Monday, May 17, 2010

Are Your Marketing Messages Like Stale Bread?

Stale still looks great on the table but the minute you touch it you know you don't want to eat it. The same thing applies to stale messages.  They look good when leaving the C-Suite or marketing office but they lack the relevance to really grab attention. The messages are hard, tasteless, crumbly and make a huge mess.

Recently its been brought to my attention that over what I'm calling the "economic break" (like Spring Break but not as much fun) that many organizations had shifted into neutral and have suddenly found themselves with a boring or stale message.  Unfortunately they discover this after numerous failed communication attempts with low response from their target market.

I'm asking all of my clients, friends and even family to step back from their current marketing messaging and reevaluate what they are saying and how they are communicating with their customers. People, the game has changed, the world has changed...for the good I believe. Time for you to change with it.

Since I work primarily with entrepreneurs, they are eager to make the sale and don't want to spend a year revamping the entire marketing program.  Recently a few clients have listened to me and have taken steps to find out how the world has changed for their organization.

A few steps you might consider:

Customer Survey - Go ahead and ask your customers what they think, what they want, what has changed. They will appreciate you asking them. It will also remind them that you are around and ready to work with them.

I helped a client write the questions and she had her team administer the survey.  We've tweaked her messages (and product offerings) accordingly.

Purge - Cleaning the house is never fun but it is always rewarding in the long run.  Gather your team together including marketing, PR, sales, customer support, etc. and have them review your current message bank.  Openly discuss what your clients have been reacting to the past six months and what messages have been just dying and wasting everyone's time.  Get everyone on the same track communicating the same messages.

Recently a client did this and easily revamped their sales collateral to become more relevant for their customers. The phones started ringing again.

Review the Tool Box - The communication tool box has gained a few new tools over the past couple of years. You've received friend requests on Facebook, you're "Linked" to your associates and you might feel like saying "Well, Tweet This" to your communications team.

It goes back to the same sales theory as has always existed....get in front of your customer, pitch your wares and ask for the sale. Don't look at social media or direct email marketing as something that totally replaces your previous marketing tool box. Consider the addition of electronic communications to your marketing and sales mix where it makes sense.  Companies no longer can afford to pay a sales person to knock on every door but they need to communicate to their customers.  Tools like Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn are also a wonderful way to listen to your customers and gain intelligence on the competition.

A client recently wanted to test a new sales idea. I developed an email blast to their target audience which was well received.  Now the company is putting more energy behind sales to a new group of clients that they hadn't considered previously.

For another client I learned that a hot prospect would be at a fundraising event that we were attending.  The client was able to prepare to give a soft pitch at the event and further develop an important relationship.

Folks the time has come to go back into the kitchen, bake some fresh bread and maybe add some raisins to those scones.  (I prefer golden raisins.)