Direct Marketing Article
Marketing with a Vision
Getting extraordinary results from common marketing tools
By Marc Gordon
On the surface, being able to attract more clients and sell more products
than your competitors could be viewed as just offering a wider selection of
products at better prices. However when you examine the marketing programs
of successful businesses, it becomes apparent price is not always the
So what exactly is marketing? Most people tend to think of Yellow Page ads,
mailings, and outdoor signage. But as of right now, I want you to think of
marketing as this: Marketing is the simple act of communicating, directly or
indirectly, with your current or potential market in a way that builds on
and reinforces your, or your company's, distinct qualities.
Adopting this philosophy will present you with a whole new set of
opportunities. Imagine that every point of contact you or someone from your
office has with anybody is a marketing opportunity.
No longer are you just working within the mindset of advertising. Now
marketing becomes a state of mind - an awareness that you will develop.
There is no separation between current clients and potential clients. Anyone
with a set of eyes is a client and should be treated as such.
So where do you start?
I always tell my clients to begin with their staff. Staff are the most
powerful and influential communication tool you will ever have. Listen to
how they communicate with both clients and each other. Is your receptionist
friendly, helpful and attentive? Do your staff members argue with each other
in front of clients? Are staff members selective in how they communicate
with specific people? Selective communication means they might be polite to
clients, but impolite to the suppliers. It's important that all your staff
understand the impact they have on how your business is presented. For many
people, your staff will be their first point of contact. What kind of
impression do you want them to make?
The other key area to start with is you. That's right! How you present
yourself is vital to the growth of your business or practice. After all,
beyond the products you sell, and the services you provide, it all comes
down to you. This brings us back to the way you and your staff communicate
externally. Be helpful, courteous, professional, and return calls promptly.
Become the number one source in your field by being 100% dedicated to your
By establishing a unique selling proposition (USP), you can turn your
communication skills into an effective marketing tool. A USP is your
distinct quality that distinguishes you from everyone else. It makes you
special in the eyes of your clients and gives them reason to seek you out.
Creating a USP is a key starting point in building a marketing program. Even
if you don't plan on developing a full blown campaign, every piece of
marketing material you create should reinforce your USP. Quality, price,
service, and convenience are just a few traits you can build on. The best
way to start is to just take a pen and paper and start writing. In a couple
of sentences write what makes you special. Keep it objective. Avoid writing
statements like "we have the best service". Instead, write down what makes
it the best.
An example might be "ABC Company offers free lifetime service for all its
clients. Repairs are done in-store right away, no waiting."
When developing a USP, make sure it's something that you and all your staff
can follow through on. Not being able to deliver on a promise will only hurt
your reputation in the long term.
Now that you have a unique selling proposition that you can believe in and
act upon, its time to develop a marketing plan that reinforces this message.
As mentioned earlier, a marketing plan is about more than just advertising
and selling. It's about communicating. And effective communicating is an
important part of relationship building which is essential to long term
success. Remember, companies don't sell buy and sell, people buy and sell.
How you choose to market yourself and your company will be influenced by not
only your USP, but also your local market, budget and goals.
The number of marketing programs you can create are only limited by your
But to get you started, I have assembled some tried and true techniques that
you can adapt to your own situation.
Event marketing: Actively become part of a public or industry event
that will produce a lot of exposure for you. An example for an eye glass
store might be to have a booth at a book fair. What a great place to
demonstrate the value of reading glasses. You could even team up with some
other vendors to do some cross promotions, offering special discounts on
each other's products. Even if you aren't set up to make any actual sales at
the show, you could be exposing your business to potentially thousands of
people over just a few days.
Database marketing: with the advent of email, data base marketing can
be extremely effective and cost you virtually nothing. All that's required
is the email address of your clients along with some personal information
such as gender and age. There are lots of customer management software
packages like ACT! that can keep track of all this information. Then you can
send out personalized emails to those specific clients that you want to
target. Think about a tire store being able to send out a promotion for high
performance tires only to those clients with sports cars.
Educational Marketing: Showcase new products and services in an
intimate setting right in your own store or practice. A clothing store
invites current clients (plus a guest) to a wine and cheese party showcasing
the newest styles of the season. Be sure to give out some kind of small,
industry relevant gift for every attendee (with your name on it, of course).
Perhaps also have a draw for a free product or gift card.
Referral Marketing: Turn your clients into sales people. Keep track
of how people found out about you and be sure to send out thank you cards to
those that referred. Including a gift card for a local coffee shop goes a
long way. The goal here is to let people know that you appreciate them
thinking of you.
Mass Marketing: When done right, you can get a lot of positive
results. Simply put, mass marketing is anything that reaches everybody. This
can be television, radio, flyers in the mail, or an ad in a magazine. Which
form of media will work best for you depends on your budget and what market
you are going after. An jeweler located in a high income area of the city
may not want to advertise outside of this area. Advertising in a lifestyle
magazine commonly read by the local demographic may produce the best
I encourage all my clients to create a "call to action" within their
advertising. There has to be something to make people act on your message. A
free product, special pricing, anything that makes people want to get to
your store as quickly as possible. Two things to remember: first, make it a
limited time offer. Second, the promotion has to be something beyond a
regular sale. Offering 50% off your most popular product for just a 3 hour
time frame could get people excited. But for this type of campaign to be
successful, it needs to by publicized extensively prior to the event. Don't
let your biggest sale of the year be the biggest secret of the year.
Always remember, marketing is a form of communication first and foremost.
Effectively creating a message that communicates your values and ideals,
then reinforcing that message with action will always bring you the greatest
level of success.
About the Author:
Marc Gordon is a professional speaker and marketing consultant based in
Toronto, Ontario. His firm, Fourword Marketing, specializes in helping
businesses create a brand identity and developing effective marketing
campaigns. Marc can be reached at (416) 238-7811 or visit