Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Order Out of Chaos: Defining Your Marketing Strategy

What strategy are you using to promote your business or organization? Do you find yourself overwhelmed by the sheer number of choices – brochures and sales collateral, newsletters and product bulletins, direct mail, email newsletters, desktop websites, mobile websites, blogging, Google Places, search engine optimization, keyword search, content creation, LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter? Have you been jumping from one method to another based on whatever is getting the most buzz in the business magazines you read?

Paraphrasing Nike: Pick one and just do it.

Your first task is to develop an effective marketing strategy that creatively combines traditional and new media to foster engagement and interaction with customers and prospects. So let’s start with some basic definitions:
  • Traditional media refers to ways used to reach customers and prospects pre-Internet: publications (magazines, newspapers), broadcast (radio and television), and print (sales collateral, like brochures and sell sheets, newsletters, direct mail marketing).
  • New media refers to digital technologies that can be interactive (websites, email), social media where people share opinions, insights, experiences and perspectives (blogs, podcasts, message boards), and sharing sites (YouTube, Flickr and social networks (LinkedIn, Facebook).
For most small businesses and organizations, the high cost of publications and broadcast media, as well as their overly broad reach, make them unsuitable as marketing tools. The foundation of an effective marketing strategy for most businesses and organizations is printed material: sales collateral, newsletters and direct mail.
  • Sales collateral is a broad term for printed material that supports the sales process by helping people with the buying decision. Brochures, flyers, sell sheets, product information cards, posters and white papers are all examples of sales collateral. Well designed sales collateral (text enhanced withphotographs, specifications, charts, tables, diagrams and testimonials) will enhance reader comprehension and retention, build the seller’s credibility and serve as a tangible reminder after a sales call.
  • Newsletters are an effective way to communicate regularly with customers, keeping them informed and providing educational material of interest. That’s exactly why we publish CreativeBrief – to remind you that we’re here for you and to provide valuable and useful information for you. Because it is printed and mailed, you have something tangible that can be put aside for later reading if desired.
  • Direct mail marketing is currently enjoying a resurgence in popularity due in part to people being overwhelmed by the volume of email, the backlash against spam, and the fact that direct mail drives traffic to websites. Recognizing this, the USPS launched a direct mail program that offers a very low postage rate (as low as 14.5 cents per piece) for a large size self-mailer sent to all the businesses and residences in an entire carrier route. If you aren’t familiar with this program and you’d like to explore whether it could be effective for your business, contact Brigid at (215) 923-2679 or brigid@creativecharacters.com.

The foundation of an effective marketing strategy is still print – printed sales collateral, a newsletter distributed monthly, bi-monthly or quarterly, and use of direct mail marketing to build awareness, introduce products and services and direct customers and prospects to your website. Now it’s time to integrate new media into the strategy with two websites – one desktop and one mobile.

All businesses – large and small, high tech and low tech – need a website, because today, that is how people search for businesses when they are ready to buy. A website also allows the business to stand out from the competition – especially if the site demonstrates expertise – and provides resources for present and future prospects. Mobile phones provide another way for businesses to communicate with their customers.

Currently there is a big push to have print and mobile work together. Printing a QR (Quick Response) code on sales collateral, a newsletter or a direct mail piece opens up a new dimension of customer communication. When scanned by a smart phone, a QR code can lead anywhere – to a website or video, a map, additional information, a coupon or product review or many other places. And if a business obtains the customer’s permission (i.e., opt-in), the business can send messages to the smart phone with special offers or contests, all designed to increase customer loyalty.

Let us help you implement your marketing strategy

For 17 years, we have been helping our customers communicate with their customers to build sales. We are positioned to help you integrate print with new media – desktop and mobile websites, QR codes and web-based promotions.

For more information or to get started, contact Brigid at (215) 923-2679 or brigid@creativecharacters.com. We may be using new methods to contact customers, but we haven’t changed our focus and reliance on solid design and sales fundamentals.

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