Get the right message to the right market using the right media, and new business will appear.
By Ron Rosenberg
These are difficult times in the tent rental and event industry. Customers are becoming more demanding while they shop around for the best deal, event budgets are scaled back, and promotional strategies that worked in the past aren’t as effective as they used to be.
The good news is it doesn’t have to be this way!
There is an incredible variety of proven strategies available to get prospects to come looking for you instead of the other way around. How do you change your approach to start getting better results? Quite simply, focus on strategies that will bring you tangible, measurable results. And to do that, you need to remember the “Three M’s of Marketing”:
The secret to successfully marketing any product or service is to get the right message to the right market using the right media. Get this right and new business will appear. Miss connecting on even one of these, and you’ll be scratching your head, wondering why you’re getting beaten up by your competition.
Message: What do you want potential clients to do?
When you construct a marketing piece—whether a sales letter, a website, a post card or a print ad—you have to be clear on what you’re trying to communicate and precisely what action you want the prospect to take.
There are 12 components to every successful marketing piece (see “The compelling copy checklist,” in the box above). Omitting even one of these can have serious consequences. And considering that most of the examples I receive for critique have only two or three of them, the opportunity for improvement is significant.
Let’s take a look at number 2: killer headline. The purpose of the headline is simple: get the reader to read the next line. The sad truth is that the name of your company and your logo are not the killer headline.
Or how about number 7—overcoming objections? You need to understand why people aren’t currently contracting with you so you can identify their objections and explain clearly why these are not relevant. Fortunately, the best and most effective way to accomplish this is with number 8—the testimonial, a powerful motivating tool many ignore. But where most people drop the ball is with number 9—the definite and urgent call to action. Salespeople are taught to “ask for the sale,” and your marketing has to do the same thing. And “call for more information,” accompanied by a phone number and generic website address, is not an effective call to action.
Market: Hey, this is just for me!
Whenever I ask people who their customers are, they always respond, “Everyone!” I suppose that’s okay, but it’s very expensive to market to “everyone.” When I ask them to clarify, inevitably we identify four or five niche markets that use their products or services. That begs the question, “How many brochures do you have?” Even as they answer that they have only one, they realize this is the wrong answer.
Your specific target markets have different needs, different expectations and different uses in mind for your services. So how can a one-size-fits-all brochure, ad or sales letter truly connect with them? Message-to-market match is one of the most important concepts to embrace if you want your marketing and advertising to be effective and profitable. You wouldn’t dream of sending an offer for a steak house to a list of vegetarians. In the same sense, it’s absolutely essential to customize and personalize your communications as much as possible, so when people see your message, they think, “Hey, this company gets us!”
Media: Okay, you know who I am … now what?
sage you know will get people to respond. What now? Well, they have to read it first. Here’s where the fun really starts. “Sources of Lead Generation” (see “Sources of lead generation” in the box above) shows 13 different potential sources for generating new leads.
Some use a traditional-style ad format, like magazines, newsletters and telephone directories. Others will challenge you to use those 12 components to take full advantage of their potential. How should you decide which ones to use, and what about the cost involved in some types of media?
The quick answer is that this is not the time to be cheap. The first thing many businesses do when faced with falling revenues and difficult market conditions is panic. They cut back on training, implement hiring freezes and bring travel to a screeching halt—even when that travel is necessary. The next things to go are marketing and advertising budgets, which have the undesirable yet highly predictable effect of putting an abrupt stop to all new business leads.
When selecting high-level strategies in general—and individual media in particular—it’s far more important to focus on measureable return on investment than on expense or cost. Remember, when it’s done right, marketing isn’t an expense—it’s an investment with an incredibly high rate of return.
Fortunately, there is a proven, time-tested and highly effective strategy at your disposal: use the mail. That’s right: mail. Yes, I know in this age of the Internet and electronic media this may seem like a throwback to the Dark Ages, but there are several reasons you should consider this:
- Because everyone else is pulling back from direct mail, there’s less clutter in people’s mailboxes and your mailings will stand out more and grab the prospect’s attention.
- It’s far more difficult to throw out a well-designed mail piece than it is to hit the “delete” button.
- Low-cost media, like postcards, can be used to drive traffic to specific “landing pages” on your website.
But how to get ensure that the mailing is read? Many companies send out a pocket folder stuffed with literature and a business card, or, worse yet, they just send a boring letter in a plain white business envelope. Sorry, but the pocket folder is going to get tossed aside, and the white envelope isn’t even going to get opened.
Why? Because they’re boring. But a colorful oversized envelope that clearly has something bulky inside? A customer is more likely to open that one first. So take advantage of that impulse reaction. And as long as you’re sending out mail, you might as well do it right and send a minimum of three pieces, spaced about a week apart. That’s because, on average, if you send a three-letter sequence, the response you get to the second and third mailings combined will equal or exceed the response to the first piece alone. If you send out only one piece, you’re leaving half the business on the table.
So what might these three pieces look like? For the first piece, you could fold the letter and tape it to an inexpensive “silver platter.” Put the letter and platter in a “Rush Priority Express” envelope. And what does the letter say? It could start like this: An offer so incredible we had to put it on a silver platter!
You could attach a pen to complete a checklist on page 2 of the letter of items and services needed for their event that you can provide. And then attach a cheap calculator and invite your prospects to use it to complete formulas on page 3 of the letter to determine approximate tent square footage per person plus chair and tables requirements. The pen and the calculator can have your company’s name and contact information on it, but the only reason to use promotional items like these is as “involvement devices” to get your prospects to interact with the letter. And be sure to include a deadline, because without it, people will toss your letter in a pile to look at “later”—which essentially means never.
If your prospects don’t respond to the initial mailing, you could send a second mailing in a round mailing tube with an hourglass inside. This time, the letter is rolled up inside the tube and starts with “Time is running out …”
Remember, the purpose of a headline is to get the reader to read the next line. Nothing more, nothing less. I promise you a crumpled-up letter delivered in a miniature trash will get read. And, more importantly, it will get read with a smile on the person’s face—exactly the state you want them in as they consider your offer. Then present the benefits of your services to the reader.
Does it cost money to use direct mail? Of course! But when you consider a customer’s lifetime value, all effective marketing is arguably free. Simply put, lifetime value is how much revenue you can realistically expect to receive from a typical customer over the life of your relationship with him or her. Once you calculate that revenue, the expense of sending out a three-step mailing becomes insignificant—like spending pennies to make dollars.
The major roadblocks to successful marketing and business growth are being boring and being interchangeable. If people perceive you as being interchangeable with your competition, you’ll find yourself in a price war. If people see that you’re different—in what you offer, in how you offer it, in how you connect with and serve your customers—you’ll stand out from the crowd. You’ll attract their interest and put yourself in the enviable position of having customers seek you out instead. Once they’re interested, it’s up to you and your staff to close the deal.