5 Ways to Improve Your Marketing

No matter what industry you’re in, it’s likely that the successful marketing strategies you used just a few years ago aren’t generating the results you want in today’s ever-changing business setting.

Here are five ways you can ensure that your marketing efforts keep you moving in the right direction.

1. Know your niche.
Begin by understanding your business niche. What do you do best? Who needs what you do? Who uses your products/services?  How do you best reach these prospects? The more you understand about your business and who you are specifically marketing to, the easier it will be to reach those individuals. The same can be said for knowing who is not your ideal audience.  For obvious reasons, this will save you time, money and energy in your marketing efforts.

2. Market to customer needs.
Always assume your prospects will buy only what they need. How can you convince them of that need? Emphasize the features of your product or service that reduce costs and solve problems for the customer. Sometimes you can reposition or reformat your messaging to better suit the customer’s needs. Just because your product or service is the same, doesn’t mean your messages have to be. Be creative!

3. Understand what works for you.
We often fall into the rut of thinking that we already know what the customer wants or thinks. Many marketers make decisions based on their gut instincts, but with the wealth of data available to them, this doesn’t need to be the case. Ask, survey and request feedback from your customers.

4. Create a great customer experience.
Today’s most successful marketers create remarkable experiences for customers. There are numerous points of interaction between a customer and brand that should be taken into consideration. These interactions are growing richer and richer and marketing is often responsible for creating and managing these experiences. Strive to successfully deliver positive experiences and these in turn will have a positive impact on your business. For example, one of the highest forms of praise is a positive online review of your product or service. Satisfied customers are also more likely to refer you to friends and family when they’re happy with their buying experience.

5. Never stop learning and trying new things.
Does anyone even remember how we marketed before the Internet? As technology and access to information change, companies must be nimbler than ever when it comes to marketing trends and technology. Savvy marketers are actively blogging and tweeting the latest data and information, using online platforms like LinkedIn to boost their recognition, and analyzing customer data using CRM software. Your marketing strategy should not be limited to one tactic or approach. Consider incorporating social media, content marketing, customer data, mobile marketing and event marketing with promotional products into your mix. Stay up on the latest trends by reading blogs and white papers and attending educational webinars.

The 8-Second Attention Span Myth

Microsoft conducted a widely publicized study a few years ago that concluded the average American’s attention span is only 8 seconds — less than that of a goldfish.

The idea that no one can focus anymore has made its way into all areas of business and life, from 140 character tweets to the idea that no one will read long-copy sales letters or watch a video on their computer longer than five minutes.

The truth is, we don’t have a problem with attention spans, we just have numerous options to choose from now.

Think about it, when television first came out, people only had a handful of channels to watch. If you didn’t like what was on, you had two additional choices. Now, there are hundreds of channels, plus options like DVR, Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu, YouTube, etc.

Viewers now have the option to simply change the channel, if they’re not satisfied with what’s on. The odds of viewers finding something to satisfy them are high, but it also means that channels have a very short period of time to get a viewer’s attention or they’re off to the next option.

Because of infinite channels, marketing has also changed. Years ago, if marketing didn’t get a good response with their first pieces, any additional follow-up was unlikely to yield additional results. Today, due to the difficulty in capturing someone’s attention, you may not get a response unless you follow up. This requires a much larger and more complicated campaign to break through the noise.

How to Capture a Person’s Attention
First of all, if you attempt to start talking about the latest scientific report, you’re done. Boring does not work.

A combination of offline and online marketing works the best. If we generate a lead online, we want to bring them offline ASAP. If that lead is generated offline, we want to connect and bring them online immediately. We want the prospect to get our message across platforms.

Now comes buying. Getting someone to buy from you the first time is one of the single most expensive things any business does. But once someone decides to trust you — once they determine that if they give you their hard-earned money, you will not rip them off — it is so much easier to get them to simply continue to shop with you over and over again. All you have to do is do what you say you’re going to do and remind them who you are, what you do and that you’re still in business.

Costco is a great example of this. It may not be easy to convince someone to pay to shop in their stores, but once someone does join, they’re rewarded with good pricing, exclusive deals, a nearly unlimited return policy and a risk-free guarantee on the membership. They’ll also receive a magazine from Costco once per month (in the mail) with articles and items their customers may want to buy. This magazine serves to entertain, educate, and sell me on new products or services they offer.

The more time a person gives you, your media and your products or services, the greater influence you have with them. If you want to sell more tomorrow, remember that consumers have an infinite number of channels to choose from. It is your job to entertain them, educate them and capture their attention long enough to sell to them.

Make the Call…& Make it a Good One!

Making sales calls over the phone can be nerve-wracking and time consuming. Many times, you won’t get a decision maker on the phone right away. When it comes to connecting with a decision maker and sealing the deal over the phone, your sales approach is everything.

It’s essential to make a lasting impression over the phone—and most importantly—to sell your product or service.

Navigate sales call with these tips:

• If the decision maker doesn’t answer at first, don’t give up. Everyone’s busy, and an unanswered call shouldn’t deter you. If someone else answers, find out the best time to contact the decision maker. If your call goes to voicemail, keep your message short and sweet. State your name, company and phone number, and be slow and deliberate with your message.

• When you a decision maker on the phone, communicate who you are and why you’re calling. Keep the focus on how your product/service can help them with their goals or make their life easier. Tailor to every potential customer’s needs, and remember: One size does not fit all.

• Give decision makers a good reason to continue listening to you.

• Wait until the end of your call to ask for a face-to-face meeting. This gives you the opportunity to move your decision maker to meet with you during the duration of the call. Plus, asking to meet too early in the conversation could seem pushy, leading you to not get a meeting.

• Stay upbeat, positive and persistent!

Good, Better, Best

You’ve got a client hosting a grand-opening celebration planned for a hot Saturday afternoon. They’ve reserved entertainment, catered food, ordered banners, flyers, print and radio ads and now, as a last-minute thought, they call you saying: “How about a promotional product giveaway as a memory-maker that keeps our location information handy?”

Their Problem: They’ve spent most of their budget.

Your Solution: Present the client with a good, better, best product solution.

When you show your client products at three price points, you accomplish several goals: You honor their request for an economical option. You educate them on what level of quality they get for their budget and, in contrast, what they could get if it’s possible to kick in a bit more. And, for future projects, they learn there are possibilities worth budgeting for in advance.

Bypassing the Gatekeepers

Email can be an effective tool for prospecting and lead generation. It’s personal, targeted, accessible and measurable. It can also yield a steady flow of very high quality leads.

That said, it’s getting harder and harder to break through to the people you actually need to reach. We know that whether you’re prospecting or using email marketing campaigns, it can take a number or attempts to reach a cold contact via email — and that’s assuming you don’t get trapped in a spam filter or undermined by the “glimpse factor.”

And then there’s the gatekeeper.


This “gatekeeper” is the person your prospecting and lead generation emails must break past.

Use these tips to craft your emails with gatekeepers in mind in order to get past those gatekeepers and into the hands of decision makers..

1. Mention a referral by name. If you’re reaching out through a referral, use the person’s name, but don’t include details that make it easy for the gatekeeper to screen the email. If the referral has a nickname they use (“Mike” vs. “Michael”), be sure to use it.

2. Reference something specific in the contact’s LinkedIn profile. This may be a shared school, association or interest. For example, I’m an avid skier, and its front and center on my LinkedIn and Twitter profiles. I frequently connect with people who begin their emails to me by discussing ski areas, towns or favorite runs.

3. Mention something that’s personal to the target contact. Maybe you read a blog post, saw a post on social media or read an interview about the contact. The higher up they are in their organization, the greater the chance you’ll learn something you can reference in your emails to make them feel more personal.

4. Ask a favor. People inherently like to help, so using the word “favor” will get their attention. This could be as simple as a referral to an industry association or group.

5. Ask the gatekeeper for his/her help. Mention why you’d like to talk with the contact, and ask if he/she can help you set the first appointment. Use your prospecting value proposition and ask for his/her help guiding you to the right person to talk to within the company.
6. Request an interview. Perhaps you’re writing an article about a specific business issue or situation and you’d like to interview the business owner for it. Or, interview them as members of an association to include a quote. Use the interview as the trigger in your email.

7. Ask a question about a comment you read related to the company on social media. This could be a comment made by the company or about the company. Mention where you saw the comment and use the information as a launching point.

8. Ask for their opinion. It could be related to their business: a new product, service or price change. Or it may be specific to their industry. For example, parts of the United States and Canada are experiencing an economic downturn due to the drop in oil prices. You may want the business owner’s input on how they’re seeing their customers adjust their businesses.

Setting Goals to Achieve Success

In order to achieve success, you must first distinguish what success looks like to you. Think about what you want and make a plan. Then, create specific goals that will help you get to where you want to be.

When setting your goals, make sure they are both clear and achievable.
• Be Specific in what you want.
• Make sure your goals are Measureable.
• Are your goals Realistic and Achievable?
• How are your goals Relevant?
• What kind of Time do you to accomplish your goals?

Making your dreams come true requires reflection. You must envision what you really want. Ask yourself:
• What do I want to accomplish?
• When do I want to accomplish these goals?
• Why is this important to me?
• Which resources will I need?
• What might limit me?

Break down what needs to happen, step by step, to turn your goals into a reality. What do you need to do today, tomorrow, next week, next month, a year from now?

Write down your dreams. Write down your goals. Be specific. Develop a plan. Live your dreams.

The Vernon Company is recognized as one of the largest and most successful promotional product firms in North America. Founded in 1902 by F.L. Vernon, we serve more than 40,000 customers from our Newton, Iowa corporate headquarters.

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