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Marketing Secrets or Common Sense?

The other day I was talking with one of my clients, discussing whether there are really any secrets to effective marketing, or whether it just boils down to common sense. I realized that many things relating to marketing that to me seem like common sense often appear as “amazing secrets” when I reveal them to others.

A prime example of this took place a few years ago when I was hired to speak to a group of marketing directors responsible for managing large arenas and convention centers across the United States. They were responsible for increasing attendance for all types of consumer and trade shows, concerts, and sporting events.

As part of my program, I decided to include a “Hot Seat” for this group, which is a popular part of many of my seminars where I critique actual marketing pieces in front of audiences to see how the materials can be improved.

I asked to see samples of their marketing materials for one of their shows, “Sesame Street Live” (bear with me, the point is relevant, I promise). The director handed me a sample of a full-page advertisement that ran in a New York newspaper. It was a large picture of Big Bird with the headline “Let’s Be Friends” and across the bottom were the dates and show times.

I asked how much money he spent on that campaign. He said it had run for several days and that he’d invested more than $50,000. I smiled and asked how well he thought the ad had done. He asked what I meant, so I rephrased it and asked if he’d measured its effectiveness and response rate.

He looked like a deer in the headlights. He reiterated that they’d invested a lot of money with an advertising agency to design the advertisement.

My next question was whether in the past they’d noticed if there was a direct correlation between an ad’s performance and how much money they’d spent designing it?

Again, more puzzled looks.

I opened the sample newspaper to see what section he’d placed the ads for the show in, and saw it was in the paper’s Financial section. The message of the advertisement was “Let’s Be Friends,” and the targeted market was children, but the ad was in the Financial section of the newspaper. I wondered how many kids read that newspaper, let alone its Financial section!

This was a classic mismatch of message to market. Over the next few minutes we worked on improving the ad by changing the headline to target parents who wanted to create quality family time and memories with their kids. The message, now aimed at parents, also got a coupon to help track responses.

The group implemented my suggestions, redesigned the ads, and started running them. A few weeks later I received a ‘thank you’ letter telling me that responses to that advertisement were up more than 35%.

Was what I offered a real marketing secret or just common sense? You decide. I always encourage my clients to think about their marketing efforts, and to help you d o the same, following are a few tips to keep your marketing on track.

Depending on your level of expertise, some of them may seem like common sense, but the important consideration for you is to see if you recognize them in your own marketing efforts. If you don’t, apply them and I guarantee you’ll see an improvement in your sales and marketing results. I’ve used these with many clients to help sell millions of dollars of products and services in a variety of industries. And they can work for you too.

Test, Measure and Optimize. I want to remind you how important A/B Testing is to successful marketing, whether you own a car dealership, a restaurant,or a pet shop. By testing I mean sending out different versions of a promotion with different headlines to a sampling of your database to find out which headline pulls a better response.

Once you have a “winner,” use that one as your control and continue to test against it in the future. The key is to keep optimizing your marketing messages and offers to produce even greater results. Of course, this also means that you have to track and measure the responses of your marketing efforts so you know what’s working and what’s not!

Creating Unique Selling Propositions (USPs). If you want to capture a larger market share and remain profitable, you absolutely, positively need to distinguish your products and services from your competitors. In other words, you need to make your business special in the eyes of your customers: You need to create a USP for each product or service you offer. So what is a USP? Simply put a USP is that one unique idea or concept that sets you and your business apart from the competition.

Just type USP into your favorite search engine and you’ll get thousands of sites that can help explain this concept in more detail. The key here is to establish your USPs and then use them in all of your marketing efforts.

Bundling and Bonuses. People love bundles of products and services because of the increased perception of value. It’s easy to do, just bundle several related products or services together (i.e., bbq grilles, patio furniture and mosquito nets together). Drop the price below what the total would be if the customer bought all the products separately.

When a customer inquires about a single item, point out that they can get that item PLUS a lot more by purchasing your product bundle. Using a bonus as an incentive to make a purchase works great too. Bonuses are excellent for getting people to subscribe to your e-mail list. Think about your business and what products could you put together to create a new offer. What type of bonus could you offer to improve responses?

Up-sells and cross-selling. The key to successful cross-selling and up-selling is to focus your efforts on meeting the customer’s needs, rather than simply pushing more products and services. This can be used by your sales people too. Your profits increase exponentially when you get the customer to buy a larger, more expensive, or more comprehensive product or service.

I especially like this concept for improving sales from websites, because of the automated features for up-selling and cross-selling from certain shopping cart systems. When you cross-sell, you offer the customer a product or service related to whatever it is they are already buying.

Don’t worry that you may irritate them with too many sales pitches to buy more; surveys show that most buyers appreciate being told about additional products or services that might better meet their needs or about new items that were not offered in the past. It’s a way of demonstrating that you are aware of their needs and care about their satisfaction.

Common sense or marketing secrets… either way you look at them, these strategies will help you sell more!

Author Byline: Ford Saeks, Business Growth Specialist, Keynote Speaker, Author and Consultant. Helping you find, attract, and keep your customers.

March 7, 2008 Posted By : Ford Saeks


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