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Turn Up the Heat

Increase sales this summer with an integrated marketing program.
July 15, 2004
URL: http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/71716

How's business these days? If the simple answer to that question is anything but "fantastic" or "great," it's time to take a serious look at your marketing program. Here we are halfway through the calendar year, well into the dog days of summer. And if your business has posted nearly flat or just slightly increased sales in the first two quarters, making some swift changes now can help you see dramatic improvement before year's end. Even if you own a seasonal retail business and earn a large percentage of your income during the holiday season, can you really afford to sit by and pin all your hopes on blockbuster holiday sales?

In the more than 25 years I've been helping businesses grow, I've found one truth to be absolute: The most successful companies create and diligently pursue an integrated year-round program that addresses all their prospects and customers. How does this result in increased sales?

Customers who shop through more than one channel, such as by catalog, online and in-store, shop more frequently and spend more-as much as three times more-than customers who shop via a single channel alone. The key is to provide the same high-quality merchandise, customer support, pricing and special promotions across all channels. So you can increase sales by offering customers the convenience of more than one sales channel and build repeat sales by integrating your marketing messages to ensure customers enjoy a consistently positive experience with your company or brand.

A continuous, year-round marketing program that reaches out to a full range of prospects is essential to long-term success. At any given time, you have prospects in all stages of your sales cycle, from some who are barely familiar with your products and services to others who are ready to buy. An effective ongoing program employs tactics that reach out to prospects at all these stages and helps move them to the next level in the sales process.

Choosing just the right group of tactics can be challenging. When coaching small-business clients, we begin by looking at two basic elements: the available budget and the amount of time they or their staffs have to spend on marketing. You don't have to sacrifice using a range of tactics to reach your prospects just because your budget may be small. Instead, the trick is to choose tactics that allow you to attain your sales goals within the budget that's affordable and appropriate for your company-even if those tactics take longer or more staff time to implement.

An regularly scheduled e-mail to your opt-in list of customers is another way to consistently "touch" them in a positive way. You can alternate informative and entertaining materials, such as e-newsletters, with e-mail solicitations. And for a quick, low-cost method to stimulate sales this summer, combine e-mail with sales calls to customers. It's just one easy way you can integrate sales and marketing to turn up the heat.