A Marketing Checklist: 35 Points to Better and More Cost-Effective Marketing

[Editor's Note: 35 mostly low-cost/no-cost strategies and tactics you can use to sharpen your marketing, lower your costs, and boost your profits. While few businesses will incorporate all of them, almost any business can find at least ten that will be a good fit. --Shel Horowitz, Editor, Down to Business]

* To start - make specific goals and plan, and put in writing.

* Referral systems: Referrals are critical, but usually they are just left to "happen". This can be made enormously more powerful by systematizing.

* Network furiously! (With the right people.)

* Do not try to be all things to all people. Identify your best possible clients and focus on them. 20% of your clients bring 80% of your profit. (Well - the principle's good.) So identify the characteristics of the 20% --- and then find more of them.

* Three ways to grow: gain more clients, sell more to each client, sell more often to each client. Do all three for maximum growth.

* Follow-up: Everyone knows follow-up is crucial, but how many do it systematically? Leverage follow-up by using CRM software - client relationship management. Daylite for Mac. Maximizer for PC. Oprius (online) for either platform.

* Decrease the rate of attrition by follow-up.

* Develop a back end: something further to sell to clients: then something after that: and after that.

* Develop a Unique Selling Proposition - "What's special about you?" One marketing truism goes, "If you don't have a competitive advantage why bother trying to compete?" Critical, critical and critical.

* Direct mail or email - to current and past customers and to qualified, non-spam lists.

* Focussed direct response ads only. No shotgun marketing - i.e. just throwing information out into the wind hoping it finds a person or two to stick to.

* Joint ventures.

* Increase perceived value: through prospect and client education. Don't assume they understand. Fully articulate the benefits of your product or service.

* Lead with benefits; back up with features.

* Risk-reversal: The usual is something like, "Satisfaction guaranteed." That puts the burden on the client to judge a rather vague term, 'satisfaction'. Make specific, concrete and performance based.

* Lock in sales in advance e.g. discount on 1 year memebership, or quarterly garden maintenance.

* Learn how to formulate powerful headlines.

* Communicate personally and frequently with clients: by phone, letter, or visit to maintain positive relationship. Statistically more communication = more sales (as long as the communication has value).

* Reposition as an expert in your industry, as the source of industry information. Aim to become dominant.

* Become a personality to clients; use own name, not just company name.

* Develop a media profile.

* Special Events or Information Nights: regular or wild events.

* Advertise - only vertical target ads (again, not shotgun) e.g. tech-mags, trade industry publications.

* Public Relations - but the right stuff; customers just want to know 'What's in it for me?'

* Point of Sale promotions

* Add to the normal purchase a complimentary product or service - when you know they need it. Something that is easy and cheap for you but very valuable to a client.

* Change profile to be more up-market: raise prices.

* Offer greater or larger units of purchase (like Costco).

* Endorse others' products to your clients - for a commission. Have others do for you.

* Educate customers - to use/participate full-out.

* Price inducements for frequency.

* Decrease overhead.

* Write articles for paper media.

* Write articles online.

* Do all this, and everything else, *strategically*. Just as the synergistic effect on a website of implementing content development, optimization and linking together is much greater than the simple arithmetic sum of the parts, so too the synergistic effect of an integrated, sequential, systematic marketing implementation is much greater than the sum of the parts. (The strategic plan for a given company is where a lot of the 'why' is contained. E.g. networking is #1 for one company, irrelevant for another. So there is no 'why' that covers everyone. It's all about the strategic goal and plan.)

Obviously, many of these points could each be a 2-hour workshop, and there are many more.

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