An anthropological view of marketing
When it comes to marketing, most entrepreneurs start as gatherers. They network with friends and contacts and gather up any business that comes their way. But at some point, in order to really grow, businesses must begin using other tactics to expand. They have to send sales reps out to hunt for new deals, they have to patiently fish for new customers, and they must spend time cultivating their existing customers for repeat sales.
Hunting strategies include such tactics as direct mail, telemarketing and one-to-one marketing or personal selling, and involve the following steps:
* Identify desirable quarry by creating a profile of your best or ideal customers. This creates a "suspect list."
* Find your suspects through independent research and acquisition of mailing lists. This creates a "prospect list."
* Stalk your prospects with mailings, telemarketing and personal referrals, and then unleash your sales reps for the kill, er, close.
Hunting strategies are very targeted, and can therefore help you close deals with highly desirable customers in a geographic market that you are set up to serve. However, they require tremendous discipline to avoid expending precious energy on small prey just because they are easy to kill.
Hunting tips — Segment your market into concentric circles, probably by geography but maybe also by business type. Start by attacking the smallest circle, and then move outward incrementally as revenues and results warrant.
Fishing strategies include such tactics as public relations, advertising and trade shows, and involves the following steps:
* Find promising locations by identifying the publications and trade shows that typically attract the people to whom you’d like to sell.
* Bait your hook by developing effective advertisements, generating favorable press coverage and building an attractive exhibit booth.
* Wait for the fish to bite and then reel 'em in.
Fishing strategies can be quite expensive and require tremendous patience; also, they often result in small-fry catches that must be thrown back. Nevertheless, they help you cover a wider territory than you could with hunting strategies alone. Fishing strategies enable customers who need your services or products to find you, and they thus can yield a surprise catch that will justify the entire expedition.
Fishing tips — When advertising, more is better; if you can't afford to make a big splash, don't bother making a small one. When it comes to trade shows, without pre-show mailings and quick post-show follow-up, you're wasting your money. With PR, the worst thing you can do is hound a reporter with questions like "When will you print my article?"
Farming strategies involve cultivating your existing customer base for repeat purchases and referrals of new prospects, and require the following steps:
* Fertilize your fields by communicating frequently with customers and providing them with exemplary customer service.
* Grow "champions" who will attest to the benefits of your product by giving selected customers opportunities to speak at trade shows and otherwise demonstrate their expertise and enthusiasm.
* Establish cooperatives by collaborating or partnering with companies that can help you.
Farming strategies yield sales by engendering good will. In addition, they are relatively inexpensive but highly cost-effective because it is almost always easier to get a repeat or referral sale from an existing happy customer than to get a first sale from a new customer.
Farming tips — When it comes to customer communication, short, simple and frequent is far better than big, glitzy and infrequent. Provide exemplary customer service. Call or visit your customers to see how they’re doing. Profile them in your communications and sales materials.