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Marketing 101

Smart ways to jump-start your marketing

Imagine you could gather together the nation's top marketing gurus to fill your ear with exactly what you need to do to jump-start your business' sales. Just a fantasy? Not with marketing professionals such as Guy Kawasaki, Al Ries and Jack Trout offering their pointers on everything from marketing on a shoestring to selling on the World Wide Web. Read on to discover 101 tips from 11 marketing experts.

Familiar Faces

Often the most cost-effective strategy for growing a business is simply to persuade existing customers to buy more. How to do it? Diane Perlmutter, chair of U.S. marketing practice for Burson-Marsteller, a global communications counseling firm, shares the pointers she gives Burson-Marsteller's blue-chip clients.

1. Don't rest on your laurels. Regularly evaluate your product or service to ensure it is still priced and packaged right. Continual improvement is the best way to keep customers.

2. Be where your customers are. In evaluating media, promotional opportunities or sponsorships, select the ones that reach the highest percentage of your target audience, not just those that deliver the most people. Quality is more important than quantity.

3. Don't be afraid to innovate. Stay on top of trends, and don't be afraid to be the first to try something new. Watch MTV, hang out at a mall, surf the Net-trends often start with one group and then spread to others.

4. Learn what customers don't like about your product. That way, you can build the better mousetrap before your competitor does.

5. Keep in touch. Develop a follow-up system to stay in regular contact with customers, so when they're ready to buy again, they'll think of you. It doesn't have to be expensive or time-consuming; it's the thought that counts.

6. Repetition, repetition, repetition. You may think you've said it before, but we all hear so many messages, it's important to repeat what made your customers buy in the first place. This is true in advertising, in sales calls-in all your communications.

7. Identify strategic partnerships. Look for ways to reach out to customers, such as working with other companies that sell to them. This way you get twice the exposure at half the cost.

8. Stick to your plan. Write down everything you need to do to keep your customers happy. Include a budget, time line and measurement system. Check the time line every week so you don't fall behind.

9. Don't take existing customers for granted-or your existing customers may become someone else's new customers. If you don't treat them well, you can bet someone else will!

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