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Choosing Your Marketing Weapons

The same combination of tactics won't work for every entrepreneur, so how do you pick what's right for your company?

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Marketing encompasses everything you do or say that customers and prospects see or hear. That includes the way your proposals look and how they're presented, your signs, your voice-mail messages and any traditional marketing that you use. Considering all this, it's clear marketing is made up of many things all working together and supporting each other.

The key to your marketing is to choose the weapons that work for you, that are applicable to your markets and customers, and that you can afford mentally and financially. You can't do it all; you can't launch and implement every single marketing weapon there is. In some cases, there will be financial considerations that might not be affordable. In other cases, there will be time considerations. Don't let this overwhelm you. If your list of weapons is intimidating to you, shorten it and prioritize.

Different combinations of marketing weapons work for different businesses and different people. Jay Conrad Levinson, the father of guerrilla marketing, states that his top 10 marketing weapons are:

  1. Marketing plan
  2. Benefits list
  3. Passion
  4. Community involvement
  5. Fusion marketing (strategic alliances)
  6. Follow-up
  7. Customer research
  8. Online marketing
  9. A designated guerrilla marketer
  10. Customer satisfaction

The good thing about Levinson's list is that most or all are no- or low-cost.

Other successful marketers use different combinations. Successful marketer A might use direct mail, a recorded message, classified ads, testimonials and display ads. Successful marketer B might use PR, networking referral strategies, direct mail and fusion marketing. Successful marketer C might use telemarketing, e-mail auto-responders, special offers and phone call follow-up.

Notice that high-cost marketing vehicles (like magazine advertising, radio and TV) are nowhere in these lists. They might be later, but guerrilla marketing substitutes time, energy, imagination, knowledge and information for large expenditures.

The key to identifying your marketing weapons list is to determine what your target markets react to and what benefits they respond to. Here are the key action steps you need to take:

  1. Brainstorm weapons that might be applicable to your markets and business.
  2. Cost them out.
  3. Prioritize.
  4. Determine what you can afford emotionally and financially.
  5. Launch what you can launch properly.

Plan your marketing arsenal, put everything in a marketing calendar, evaluate what works and what doesn't, and adjust accordingly. Repeat what works, fix what doesn't and eliminate when necessary. Make your marketing continuous, dynamic and always driven by what your prospects and customers want.

Guerrilla marketing is simple yet effective. Planning your weapons is a key aspect of your marketing. Some refer to this part of marketing as marketing tactics. That's true. It's whatever you're going to implement marketing-wise. Remember, your goal is to communicate your marketing messages to your prospects and customers. Since marketing is everything your prospects see or hear from you, marketing weapons are the "everything" in this statement. Plan them carefully. Make them work for you and understand how many you can implement with no or little cost. You want to be an effective marketer-and make a profit, too.

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