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    Daniel Gagnon
    Chief Administrative Officer
    Township of North Glengarry
  • Step7-info

    Step #7 – Plan for change; Plan to change.

    It’s often said that in times of a tough economy smaller organizations are better able to be more agile, changing tactics faster than large corporations. BUT…you still need a plan to get started.

12 Steps to Effective and Successful Marketing

Step #1: Understand How Marketing Fits In

Successful organizations recognize that marketing is part of everything they do – from making and keeping promises, to managing public perception; from promotion and publicity, to pricing and product development.

Often, a company thinks “We need an ad!,” or, “We need to fix up our website!”. These facts may be true, but unless your ad or your website is designed with the big picture in mind, individual elements can get off track.

When we’re asked to work on a marketing strategy, we begin by saying “Tell us about your customers, your prospects. What are people saying about you now? What do you want them to be saying about you in the future?” This leads the way to uncovering the foundation for some really effective marketing messages.

Make marketing part of everything you do.

Step #2 - Develop a Marketing attitude.

The good news is that it’s still true: Marketing is 90% attitude and 10% technique.

What does this mean in a tough economy? With a marketing attitude comes commitment, which means not losing your focus on what’s important.

Don’t start a direct mail campaign and then forget to follow up. Don’t start a blog or a newsletter unless you’re able to maintain the updates. Keep at it. As Levinson points out: having commitment wins out over genius.

Market with attitude. Even in the tough new economy, smart businesses will find ways to provide value to their customers.

Step #3 - Do the Research: Know your Customers

We still practice Covey’s Habit Five: “Seek first to understand, then to be understood”. And we continue to recommend it to our clients as an effective marketing strategy.

The better you understand where your customer’s coming from, the better you’ll be able to serve their needs. Also, the better your story will sound to them (and the better you’ll know HOW to reach them!).

This same approach will help you learn if your customers are happy with your product or service. It pays to ask.

Learn all you can about your customers and prospects. Find out what makes them happy, Discover what it is that they’re looking for and give it to them.

Step #4 - Make it easy to do business with you.

Let’s face it: as customers, we deal with companies that make doing business a pleasure. Of course, it doesn’t happen all that often. All the more reason to make it happen in your organization.

Is your phone number on the home page of your website? Is a map or other contact info easy to find? Do you offer an 800 number? Are you able to take calls promptly, or are callers forced through a maze of ‘Press 9 to hear this menu again’?

Providing value in your product or service is a bare minimum – and your competitors have got this message, too. Smarter businesses are knocking themselves out to make it easy for their customers to buy what they're selling. Customers respond to companies that make life a little easier for them.

Step #5 - Market with ceaseless consistency.

Marketing never sleeps. It’s a forever kind of thing: ceaseless, lifelong.

Genuine dialogue: sending out your message and listening for a response. Being consistent in all communications vehicles will help you develop your brand personality. It takes time: stick with it.

Make a note of what works and what doesn’t. Fine tune your message and your approach.

Resist the urge to constantly change things. Consistency and repetition are two inexpensive ways to raise awareness. You’re trying to build reputation and expand your audience base.

Step #6 - Build the Brand.

Form Follows Vision. The image you project depends on the vision you have for your organization. Your brand or corporate identity is a reflection of your company. The way it looks; it's philosophy; it's behaviour.

Do all the parts fit together? Are all of your communications elements pulling in the same direction? Toward the same goals?

Remember: success is by design.

Step #7 - Plan for change; Plan to change.

Profit Magazine says that in times of a tough economy smaller organizations are better able to be more agile, changing tactics faster than large corporations. This may be true, but you still need a plan to get you started.

A plan will help you keep your eye on:

1. Your customers' changing needs;

2. The moving parade of prospects rolling past your door; and,

3. Continuous improvement to your marketing initiatives

As you see and feel the results of your marketing efforts working (or not), don’t hesitate to change what’s not working. Replace losers with winning strategies. Learn from your mistakes.

Success depends on constantly seeking – and finding approaches that will work for the various segments of your market.

Step #8 - Consider marketing as an investment.

Very few organizations ever feel they have all the money they want to spend on marketing. With that comes the need to spend creatively, leveraging every dollar. But how much?

Stop and think what a customer is worth to your business. How much do they spend with you in a single year? If you continue to serve them and keep them happy, how many years will they patronize your business? Calculate this figure.

This total is critical because it tells you what you can spend to attract such a customer – and what you can afford to invest to keep them.

Educating your customers – about how your services will make them look good and save money – is an investment that pays big dividends.

Step #9 - Use an assortment of tools for the job.

Marketing isn't just selling, or advertising, or direct mail. It's a combination of tools. The wider the selection, the more options you'll have for tackling the different segments of your audience with the appropriate message.

Be sure to integrate your efforts. Make sure the messages in the different channels and media build on one another. You'll save on the cost of developing the message (if it can be applied across several media), and your prospects will get the message quicker – and more consistently.

Today, organizations are seeking ways to maximize and leverage their marketing dollars. Can your current tools be quickly modified and assembled to customize a package for a prospect?

Step #10 - Make sure customers know "What's in it for them".

Some organizations continue to confuse features and benefits. Features are the characteristics of the product or service; benefits are how it will make someone’s life (or business) better.

We all want to know “what’s in it for me?”

Lead your promotional messages (including sales letters and personal sales pitches) with the benefits of your product, service or company in terms that your customers can understand.

You can’t start talking about the details before you get a prospect’s attention. Lead with the benefits, and your message will have a greater chance of getting heard – and generating a better response.

Step #11 - Put your creativity to work for you.

The human brain is amazing. Creativity lies within each of us

Putting your creativity to work means solving a problem in a unique or different way, or presenting an idea in an uncommon way to attract attention. Be attuned to the world around you.

Inspiration is everywhere. Listen to people’s ideas, expose yourself to different books, magazines, etc.

Work together. Brainstorm. Two heads are better than one. Be synergistic.

Use lateral thinking. Go 180° against conventional thinking to explore potential solutions.

Step #12 - Stay connected - build the relationship

An organization will survive this economic crisis, (downturn, predicament, etc..) by staying connected to their customers.

By maintaining – or even increasing – genuine and effective communications with their stakeholders – customers, associates, workers and vendors.

Genuine dialogue leads to >
  > Stronger relationships, which lead to >
    > Increased trust, which leads to >
      > reduced risk for your customer, which leads to >
        > better business...

Which is the basis for survival and, indeed, even increased health of an organization.