When Your Marketing Materials Flop

. . . go back to the drawing board and do some research to find your best prospects.

learn more about Kim T. Gordon

By Kim T. Gordon

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Q: I've started a video surveillance business, and I've been focusing on retail stores. I recently handed out 550 fliers describing my products and prices, without one reply. We've also done 1,000 phone calls, followed up by a free estimate, which sold just five systems for a profit of $3,000 in 60 days. Do you have any marketing tips for us to increase our sales? We think there's a big market for this business in our area.

A: Like many entrepreneurs, you may have launched your business based on a "feeling" that there's a big market, without necessarily making sure one exists. What you need is concrete data. Decide what constitutes a good prospect-is it their size, revenue or location? How many stores that fit your criteria have no video systems in place and can afford to buy one in your price range? Are you facing entrenched competition or perhaps a completely saturated market? Without this information, you're simply marketing in the dark.

So before you do anything else, it would be smart to hire a research firm to conduct a telephone survey of your retail prospects. You should also perform a competitive analysis by gathering your competitors' marketing materials. Use them to evaluate your pricing and the ways your company adds value-additional services, products or features-that can help you stand out. Then come up with distinct benefits you can use to position yourself against your competitors in sales calls and marketing materials.

Your most important goal should be to meet with qualified prospects-the ones your research tells you will be receptive to your message. Instead of passing out fliers, which can detract from an otherwise quality image, create color brochures to use in meetings. While your telemarketing program has yielded marginal results, you may see a higher return once you refine the list based on your research data. Your low conversion rate may also be due to underdeveloped telemarketing skills or a faulty script. Consider hiring a telemarketing company to help you overcome these difficulties and increase the number of appointments scheduled. And don't overlook networking at business and professional functions-they're terrific places to meet retail prospects.

Great customer service that leads to positive word-of-mouth will also play an important role. For each of the five systems your company has sold, ask for referrals and solicit customer feedback you can quote in your marketing materials. While building relationships with the right prospects and customers takes time, it's the best way to lay a solid foundation for sales.

Kim T. Gordon
Kim Gordon is the owner of National Marketing Federation and is a multifaceted marketing expert, speaker, author and media spokesperson. Her latest book is Maximum Marketing, Minimum Dollars.

Editor's Pick

This 61-Year-Old Grandma Who Made $35,000 in the Medical Field Now Earns 7 Figures in Retirement
A 'Quiet Promotion' Will Cost You a Lot — Use This Expert's 4-Step Strategy to Avoid It
3 Red Flags on Your LinkedIn Profile That Scare Clients Away
'Everyone Is Freaking Out.' What's Going On With Silicon Valley Bank? Federal Government Takes Control.

How to Detect a Liar in Seconds Using Nonverbal Communication

There are many ways to understand if someone is not honest with you. The following signs do not even require words and are all nonverbal queues.

Celebrity Entrepreneurs

'I Dreaded Falling in Love.' Rupert Murdoch Is Getting Hitched for the Fifth Time.

The 92-year-old media tycoon announces he will wed former San Francisco police chaplain Ann Lesley Smith.


How Great Entrepreneurs Find Ways to Win During Economic Downturns

Recessions are an opportunity to recalibrate and make great strides in your business while others are unprepared to brave the challenges. Here's how great entrepreneurs can set themselves up for success despite economic uncertainty.

Business Ideas

55 Small Business Ideas To Start Right Now

To start one of these home-based businesses, you don't need a lot of funding -- just energy, passion and the drive to succeed.

Starting a Business

Selling Your Business? Do These 6 Things Right Now.

If you want the maximum price you need to make these moves before you do anything else.

Business News

New Mexico Is Hiring Professional Bear Huggers -- Here's How to Land the Dream Job

The American Black Bear was selected as the state's official animal on February 8, 1963, by the New Mexico Legislature.