The 1 to 1 Marketing Relationship

I sat with a couple friends last night discussing business and future opportunities in several industries. Our conversation however found its way to talking about a local business owner which has run into a very rough patch of business in this economy and how marketing is no longer working for him.

As we debated and turned over in our minds the various issues he was facing it was clear to me that this business owner was likely blaming the media for his marketing failures instead of looking at how he was relating to the consumer in his message.

I have heard this from business owners for the past 10 years, being in the newspaper business. “Your product does not work anymore. ” I am sure there are thousands of media reps whom have heard those exact words from their clients. I want to challenge this myth in this blog and direct business owners attentions back to the 1 to 1 marketing efforts that they must now embrace in order to get the marketing funnel functioning again.

  1. First Myth – Media is broken. This is just is not the case. Media in every field can be wildly successful if you pay attention to two things. Who is the audience? How does that Audience like to make decisions on usage?  Let’s take newspapers as an example (everyone’s favorite dinosaur that just will not go away) Newspapers today are still read by more people on the average day than the number of people who will watch the Superbowl this year. The Superbowl is considered the single largest TV event to air each year. So the vehicle although changing and shrinking is still huge and not broken in the sense of reaching audience.  However, many businesses are finding it increasingly difficult to market in the media and think it is because no one is reading it.  The Truth is they are reading but the AD programs and marketing is Stale and uninviting. Or your message sounds too much like a gimmick and todays consumer just is not buying it.
  2. Second Myth – Word of Mouth Marketing is all I need. This is my favorite. The fact is the moment you decide that this is your marketing plan for the year you have decided to close your business. It might not be this year, but you have placed the end in your future. Word of mouth is great, and it is the ultimate goal for every business, but the reality is that consumers only value you until they find better value, and they will leave. With out a planned out marketing method for growing customer base you are counting on a false impression to keep your business running. In todays social networks it is even tougher, because one mis-step by you and the word of mouth will swing the other direction and provide instant death.
  3. Myth Number 3 – My Customer does not use that media.  Tricky one hear, because you just might be right.  If your business model is mainly people 65 plus you probably don’t have a current marketing need for mobile marketing. Or do you? One of the toughest challenges in marketing is consistently looking towards the future and not just analysing the current event. I firmly believe that all marketing has value. Your event may not have given you the ROI you were looking for but what is the overall growth of your company brand. Even markets that serve the 65 plus crowd might need to look at mobile marketing so that they can capture that next generation of consumer.  Yeah I know, you can’t afford to do everything. I have no answer for that, just don’t use it as an excuse and bury your head in the sand when discussing the future.

Ok I am sure you can give me a few more Myths in the media word. But let’s turn our attention to the 1 to 1 marketing methods that business owners need to embrace and how to keep the marketing funnel working for us in the process.

What is 1 to1 marketing?   1 to 1 marketing only refers to the methods in which you communicate and cater to individual customers in your marketing efforts.  You know customizing your marketing to the individual not the crowd.

There are hundreds of methods in which a business owner can employ 1 to 1 marketing. No doubt you have received this marketing from your favorite stores in the last quarter and may not have even know it. When was the last time you received a promotion from your bank offering you Free life insurance because you are a value member? How about the magazine which magically has your name screen printed onto your teams favorite jersey?

These are all tactics of 1 to 1 marketing. 1 to1 marketing is the process in which a business uses the information they gather on their customers and transforms that into a unique marketing  or communication with that customer. 

Example:  Lets say you are a veterinarian, you have a data base of 100 customers which own various pets.  You would send out a card to each customer with a picture of the type of pet they own (dog, cat, horse, turtle etc…) the card would not only have your name but the pet’s name on it also, (Charlie it is time for Skippers shots, come on in for a 20% discount this week only)  In that one hundred you might have 25 dogs 50 cats and 12 horses and 13 turtles. Each card is customized to that customer and the communication seems very personal.  That is an example of 1 to 1 marketing and mass customization.

So how does a local business use 1 to 1 marketing in the scope of  a business plan. First understand it is not the end all to marketing. It is only as good as the data you collect.  Second, it will not feed the funnel with new prospects unless you are really good at getting your customers to give you continual referrals. But 1 to 1 marketing tends to have a much higher rate of return. In the direct mail industry statistics suggest that 1 to 1 marketing is read at a 30% increase over standard direct mail.

What vehicles allow you to use 1 to 1 marketing:

  • Mobile marketing
  • Social Media
  • Direct Mail
  • Post Cards
  • E-Blasts
  • PURLS (personalized URLs)

Before starting or finishing your marketing plans in 2011, discuss with a consultant or business partners how you can use 1 to 1 marketing in 2011 to enhance and grow business.

Marketing Cycles and your marketing plan for 2011

Planning that 2011 marketing campaign? Do you build a marketing plan for each year? Does your marketing plan match your company goals?
As I sat with a marketing partner yesterday, these questions struck me as obvious for small business owners. However, I wondered how many don’t actually take the time annually to review their marketing plans and ask the tough questions.
As a media representative for the past 16 years I have had many conversations with business owners regarding marketing plans and how certain media fit those plans and goals. I am often surprised at what they purchase and how often it was not in line with their business goals or objectives, instead it was just a good deal or they liked the rep and wanted to give it a try.
In the next few posts I will break down media buying and marketing plans a little further in hopes that a small business owner which needs help can find a few answers that will help produce a better result in 2011.

Today lets focus on Media plans and the timing of your marketing.

Each business segment has a natural business cycle. Periods where business will peak and times where business will dip. Businesses have a couple methods in which they can approach this business cycle in marketing. In 2011 help your business maximize success by knowing what strategy works best for your company goals.

1. Brand Awareness Marketing. A level marketing plan for the entire year.
In the early ninety’s it was popular to discuss marketing and to believe we could be consistent with our marketing all year round and balance this natural business cycle. Ever heard the term TOMA (top of mind advertising), this media-marketing plan encouraged consistent frequency of simple branding messages that would increase the likeliness that when a customer was in the buying marketplace your business would be top of mind. Television, newspaper and radio all sold advertisers the ideas of this brand management strategy. For a company with a larger budget this program can be a great support-marketing plan. It will neither drive traffic this weekend nor will it make or break this years marketing growth plan. It will provide brand growth, especially in an economy where market share can be taken because of weaker competition.
2. Salvage Marketing. The method of only marketing when business is in dip and trying to pull customers into the store to support a diminishing bottom line.
Sadly I find that this method is used way too often. Usually by business owners that have no marketing plan or a marketing budget that is not adequate to reach its goals. They hope that by placing an ad this weekend that business will magically boom and the monthly bottom line will correct itself. Rarely happens, but at least they are trying. Many small businesses with out a full time marketing department fall into this method of marketing. They are reacting to market conditions and are often sold the next hot marketing sales program from various media.
3. Peak Marketing. This method suggests that only marketing around your natural peaks and guarantees your chance for optimal return on investment.
Of the three I like this method the most for local business owners with a solid marketing plan and set marketing budget. Marketing around your peak seasons (Each Business naturally will have three to five peaks in a year) will help drive peaks higher and often extend peak sales days during this period. For a business which is beyond its first several years in business and have built a good reputation and client base this form of marketing can allow them to increase customer base most efficiently when their best customers shop.
4. Event Marketing. There are various ways to run event marketing. Typically you are going to increase investment around an event and drive traffic for a short window of time.
With the onslaught of options available to a business in event marketing it is wise to find yourself a consultant figure in helping your complete the event effectively and according to your goals as a company. Event marketing itself can be the sole business model for marketing, but I do not recommend it as a single entity. Consumers will tire of the mentality and find value in your competitors quickly if al they are ever offered is an event.

The importance of knowing your media buying style and how it matches your business cycle should not be over looked. Your business will never reach its goals efficiently by just buying the next program that walks in the door. Take time to understand what your business cycle looks like and what your desired approach to marketing will be in 2011. A great source for industry cycles is Admall. Another way your business can determine your business cycles is through trade publications, suppliers, or last year’s revenue peaks.

If you are a small business and you just don’t know which is the best approach for you, get a consultant to help you out. Consultants often offer to give you a free hour to discuss what your goals and objectives are, and then will provide you with an organized and unbiased marketing plan that is focused on your goals. This will prevent you from just buying the next promotional plan your sales rep has for you. It will help you determine if what is being presented and pitched is in line with your marketing plan, theory and budget.

Remember the one factor we are assuming hear is that you have sent the time to formulate a marketing plan or goal for 2011. Plan to prosper in 2011, and work the plan.