommerce (where you can buy things from your website) tend to require specialized experience.
In addition to your labor, you’ll need to pay for hosting, which can cost as little as $200 a year but can cost much more. The cost for hosting is usually determined by the size of your website, so a small 5-page informative website will cost less than a 500-page website with lots of graphics and videos. The domain registration is usually fairly cheap – around $10-20 a year – if you can find the domain you need available. If you have to purchase your domain from someone else, it can cost $2,000 or more, depending on the market. If you’re doing ecommerce, you’ll also need an SSL certificate so that customers’ financial information will be secure, and that can cost anywhere from $100 a year for a shared SSL certificate to several thousands of dollars. Ecommerce also requires a payment processor, who will normally take a fixed rate or a percentage of your sales.
Social Media Profiles
Social media profiles are usually used as an adjunct to the website, but many smaller businesses use social media profiles exclusively. The disadvantage to using social media profiles exclusively is that you don’t have ownership of social media profiles. Social media is sometimes referred to as “digital sharecropping”, because anything you publish on your social media profiles belongs to the social media site, like Facebook or Twitter.
Social media and blogging are types of inbound marketing that are supposed to be regularly updated. Social media can be used very effectively to advertise new sales or promotions, to tell customers about a change in store hours or product offerings, to communicate with existing customers, and to encourage repeat and referral business. Social media profiles make it easy to share your business with someone else, so referrals often increase significantly with social media profiles.
Social Media Sites
Which social media site to choose? It depends on your business. Facebook is necessary for any business regardless of size. Because it is so ubiquitous, Facebook is absolutely essential. Twitter is a great way to build buzz, but it’s got very low conversion rates. If you’re marketing to Millenials – people between the ages of about 21 and 35 – Twitter is a great way to get on their radar. Twitter has great conversion rates if you’re looking to boost traffic to your website, but not great conversion rates for purchases.
LinkedIn is useful for most businesses, even if it’s just a basic page with some basic info about your company. If you’re working with business to business sales, or if your target market is professionals like doctors, lawyers, insurance agents, and so forth, LinkedIn is a great way to market. LinkedIn is also a good resource for creative professionals and freelancers, and it’s a good resource for alternative health providers.
Google+ is good for the SEO of your website. By linking your Google+ page with your website, it boosts your search rankings in Google. But as a social network, Google+ is really only good for technology and Internet companies. Most other companies simply won’t find enough interested people on Google+ to justify the time spent there.
Pinterest is the quintessential “soccer mom” social network. The avatar on Pinterest is an American, Canadian, or European woman between the ages of 25 and 45 who is married with children and has an annual household income of about $50,000 or more. It’s a narrow demographic, but a highly coveted one, as these women are the ones who control the bulk of household spending.
There are several newer social media outlets like Periscope and Snapchat that are very popular with young people and almost entirely ignored by marketers. Part of the reason these networks are so popular with young people is that they’re built in a way that makes it difficult or impossible for marketers to effectively work with these networks. Some of the networks have a lot of potential (like Periscope), but the jury is still out on whether they’re going to be worth the investment.
Outbound marketing is any time that you as a marketer or sales person make contact with a prospective customer or client. It includes cold calling, drop-ins, direct mail, email marketing, and social media outreach.
Cold calling is where a salesperson uses a list of phone numbers to blindly call people to set up sales appointments or make a sale. Cold calling is highly ineffective for making sales and only marginally more effective for setting appointments. Back in the old days, cold calls were often blocked by a receptionist; you simply couldn’t get a direct line to your decision-maker. These days, technological tools like Caller ID make it easy for small companies or individuals to screen their calls to avoid sales calls.
Cold calling has abysmal success rates. It’s not uncommon for a sales person to make 200 calls or more before landing a single appointment. However, it’s cheap for a salesperson to do, because it doesn’t require getting dressed up and using gas or paying for postage. It’s also easy enough to do, because you can make these calls from the comfort of your home or office. Finally, although it requires a significant volume to get those appointments, it’s also easy to get that volume. A skilled cold caller with a good script can go through 100 or more calls in an hour, so it’s not hard to rack up the kind of volume you need to make it work.
In many companies, they call this “corporate drops” or just “drops”, but it’s the nice way to refer to door-to-door selling. Sometimes you’re selling something on the spot, and sometimes you’re just trying to set up an appointment. Whether you’re approaching a business or a private residence, it’s impossible to know whether the decision-maker is available until you knock on the door, so this can result in a significant percentage of locations where you don’t even get to make your presentation.
Drop-ins are more effective than cold calling when you look at the percentages. For business drop-ins, an experienced salesperson might see 1-5% of the drop-ins lead to a future sales appointment. But they’re also expensive. The salesperson must use fuel to approach all of the locations, and they can be daunting and exhausting. It’s not an exaggeration to say that a salesperson who works a lot with drop-ins might have a shoe budget that rivals the GDP of some small countries, because they will do a lot of wear and tear to their shoes, clothes, and bodies using this technique extensively!
Drop-ins can be a great way to follow up on cold calling, though. If you cold call and the receptionist tells you that the decision-maker is out, you ask when a good time would be to catch him and then schedule your drop-in for that time.
Direct mail is what the companies call it, but many of us call it junk mail. It’s all the postcards and letters and fliers and brochures that we get unsolicited in the mail. But the truth is that a good direct mail campaign can be exceptionally effective. Direct mail is often much more effective than cold calling or drop-ins for business clients. Cold calling or drop-ins often suffer from the problem of the decision-maker being unavailable, but a direct letter will usually be placed directly in the hands of the decision-maker, so you get greater access than with cold calling and drop-ins.
But direct mail can be costly. A good and experienced copywriter who does direct mail can charge a premium, because a direct mail campaign can be very profitable. Depending on the type of direct mail campaign, you may also need to hire a graphic designer, and printing a large volume of direct mail pieces can run up the price. Postage is also required, even for smaller direct mail campaigns. But with a high-dollar purchase, direct mail campaigns can be well worth the initial investment.
Email marketing is something that requires special attention. In the United States, we have the CAN-SPAM Act which regulates how we do email marketing, so email marketers have to pay attention to those rules or run the risk of being shut down.
Some email marketers will purchase a list of email addresses, and this can be a good way to get a large list quickly. However, purchased lists are often shared with multiple companies, and you may find that the quality on a purchased list isn’t as good as you would like. So if you have a website or social media profile, you’ll want to establish your own email list with people who have “opted in” to your list. This gives you a list of people who are already interested in your business or products, so you’ll have higher conversion rates.
Email marketing is not a one-time thing. Most email marketers these days design a series of marketing messages comprised of 6-30 separate email messages sent at specified intervals. After the subscriber has been given the entire “sales series”, they’ll go onto a “drip marketing” list, where they’ll be sent a more generic email message about once a week or once a month.
Email marketing is pretty cheap, as you don’t have to pay for sending the emails. With a larger email list, a service like AWeber or MailChimp can make the automation easier. But email marketing requires a great copywriter, and like direct mail writers, the good ones aren’t usually cheap. Email marketing can also be expensive simply because of the volume of written material required for a successful campaign. Most companies find email marketing to be cheaper or around the same cost as direct mail, but every company and campaign is a little different.
Social Media Outreach
Social media profiles are a form of inbound marketing, but you can use your social media profile to reach out and make contact with prospects. We call this social media outreach.
In a way, it’s similar to email marketing. You make multiple contacts with your prospect over time in order to build trust and (eventually) to make the sale. Whether it works for you or not depends a lot on the social network you’re using and how good your outreach coordinator is. For example, I have tremendous success with social media outreach as a copywriter on LinkedIn. The demographic I target is very carefully defined, and I have a pretty good system for making these initial contacts. I probably wouldn’t do so well on Twitter, though.
One note with social media outreach is that you really need a coordinator to manage it. Your outreach coordinator (by whatever title you select) might be an in-house person or a freelancer, but it’s important with social media outreach that someone is available every single day (or at least every single weekday) to make contact with new people and respond to messages and carry on conversations. This person needs to be a good writer with a strong grasp of social media, but it’s time-consuming. While it doesn’t cost anything to use the social network, the fact that it’s so time-consuming can lead to a decent cost of labor.
The key with referral marketing is getting referrals. Once you have referrals, you’re going to contact them just like you would with regular outbound marketing. You’ll do cold calls, email marketing, social media outreach, or drop-ins with referrals just like you would with a blind lead. But referral marketing is significantly more effective than blind leads.
The question is how to get referrals. For existing businesses, a referral campaign might be independent or it might be part of a customer loyalty campaign. If the campaign is well-designed and well-publicized, it can provide you with a steady stream of referral leads. Short-term campaigns might increase rewards for referrals or provide special incentives to help boost referral leads during a slow time of the year or a downturn in business.
Referral campaigns can be extremely profitable because they limit the marketing pool to people who are much more likely to buy. But they can also be complex or expensive to establish. In any business where you’re selling a high-dollar product or service, referral campaigns are usually worth the investment.
Repeat marketing is when you market new products or services to your existing customers. Some types of product or service lend themselves more readily to repeat marketing. For example, any product that’s consumable will lend itself to repeat marketing. Any product that expires or needs updating periodically can provide an opportunity for repeat marketing.
The problem with repeat marketing is that you can’t handle it the same way you handle marketing to new prospects. These people have already made a purchase from you; they expect more personalized attention and they don’t want to a lot of offers that aren’t relevant to them. It’s annoying for the customer who just purchased a car from you to be sent a direct mail piece six months later asking them to purchase another car from you. However, it would be a great idea to send out a direct mail piece to your new car owner about a discounted price on oil changes from the dealership’s service department.
It’s also important to note that customer service is still important with your existing customers. If they’re not happy with their first purchase, they won’t buy from you again.
What’s the Best Option?
As in all things, it depends. Coca-Cola is going to get most of its business from repeat customers, but they have the name recognition and brand recognition to pull that off. Aflac will get a big portion of their business from referrals or inbound business, but again – they have the name and brand to make that work.
Outbound marketing is often the method of choice for new businesses or new salespeople, simply because it’s the only one that’s really within your control. But whenever possible, I recommend that you pair inbound marketing with outbound marketing. For example, if I get an email about a new company, the first thing I’m going to do is Google the company or check out their website or social media profiles. If they’ve taken the time to build a great website and profile, I’m going to trust them more. With the Internet, a website is a way to “vet” companies that contact you and learn more about them before you decide to respond to their email or direct mail offer. Even with cold calling or drop-ins, you can almost guarantee that your prospect will look online for information about you before you start the sales presentation.
It’s also important to point out that you can’t afford to ignore repeat and referral business. That’s the least labor-intensive, most cost-effective, and most efficient way to get new leads, so it’s important that you have a system in place for that repeat and referral business before you even get your first customer.
There is no one-size-fits-all approach to marketing that will actually work. Every business is a little different, so every business needs a customized way to market themselves. Ideally, you’ll be able to find a few different methods from each technique to build a customized marketing plan that makes you more money.
If you’d like more information about general marketing, or if you’re looking for a copywriter to help you with direct mail, email marketing, website copy, or anything else, please contact me at www.hollyantle.com. Or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you for watching!