Posted on: January 21, 2017 by in Uncategorized
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snake_oilToday’s consumers are extremely skeptical. That’s because, unfortunately, marketing has become synonymous with dishonesty. No matter what you say, they will be skeptical. This means that its extremely important to PROVE your company’s value in the marketplace. One of the best ways to do this is to let your satisfied customers do the talking for you in the form of reviews or testimonials.

 

Reviews/Testimonials

Reviews and testimonials have become big business as of late. Companies like Google, Yelp, Amazon and many others have spent millions of dollars on review systems to help consumers make better buying decisions precisely because they know that 3rd party reviews and testimonials influence a prospective customer much more than what the marketing arm of the company says about its product, service or company.

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Posted on: January 10, 2017 by in Uncategorized
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Gone are the days of throwing an ad in the local newspaperor or doing a radio commercial and hoping for the best. There’s nothing wrong with advertising in these places per se but with the advent of the internet, you now have the ability to put your ad in front of ONLY people who are likely to be interested in buying your product or service.

This way you eliminate waste. For example, lets say you sell sporting goods. Many people who see your ad in the newspaper or hear it on the radio won’t be interested in your product. But how much more effective would your ad be if it was shown ONLY to people who live in your area and type a specific term in a search engine (e.g. Google) such as “buy sporting goods”?

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Posted on: July 2, 2016 by in Uncategorized
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I’ve heard countless stories of small business owners who have wasted thousands of dollars on ad campaigns that didn’t work. It usually goes something like this: “We sent out 10,000 postcards and got 2 leads”. OUCH! Their conclusion: Marketing doesn’t work. No! Their marketing campaign didn’t work!

What could they have done differently to save thousands of dollars? Simple. Send out 1000 first to test the campaign. Then make changes and send out another thousand until they got it right or decide to scrap the campaign before they waste all their money.

It really isn’t rocket science but most small business owners don’t test their marketing campaigns and end up wasting thousands every year!

With internet marketing, testing your campaigns is about as easy as it gets. There are lots of options including:

  • Google Analytics to find out where the traffic is coming from and to monitor user activity on your website.
  • Conversion tracking code on your site to find out how much of your traffic converts into leads or customers.
  • Call tracking numbers to find out which calls come from your site or other online (or offline) marketing.
  • Email autoresponders to show you how many of your emails were opened.
  • Web pages (aka landing pages) specifically designed for ad campaigns.

When a campaign is tested and shown to be ineffective, changes can be made to improve performance.  This is effective marketing and is the only sane approach.

For more information on how Performance Marketing can you help you improve the performance of your marketing campaigns, call us today at 219-670-6706 or click here.

Posted on: April 1, 2014 by in Uncategorized
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Facebook and other social networks have made it possible for your ads/offers/company to be seen by a massive number of people in a very short time. This is what is meant when something “goes viral” and how some Youtube videos get millions of views in days. The way it works is someone sees something they like on Facebook, then they “share” it with all of their Facebook friends (aka connections) and then their friends share it and so on.  Using this viral sharing is a simple way to have a significant positive impact on your business.

Another golden opportunity is business networking. Some businesses do it in small ways (think business card bulletin boards) but not systematically. So they leave a lot of money on the table.

Every business should and can easily take advantage of these opportunities and if they do so it will surely have a big impact on sales and profits.

Here are some simple steps and strategies

  1. Find complementary businesses in close proximity to yours or even just businesses whose customers share the same demographics.
  2. For example, if you are a fitness club or gym, a sports apparel store would be a great complementary business to partner with. Other examples might be an oil change business and a tire store. And don’t limit yourself to one partner business. The more the merrier as long as they’re not competitive.
  3. If your market is very broad then just partnering with other “broad market” businesses is fine. For example, if you have a gas station, you might want to partner with the nearby grocery store.
  4. Contact these businesses and ask them if they are interested in joint marketing ventures.
  5. You can share marketing costs and do joint mailings, etc. For example, you could do a direct mail postcard with multiple businesses advertising on the postcard. You can also promote each other’s business to your customers in many ways. The simplest is just to put their business cards on your counter. But one of the best ways to do this is with Facebook offers. You promote their offer to your Facebook fans and they promote yours. There are lots of possibilities.
  6. Keep in mind, if you’re a relatively new or very small business, a larger, more successful business might not be willing to promote you to their customers without some other consideration since they will be providing much more value in that scenario.
  7. Another “no-brainer” is sharing your own offers on Facebook and asking your “fans” to share them. Its a great way to get more customers and lots of exposure in a very short time.
  8. And finally, probably the biggest opportunity is to make sure that as you gain these new customers from partner businesses and Facebook shares, you get those new customers into a mailing list that includes as much information about them as possible, including name, address, email, mobile phone, gender, etc. so that you can do targeted marketing in the future to improve your relationship with them and easily generate more business.

So there you have it. A couple of very simple strategies that will have a big impact on your sales and profits if you will implement them.

Do you love the idea but don’t have the time to implement? Call us @ 219-670-6706 or click here to contact us and we’ll do the work for you.

Posted on: December 11, 2013 by in Uncategorized
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bigstock-Business-Cartoon--Cartoon-Bos-40111732Remember the “good ole’ days” when you could get clicks for 25 cents on Google paid search? It was Hot! It was the same for organic search engine optimization (SEO). Write a few articles, do a few links and you could get to the top of Google. Hot hot! And Email? ROI so big it set the e-world on fire!

Those who saw the opportunities and took action saw profits balloon. Those who waited? Many are struggling now to get any ROI whatsoever.

 

That Was Then…

Those same paid search clicks might cost you $10 today. And you can spend countless thousands on Search Engine Optimization and with one wave of the almighty Google magic wand, you could see it all disappear…overnight! That’s risky business. Literally!

And we all know what happened with email. Too many unscrupulous marketers dipped into the rectangular can of their favorite meat analog (SPAM) too often and ruined it for everyone.

That’s not to say there aren’t opportunities in all of those areas but its like fighting over crumbs compared to the early days.  The cats out of the bag and everyone’s doing digital marketing now so its getting extremely competitive.

I think of digital marketing like buying stocks. Startups are where the biggest opportunities are. But unlike risky venture capital, the downside with digital marketing is minimal because of the ability to test before rolling out a campaign. The Best of Both Worlds. But you have to get in early.

And believe it or not, digital marketing is changing even faster now so if you see an opportunity, don’t blink or you’ll miss it. The bottom line is if you want to stay out in front and keep a competitive edge, you need to stay in the forefront of digital marketing.

 

Big Data

So back to what’s hot now. In a word, data. BIG Data! Surely, you’ve heard the term. Yep, privacy is dead. The powers that be know everything there is to know about you and, more importantly, every one of your customers and best prospects too. While that’s bad news for privacy advocates, its great news for businesses. Why? Because the data aggregators are willing to sell that data.

We now have the opportunity to buy digital ad impressions with data attributes. Huh? Let me explain. Its similar to Google Adwords except, instead of just bidding on search terms, we can laser target our audience.

So if we want to show an ad only to females between 25 and 35 in zip code 52164, that make at least $100,000/year, drive a luxury vehicle and have searched for real estate within the last 6 months, we can do that (those are the data attributes). Not only that but we can bid on these ad “impressions” and the highest bid wins.

We can also bid on impressions on billions of websites including top national sites such as ESPN.com, MSNBC.com, Weather.com just to name a few which can give huge brand credibility. We can play where the big boys play! This was never a realistic option for small businesses until now.

Plus we get analytics to see how many people click on our ad, what day and time they clicked, which websites generated the most clicks, etc. But there’s more. Once they come to our site, we can put a tiny piece of code on their computer (completely legal) and then show them our ads once they leave and visit other websites. Not only that but we can show them ads based on the pages or products they viewed on our site. So if they viewed a 2008 Honda Accord when they were on our site, we can show them ads for that exact same car as they surf the web.

 

The Time is NowSlide-3

But here’s the best part: Although its growing by leaps and bounds, Real Time Bidding (RTB), as this media buying strategy is known, is still relatively new so competition is low at least in smaller local markets. This means that impressions (and clicks) can be had for cheap as compared to other digital marketing such as Adwords, SEO, etc. Larger, national markets are already competitive since the big boys like AT&T, General Motors, Verizon, etc. are investing massively in this technology. Why? Because they learn about big opportunities like this long before the typical small business.

Analysts are predicting continued growth for RTB of around $1.2 Billion per year into the foreseeable future….sort of like Adwords, SEO and the like back in their heyday.

The bottom line is now is the time to get on board the RTB train before it leaves town and you get left in the dust!

Call us at 219-670-6706 or  Contact us to learn more.

Posted on: October 16, 2013 by in Uncategorized
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Word-of-mouth is the best form of advertising because not only is it free but customers who have been referred make the best customers. Its been proven that they have a higher lifetime value, are more loyal, less sensitive to price and are more willing to refer others.

But most companies pay little attention to this source of easy profits. If you’re not taking advantage of this opportunity, you’re missing a potentially huge area of growth. Implementing a formal referral system is the best approach to making the most of word of mouth advertising. In my first business I saw a 25% boost in referrals once I put a formal system in place. And I regularly asked customers for referrals before creating the system.

Create a Formal Referral System

Your referral system needs to be tailored to your business but in general you should offer incentives to customers to refer their family, friends and associates who could benefit from your products or services. Incentives might be credit towards products and services, a chance to win a prize, a gift card to a local restaurant or whatever makes sense for your customer base. You can use referral business cards that provide company information on one side and spell out the referral program on the other.

The key to making the system as effective as possible is to make it a company wide policy and standard operating procedure. All sales staff, employees, vendors, customers and other associates, need to understand the program and be able to communicate it effectively to others. Results need to be tracked and the system needs to be tested and tweaked until you find what works best.

Make creating a formal referral system a priority and if it is cemented into your company, you will grow your business in the best and simplest way possible.

Need help? Call us at 219-670-6706 or click to contact us.

Posted on: September 28, 2013 by in Uncategorized
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Making business decisions without good information is like going to the casino…the house usually wins and YOU usually lose! Good information can often mean the difference between making thousands or losing thousands on your marketing campaigns.
 

Track Results

If you don’t know which of your ads or other marketing tactics are profitable and which aren’t, you will most likely waste lots of money on ineffective marketing. Granted, branding and social media campaigns can be extremely difficult, if not impossible, to measure but there really is no reason to guess with most of your marketing.
 

Track Website Activity

Analytics software such as Google Analytics (free) is helpful and should be on every website. It helps you understand where visitors to your site are coming from and what they’re doing once they get there. So for example, if you’re doing a Facebook campaign designed to drive traffic to your site to make a purchase, Google Analytics will show you how many of your visitors are coming from social media.
 

Track Email

Email autoresponder services provide analytical data to show how many of your emails are opened and Google Analytics will show how many site visitors come from emails.
 

Track Phone Calls

For many businesses, even more important is tracking phone calls. According to research, 65% of people will call a business before making a purchase. So it doesn’t do you much good to see what’s happening on your site if you don’t know how many of those visitors become customers.
And this goes for all of your marketing efforts. If you have multiple ads, giving each ad its own trackable phone number is the easiest way to know without a doubt how many leads and customers each ad is generating. Check out our call tracking service here.
 

New Or Existing Customers?

For some businesses, getting new customers is the lifeblood of their business whereas repeat business is the crux of other companies. So make sure you track how many new customers and how many repeat customers a campaign or ad brings in to understand the full value. New customers will have a higher lifetime value than existing customers but new customers almost always cost a lot more to acquire.
 

Tracking is Profitable

Once you have a handle on which ads and campaigns are profitable and which aren’t, you will know which ones need to be improved or dropped altogether most likely saving you thousands of dollars a year. It might seem a daunting challenge to keep up on all of these “statistics” but I assure you it will be one of the most valuable investments you can make if you rely on advertising and marketing to keep your business profitable and growing.

 

Don’t Have The Time To Figure It All Out?

We offer cost effective solutions to help you track and improve your marketing campaigns. For more information, click here or call us @ 219-670-6706.

Posted on: September 16, 2013 by in Uncategorized
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The Money Is In The List

Marketing gurus have long said that “the money is in the list”. They are, of course, referring to customer and prospect mailing lists. Since many small businesses don’t make use of or even have a mailing list, it must be a secret that communicating with customers and prospects is the crux of a healthy business.

Following is a list of the many profitable uses of a mailing list:

  • You can market on a mass scale instead of only to those who happen to be doing business with you this week/month.
  • You can survey your lists to understand more about them and their needs and where your company is falling short.
  • If you know which customers buy which products/services, instead of the shotgun approach, you can do very targeted marketing, increasing your return on investment.
  • You can monitor attrition (customer loss) and try to win back lost customers.
  • You can exchange lists or rent or sell your lists to other related but non-competitive businesses as a source of new revenue.
  • You can educate your customers and prospects on a mass scale to maintain healthy relationships which will greatly improve customer loyalty.

 

Existing Customers Are Low Hanging Fruit

As you can see, there are many inherent opportunities in a mailing lists that are, sadly, overlooked by the majority of business owners. It has been proven that getting a new customer is many times more expensive than keeping an existing one and by the same token, improving sales is much cheaper and easier utilizing a list of existing customers than trying to sell to new customers.
 

Technology Makes it Even Cheaper and Simpler

There really couldn’t be a better time to have customer and prospect lists since, with the advent of the internet and digital technology, communicating with them can be largely automated and the cost reduced significantly using a blog, email and/or social media.
 

Start Today

If you don’t currently collect customer and prospect information, start today. You may need to offer a small incentive such as a discount or a chance to win a prize in a raffle. Get creative. If you offer them value, they will be happy to give you their information. If you already have a list but aren’t utilizing it, put a plan into action to start communicating with your customers and prospects and, if done right, I guarantee it will have a positive impact on your bottom line.
 

Don’t Have the Time to Figure it All Out?

To find out how we can help you to start building or utilizing your own mailing lists, click here or call us at 219-670-6706.

Posted on: September 16, 2013 by in Uncategorized
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There are 4 simple tactics often overlooked by sales people to increase the amount the average customer spends with their company.
 

Would You Like Fries With That?

Most businesses sell many products and services because they know that, for example, someone who buys a barbecue grill will most likely want to buy a propane tank. But it is all too common for sales people to forget to offer complementary products and services (aka cross-selling) to customers who have made a purchase. Make it a priority to offer every customer every possible related or accessory product or service (within reason) after they commit to a purchase.

One word of caution. If the customer has not yet paid for the initial purchase there is a risk of losing the sale if you come on too strong with your sales approach. Because of this, some sales people don’t offer the complementary products/services until after they have processed the initial transaction. On the other hand, making a customer go through the sales process twice can be off-putting as well so you may want to test this strategy depending on your business. But for most businesses, pitching the cross sell before the transaction is processed makes the most sense.
 

Something is Better Than Nothing

If a prospective customer decides not to buy your initial offer, all is not necessarily lost. First you need to understand the reason they didn’t buy. If the product or service is out of their budget, do you have a downgraded option that would still meet their needs? If so, make sure your sales people offer it and make down-selling a company sales policy.
 

The Value Meal

Packaging complementary products together and offering the package at a discount off the price if purchased separately is an extremely effective sales strategy that many businesses don’t take advantage of. And don’t forget that you can mix and match services and products as long as they are very complementary. For example, an extended warranty or service plan is a very common component of a “package deal” that is a perfect fit with many products.  As with all marketing, test to see which packages sell and which don’t before cementing them into the sales process.
 

Super-Size It!

Another simple tactic we can take from the fast food empires of the world is offering an upgraded version of the product the customer plans to purchase. Whether its a larger engine in a new car or a website with 9 pages instead of 5, if you can show your customers the benefit of buying “bigger”, you’ll be amazed at how big an impact it will have on your gross revenue.
 

Conclusion

Most companies are leaving a lot of easy money on the table in their sales process. If you’re looking to improve sales, this is the place to start. None of these simple sales tactics take a lot of time, effort or expense but put them to work in your company and I can almost guarantee you will see a significant boost in sales in short order.  If you currently do all of them, my question to you is how effectively? Is there room for improvement?

Posted on: August 31, 2013 by in Uncategorized
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There’s a little known business calculation known as Lifetime Customer Value (LCV) that usually only the big boys pay attention to that may significantly help you improve your marketing efforts.

Lifetime Customer Value and How to Calculate It

The thing that is often overlooked when measuring the effectiveness of a marketing campaign is the lifetime value of each new customer. Not just the profit on their initial purchase but all of the repeat business as well. So lifetime customer value (LCV) is the total profit on average a customer adds to your company over the lifetime of their relationship with you.

The way to calculate LCV is to multiply the average gross profit on each purchase by the number of purchases per year. Then multiply that times the number of years they remain a customer. Of course you can substitute months for years if it makes the calculation simpler or helps you get a more accurate figure. Lets look at an example.

Gross profit per purchase: $100
X
Number of purchases per year: 5
X
Number of years they remain a customer: 2.5
=
Lifetime value: $1250.

As you can see this is a simple calculation. Now we have at least a good estimate of how much each new customer is worth.

One reason its so important to track your attrition rate (customer loss) is that it’s necessary to get the “number of years” figure.  Otherwise, you should estimate it and start tracking immediately.

Hopefully, you at least know how many sales you’ve made and what your gross profit on those sales is. If not, you obviously need to get those numbers before you can calculate LCV.

When Discounting Is Ok

A lot of business owners don’t like giving discounts and using coupons even in ads that are designed strictly to bring in new customers because it reduces profit. And if they get very little repeat business, that’s understandable. But in most businesses, a customer’s repeat purchases are worth far more than their initial purchase and the reduction in profit from a coupon on the initial purchase is insignificant.

And if a coupon or other incentive is going to have a big impact on the response to an ad (which it normally does), it’s usually a no-brainer. One reason understanding LCV is so important is that it helps you understand how that coupon or other incentive will affect your profits.

LCV Helps Determine Marketing ROI

The other reason having at least a good estimate of LCV is so important has to do with understanding the return on investment of your marketing.  You need to know how which campaigns are effective and how much you can afford to spend to bring in a new customer.

So for example, lets say you estimate that the avg LCV is $100. Then you run an ad that costs $100 and the ad brings in 2 new customers, that’s $200 in gross profit less $100 in ad spend equals $100 net profit. Since you made as much money as you invested, your roi would be 100%.  Actually to be completely accurate, you need to figure in the opportunity cost (eg interest) of having your money tied up as well but you probably don’t need to be that specific.

Customizing LCV

Many times when I go over the concept of calculating LCV with business owners, they don’t see the value in it because, they complain, “every customer is different”. Which of course is true. Some might have an LCV of $100 and others $500 and this is why you need to use averages.

That said, you may need to calculate individual LCV’s for different segments of your business or individual products and services since the LCV of customers who buy one product or service might vary greatly from another. And obviously marketing campaigns often drive sales of specific products or services.

You also may want track the LCV of customers acquired from different marketing campaigns as well since, as just one example, statistics show that customers acquired through referrals have a significantly higher LCV than from others sources.

For branding campaigns, knowing LCV will not be as valuable since its difficult if not impossible to know the true impact of a branding campaign especially in the short term.

Conclusion

It takes some work but I’m convinced, and hopefully I’ve made a good case, that if you really want to understand the impact and ROI of your direct response marketing campaigns, its essential to have at least a good estimate of average lifetime customer value.