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Many a hard-working, well-meaning, marketing-minded business owner will sabotage their business with ill-advised marketing. Thatís even worse than no marketing because bad marketing is incredibly expensive.
Ill-advised marketing is usually the result of a personality flaw in the business owner. The most common flaw by far is impatience. So many entrepreneurs are dazzled at the prospect of instant gratification that when they donít get it they begin again their marketing campaign, never giving it a chance to take hold and soar.
Another all-to-common personality hang-up is an ego the size of Alaska. Business owners figure that they know finance and they know management, therefore they also know marketing. Not true. They may know marketing as it existed when they embarked upon the road of individual enterprise, but you and I know how much marketing has changed since then.
Often, their humungous egos motivate them to write their own marketing copy, design their ads and websites, select media based upon their own personal tastes rather than the tastes of their prospects and customers. Those egos often beckon them to become their own pitchmen in the mass media. Sometimes that works. Usually, it blows up in their kisser.
Another personality blemish that puts marketing on self-destruct is the ridiculous notion that word-of-mouth will do the trick all by itself. And then thereís the crazy companion notion that everybody already knows all the reasons why they should do business with you.
Want another nutty personality defect possessed by the losers? Itís thinking that they simply canít render better customer service than theyíre providing right now. Donít ever think that thought. There is always room for improvement. Just ask any customer. Ask them, perhaps with your questionnaire, how an ideal business such as yours would be run. Be ready for true enlightenment when they tell you.
Of course, conceit ranks high on the list of personality blotches -- the conceit to think that people want to know all about you right off the bat, that they care about you more than they care about themselves, that their time is your time and that they donít know the amateurishness when they see it. And still another impediment to marketing success is being too good a consumer. Such business owners fall prey to lots of fast-talking media reps and buy things they donít really need. Or they spend too much on the production of their marketing materials. Have the insight to remember always that there is no marketing strategy strong enough to withstand the personality of a clueless business owner.
Thereís an old adage that says that itís better to know something about your spouse than everything about marriage. Same is true for marketing. Guerrillas have gobs of information about their customers because if they didnít, their marketing wisdom would be for naught.
Marketing is a pipe with you on one end and your customers on the other. It does not exist in a vacuum and it does have a goal. To reach that goal, personal data about each customer is mandatory. Knowing them as a group helps a little but not nearly as much as knowing them individually.
Gain that information by talking with them, listening to what they say, sending them customer questionnaires, visiting their websites, meeting them at community events and trade shows, and making yourself available to them for any dialogue they wish to initiate.
An important guerrillas insight is that the more you know about individual customers, the better you are able to custom-tailor your marketing. As you custom-tailor it, the marketing becomes more effective and economical at the same time. Instead of doing a mailing to all of your customers, you mail to only those customers who you know will be interested in what youíre now offering. That cuts down on your cost while increasing your response rate.
When you know specific customers are interested in baseball or opera, you can send them tickets to such events -- or gifts that connect with their interest. When you read of them or one of their family achieving something thatís worth publicity, you acknowledge the achievement with a call or a note. How many huge companies can do that? Thatís one of your advantages as a small, customer-centered business.
Knowing details about your customers enables you to connect closer with them, adapt your conversations with them to their own personality types. If they are Type A people, always in a hurry, thatís your cue to keep it short and do it quickly. If they are deliberate, studious, now you know to give them all the facts they need and not speed through your presentation.
Personal knowledge about individual customers enriches your customer list exponentially. You know what they like, what they read, what they watch, what excites them, what turns them off, where they shop, how they perceive your business, tiny details that make the difference between a one-time buyer and a lifelong customers. Best of all, guerrillas have fun learning that information, connecting with other people with the goal of mutual satisfaction.
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Q. What suggestions do you have for retailers who do e-mail marketing?
By Jay Conrad Levinson
About the Author: Jay Conrad Levinson
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Jay Conrad Levinson is the author of the best-selling marketing series in history, "Guerrilla Marketing," plus 30 other books. His books have sold 14 million copies worldwide. His guerrilla concepts have influenced marketing so much that today his books appear in 41 languages and are required reading in many MBA programs worldwide.
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