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The Truth About Marketing

A while back I was hired by a client to help increase sales at their Downtown Brooklyn retail location.When asked about their current marketing plan they excitedly shared, “Oh, we have a brochure, flyers, business cards and a website!” While their marketing materials were aesthetically appealing, they lacked basic communication elements and there was no systematic way of making sure they got into the hands of potential customers. The client spent a lot of money and time on these items but did not reap the additional sales they had anticipated. 

The truth is that brochures, flyers, business cards and websites do not increase sales.

What does increase sales is making sure the right people get the right message in the right way. With the prevalence of low-cost, high-quality marcom tools, especially Social Media, it’s easy to stray from tried and true marketing analysis and planning. Before you spend money on business cards, promotional materials, advertisements and web developers it is imperative to clearly define who you are talking to, what to say and how to communicate it.

The right people

When asked about the target market my client responded by saying, “I’m looking for customers who will pay me money for my product.” It is true that no business can survive for long without paying customers. If you take the time to build a typical client profile your chances of finding these people will increase greatly.

The basic profile should clearly describe who is most likely to buy your product. For a B2C businesses details such as their age, annual income, relationship status, how much they typically spend on your product category, if they have children, own homes, where they live, how they view themselves, their habits and hobbies etc. etc. will help you craft a message that they will respond to.

For B2B businesses in addition to keeping up on general industry conditions and trends, the typical customer profile should include company information such as size, annual sales, number of employees, how much the company typically spends on your product category, the structure of the company and who the individual decision makers and influencers are. The more information you have, the better you can craft an effective message.

The right message

This right message is the one that will motivate your target market to purchase your product. A clear explanation about what your product is, how it will make your customer’s life easier and why it’s better than the competition will get results. The message should be customized based on the sophistication of the buyer.

In the case of an average consumer looking for a desktop computer for their home office, it’s likely that they would not know that they needed an iMac with a 2.5GHz Intel Core i5, 4GB 1333 MHz DDR3 and AMD Radeon HD 6750M (512). However, they would know that they needed a computer with faster processing speed, more storage, more memory and sharper graphics than a PC at a similar price point.

The right way

In general, there are 5 major ways to get a message out: Promotion; Personal Selling; Direct Marketing; PR & Publicity; and Advertising. Depending on your target market and the product you are offering an effective marketing strategy would include all, some or one of these methods.

In the original example, my client’s goal was to increase sales at their existing location. Together we worked out an integrated communications plan that resulted in a 20% increase in sales the first month. By strategically employing direct marketing, publicity and advertising we were able to achieve the desired result without spending a lot of money.

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