When you're busy operating your business-making sure employees are doing their jobs, ensuring your products and services are delivered on time, striving toward goals and so on-it's tempting to think to yourself that you just don't have time for marketing. If, in fact, that thought has crossed your mind, you're not alone. However, neglecting your marketing efforts is one of the biggest mistakes you can make as an entrepreneur.
You may be concerned with hundreds of business ownership details, but you still need marketing to achieve the visibility you require to get noticed in the marketplace. This visibility leads to more prospects converted, to more customers converted, to more profits-which is the formula for staying in business. So, by deduction, entrepreneurs need marketing to stay in business.
In the world of guerrilla marketing, there's a general rule of thumb that 60 percent of your marketing should be spent on current and past customers. After all, they represent your best prospects. These people already know you, trust you and, hopefully, have confidence in your company, products and services. They've already had a good experience with your business, which increases the probability they'll buy from you, especially when compared to a new prospect who doesn't know you and hasn't yet had a positive experience with you.
The remaining 40 percent of your marketing budget should be split up this way: 30 percent should be spent on prospects, and 10 percent should be spent universally. And all this spending should happen simultaneously: You need to keep your prospect funnel full while continuing to convert prospects into paying customers. You can start by using marketing to:
1. Replace former customers with new ones. Customers come and customers go. Sometimes they leave because of us, sometimes because of them and sometimes because of factors beyond the control of either. This can't always be predicted or forecasted. To safeguard against this, you must use marketing to replace former customers with new ones. Obviously, not everyone you market to will become a customer. But to increase your chances of getting those all-important new customers, you must continually put your message in places where they'll see it.
Successful marketing is made up of many, many things done over and over. Without a consistent, repeated effort, there'll be no new customers to replace the old ones, and you'll soon enter what's known as the "death spiral" for your business. You can't allow this to happen!
2. Pay attention to your customers. Imagine for a moment that you've secured new business from more customers than you ever dreamed. The good news is, you'll be busy fulfilling their every need. The bad news is that lack of attention is the number-one reason customers abandon a business.
So if you get busy, how can you stay in touch with your most valuable customers on a regular basis? The answer is marketing. Different marketing vehicles can reach out to them and show that you're paying attention to them. You can send thank-you cards, special offers, tips and techniques, newsletters and more. The type of marketing activities let you stay in touch without being there in person.
3. Keep customers informed. Now let's say that your business is growing, and you've decided to introduce new services and products. Who will buy them? Current customers will, as well as new ones-but they won't buy unless they know about your new offerings. Product announcements, press releases, newsletter ads and advertising are just a few of the marketing vehicles that can be used to alert prospects and customers to your new products and services. Marketing once again saves the day, pays attention to your customers, informs and educates them, and causes them to eventually empty their wallets into yours.
Effective use of these guerrilla marketing tactics will let you keep your marketing costs down while increasing your return on the dollars you do spend.
Al Lautenslager is an award-winning marketing and PR consultant and direct-mail promotion specialist. He's also the principle of Market For Profits, a Chicago-based marketing consulting firm. His two latest books, Guerrilla Marketing in 30 Days and The Ultimate Guide to Direct Marketing are available at www.entrepreneurpress.com.