'Where Are My Customers?'
Want more prospects to respond to your marketing? Avoid these six gotchas that stop customers cold.
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Here's a plain fact: Marketing exists to support sales.Sure, it's also used to create awareness and build a brandimage. But ultimately if your marketing doesn't motivatecustomers to take action, it's probably not doing its job.
If you're experiencing less than stellar results when itcomes to getting customers to respond to your marketing messages,it may be time to take a hard look at your campaign. Here are sixfactors that may stand in the way of customer response, plus tipson what to do to improve your response rates.
1. Ads are out of context. Due to the proliferation ofspecialized media, it's easier than ever to reach prospects inthe right place at the right time. For marketing success, yourcustomers must be exposed to your message when they're in areceptive frame of mind. Suppose you owned a landscape nursery. Youwouldn't place your newspaper ads in the Businesssection--you'd run them in Home and Garden, because readersthere are more likely to be interested in landscaping theirproperties and would find your ad relevant. You'd follow thesame principle if you used local cable TV advertising by runningyour ads during gardening shows, not general programming, in orderto present your message in the right context.
2. Benefits are weak or missing. Sometimes marketingcampaigns that reach prospects in the right context failnonetheless because their message is all wrong. No matter whetheryou're running advertising, sending direct mail or even placingPR, it's vital to create a benefit-oriented message that willcapture the attention of your target audience and motivate them totake action. What specific benefits will your prospects derive byresponding to your marketing? Benefits may be tangible (such assaving money) or intangible (such as peace of mind) and they shouldhelp to differentiate your company or its products and servicesfrom competitors.
3. The offer is off-target. When a campaign fails, thereal problem may lie with the principal offer, such as when theproduct or service that's being marketed lacks the rightappeal. This can often be overcome by bundling in additionalfeatures that meet the special demands of the target audience. Andif a special offer is used to motivate responses, it's notunusual to test several different versions to find the one thatpulls best.
4. The execution is poor. Many forms of marketing are notdo-it-yourself projects. Creation of advertising is something thatshould be left to experts. And even then, it's important toenlist the right people. Some designers and copywriters specializein direct mail and collateral materials, while others create adsfor magazines. Marketing failure is often the result of poor copyor design execution. At other times, the advertising or materialsmay look great, but they just don't work because tried and truerules have been ignored. It takes experience to create marketingthat produces results.
5. Your marketing is invisible. Your prospects can'trespond to your ads or place orders on your website if they neversee them. When it comes to advertising success, business ownerstend to underestimate the amount of frequency required for their adplacements to be remembered by prospects, or to achieve"penetration." The exact ad frequency required for eachunique campaign will vary, but the bottom line is that multipleplacements in a single publication or within specific broadcastprogramming are absolutely essential. And if you want to make saleson an e-commerce website, you'll need an effective onlineadvertising campaign to send prospects there. It's unrealisticto expect high traffic volume without one.
6. It's too hard to buy. No matter how compelling youmake your marketing campaign, if you ask prospects to take too manysteps, or if there are other sales barriers (such as uninformedsalespeople or out-of-stock products), you'll lose them. Forexample, suppose you send out a direct-mail package for a servicebusiness. Interested prospects respond by calling your toll-freenumber, but get voice mail--and most hang up. Only a few, highlymotivated prospects leave messages on your voice mail. Then youcall them back, miss them and leave messages of your own. At thispoint it's unlikely your prospects will return your call. Getthe picture? For best results, walk through your sales process toeliminate any unnecessary actions and to make sure the prospectsthat respond can quickly take advantage of your offer.