Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Are You in a Big Hurry to Market?

Depending on the nature of your business, your approach to marketing may be long term, gradually building brand awareness and securing customers who will generate revenue over many months or years. Or, if your business is more transactional, you may be in a hurry to generate immediate leads that you can convert into short term sales.

How you market your products or services will depend on which situation you find yourself in. But you should be aware that "speed costs money." A need to develop sales leads in the short term will require a bigger investment and different mix of marketing techniques than a more measured approach. Speed costs money.

For example, an attorney who wants to build a base of clients who will use his or her services again and again should take the time and effort to position himself/herself as an expert, and the "preferred" lawyer. This can be done with a "show what you know" approach that includes a blog, articles, speaking engagements and other relationship-building marketing techniques. In this way, the attorney becomes a known and trusted advisor even before a client engages his/her services!

But if that same attorney wants to attract clients immediately, the marketing approach must be different. He/she needs to impact a much wider group of prospects in order to attract those who have an immediate need for legal advice. An investment in advertising (billboards, fliers, television and radio spots, web-based ads) will deliver the attorney's marketing message faster, to more people. But at a higher cost.

Which is the right approach for your business? It depends on your needs, budget and tolerance for spending. Some companies succeed on both counts, investing heavily to generate short term sales and then converting those into long term customers. Others are perfectly happy with quick sales that may or may not turn into repeat customers. Still more businesses are content to patiently build relationships that will generate a financial return over the long haul.

The only wrong approach is to do no marketing at all. Simply unlocking the doors in the morning and hoping that customers stumble in is no way to grow a business. Tell a lot of people about your business all at once, or let a few people at a time gain an appreciation of your services; but make sure you are out there and visible.

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