HOW TO CREATE EFFECTIVE PROGRAMS TO IDENTIFY PROSPECTIVE CUSTOMERS (PART 3)
The greater the demand is for your company’s products, the less effort your company will need to make to find new customers. But if your company has just started to do business, or if its products are new or rely on new technologies, your company may need to invest a substantial amount of its marketing resources to identify prospective customers and to qualify their needs and concerns.
In the past, a company’s primary marketing tools were media advertising, direct mail advertising, telephone selling, trade shows, and face-to-face selling. Today, other marketing tools such as demonstration centers, catalogue selling, and the Internet, can be used to help your company achieve total marketing domination.
Step 4: Evaluate Your Corporate Communications
The old adage that “any publicity is good publicity” is balderdash when it comes to business press. Bad publicity can seriously impair your company’s ability to meet its business objectives. In most industries, a small group of editors, industry analysts, and gurus are extremely influential in helping purchasers evaluate new products and suppliers. A derogatory product review or comment about your company from one of these pundits can be the kiss of death to its revenue forecast.
Naming Your Company and Your Products
The name of your company and of your company’s products is used in virtually every customer communication. If these names are meaningful and memorable, they will leverage every communication in which they are used. For example, if you name your company Lagos Car Repairs, your customers will know exactly where your company is located and what kind of service your company provides. But if your name is Bentoville Ventures, you will need to explain the type of products that you sell or services that you provide every time you tell someone the name of your business. And you will waste the opportunity to use your company’s name to help you move your business forward.
It is not always possible to think of or use a meaningful name for your business. But the cost of promoting your company is directly related to the length of the communication that is needed to communicate its marketing story. Which is why so many companies that achieve total domination employ company and product names that are meaningful and memorable to help them leverage their company’s marketing resources.
Step 5: Evaluate the effectiveness of trade shows, newsletters, user groups, and electronic bulletin boards.
Prospects at trade shows are usually well qualified and prepared to hear your marketing story. Nevertheless, effective trade shows participation requires careful planning and attention to detail to attract attendees to your booth and qualify their interest in your company’s products. Your company may choose to participate in a trade show to:
Generate Sales Leads – Most companies attend trade shows to develop new sales leads and secure new customers. Trade show attendees are prequalified – they would not be at a trade show if they did not have some interest in the products and services that were being showcased. And trade show leads are usually easier to close than leads from direct mail or advertising programs because they are better qualified.
Reach Decision-makers – Trade shows may provide the only opportunity to reach product specifiers and executive decision-makers who do not want to be contacted directly by your sales representatives. Direct one-on-one contact with decision-makers can create new sales opportunities and provides a forum for market feedback.
Expand Into New Markets – Trade shows can be a cost-effective way to make the contacts you need to expand your business into new markets. By exhibiting at trade shows in new geographic markets, you can establish distribution and sales before making a commitment to open new offices or hire additional personnel.
Enhance Reseller Relationships – Trade shows provide an opportunity to meet with your distributors and resellers. Suppliers often share their trade show booth with their resellers, or turn over the sales leads that they have collected to their resellers for after-show follow-up.
Recruit Distributors and Resellers – Trade shows are a great place to meet resellers that are seeking new business partners.
Recruit personnel – Companies at trade shows can meet prospective employees and can proactively recruit competitor’s personnel.
Increase Bond Recognition – Exhibiting at a trade show can help you increase awareness of your company’s products and brand.
Introduce New Products – Introducing new products at national and international shows can help ensure that all of your business partners hear about your new products at the same time.
Facilitate Product Demonstration – Exhibiting at a trade show provides an opportunity to display and demonstrate products that are too large to be taken on sales calls.
Develop Press Relations – Trade shows provide a great opportunity to hold press conferences and schedule meetings with key press contacts. Press conferences at trade shows can provide smaller companies with a much higher level of visibility than traditional marketing activities such as mailing out press releases.
Develop Co-marketing Opportunities – Trade shows are places to interact with decision-makers in your industry and to meet potential co-marketing partners.
Gather Competitive Intelligence – Trade shows often feature presentations on specific areas of interest to attendees and provide opportunities for exhibitors to hear their competitors discuss their new products’ features and benefits.
Conduct Market Research – Companies can “pre-test” new products and new marketing ideas at trade shows with industry analysts, resellers, and attendees.
A newsletter is an excellent vehicle for advertising your company’s products and promoting a positive corporate image. Your company can use its newsletter to:
- Keep customers and prospects on your company’s mailing list informed about new products and sales programs.
- Motivate and recognize special accomplishments by your sales and support personnel.
- Inform your customers about product updates and technical support issues.
- Share creative ways to use your products.
- Document newsworthy activities that your company is involved with.
- Advertise charitable and community relations activities.
Most companies base their promotional idea on traditional-marketing promotions, which “tell them what you are selling, how much it costs, and where to get it, “and on matching or besting their competitors’ claims. However, in some cases, it is necessary to use innovative marketing promotions that enable your company to deliver a strong message, which addresses a specific customer concern or a specific market segment.
Innovative marketing tactics are riskier to employ than traditional marketing strategies because they rely on promotions that may appeal only to a small segment of a market. However, innovative marketing techniques such as co-marketing relationships and imaginative advertising campaigns, which rely on creativity, visibility, and memorability to create a preference for your company’s products, are often the only way for smaller companies to introduce new products cost-effectively.
It is a mistake, however, to think that innovative marketing techniques are just for small companies. Globacom, Dangote Group, and other companies that have achieved total domination employ innovative marketing techniques such as free product promotions and tie-ins with their business partners all the time.
One of the hallmarks of companies that have achieved total domination is the ability of their senior executives to network with their personal business contacts. Aliko Dangote, for example, often meets with other Fortune 100 companies. These meetings are an ideal opportunity to test new ideas and forge new business relationships.
The Bottom Line: Do you have effective programs in place to identify prospective customers?
Most companies that achieve total market domination use both direct prospecting methods, such as advertising, direct mail, telemarketing, cold calls, and trade shows, and indirect prospecting methods, such as referrals, batter arrangements, seminars, and networking with business contacts, to identify qualified prospects for their company’s products. And they use a combination of push and pull strategies to create demand for their products and support their channel partners.
To evolve a successful prospecting plan, your company must track the number of sales leads generated by your advertising campaign, and the amount of sales revenue that is generated from those leads.
Most companies base their promotional ideas on traditional marketing promotions, but companies that achieve total market domination often rely on innovative market promotions that enable them to deliver a strong message, which addresses a specific market segment.
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