Category Archives: marketing

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.

82.4% plan an increase in e-mail marketing in 2008

emailing for business

I just read my latest copy of BtoB’s Interactive Marketing Guide.

It’s full of great marketing info. In this issue, it sources a Datran Media survey from a press release, dated January 22nd, 2008:

82.4% of respondents plan to increase their e-mail marketing in 2008.

15.3% of respondents plan the same amount of e-mail marketing in 2008.

2.4% of respondents plan to decrease their e-mail marketing in 2008.

If you market using email, what does this mean?

Over 82% plan to increase their e-mail marketing! There’s going to be much more e-mail competition in 2008. Your e-mails need to stand out or they’ll get lost. This translates to creating a really good subject line – something that is not only catchy, but also creates trust and interest to the recipient.

Links need to work. Inside the email, make sure your links are working, even if the images get blocked.

You need a reporting system to track metrics. Every email campaign needs to track opens, bounces, and clicks. I use Constant Contact, (click on the link for a 60-day free trial) for my business and am very happy with it.

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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.

Lessons from The Godfather: I’m going to make him an offer…

The Godfather

For over 35 years, this movie line from The Godfather has stood the test of time:  “I’m going to make him an offer he can’t refuse.”

It is one of the greatest movie lines of all time.  And it begs another advertising teaching moment  – What makes a great marketing offer?

A great marketing offer has four distinct components

1)  A offer.  As simple as it sounds, there are a lot of marketing materials or commercials that do not contain on offer.  Corporate sometimes calls this “branding.”  It’s advertising designed to create name or product awareness.  It’s often created by advertising agencies who have huge client budgets, and lacks accountability because it’s difficult to track.   A great marketing offer must ask for a specific, trackable response from the person receiving the marketing message.

2)  Including a specific benefit to the customer.  Will it save time?  If so, how?  And how much time will it save?  Compare these two offers:  Offer 1:  Our dry cleaning delivery service will save you time.  Offer 2:  Our dry cleaning delivery service saves our customers an average of 52 minutes per week.

3)  A price.  Great marketing offers always have a price.  A specific dollar amount is always better than a percentage.  Always.  In the customers eyes, they’d like to exactly that they’ll be paying, or saving.  Monetize a great marketing offer.

4)  A deadline.  A deadline creates a sense of urgency.  It also creates a sense of demand.  This offer ends soon is weak.  This offer ends at midnight on Monday, March 25th is strong.

Use these four elements to always create great marketing offers for your products and services.

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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.

Peeps is 55 years old: Production of one billion per year

This comes under the category of I wish I had invented it

Did you know that there are over one billion of the marshmallow Peeps produced each year? Unbelievable. 49.6 million is sales in 2007. What can we learn about marketing from this company? Two things:

1) Be unique. There is only one company that makes Peeps…and they’ve gained market share because they are known for doing something well.

2) Be consistent. Peeps customers know exactly what they are getting everytime they open a package of this marshmallow treat.

Peeps facts:

Ingredients: Mostly sugar, corn syrup, and gelatin, same as most other marshmallow candies. They do have trace amounts of flavoring, coloring, wax, unpronounceable preservatives and such.

Calories: About 32 per Peep (and can anyone eat just one?)

Colors: Yellow was the original. Since Peep Season 1998, Peeps are available in yellow, white, pink, violet, and blue. Blue was added for the 1998 season. Violet first appeared in the 1997 season.

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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.

Improve the way you market to women

marketing to womenWhether you market to businesses or consumers, improving the way you market to women will have a dramatic impact on your bottom line.

Consumer goods

Women influence nearly 80% of all consumer goods purchases. According to Entrepreneur Online:

Saving time, offering convenience and providing good service are paramount considerations for most female shoppers. Because three-quarters of women ages 25 to 54 work full or part time while remaining largely responsible for their households, they appreciate businesses that help them save time when shopping and products or services that make life more convenient. Savvy retailers adjust their store hours and locations to meet the needs of their customers.

 Automotive

The trend doesn’t stop with consumer goods.  Women have a huge impact on the automotive industry.  From AOL Online:

Women have become increasingly influential when it comes to the automotive world, in everything from car design to advertising campaigns to what happens when you show up at the dealership. So what do women really want when buying a new car? And how are automakers responding to this turning tide?

According to Marketing to Women author Marti Barletta, women seek more advice from an auto authority (57%) before buying a new car; they spend more time in the purchasing process than men (17 weeks versus 15) and women shop at an average of three dealerships for best price and treatment.

Real Estate

Bernice Ross from Inman News says that single women are today’s prime real estate niche:

Women are rapidly becoming the silent majority in the real estate marketplace. While everyone pays attention to the needs of the “typical family,” very few people are addressing the specific needs of single female real estate buyers and sellers.

Which of the following groups buys more condominiums: married couples, single men or single women?

The answer is single women. Not only are single women buying more condominiums, NAR reports that 22 percent of all home purchases are made by single women as opposed to only 9 percent for single males. In other words, single Gen X and Gen Y women are buying more than twice as much real estate as compared to Gen X and Gen Y men.

The bottom line…women wield the influence.  Smart marketers know this, and are developing ways to make their marketing women centric.

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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.

Sharpening your Marketing Saw: What can you do?

sharpening the marketing saw

Stephen Covey talks about this anology in his Seven Habits of Highly Effective People:

What are you doing?’ you ask.
‘Can’t you see?’ comes the impatient reply. ‘I’m sawing down this tree.’
‘You look exhausted!’ you exclaim.
‘How long have you been at it?’
‘Over five hours,’ he returns, ‘and I’m beat! This is hard work.’
‘Well, why don’t you take a break for a few minutes and sharpen that saw?’ you inquire. ‘I’m sure it would go a lot faster.’
‘I don’t have time to sharpen the saw,’ the man says emphatically. ‘I’m too busy sawing!’

When it comes to business, we’re all busy.

I ask clients who don’t blog, or do newsletters, or update their website, or develop a marketing plan…why? The answer is always honest. And it’s almost always the same. They are too busy. They are too busy working IN their business to work ON their business.

What can you do to sharpen your marketing saw? Here are four thought- starters:

1) Commit to organizing your database. Your database of customers is the single most important thing you have as a business owner. Once you have a contact management system or some sort (computerized, with name, address, phone, email), exportable to an excel spreadsheet, you’re set.

Y our database is part of the foundation of all the marketing you do. And probably most of the referrals you get.
2) Reading good literature. The average American reads four books a year. Don’t be average. Reading will give you insight and perspective. I am currently re-reading one book: Permission Marketing (by Seth Godin) and reading another: The God Questions (by Hal Seed and Dan Grinder).

3) Brainstorm Brown Bag. Set aside a lunch hour (once per month) for a brainstorming session at your office. Everyone brings their own lunch. The challenge is pre-determined…what new ideas can we use, what’s working, how are you handling this objection. You get the idea. Hint: Rule one of brainstorming…no idea is judged during the session.

4) Seminars and workshops. Most of us do professional development or continuing education. That’s great. But also try something outside the norm of your business life. You can probably relate it back. I recently took a 4-week meditation class from Kelly LaVine that was outside my “norm” and really enjoyed it.

Abraham Lincoln said this: Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe. He was a pretty smart guy.

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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.