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Take What The Marketplace Gives You--Good Advice To Improve Your Marketing

Hamilton Wallace
Dec 23, 2007
Maybe I'm watching too much football...

You've heard commentators and quarterbacks use this phrase:

Take what the defense gives you.

Meaning, for example, if you're a "passing team" and the defense is all over your receivers (in effect, giving you the run), start running the ball instead of forcing the pass.

If your sales are slowing, just like the quarterback who isn't gaining yards under the current game plan, you need to change something. But what?

Typically, it's one or more of just a few things: your message; the market you're targeting; and/or your product value proposition.

Change Your Message - This is the first place you should look. It's normally the easiest fix, although I'd hesitate to call any of these three particularly easy. You tout one or more reasons why customers should buy from you. As your customers' world changes, so change the reasons they buy. For example, during times of expansion and growth service might be important (don't slow us down!) and they may be willing to pay a bit more. When things slow, price may become important. You get the idea. But you have to ask--your customers, that is, to find out what's important now.

Change Your Target Market - If your current customers aren't buying, who is? I know, it isn't as simple as that. But in many cases you do have secondary types of customers who differ from your primary customer base. Does it make sense to go after them? Yes, you may have to change your message and promotional materials a bit. But compare sitting around wringing your hands while a few hundred grand of sales slip away to spending a few thousand to get those sales from somewhere else.

Change Your Product Value Proposition - This is something few owners really want to do. That is, fundamentally change your product to better meet the needs of your customer. For some, it's not an option. But, before you put yourself in that category, know that that group is far smaller than you think.

Bundle services with your product. Make it easier to buy. Take some of the risk away. Find a product that's twice as good for half the price. How would you compete if you were just entering the market and didn't have all the emotional investment in how you do what you do?

So, you're working the game plan and nothing's happening. Things are looking bleak. When this happens many owners stop their marketing instead of changing their marketing. Don't ever throw good money after bad. But stopping instead of changing your marketing is just plain stupid. It's a bit like not sending your offense out on the field because you aren't gaining yardage. If you were the coach you'd never do that, right?

Look to your message first. Talk to some customers. Have they changed why they're buying or are they just not buying for a while? Who else is buying? How can you change/expand your product value proposition to appeal to customers who are still buying?

Now, get out there and get back in the game! Doing nothing is not an option.
About the Author
Hamilton Wallace is a small business marketing consultant. He is an expert in direct response marketing, including sponsored search, direct mail, message and story, and in creating simplified, effective marketing solutions for small businesses. http://www.SmallBusinessMarketingConsultant.com
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