Shining Some Light in the Darkness

Effective marketing of your business today is drastically different than just three years ago. The impact of the internet, its ability to allow customers to find exactly what they want when they want it, and the sheer onslaught off companies fighting to gain the attention of anyone who will listen makes it nearly impossible for a small business to be noticed.

If you are still using the same marketing methods and channels of recruiting new prospects that you were even three years ago your probably on a sliding slope on the returns of your marketing investments. The problem is that conventional advertising is usually wasted on those who are not even interested in your message, and therefore have no intention of listening.

So, if nothing works anymore how you do build an effective marketing program? Most framers have never been too sure about this aspect of our business, kind of like shooting in the dark and hoping to hit something. Today, with that darkness almost pitch black and all the targets having great places to hide from the constant bombardment of marketing messages, what’s a framer to do?

A database of current clients and their demographics will help you create a profitable marketing campaign.

The answer is to use what’s already working for you. To find more clients just like the ones you have. This REQUIRES a data base of detailed information about the customers who are already supporting you. Not just names, addresses and phone numbers, but also things like age, neighborhood they live in, how often the use your service, how much they spend on average, what types of framing do they do, what service do they pay for (delivery, installation, on-site consulting etc.), and email address- most importantly, get their email address even if you have to offer an incentive to get it.

shining some light in the darkness


The form illustrated in Figure 1 shows a possible way to collect this information. This one is titled Rewards Enrollment because it is used to offer lots of savings and benefits to clients who provide all the information. It even includes personal questions about their lifestyle can be compiled to understand where they eat, shop, play, what they read and listen to. Knowing this gives you tremendous insight into places where you can reach more people just like them – the ones who WANT to hear what you have to say.

Recording this information about clients gives you insight into the places where you can reach more people just like the ones supporting you. It gives you the demographics, preferences and needs of those who value your service and makes it easier to find more just like them.

How do you organize this information so it can be used?  First, point of sale systems can be set up to require that much of this be recorded as sales are taken. Additional information like the personal questions can be captured manually, or done through a rewards card program that captures points balances rewarded for spending on your program. These programs also offer the ability to record the demographic questions like the ones listed on the form. The data is compiled and available for you to access and use.

A simple Excel spreadsheet, you can sort customers by all the types of data you have collected. Figure 2 shows a possible set up for recording sales. Doing so lets you sort your sales activity in many very helpful ways.  For example, you could sort your current customers by neighborhood. Why? Doing so will show you what areas of town contribute the greatest majority of business. If you sort these names even further, you can find out how much these neighborhoods spend on a typical visit. Sort again and see which or the services you provide are most used by area.

shining some light in the darkness


Now, compare the different pockets of the community you serve, to determine which are most profitable to you right now and market over and over to those highly profitable communities.

What messages do you market? How about types of projects and services the residents of the neighborhoods have already been buying? Chances are the things that appeal to your current customers about you may well appeal to those who live around them. Why? Because they have the same types of homes {mirrors and frames for plasma screens), share many of the same leisure activities (shadowbox memories), and visit each other to see the really cool things you have made them.

Purchase a mailing list for your most profitable neighborhoods- one that gives you their exact name by address, and begin sending messages about the great products and services their neighbor’s value many companies offer this, including Quantum Mail. Suddenly you’ve illuminated the pitch black darkness, and have begun shooting at very visible targets, which are highly likely to WANT to hear your message. Don’t stop until you’ve sent them a minimum of six messages that highlight the products and services you’ve identified have been so valuable to their neighbors. The cost of doing these small mailings is minimal compared to blasting ads to the masses, and they are going to those who are likely to WANT to hear your message.

After you send out your messages to these targets, be prepared to record the results as they occur. Remember, your plan is to gain market share in these areas over the period of the campaign and beyond, so recording and monitoring growth in these neighborhoods is vital to determining if your investments paid off.

Did the number of customers in this neighborhood grow? Did they purchase the same types of products and services? Did average ticket increase during the campaign? All these factors need to be analyzed. If the campaign grew market share, income and profit, look to the next group of neighborhoods already doing SOME business with you and try and build more. Consider gift certificates to associations representing you best neighborhoods. If you give them a generous gift for all new residents, they will promote you to everyone who comes into the area you are monitoring, and supply you with their name and address!

Want to cut costs even further while moving your marketing program in the direction of the future? Start now to use those email addresses to send newsletters, event notices, gift certificates, and messages about products and services. These are people who WANT you to tell them more about your business. As postage skyrockets and those receiving the mail become more immune to any message, email campaigns to those who are pre- qualified as likely to want your message, become a great low cost, high return method of marketing your message.

Reward them for getting friends (and NEIGHBORS) to sign up by offering them a gift certificate when they send someone in and give a discount to that new customer too. Promote this referral program as a way to get discounted framing and make sure you give out the referral forms with every project that’s picked up. Provide benefits, rewards and special incentives for being on the e program. Make your messages beneficial to those receiving them, and the list will grow!

Doing some of these things is a great way to shoot some light into the growing darkness of a marketing program. Marketing is changing rapidly and getting more difficult as consumers put up defenses against the onslaught of messages bombarding them. Find those who WANT to hear what you have to say- it’s as easier than you think when you tap into those who already want you. Yes, it’s a lot of work and daily discipline to record, analyze and follow up this kind of program, but small business owners really have no other choice and it’s going to get more and more difficult to get anyone to listen to any message, unless you find those that WANT to hear it. That’s one of the few advantages of being a small business; we can react and analyze what happening quickly, at low costs and hopefully very effectively.

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