In 1988, Howard Baker was President Reagan's Chief of Staff…
by Sarah Petty
As small business owners we only have so many hours in our days. We’re already stretched too thin. So when we come up with a great marketing idea for our small business, we run full force ahead, throwing everything we have into it. We don’t have time to assess the pros and cons or do a little informal market research to see if our idea has legs. We just cross our fingers that our great idea is a success and brings us new clients. But it’s inevitable that some of our great ideas won’t give us the results we had planned. So what do we do to make sure our next promotion is a success?
Well, I’ve yet to see a promotion that works the same for every business in every market. But there are some things you can do to alter every promotion, both successful and unsuccessful, to increase your chances of future success.
- Write down your process. Who did you market to? How did you market to them? Did you have an existing relationship with the people you were trying to reach or was this a ‘cold’ call? Who did you partner with? How long did you give clients to take advantage of your promotion? How much notice did you give? Did you ask any current clients if this was something they would be interested in before you launched – even informally on Facebook (attending your event, decorating their home with this new product, etc.)?
- Define success. Was the event a success? If yes, what were your sales figures that made it a success? If no, what would have to happen to make this promotion a success? More customers? More sales from the customers that did show interest?
- Put your ear to the ground. For those clients who did take advantage of the promotion – how did they hear about it? What got them excited (the direct mail piece they received, the phone call from you, the newsletter you sent them, etc). For those clients who didn’t respond, find out why. It’s ok to ask them. It’s as easy as picking up the phone or approaching them in person and saying, “I’m trying a few new things in my business and I noticed you didn’t stop in this weekend. I want to make sure I’m staying in touch with my best clients’ needs. Did you hear about it?” You can also try sending out an email survey to find out if your timing was poor, if they weren’t interested in the new products, if they hadn’t budgeted this month, etc. There are several great free survey tools, such as Survey Monkey.
- Compile all of this information and compare past successes and failures. Look for commonalities.
Before moving on to the next great marketing idea, take time to stop and assess what has been a success in the past for your business and more importantly WHY it was a success. You’ll get closer to having a successful promotion every time when you debrief your efforts. As painful as it may be to relive an idea that wasn’t as successful as you’d hoped, you’ll learn valuable information and increase your likelihood of having a successful promotion next time if you follow these steps.
Sarah Petty is the owner of Sarah Petty Photography and founder of The Joy of Marketing. She is also an internationally sought-after speaker, marketing and branding strategist, MBA
& co-author of Worth Every Penny: Build a Business that Thrills Your Customers and Still Charge What You’re Worth, a book that explains in depth how the boutique business model works.
The Joy of Marketing has teamed up with Marathon Press to host a free online promotional event for professional photographers. Several industry-leading photographers will share their best low cost marketing ideas with attendees for free on November 6 & 7, 2012. For more details, visit www.thejoyofmarketing.com