In today’s unstable economy, many businesses are struggling to stay afloat. Others are making ends meet, yet profits are down. In such times, business owners and key decision makers begin thinking about changing their marketing strategies to get things back on track. This is often a wise decision. However, change for the sake of change is not always profitable. Before changing your business’s marketing strategy, carefully evaluate the need. Then, if change is warranted, start small. Small, targeted changes to your business’s logo, printed marketing materials and marketing venues are likely to be both painless and cost-effective, especially when accomplished over time.
Evaluate the Need for Change
Many indicators suggest that changing your business’ marketing strategy is needed. If your customer base is dropping, market share is decreasing, employee turnover is frequent, or you find yourself continuously infusing money into your business, it is time to reevaluate. Find out what is working and what is not. Where are sales high? Who is still buying your products or services? Which aspects of the business continue to function at full throttle? And conversely, what is not selling, and why? Your best approach involves amplifying areas of success while pruning or restructuring areas of weakness. To accomplish this, make small, targeted changes over time.
Your Company Logo
Begin with your company logo. The logo should include the name of your business, an icon and a tagline. In one image, this communicates who you are and what you have to offer. Your business’ logo is also the “seed” from which your marketing strategy sprouts. If your logo has been photocopied, faxed or scanned to the point that it has become fuzzy and imprecise, it is time for a change. Consider having your logo redesigned to its original standard. Then, keep it available electronically and require your employees to use the crisp, clear electronic image for all applications. That one small change can refresh your business’ image quickly, subtly and inexpensively. The goal is to look professional and let potential customers know you mean business.
Next, reevaluate your audience and your message. Sometimes, business owners make the mistake of having too many “corporate” looks or going in too many different directions. Unless you are McDonald’s or Coca Cola, you need an unvarying logo that customers will recognize immediately. Use a consistent icon and color scheme, as well as a brief message or tagline—usually no more than five to eight words—that describe your product or service. Keep your message clear, concise and focused.
Printed Marketing Materials
Once you are satisfied that your logo is crisp, clear and consistent, it is time to evaluate your printed marketing materials. Take an afternoon to gather everything you have—business cards, letterhead, brochures, advertisements, specialty items, etc.—and check for the same consistency you achieved with your logo. Although your logo may be represented in black/white as well as in color, the icon, business name and tagline should be the same everywhere.
If you find outdated pieces, get rid of them and replace them with timeless marketing pieces that do not include frequently changing information such as prices and dates. Avoid including employee names and titles, when possible, because employees can move up or move on. In addition, avoid redundancy. It is okay to have one marketing piece that gives a brief overview and another that provides a comprehensive description, but avoid having five pieces that say the same thing in slightly different ways.
If you can, add multi-functional marketing pieces to your inventory. For example, have a tri-fold brochure designed that can also be used as a mailer. Or, have new appointment cards designed that also serve as coupons. Finally, when it is time to order, do not over- or under-buy. Purchase the highest quantity for the lowest price, but not so many that your marketing materials will grow outdated before they are used up. In addition, always ask for multi-quantity pricing. This way you can see where the price breaks lie.
With your logo and printed marketing materials streamlined, the final change to your business’ marketing strategy involves marketing venues. Should you advertise via the Internet? Billboards? Television or radio? Print media? And if so, which specific venues should you select? If you can choose just one venue, make it the Internet. For every business in today’s economy, a web presence is essential. Beyond your logo, adding or updating your business’ website is the wisest marketing change you can make. Your website is your biggest and best marketing piece. It makes your business available to customers 24/7 and has the potential to draw new customers who discover you on the web. In addition, most of today’s websites can be updated internally, which makes them easy to maintain.
When selecting marketing venues beyond the Internet, it is important to carefully consider your audience. Where do they live? Where do they go for recreation? Where do they shop? What do they read or view? Whichever venues fit into your business’ marketing strategy, stay focused and stick with them for a while. As with your logo and printed marketing materials, consistency is the key. If potential customers hear your tagline repeatedly on the radio, the possibility of doing business with you will begin to register over time. If customers see your billboards around town again and again, they will begin to take notice and start thinking about the products and services your business has to offer. Later, when they are ready to make a purchase, they will be more likely to start with you.
Change can be difficult. It often involves a new learning curve for you and your employees, as well as your customers. It can stress everyone out! Even so, changing your marketing strategy to get things back on track is often a wise decision. First, carefully evaluate the need; then, if you find that change is warranted, start small. Targeted changes to your marketing strategy are likely to be both painless and cost-effective, especially when accomplished over time. iBi