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Practical marketing tips
By Glen Chapman

The following are a few tips that will help you with your marketing. By keeping these things in mind when you are planning your marketing strategy and when you are dealing with your clients and prospects you will be more successful in building relationships.

1. Make it easy for them to contact you - This is especially important in situations where a potential customer has a choice (i.e. in the yellow pages). By making sure you provide an easy way for people to contact you will mean that is not a reason for them not to do business with you often. People will see reasons NOT to do business with you rather then reasons TO do business with you.

Easy of contact is also especially important with the web. Unless you have a business model where you are not going to take phone calls, make sure your phone number and physical address in on your web site. Even businesses I deal with, who I know are only web based, still list their street address on their web site. It adds to your credibility and people feel reassured that you are willing to put your address on your site.

2. Aim to delight - when you are doing business with someone aim to deliver beyond what they expect. You may think that this will cost you money and reduces your profits, but if you remember the lifetime value of each customer, then you will realise that it is much cheaper to give "outstanding excellent" service to an existing customer that comes back to buy from you, then trying to convince a new one to do business with you.

3. Encourage customer loyalty - Again leading on from the last point, it is cheaper to keep a customer then find a new one. One way to do this is to encourage customer loyalty. This is why stores have buyers cards and people like Qantas offer frequent flier points. It is a way of keeping a customer loyal. There are a number of ways that you can offer the same thing without a big cost. Things such as giving a discount voucher out when someone purchases - these could be buy one get one free or a discount for larger purchases. You can also combine these with a buyers club card where there are special discounts to club members. I have also heard of stores running a members only sale day, where you close the store to general public (or open after hours) and only make it available to club members.

4. Customers love recognition - we all like to be noticed, and so to do our customers. So look at ways that you can recognise your customers. Fishing shops do this by putting a photo wall of fish caught by people that buy from the store. For more general business you might be able to show case one of your customers in your monthly newsletter talking about a key achievement that they have. The idea here is to also show how you have solved a problem to help this happen with your products.

5. Differentiate from others in the market - by differentiating your product or service sufficiently to others in the similar market, you can avoid many price calls or comparison shopping. I was once told to never quote, as this only gets into a price and therefore margin cutting exercise. Unfortunately this can be difficult in some industries. To avoid this you can either place you product or service in the market by differentiating it, or alternatively work out a system where by you are able to talk directly with the potential customer and offer a cost benefit analysis. For example if by utilising your product the customer will save or make say $50,000 then the $2,000 price is marginal.

So marketing does not always have to cost you large amounts of money. Be creative and think of ways to get the biggest bang for your buck.

(© 1995 – 2007 Glen Chapman)