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Marketing on the Offensive

Jan 30, 2008
As we start to tread on what some experts call a "sluggish period", I'm compelled to encourage you to reinvest into marketing. My guess is that this area has or will soon be getting more of your attention as leads become more scarce.

But perhaps this cooling period is just what your business needs. Oftentimes such a period drives us to reevaluate things and focus on those areas that are really working. It does another pretty wonderful thing too...it forces us to go on the offensive.

The truth of the matter is that marketing is really only effective when you're on the offensive. If you're a football fan, then you're probably familiar with the dubious "prevent defense". This is a strategy of containment, of shepherding things without a lot of attention. And if you've ever watched your team using this type of defense, then you're probably not a big fan of that tactic because the opposing team inevitably scores anyway.

The same is true in marketing. In order for it to be effective, you've got to get your head in the game and you have to be willing to invest. Like marriage, this is true for the good times as well as well as the bad. I come in contact with business owners who try to buy advertising as if they're haggling at a flea market.

Marketing is just not an area in which to be cheap. It's ok to be cheap when you're shopping for clothes detergent. But playing the miser in marketing only hurts you as it limits business. Transitioning from a marketing miser to a spendthrift might be a bit of a stretch. But here are some ways to break out of that defensive posture and rev up the business for good.

Marketing as an investment rather than an expense. The bottom line is that if you consider every penny spent in marketing as an expense then you'll never grow to your potential. I'm not saying that you need to throw money away. But you do need to be somewhat liberal in this area to discover what works. Marketing is getting groups of people who have a need to know, like and trust you. There's a path toward the final sale and you need to realize that each "touch-point" involves an investment of some kind.

A good example is direct mail. At first the prospect doesn't know who you are. After a couple mailers however, they not only know who you are but start regarding you as a valuable resource. Finally, after an ongoing dialogue is established, they trust you enough to give you an opportunity.

Think in terms of ROI. One thing that's helped many owners break out of the defensive posture is thinking is terms of a campaign's return on investment. That is, start with how much a typical sale means to you. For some, this could be $100. For others, this might mean $15,000. Once you determine this, figure out the maximum amount you'd be willing to spend to get this. This might mean 10% of the sale...perhaps even higher.

One you start to look at the benefits as well as the costs associated, it makes marketing a lot easier. And you'll find that after a couple campaigns where your marketing dollar generated a lot more in return, spending will become much easier.

Steal and modify. Creative juices aside, effective advertising is right there in front of our eyes.

The truth is that you really don't need to reinvent the wheel when you advertise. By finding those things that are working for your competitors then altering based on your brand and message, you can grow the business pretty quickly and predictably. And because of the internet, I might suggest finding peers in other geographic markets who aren't competing with you and discovering, then replicating, what they're doing. There's no shame in emulating what's successful. And the ROI is much better than when coming up with new ideas all the time.

Another suggestion is to think of the marketing side of your business as a defined process. For example, create a public relations campaign of identifying then contacting journalists in the area whose audience is one in the same as your target market. Develop a contact plan with them where you provide helpful information that would make their job easier. By continuing to improve on the contacts and process, you'll find that they respond and start including you in articles. The bottom line is that we have processes for accounting, finance and operations...there's no reason we can't have one for marketing too.

The key to getting new and improved results in business development is to break out of that defensive mode and get into the attack mode. Once you do that, wonderful things will start to happen.
About the Author
Scott Campbell is the President of Impact Marketing, Inc out of Atlanta, GA. They install marketing systems into businesses working predominantly in the "Building" sector.

Learn more about Impact Marketing and its solutions here at http://www.impactyourcompany.com.
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