Over the years, I’ve participated in a number of online forums, where business owners gather to discuss various issues that affect them. On one such forum, someone who had just started a carpet cleaning business posted this question: “What’s the best way to get new business?” The answers that followed were typical, if not predictable:
- The web designer said, “Get a website.”
- The direct mail guy said, “Send out some postcards.”
- The newspaper guy said, “Take out a classified ad.”
- The promotional items guy said, “Get some pens and fridge magnets made.”
- The yellow pages guy said, “Take out an ad in the Yellow Pages.”
And on it went…
Instead of searching for the one “magic bullet,” think of your advertising mix as a “team.” By adding members to the team, you can accomplish more than just one member could by himself. This is the best way to improve the response you get from your marketing.
Direct mail, for instance, has a typical response rate of 1-3%; but you can dramatically improve that by adding telemarketing to your direct mail campaign. A rescue mission that combined telemarketing with their direct mail fundraising got a 28% higher response rate from the group that received both a phone call and a mailer than from the group that received only the phone call.
In the same manner, Yellow Pages extends the reach of other advertising – Internet, radio and television by 22%, newspapers by 19%, and magazines by 23%. That’s because, once a consumer has seen or heard your other advertising, he or she still needs to find you. And one place they look is for you is in the phone book.
To put together a strong “team,” Gill Wagner, author of Honest Selling, recommends you choose “at least three marketing activities that you believe will produce your best results.” Some of the things he recommends considering are:
- Cold-calling to set sales appointments
- Conducting research projects and writing case studies
- Conducting workshops
- Creating lead-sharing groups or strategic partnerships
- Creating your own website
- Helping community, government, charities or nonprofit organizations
- Hosting exhibits at trade shows
- Mailing items of interest to clients and prospects
- Networking at business gatherings, association meetings and community functions
- Offering interviews to newspapers, magazines and radio or television programs
- Providing free advice on your website or through list-server participation
- Sending direct mail
- Serving on trade association or community boards of directors
- Speaking at trade associations and conferences
- Writing a book or books
- Writing a company newsletter and/or e-newsletter
- Writing articles for publication in relevant periodicals
- Writing cold-letters to targeted markets
My advice to the carpet cleaning guy? (Despite the fact the I owned a web design business at the time, I did not recommend that he “get a website” as a means to immediately find new customers.) My advice was a combination of Yellow Pages, direct mail and, if he had the nerve, cold calling.
If you’ve just started a business and need help marketing, I’d recommend you read the follow books: