Relationship Marketing for Prospects

As personal selling to cold prospects becomes more difficult and expensive and as business-to-business marketers come to realize the prime prospects in their niche markets are relatively few, relationship marketing becomes the priority.

First there were the separate discipline of advertising, public relations, direct marketing, sales promotion, event management and personal selling, then integrated marketing communications brought all those separate disciplines together in one combined approach to the marketplace. Relationship marketing is integrated marketing communications to qualified individuals.

For the business-to-business marketer relationship marketing has four components:

- Developing and maintaining a list of key prospects, which means winnowing down a mailing list of 2000 to the best 200, or to the top 100, decision-makers in your specialty.

- Staying in contact with the list and requalifying it; “Still the same decision-maker? And assistant? Same address? Same general qualifications?

- Establishing credibility with key prospects over time by offering choices of content by trade media, the Internet, phone, mail or in person.

- Being on call when a need arises. On first contact perhaps 95 percent of your key prospects will have no immediate need. But over time, perhaps 100 percent will have a need.

The last bullet point is why repeated direct mail canvassing of a large database to gain a few immediate prospects is not a wise relationship marketing strategy. Instead of harassing key prospects with that kind of mail (and cheapening the perception of your company), it is better to send valuable information to a much smaller, more qualified list and create a favorable perception with them. Include qualified opinion leaders on that list. So they may digest your information and have knowledge of your products/services when asked by a decision-maker.

How do you get the attention of decision-makers, and how do you get them interested in your products or services?

Today decision-makers are scan-readers bookmarking, or rolodexing, future resources. Unless there is an immediate need, they don’t have time to thoroughly read valuable, targeted content on particular products or services, they only have time to differentiate between good content and promotional schlock. The source of the good content gets filed, put in a rolodex, or bookmarked on a Web browser for the inevitable future need. That exchange, your good content for the decision-maker’s interest and attention, is the beginning of a marketing relationship. It is no coincidence the increasing dominance of the Internet and the World Wide Web and the resulting overflow of information have made credible, targeted content important to every business-to-business sales and relationship marketing effort.

How do you stay in touch with and on the short list of the majority of your prospects who do not have an immediate need?

Canvass your select prospects regularly offering content by phone, email or mail in exchange for more information about their needs. They will respond as their needs change and develop, or if they tire of their current provider(s). Sometimes making it onto a short list of invited bidders is as far as the prospect will allow the relationship to develop. But if you make that short list, you are conducting a successful relationship marketing effort.

Establishing the credibility of your company’s special expertise in solving prospective purchasers problems paves the way for your sales consultants to provide the decision-maker with expert professional service to customize your offering and close the sale. The consultant is introduced into the relationship as a person possessing valuable information needed by the prospect to solve a problem.

Small Business Marketing – An Essential Step In Success

Regardless of the size, a small business must focus on marketing, just like any business of a substantial size. Unlike big businesses, small businesses have a lot of factors that make marketing more difficult. Primarily, these efforts are hindered by budgets and resources.

A marketing strategy is a step-by-step process that examines a business situation or environment. The plan identifies a target client/market, key competition, challenges and opportunities in the market.

Marketing is such an important part of the business process. It’s what brings consumers and products together in a market place.

When you have a well thought out plan in place, you generate more sales because you capture the attention of the market quickly. Small business marketing often has to be especially innovative to overcome the challenges of the limited resources. Your marketing plan forms the foundation for your business decision making, and acts a reference point for making decisions about direction changes. Marketing plans allow you to work towards your predetermined goal.

Primarily, this type of marketing focuses on developing a product or brand identity. A good marketing plan begins with understanding your company’s unique selling position in the marketing place. What is it that makes your products or services unique? Your brand incorporates that unique selling position and establishes an impression of your company in the mind of the target customer.

Many small businesses choose to use some simple methods of marketing their products and brand to their clients. Some methods of marketing include development of a web site, direct mailing efforts such as postcards or brochures, or email marketing campaigns, including newsletters. These marketing efforts are very cost effective – they allow you to contact clients at very little cost and begin the steps of developing brand recognition.

One of the advantages a small business has is flexibility. Although a small company doesn’t have an unlimited amount of money to invest in marketing, they have the advantage of being able to make decisions quickly. If a marketing strategy isn’t working, these businesses can quickly change direction and respond to the needs of a changing market place. Small businesses do have some advantages over the giants – how many can change their marketing strategy within a week?

Marketing for a small business is something that has to be consistently done, almost on a daily basis. You can easily implement a number of marketing tools, such as daily emails, blogs to your website, flyers on windshields or door hangers, etc.

One option a business has is to partner with another business and stretch marketing. Look for a small business that offers a supporting product or service and try to partner with them. Working in partnership with another company gives you flexibility to share expenses, such as graphic designers, printers, web site designers, etc. By sharing resources and times, you may stretch your budget much farther.

Small business marketing is necessary for success. In many cases, your best marketing tool is word of mouth – from satisfied clients. Marketing is essential part of any small business success. Whether you focus your time on developing a marketing plan yourself, or use the advice of experienced professionals, marketing will help establish your company brand and image.

Effective Internet Marketing

As we have learned building a website is just a start to creating an internet presence. You can have a beautiful looking website, but if it’s not getting any traffic you might as well put a billboard at the bottom of the ocean!

There are many theories on how to drive traffic to a website. AdWords, AdSense, key names, keywords, etc… All of these may be effective, but they take time and money. Most businesses need RESULTS TODAY/NOW! The only effective way I see that happening now is through Opt-In email marketing.

Email marketing is very effective. It’s very much like direct mail, but through email. You can’t confuse Opt-In emails with SPAM. Opt-in emails are people who have opt-in to receive online marketing. Like Direct Mail it’s a numbers game. But, unlike Direct Mail you have the undivided attention of your prospect because they are only seeing your email when they click on it. No other advertisement, but YOURS! If it is something of interest they can easily click on the link which is designed to drive them to your website. Now it’s up to your website to hold their attention.

This brings us to another effective way to gauge the effectiveness of your website. If you’re getting the traffic to the site, but they fail to navigate past your homepage then you know there’s work that you need to do to improve it and make it more effective.

Now let’s talk cost effectiveness. You can send out hundreds of thousands to millions of emails each day for as little as $75.00. Send out that many postcards in direct mail and it will cost you thousands of dollars!