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Quick Hits to Get You into Action Fast
Never let a day pass without engaging in at least one marketing activity.
Determine a percentage of gross income to spend annually on marketing.
Set specific marketing goals every year; review and adjust quarterly.
Maintain a tickler file of ideas for later use.
Carry business cards with you (all day, every day).
Wear a personal nametag or pin with your company name and logo on it.
Stay alert to trends that might impact your target market, product or promotion strategy.
Read market research studies about your profession, industry, product, target market groups, etc.
Collect competitors' ads and literature; study them for information about strategy, product features and benefits, etc.
Ask clients why they hired you and solicit suggestions for improvement.
Ask former clients why they left you.
Identify a new market.
Join a list-serve (email list) related to your profession.
Subscribe to an Internet Usenet newsgroup or a list-serve that serves your target market.
Create a new service, technique or product.
Offer a simpler/cheaper/smaller version of an existing product or service.
Offer a fancier/more expensive/faster/bigger version of a product or service.
Update your services.
EDUCATION, RESOURCES AND INFORMATION
Establish a marketing and public relations advisory and referral team composed of your colleagues and/or neighboring business owners to share ideas and referrals and to discuss community issues. Meet quarterly for breakfast.
Create a suggestion box for employees.
Attend a marketing seminar.
Read a marketing book. Anything by Seth Godin will help you immensely.
Subscribe to a marketing newsletter or other publication.
Subscribe to a marketing list-serve on the Internet.
Subscribe to a marketing Usenet newsgroup on the Internet.
Train your staff, clients and colleagues to ask for referrals.
Hold a monthly marketing meeting with employees or associates to discuss strategy, status and to solicit marketing ideas.
Join an association or organization related to your profession.
Get a marketing intern to take you on as a client; it will give the intern experience and you some free marketing help.
Maintain a consultant card file for finding designers, writers and other marketing professionals.
Hire a marketing consultant to brainstorm with.
Take a "creative journey" to another progressive city or country to observe and learn from marketing techniques used there.
PRICING AND PAYMENT
Analyze your fee structure; look for areas requiring modifications or adjustments.
Establish a credit card payment option for clients.
Give regular clients a discount.
Learn to barter; offer discounts to members of certain clubs/professional groups/organizations in exchange for promotions in their publications.
Better yet, join a barter network or trade exchange.
If appropriate, give "quick pay" or cash discounts.
Offer financing or installment plans.
Price for value, not for time.
Be expensive or be free.
Publish a newsletter for customers and prospects. (It doesn't have to be fancy or expensive.)
Develop a 'package' of services that is easy to buy.
Include a postage-paid survey card with your brochures and other company literature. Include check-off boxes or other items that will involve the reader and provide valuable feedback to you.
Remember, business cards aren't working for you if they're in the box. Pass them out! Give prospects two business cards and brochures -- one to keep and one to pass along.
Produce separate business cards/sales literature for each of your target market segments (e.g. government and commercial, and/or business and consumer).
Create a poster or calendar to give away to customers and prospects.
Print a slogan and/or one-sentence description of your business on letterhead, fax cover sheets and invoices.
Don't skimp on your website. Your brother-in-law or college-age nephew might "know how to build a website" but that doesn't mean they know how to make it WORK for business. Get professional help.
Create a blog (weblog) which can easily be updated from any computer with your lastest ideas, tidbits, and tips for clients and prospects.
Create a "signature file" to be used for all your e-mail messages. It should contain contact details including your Web site address and key information about your company that will make the reader want to contact you.
Include testimonials from customers in all your communications - letters, website, leave-behind materials, PowerPoint slides.
Even better, use "video testimonials" featuring interviews with 2-3 of your best clients about your best work!
Test a new mailing list. If it produces results, add it to your current direct mail lists or consider replacing a list that's not performing up to expectations.
Use colored or oversized envelopes for your direct mailings. Or send direct mail in plain white envelopes to pique recipients' curiosity.
Hand-address mail that you want someone important to open.
Update your media list often so that press releases are sent to the right media outlet and person.
Write a column for the local newspaper, local business journal or trade publication.
Publish an article and circulate reprints.
Send timely and newsworthy press releases as often as needed.
Publicize your 500th client of the year (or other notable milestone).
Create an annual award related to your field and publicize it.
Get public relations and media training or read up on it.
Appear on a radio or TV talk show.
Create your own TV program on your industry or your specialty. Market the show to your local cable station or public broadcasting station as a regular program. Or, see if you can air your show on an open access cable channel.
Write a letter to the editor of your local newspaper or to a trade magazine editor.
Take an editor to lunch.
Get a publicity photo taken and enclose with press releases.
Consistently review newspapers and magazines for possible PR opportunities.
Submit "tip" articles to newsletters and newspapers.
Conduct industry research and develop a press release or article to announce an important discovery in your field.
Create a press kit and keep its contents current.
CUSTOMER SERVICE AND CUSTOMER RELATIONS
Ask your clients to come back again - and give them a reason to!
Return phone calls promptly.
Set up a fax-on-demand or email system to easily respond to customer inquiries.
Use an answering machine or voice mail system to catch after-hours phone calls.
Include basic information in your outgoing message such as business hours, location, services available, special promotions, etc.
Record a memorable message or "tip of the day" on your outgoing answering machine or voice mail message.
Ask clients what you can do the help them.
Take clients out to a ball game, a show or another special event - just send them two tickets with a note.
Hold a seminar at your office for clients and prospects.
Send hand-written thank-you notes.
Send birthday cards and appropriate seasonal greetings.
Photocopy interesting articles and send them to clients and prospects with a hand-written "FYI" note and your business card.
Send a book of interest or other appropriate business gift to a client with a handwritten note.
Create an interactive forum on your website specifically for your customers to connect and share ideas.
NETWORKING AND WORD OF MOUTH
Join a Chamber of Commerce or other organization.
Join or organize a breakfast club with other professionals (not in your field) to discuss business and network referrals.
Mail a brochure to members of organizations to which you belong.
Serve on a city board or commission.
Host a holiday party.
Hold an open house.
Send letters to attendees after you attend a conference.
Join a community list-serve (email list) on the Internet.
Most service businesses should avoid traditional advertising!
Advertising works well for retail, restaurants, and hotels.
Advertise during peak seasons for your business.
Get a memorable phone number, such as "1-800-WIDGETS."
Obtain a memorable URL and email address and include them on all marketing materials.
Provide Rolodex® cards or phone stickers pre-printed with your business contact information.
Promote your business jointly with other professionals via cooperative direct mail.
Create your own direct mail list of "hot prospects."
Consider non-traditional tactics. One idea: hire a clown or a mime and send him/her to your best prospects with a basket of bagels or donuts for the office... and a note introducing yourself!
Consider placing ads in your newspaper's classified section.
Consider a vanity automobile tag with your company name.
Create a clever bumper sticker.
Code your ads and track your results as you test different versions to find the most effective one.
Improve your building signage and directional signs inside and out.
Invest in a neon sign to make your office or storefront window visible at night.
Create a new or improved company logo or "recolor" the traditional logo.
Sponsor and promote a contest or sweepstakes.
SPECIAL EVENTS AND OUTREACH
Get a booth at a fair/trade show attended by your target market. Then LEARN about trade show selling!
Sponsor or host a special event or open house at your business location in cooperation with a local non-profit organization, such as a women's business center. Describe how the organization helped you.
Give a speech or volunteer for a career day at a high school.
Teach a class or seminar at a local college or adult education center.
Volunteer your time to a charity or non-profit organization.
Donate your product or service to a charity auction.
Appear on a panel at a professional seminar.
Write a "How To" pamphlet or article or white paper.
Produce and distribute an educational CD-ROM, audio or videotape.
Publish a book.
Read newspapers, business journals and trade publications for new business openings and for personnel appointment and promotion announcements made by companies. Send your business literature to appropriate individuals and firms.
Give your sales literature to your lawyer, accountant, printer, banker, temp agency, office supply salesperson, advertising agency, etc. (Expand your sales force for free!)
Put your fax number on order forms for easy submission.
Set up a fax-on-demand or email autoresponder system to easily distribute valuable information to interested people.
Follow up on your direct mailings, email messages and broadcast faxes with a friendly telephone call.
Using broadcast fax or email messages to notify your current customers of product or service updates or special offers.
Extend your hours of operation.
Reduce response/turnaround time.
Make reordering easy - use reminders. Provide pre-addressed envelopes.
Remind clients of the products and services you provide that they aren't currently buying.
Call and/or send mail to former clients to try to reactivate them.