by Lorraine Hart
Anyone who has ever advertised has most likely gotten the same message from their advertising rep. You need consistency, or you need to repeatedly advertise. Now before you stop reading, let me assure you, I am not writing this article to encourage you to do regular, expensive advertising. Instead, I would like to explore marketing in a much broader, truer sense of what marketing is.
There are many ways to market yourself, your company and your products; and advertising is just one of them. Just as I am not going to tell you to take out a bunch of ads, I am also not going to tell you to stop advertising if advertising is working for you. However, I will agree with the advertising reps in saying that if you are going to advertise, you need to commit to repeating your message enough to be noticed.
An important element in all marketing is to get yourself known and to do enough repeat messages so that your past, present and future clients will remember you. Marketing to each of these groups is equally important. Sometimes your message might be the same for each and other times you may have different messages for different groups. Although it is sometimes hard to believe, not all of our clients always remember that we are there to help them. Even those that we are in communication with may not know the full range of our products and services, or even that we do want their future business and referrals from them.
Although the different venues for marketing are important, it is even more important that we ensure consistency in our “outflow.” Unfortunately it is often the case that someone sends out one letter or one email, and then decides it doesn’t work because there is not an immediate response. In a sense it’s like expecting to get a marriage proposal after a first date. Sure it can happen, but that usually isn’t the way it works. Just like in dating, our promotional messages may need to be repeated enough so that the prospect starts to feel comfortable with us.
In his writings on marketing, author L Ron Hubbard stated “Marketing includes all actions from before the beginning of the production right on through to its use by the customer and its word-of-mouth promotion by the public. … The basis of advertising is: You have to attract, you have to interest, and you can then get your message across.” He further states “On the professional side, one sends materials out piece by piece to arouse and stimulate interest. When interest is stimulated ones gets response.”
This means that we need to continue to reach out to those we want to do business with or continue to do business with.
There are a lot of considerations in determining the best venue for your marketing, which will vary based on those you want to reach and your resources. Depending on your market and resources, you may decide to advertise, or you may decide on direct marketing. Although you may not have the resources now, I recommend you start planning for your near and long term marketing.
One of the successful actions of many of my clients is to start to put their marketing plan and budget together in the fall for the coming year. In doing this, I recommend that you look at all the successful marketing that you have done over the past few years. Make a list of those and also list other possibilities. Because none of us has unlimited funds, it is important to prioritize your opportunities. Although your marketing plan should be as complete as possible, it is also important to leave some room in your budget for contingencies.
About the author: Lorraine Hart is the president and senior consultant for Ideal Consulting Services who have been providing business consulting, coaching and training to small businesses in the construction industry since 1992. She is a national member of NARI and is also a regular contributor to the Texas Home and Garden blog and the coordinator and editor of the weekly home articles for the Houston Chronicle. Lorraine can be reached at 832-569-5079 or www.idealconsulting.net.