One Step At A Time

July-December

July:Hit 'em hard; hit 'em often.Emerging Market Technologies Inc. is an Atlanta-based application service and customer relationship management solutions provider. Founder Jeff Multz, 35, uses regular contact with prospects to stay top of mind. "I've found faxing works really well, and mass e-mail drips work better every year. In 2001, we'll continue to expand our e-mail campaigns." ("Drip" means meting out small dosages rather than taking a "fire hose" approach.)

Williams adds: "E-mail is the leader of the pack when it comes to low-cost marketing. For those willing to put in the effort, the real fruits come from testing offers and [getting] responses."

August:Hire the right people. "I've surrounded myself with talented, kind, loving people who really care about my business and me," says Lane Segerstrom, 35, president of HOWBZR Inc., a marketing company in McKinney, Texas. "That makes it easier to take risks and move forward."

Hecklers Entertainment Inc. co-founder Mike Ragsdale, 31, adds, "Our company continues to recruit seasoned veterans from both old and new economies to develop the best marketing plan for a business at our stage." Hecklers, a Birmingham, Alabama, network of comedy, science fiction, fantasy and games sites, had founders with the wisdom to know their own talents and bring in help when they needed additional expertise.

September:Grab a piece of the pulpit. A great low-dough way to get the word out about your business is through public speaking gigs. For 2001, Seger-strom will spend more time in the classroom. "A great way to generate word-of-mouth about my product and keep me on my toes is by speaking to marketing classes at colleges and universities. When you have professors and students grilling you about your marketing strategies, it really makes you think about what you're doing and why you did it."

Multz will also dedicate more time to getting in front of groups in 2001. "We'll do more speeches on customer acquisition and retention," he says. "I call it 'How to turn customers into raving fans.' "

October:Be consistent. Irene Pedraza, 32, CEO of New York City-based CheetahMail, learned a thing or two about the importance of a uniform message last year. The company, which provides technology solutions to create, manage and deliver permission-based e-marketing, will focus on building campaigns rather than "rushed and piecemeal" efforts. "We will launch a more comprehensive and seamless marketing campaign in 2001," says Pedraza. "We'll execute our plan with enormous strategy and planning and with the aid of a professional advertising agency."

November:Listen to your customers. Alain Hanash, 30, CEO of Multicity.com in Tysons Corner, Virginia, will build customer feedback right into his marketing plan. The multilingual communication tools company will let its customers dictate marketing conversations. According to Hanash, "We need to continue to be receptive and flexible in tailoring how we deliver information to our customers." Cheetah Mail will employ the same strategy when it surveys its clients and builds their feedback into service and marketing efforts.

December:Brand like a champ. Many consumers predicate buying decisions on their comfort with a specific brand. So hitching your wagon to an established brand that complements your business makes tremendous sense. For Jefferey Phillips, 32, president of Ubrandit.com in San Diego, branding is more than just a buzzword; it's his business. Ubrandit provides B2B-branded Internet solutions and sees how vital it is to brand a product or service. "Many dotcoms are in grave danger of running out of cash due to grossly excessive marketing campaigns," says Phillips. "A key component of our branding model is that it's in the best interest of our affiliates to market their products and services to all our customers-and it reduces the marketing burden for Ubrandit."

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This article was originally published in the January 2001 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: One Step At A Time.

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