Today's technologies have put a new spin on the concept of "guerilla" marketing. In years past, "guerilla" marketers were highly competitive. Their sole intent was to gather their troops and outflank the competition, in effect, trouncing them to the ground.
Today, that's all changed.
The new technologies have created a "level playing field" -- which forces business to re-think and re-focus their efforts. Today's mad rush down the "MicroChip Highway" has created an elite core of business people who are winning new partners and allies to help them succeed. And many are! For example, washing machine manufacturers are working with detergent manufacturers to put soap in new washers, cereal manufacturers are working with toy manufacturers to put toys in boxes of cereal. All types of manufacturers are working together to get lower air fares for their executives. The days of the lone wolf businessman have gone!
Yet even in today's high tech times, many of the old rules still apply. A marketing plan is still an absolute must (no matter how brilliant or mediocre) and the businessman must stay committed to the marketing plan. In the constant flux of today's marketplace, many marketers can get "skittish" -- abandoning their work in favor of what might be more appealing in a trendier marketplace. While it's important to keep an eye on the changes that are happening, it's also crucial to consider that a marketing plan is an investment in the future. At the Canadian Copywriter , we often think of the old axiom that "if you can keep your head while everybody else is losing theirs", you will be better off in the long run. This can be an analogy to the present times. It's important to stay the course, to stay consistent, to avoid changing your "spots" for "stripes", to be patient, to win new customers and keep your old customers confident in you, your abilities and your products.Similar to investing in stocks and bonds, it's a long-haul proposition rather than a quick buck scheme.
Another old idea that still applies -- and is constantly forgotten in the new economy -- is that "present" customers are far more important than "new" customers. For many, especially a sales force, it's human nature to go "after the sale" and once the sale is consummated to go after another "new sale" -- but "guerilla marketers" know that it costs a lot more money to persuade a new customer to buy a product than it does a customer who is already loyal.
All in all, it's important today to be a marketer -- and the "guerilla" analogy works well. It's important to keep your senses sharp. You must know who is with you and who is against you. You must know who your customers are -- from their buying habits to their birthdays and you must be able to delight them with outlandishly incomparable service!!
If you are a small start-up business, there are plenty of ways to
promote your business. Chances are you won't be able to afford "big
time" advertising, however a handsome business card and
stationery shouldn't break the bank! When you get these much needed items,
make sure they look as professional as possible. There are too many
drab business cards out there as it is. Remember that
first impressions are lasting
impressions. So hire an artist to design a logo for you. Don't lame-out
on your stationery either. Make it different than the rest. Use wild colors,
for example. (when you call your client and ask him to pay the bill, you
can tell him it's in the purple envelope!) In the book, Off-the-Wall
Marketing Ideas by Nancy Michaels and Debbi J. Karpowicz, one
businessmen whose name was Blaze decided to singe his stationery with
a blow-torch. Although he wore out three printers with his unique idea
and drove his computer consultant absolutely nuts, he refused to change. The reason:
It made him stand out! Being unique and catching your customer's
attention is the name of the game! According to the book's authors (and
we agree with them), the five fundamentals for small business
In the book, Off-the-Wall Marketing Ideas by Nancy Michaels and Debbi J. Karpowicz, one businessmen whose name was Blaze decided to singe his stationery with a blow-torch. Although he wore out three printers with his unique idea and drove his computer consultant absolutely nuts, he refused to change. The reason: It made him stand out! Being unique and catching your customer's attention is the name of the game! According to the book's authors (and we agree with them), the five fundamentals for small business marketing are:
Project A Professional Image.
This means always wear a suit. First impressions count -- and you will get a lot more respect in a suit than a pair of blue jeans.
|Maintain A Professional Look On Paper. See above. But, don't dress yourself in paper.|
Dress Your Surroundings To Impress|
There aren't too many people who like to walk into a dirty office filled with orange crates. However, if you are a start-up business, make the place look like you've been serving a lot of customers. A hair-stylist who just opened her shop put Dixie cups in strategic locations with different lip stick stains on them. She was trying to create an image of a busy and popular location.
|Select Professionals as Allies Who Complement Your Business.
If you are a flooring contractor, refer customers to a kitchen contractor and vice versa.
|Seek Word-Of-Mouth Referrals.|
Since you don't have big time advertising working for you, you will probably have to rely on the second most important form of advertising: "word of mouth". While "word of mouth" advertising is relatively inexpensive, and certainly doesn't equal a 60-second commercial on a national network, it can still be effective. "Word of Mouth" relies on the basics -- that whatever you do for a living, you do it well -- and you have satisfied your customers. Satisfaction, of course, depends on service -- but it also depends on "follow up" service, which means that you must keep tabs on your present customers and make sure they're willing to re-use your product or service. Always keep in mind that "keeping a customer" is a lot easier than finding a new one". Keep records of your customers. Send them follow-up reminders of your service. Consider taking a chapter from the book of that other batch of liars and cheats:"Insurance People". Insurance people have a virtual "death grip" on "word of mouth referrals". They've taken their "service" to a level that's far and above us mere mortals. Their "mission in life" is to try to get to know each and every one of us by our first name. On their clients' birthdays, they send out birthday cards. Sure, it's corny, but it works! What possible replacement could there be for a smile, a slap on the back and somebody remembering your name, your capabilities and your milestones? Another low-budget way to remind your customers of your service is with a "magnetized business card" -- oh, sure it's cornier than the entire state of Iowa, but still very practical. Everybody uses fridge magnets to hang up notes on their refrigerators -- and that again can be a constant reminder of your service. Networking is always an important aspect of your business (as it is in life). You should be aware of who can use your services as well as who your competition is. "Cross promotion" is also an important part of "small budget" marketing. If you can get other business people (who offer services that are in the same milieu as your business) to participate in your advertising plans, you will create a beneficial relationship that works both ways. For example, if you bake wedding cakes, get involved with a wedding dress shop or a banquet centre. Offer them space on your web site while they advertise their services on yours. When you team up with others in your marketing plans, the relationship is equal to "1 + 1 = 3".
|Systems that affect marketing|
Just in time manufacturing has had a tremendous impact on the marketing process throughout the world. The idea originated in Japan after the second world war -- changing Japan from a producer of "second-rate goods" to a highly regarded manufacturer of quality precision products. Can you imagine how much easier your marketing job would be if you were responsible for marketing the kind of quality that comes out of Japan?
Just in Time Manufacturing was created by a need to do more with the space available in a manufacturing facility -- and, of course you know the space limitations on the Japanese. They realized that a lot of the precious space in their manufacturing plants was for storage of raw materials and finished products rather than production. So they decided to forego storage in favour of production. They also decided to take a second look at traditional approaches to manufacturing which were:
There are many other systems and concepts involved in the "Just In Time" manufacturing technique -- but it basically comes down to a smooth, problem-free flow from the raw materials to the finished product. For more information about the development of the concept plus a fascinating insight into Japanese culture and how Japan became a world power in producing quality merchandise, pick up "Understanding Just In Time -- in a Week" by Malcolm Wheatley
I.S.O. 9000 is another concept that has had a major impact on the marketing process. It's a series of quality assurance standards that was created by the International Organization for Standardization which was founded in 1946 in Geneva, Switzerland. The organization is a consortium of virtually all of the world's industrialized nations -- from A to Z (Albania to Zimbabwe) with approximately 110 members.
The system is not a product standard, but a quality system standard that applies not to products or services, but to the process which creates them. It is designed and intended to apply to virtually any product or service made by any process anywhere in the world -- and it covers every process from auditing procedures through to handling and storage.
The benefits of the I.S.O. 9000 system are considerable, and to the customer, the benefits are obvious. The quality of a product is considerably enhanced by a company's adherence to I.S.O. 9000 standards. There are advantages to the company too. I.S.O. 9000 registration affords access to markets, an enhanced quality image and significant competitive advantages. In fact, I.S.O. 9000 has kept many businesses from going bankrupt. The Institute for Quality Assurance has found that the annual bankruptcy rate for non-registered firms in England was 7.14 per cent while the rate for registered firms is a mere 0.2 percent.
In order to register as an I.S.O. 9000 company, the organization's plants are first inspected by I.S.O. 9000 officers. If the processes are up to standard, they will receive certification. It may sound easy, but it isn't. I.S.O. 9000 companies must maintain their standards throughout their membership -- and the standards are rigidly enforced by bi-annual inspections. Sanctioned under I.S.O. 9000, a company can provide confidence to three audiences:
The customers directly
The customers indirectly
(via third-party assessment.
and quality system registration)
Top management and staff.
Dr. Deming continued his practice throughout his eighties, and never lost his dislike of American Managers. He died on December 23, 1993. For more information on W. Edwards Deming, pick up the book "The Man Who Discovered Quality" by Andrea Gabor