Category Archives: Customer List

Don’t let your marketing become ‘Tyranny of the Urgent’

hourglass jpg

Are you balancing the important marketing with the urgent marketing?

I was talking to a business owner this afternoon, when she used the phrase “tyranny of the urgent.” It got me thinking about how business is run, sales are made, and marketing is planned and executed.

In Charles Hummel’s 1967 essay Tryanny of the Urgent, one important point Hummel makes is striking a balance between what is considered urgent, and what is considered important. This issue is really all about time management. As a cotton mill manager once told Hummel “Your greatest danger is letting the urgent things crowd out the important.”

What are examples of urgent marketing?

Business owners are under pressure to increase sales, make payroll, handle employees, and many other things. Under this pressure, marketing that I would consider urgent is any type of marketing that is reactionary. When a competitor runs a coupon, you run a coupon. When a car dealer runs a giant inventory reduction sale (which by the way is cliche…because what sale isn’t meant to reduce inventory?)…they are trying to make a month-end sales quota. This is urgent (and reactionary) marketing. Selling price before value…another example of urgent marketing. It’s looking for the quick-fix, the quick buck, the easy sale.

What are examples of important marketing?

Important marketing is, at times, going back to the basics. It is creating, and maintaining, your customer list. It is making sure you have your graphics, logo, and pictures organized on a disk for easy access when marketing materials are needed. It is building a marketing plan, so that you can be proactive, rather than reactive. It also keeps you on budget. Important marketing is building a website rich with content, and search-engine optimized, so that you can start the marketing process to your customers before they become your customers.

6 things you can do to shift marketing priorities from urgent to important

  • Write a marketing plan.
  • Organize your business logos and pictures into one easy-to-find place.
  • Get your database of customers updated
  • Do a website evaluation…is your website doing what you need it to do?
  • Consider getting professional marketing services. The small business owner can’t do it all themselves. Consultants of any kind bring valuable outside opinions and experience to the table.
  • Begin each week with a list of the most important things that will grow your business. Create another list of the tasks for the week. Schedule time with yourself to work on the first list.

One of my favorite phrases is: Business is a series of interruptions…interrupted by more interruptions.

Let’s all try to get out of the interruption trap. Ever go through a day and know you worked hard, but thinking back, can’t remember what you accomplished? Yeah, it happens to me too. Remember, it’s not about time. We all have the same about of time…24-hours per day, 7 days per week. It is about the priorities.

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Chris Mitchell is the President and Founder of 25-8 Marketing, Inc, a full service advertising agency in Elk River, Minnesota. He plans and implements marketing programs for small to medium-sized businesses. Mitchell is a consultant, speaker and author and has worked with hundreds of companies. He has over 20 years of real-world advertising experience, and understands the marketing challenges of the small business owner.


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Marketing Proverb: The best time to plant a tree

plant your marketing seeds today

The Chinese Proverb about planting trees goes something like this:

The best time to plant a tree is 20 years ago.  The second best time is today.

This saying applies to so many realms of our lives, our businesses, and our marketing.  If you had planted a tree 20 years ago, you’d be enjoying the shade and fruits of your labor.  But what if you didn’t plant a tree 20 years ago?  Wouldn’t the second best time be today?

Plant your marketing seeds today

So many of the clients whom I meet with plan their marketing in a reactionary mode.  Need sales…react with marketing.  They are so busy working in their business…that they forget to work on their business.

What I try to explain is that by planting marketing seedlings now, you might see fruit (sales) in as little as three months.  If you persist in your marketing seedlings, your current-month-mode can work toward a great-year-mode.

What marketing seeds can you plant today?

  • The best time to update and organize your customer list with email and contact information was 6 months ago.  The second best time is today.
  • The best time to do a needs analysis with a key customer was 3 months ago.  The second best time is today.
  • The best time to do create a website or blog was in 2005.  The second best time is today.
  • The best time to strengthen your relationship with the top 20% of your customers was last year.  The second best time is today.
  • The best time to write your 2008 marketing plan was last October.  The second best time is today.
  • The best time to organize your logo, pictures and business graphics in one spot so you have everything you need to quickly create stunning marketing materials was a year ago.  The second best time is today.
  • The best time to ask all of the people you did business with last year for referrals was last year.  The second best time is today.

Do business like you plan to stay in business

Be proactive with your marketing.  The sooner you start your marketing with long-term in mind, the sooner the benefits will show up short term.  What are you waiting for?

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Chris Mitchell is the President and Founder of 25-8 Marketing, Inc, a full service advertising agency in Elk River, Minnesota. He plans and implements marketing programs for small to medium-sized businesses. Mitchell is a consultant, speaker and author and has worked with hundreds of companies. He has over 20 years of real-world advertising experience, and understands the marketing challenges of the small business owner.

Do Not Mail List: How would it affect your marketing?

I think it’s not a matter of IF…it’s a matter of when

In 2007, a number of states had introduced do-not-mail bills. These states included Connecticut, Hawaii, Michigan, Missouri, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, Texas, Vermont and Washington. Several other bills – in New York, Virginia, New Jersey and Washington – offered some sort of related proposed legislation, such as the creation of a no-mail registry for certain senior citizens and people suffering from mental illness, plus a ban on credit-card solicitations to people under the age of 21.

On one side…the Direct Marketing Association and the United States Post Office. On the other side, many of the green organizations to save the trees.

To this point, none of the bills have gained traction. And the direct mail community is keeping a very close watch on do-not-mail bills that have been introduced to state legislatures this year. Lobbyists will fight this one long and hard. But I see the future of direct mail in the same vein as smoking legislation. First one state, then another, and another. Then momentum swings as polls indicate…and politicians are swayed. Mark my words…a do-not-mail bill is coming to your state someday.

From a marketing standpoint

As a business owner, how would the loss of direct mail affect your marketing? Well, you’d have more money to market other ways. You’d need permission to market to people. My suggestion for 2008: Work on implementing permission marketing strategies long before they are legislated to you.

Wikipedia defines permission marketing: Permission marketing is a term used in e-marketing. Marketers will ask permission before they send advertisements to prospective customers. It is used by some Internet marketers, email marketers, and telephone marketers. It requires that people first “opt-in”, rather than allowing people to “opt-out” only after the advertisements have been sent.

Want to know more? If you haven’t read it yet, check out one of my favorite marketing books from Seth Godin: Permission Marketing: Turning Friends into Strangers. It’s exceptional marketing material.

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Chris Mitchell is the President and Founder of 25-8 Marketing, Inc, a full service advertising agency that plans and implements marketing programs for small to medium-sized businesses. He is a consultant, speaker and author and has worked with hundreds of companies. He has over 20 years of real-world advertising experience, and understands the marketing challenges of the small business owner.

website: http://www.258marketing.com
email: chris@258marketing.com

Be different: Send your Christmas cards in July

christmas in july

Want to stand out in a crowded marketplace?

Here’s an idea that will accomplish exactly that.  How many Christmas cards to you receive at your home or business between Thanksgiving and New Years?  Lots.  How many do you receive in July?  None.

I tell my clients that when everyone is zigging, you gotta zag.

If you’re a business, consider sending out your holiday cards in July.  I guarantee it will stand out and get noticed. I found this image at www.100christmascards.com as an emailable card.  Contact your printer and customize a version for your business and mail it.  You have the next 4 months to get this done.  Dare to be different.

When everyone is sweating in the summer, anything with a holiday theme will definitely make people smile and leave an impression.

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Chris Mitchell is the President and Founder of 25-8 Marketing, Inc, a full service advertising agency that plans and implements marketing programs for small to medium-sized businesses. He is a consultant, speaker and author and has worked with hundreds of companies. He has over 20 years of real-world advertising experience, and understands the marketing challenges of the small business owner.

website: http://www.258marketing.com
email: chris@258marketing.com

Your Prescription for Marketing Success: Part II – Your customer list

Constant Contact customer list

Quiz question: What is the most valuable asset of your business?

Like most business people, you may take a quick mental survey of your balance sheet. Is it your property? Your accounts receivable? Your equipment?

You won’t find the answer on your balance sheet. Your most important business asset, likely, is your customer list. It is more expensive to find a new customer than to service a current or past customer. It is more difficult to get a new customer than to take care of your current ones.

Companies spend the majority of their time and marketing resources prospecting new customers, meanwhile ignoring the dollars sitting in their current customer bank accounts.

Build a wall of service around your customer base

You have already earned your current customers trust. And with each additional transaction, that trust builds. Did you know it costs 5 times more to acquire a new customer than to retain a current one?

One of the most important things I encourage with my clients is to make a plan to maintain contact with your current customers. This serves three very important purposes.

First, it keeps you on the shopping list. If they are not ready to buy, you have top-of-mind awareness. Second, you are asking them to buy more from you. Remember, they are already your customers. You have that trust bond already established. Finally, it allows you to ask for referrals. This is huge. It takes commitment to make and follow this contact plan. And I am going to show you three ways to do it. You should plan to incorporate all three methods over the course of your business year to maintain your contact with current customers.

Compiling your customer list

About 50% of the business owners I talk to do not have an organized system to maintain a customer list. Most POS systems have this built-in, but I’m surprised at how many businesses use it.

At the very least, you need to compile your customer list in an excel spreadsheet by name, address, phone number, and email. You should also add categories for the amount of dollars they spent with you, by transaction and by date.This list is a basis for your three-pronged customer contact maintenance plan.

Contact Method #1: Direct Mail Postcards

Direct mail postcards are a vital part of keeping in touch with your current customers. Keep them up-to-date on current promotional offers with one of the most cost-efficient manners available. Postage costs less than a letter. Bulk mailing permits are easily available. And with technology advances, laser inscribed addresses make the entire process turn-key.

Postcard direct mail uses? Your business should be mailing thank you’s to first-time customers. How about We miss you to lapsed customers? Quarterly sales promotions? Special customer appreciation events?

25-8 Marketing Inc. has introduced a new postcard marketing program. With low minimums, no set-up charges, low in-the-mail prices, and fast 48-hour service, please visit this link for prices and details.

Contact Method #2: Email

Why is email a great way to contact your current customer base? It’s inexpensive; there are no postage costs or printing costs. It’s fast; you can send out a sales message to a group of customers quicker than direct mail. It’s accountable; you are able to see how many customers read your message.

Leveraging information gathered from previous interactions, a company can personalize the customer experience to up-sell and cross-sell customers and generate additional revenue.

I recommend you look at Constant Contact, (click on the link for a 60-day free trial) or a similar email contact management system.

Contact Method #3: Newsletters

Do you want to be a sustaining resource to your clients? Newsletters from your company are a great way to do that. Newsletters put your company’s name and current news in front of your customers, reminding them that you are still active and eager to do business with them again.

Many of us are already overwhelmed by the daily deluge of mail, so your newsletter will need to be much more than just ads for your products or services. Including informative articles or other information may help entice your customers to actually open and read your newsletter.

Put yourself in your customers’ shoes and try to determine what kinds of information would prove valuable to them. If your company sells collectibles, for instance, a survey of trends in the market would be a great way to get your customers to look forward to each issue of your newsletter.

Newsletters can be quarterly, or seasonal. One hint: Ask for referrals in each newsletter from your current customers. And reward them for each referral.

NEXT: Part III…Your website…using it to attract and retain customers.

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Chris Mitchell is the President and Founder of 25-8 Marketing, Inc, a full service advertising agency that plans and implements marketing programs for small to medium-sized businesses. He is a consultant, speaker and author and has worked with hundreds of companies. He has over 20 years of real-world advertising experience, and understands the marketing challenges of the small business owner.

website: http://www.258marketing.com

email: chris@258marketing.com