How to Effectively Manage Risk in Marketing
(risk management definition: Definition of risk management – The process of analyzing exposure to risk and determining how to best handle such exposure)
In the last year, marketing strategies for businesses, both large and small, have changed. With reduced marketing budgets and restructured goals, you run a big risk putting all your marketing dollars into something you're not sure will give you the best Return On Investment (ROI). There's no denying sales are slower for most industries, but you don't have to sit back. Reduce your risks with a well targeted marketing program.
If you're waiting to get out of a slump and don't have a solid plan to stay in front of your customers and potential buyers, you could get stuck in a rut. A marketing program is like a road map, you can use it as a reference tool to keep your marketing on track. If you run into unexpected traffic, a properly developed plan will offer options to keep you motivated, organized and headed in the right direction.
What are some of the strategies you should include in your marketing program?
A proven starting point is direct mail. Direct mail marketing is an effective and inexpensive way to stay in front of prospects, customers and generate new leads with targeted mailing lists.
A well designed, direct mail marketing campaign, such as postcards, can put your message in front of your market for about 30 to 35 cents each, including postage. You can actually send someone a postcard every 30 days for under $4 a year. Regular, repeated mailings are the way to create solid, predictable results. People respond to repetition. Think of recent TV commercials you have seen over and over. Have those commercials ever made you purchase from any of those companies? Linen-N-Things and Bed, Bath and Beyond is a great example. One closed because of bankruptcy and the other is still open.
Even if you've never shopped at Bed Bath and Beyond, you may know them for their aggressive colossal postcard and email marketing featuring their signature 20% OFF coupon. Even in 2009, they beefed up their marketing and the results: it's working. One thing is certain, Bed, Bath and Beyond wouldn't be ahead if they had stopped sending those coupons, people would likely forget about them and buy what they need at Target or another home store.
You also need to keep in mind the message your direct mail piece communicates. During an economic downturn, a positive message may be completely unreal to the recipient. “Fear of loss” may be the right emotion for your marketing. Using words like “before it's too late” or “you could lose your home if you don't act” may sound awful to you, but that may be where your prospect is sitting right now. You can mail a beautifully designed postcard, but if the message doesn't relate to your prospect's issues, you won't get the best response possible.
The great thing about direct mail is that it ties into other marketing strategies. Although direct mail is highly effective on its own, it doesn't completely rule out other marketing channels, such as online marketing. In the today's market, 85% of consumers will visit your website before emailing, calling or visiting your location. Direct mail starts the communication, but your website continues that conversation. What happens when you land on an unprofessional website? You leave, right? That's why it's so important to have a professional online presence â€” or you may end up losing your lead.
In addition to your website, expand your online presence by creating business profiles on various social media channels such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube and others. These sites allow you to establish relationships with your market. Most consumers looking for a professional would rather hire someone they know and feel comfortable with. By creating a page on these sites, you develop a more personal rapport, while keeping your professionalism.
As part of your marketing program, establish yourself as the expert by creating a blog (this is a coined term from the words WEB LOG â€” which is just a chronological content website that you manage yourself) and feature educational articles on your website. By offering educational advice, you not only position yourself as an expert, you also exhibit what I like to call 'care factor'. This is an important element, especially within the current economy. Answering questions on your site or blog with the intention to honestly help will create the trust you need to win a client.
Take your industry and the word 'blog' and type it in Google, i.e. “Mortgage Broker Blog” or “Auto Insurance Blog”. What do you find? If you didn't find much, this may be a good opportunity to break into an untapped area for your industry.
Now think about what your current marketing strategy is and put yourself in your consumer's shoes… would you make a good impression on yourself?
There are many other strategies you can implement within your marketing program. Ask yourself, what is the end product you want from your marketing? Once you determine this, research ways to meet your marketing goals and implement them. Without a written marketing program in place, as soon as the leads dry up you probably say, “I MUST do some marketing NOW!” â€” but it takes more than that frenzied statement to make it happen and often it's too late when you have a month of slow business or no new business.
There's tons of educational marketing information out there. I highly recommend these books to jump-start your program:
- The New Rules of Marketing & PR â€” By, David Meerman Scott
(www.davidmeermanscott.com) This book shows you how to leverage the potential of Web-based communication to build a personal link with your market. Adopt the new rules and start a profitable relationship with your buyers and those who influence them.
- The Ultimate Postcard Marketing Success Manual â€” By, Joy Gendusa
(www.postcardmania.com) In this book, Joy gives you the in depth tools to create, design, track and manage a successful postcard direct mail marketing campaign. The book is filled with detailed case studies and a plethora of information to make you a direct mail marketing expert!
- Getting Things Done â€” By, David Allen
(www.davidco.com) David Allen shares with readers the proven productivity strategies that he has developed consulting at such top organizations as New York Life, the World Bank, Microsoft, the Ford Foundation and the U.S. Navy. Here is your road map to achieving stress-free productivity. You will experience immediate benefits when you use these tips and tricks to help you get-and stay-on top of it all.
Making a plan may seem like a daunting task, but the benefits will outweigh the initial time invested in coming up with a marketing strategy.