Straight Up Business Talk

Business strategy and advice from the team at Straight Talk Group… you’re in the right place to get things Straight.

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Marketing Mistake #6 | Not Identifying Your Ideal Or “Target” Market

Who do you market to?

Who should you market to?

Are they the same?

If so, was that planned?

If they’re not the same, why aren’t they?

These questions are critical to the success of any marketing program.


You can have the very best product or service on the planet. You can have the most attractive offer, the lowest prices, lots of bonuses, personal attention, and the best service available. But if you offer this wonderful package to the wrong market, you’re sure to fail.


On the other hand, what if your package… your total offer, isn’t that good? Let’s say it’s just average. Let’s also assume that your prices are not the lowest, but they’re at least in the ballpark. You’ve really got nothing special that the rest of your competition can’t offer. But you have a great list to market to. Well-qualified, highly motivated prospects with the authority and the ability (money) to buy.

With that kind of market you just about can’t lose.

Targeting your marketing efforts to the right people can make or break your entire advertising or marketing campaign. And if you’re a small business, you can’t afford to have that happen too many times. It’ll drive you right out of business!


One of the best ways to make sure you’re marketing to the right group is to go back over your records and create a list of your current and past customers and clients. You know the people in this group are the right people to market to, because they’ve purchased from you before.


Everyone who inquires about your products or services, or who makes a purchase from you should go on a list.

You should capture, at the very least, their name, address, phone number, date of purchase, what they bought, and how much they spent. If you’re using the internet, you should also try to capture their email address.

[Example] Radio Shack is one of the best at doing this. Even if you just buy a 79-cent battery, the clerk gets or updates your mailing information. The next thing you know, you’re getting all kinds of mailers, promotions and ads in the mail. It’s been a very important and successful part of their marketing program for years.

If you do the same thing… get contact information from all your customers, the next time you want to make a special offer or run a certain promotion, you’ll have a very targeted list of people who have used your products or services in the past, or who have at least inquired about them. And remember, all things being equal, people would rather do business with people (or businesses) they know, they like, and they trust.

Another thing you can do is send a Customer Questionnaire to all your existing customers asking for information that can help you determine who buys, what they buy, and why they buy from you.

By analysing the characteristics of the people on this list, you can then develop a demographic model of other people who would be likely candidates for the kinds of things you offer.

Since you’re not marketing to the general public, very specific offers can be made to these target markets.

Not only will your hard marketing costs be considerably less, your response rates will be significantly higher. You can spend a lot of needless time and money marketing to the wrong market.

If, for instance, you advertise that you have the lowest prices, you’ll undoubtedly attract people who are price shoppers. That’s not altogether bad, but if you’re looking for long-time relationships with your customers, low price shoppers may not be the best market for you to attract.

As soon as a competitor advertises a lower price, or gives a little more away for the same price you’re charging, your customer is likely to bid you adios.

Long-term relationships presuppose loyalty. Loyalty from both the customer, and loyalty from the business.

If, as a business, you provide exceptional and continuing value to your customers, they, in turn, will continue to buy from you as long as the need exists.

By identifying the kinds of customers you wish to acquire, and then targeting those kinds of prospects, your customer acquisition costs will be reduced, and your customer retention percentages will soar.



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Marketing Mistake #5 | Using Institutional Or Image Advertising

Advertising is simply the process of letting others know about your product or service. Institutional or Image advertising is the type of advertising most companies, large and small use most often.

While this type of advertising can alert the market to the fact that a product exists, it does very little to create a desire in the minds of the buying public to own the product, or at least inquire for more information concerning the product.

A better, more effective and more cost-efficient form of advertising, is called “Direct-response” advertising.

The idea behind this type of promotion is to get the reader or viewer to take some specific action. Either make a call, pay a visit to where the product or service can be seen or purchased, or perhaps, to send in a reply mechanism.

Institutional or image advertising is fine if all you want to do is promote the image of your company, your products, or the services you offer.

But when you consider the fact that your client or prospect couldn’t care less about your company or the fact that you want to sell them something, it adds up to a big waste of your money… money that could be better utilised elsewhere.

It’s true that institutional or image advertising can help build “brand-awareness.” And that’s okay for large corporations that have multi-million dollar advertising budgets. But most small or medium size businesses simply cannot afford to spend their advertising dollars that way.

Most institutional advertising is not customer-focused. Instead, it promotes how great the company paying for the ad is. And since there is no call to action, at best, the results this kind of advertising produces are deferred results.

For the most part, people don’t care about how great your company is. They really care more about what a particular product or service can do for them.

They have their own wants and needs that they want to satisfy, and they will only buy what you are offering if you can show them how your product or service will satisfy those wants and needs.

That’s where direct-response advertising comes in.

This type of advertising shows the viewer or reader the advantages your product or service can provide her and let her know exactly what steps she must take to either get the product or service, or to get more information about it.

It’s designed to present enough information to give a compelling and immediate reason for the viewer to take some specific action. To send in a coupon, pick up the phone and call for an order or more information, or to stop by your place of business.

Direct-response marketing will bring in more response, more inquiries and more dollars than any other type of advertising or marketing.

And the results will be accountable, trackable and measurable. That is, you will be able to quantify exactly how many dollars you pay out for your marketing efforts, where your results come from and how many dollars you bring in as a result.

As a small business owner leave Institutional or Image advertising to the big guys and stick to Direct-response. It is, quite simply the most effective type of marketing for most businesses, and effectively used, can bring immediate profits to your bottom line.



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Marketing Mistake #4 | Not Taking Massive Action

Old Chinese proverb: “Confucius say, ‘Hungry man sitting with mouth open waiting for roast duck to fly in have long wait.”

So it is with marketing. So many businesses have great ideas and plans, but they fail to take action. They’re waiting for “things to be right,” before they do anything. To some extent, that’s understandable.

Considering that most businesses… especially small businesses are tight for money, they want to make sure their advertising pieces are laid out just right, that the message is clear, that they’re getting the very best deal on advertising rates, and that the market conditions are favorable.

Make no mistake, all those things are important… very important. But it’s critical that we don’t get anaylasis paralyais.

Back when Apple Computer was first getting off the ground, articles were written about how they used the “Ready, Fire, Aim” approach.

That is, they got a product “Ready” (it wasn’t perfect), they “Fired” (got it out in the marketplace), then “Aimed” (listened to customer feed-back, then made modifications) and got it back out there again.

That is so different from the way many small or even mid-size businesses run their marketing campaigns today. They get an ad, a promotional letter, or campaign ready, then sit back and analyse it for months. Then they may or may not actually run it.

What holds them up? Why don’t they take a chance? Why not get the ad “out there” and see what happens?

That’s what Apple Computer did. Who knows? Maybe the ad or promotion will be successful, and maybe it won’t. But they’ll never know unless they test it to see.

Now, I’m not advocating wildly spending money and blindly running ads and promotions just to see it they’ll work or not. You certainly must put some thought into the market you want to target, the message you will send them, and the offer you make to them. This takes careful and calculated consideration.

But any business, even your business, can learn what exactly what Apple Computer found out: That the market will tell you if your product is right or wrong for them and whether or not your prices are too high.

And, they’ll tell you exactly what you need to do to make it saleable to them. Not only that, as a bonus, they’ll tell you exactly how much to charge for it.

How do they do that, you ask?

It’s simple:

When you run an ad or promotion, if a lot of people respond or take you up on your offer, it obviously worked. If the response was too great, it may mean that your offer was too good, or your prices too low.

On the other hand, if you get no or very few responses, then something is wrong.

  1. Either you’re marketing to the wrong target.
  2. The message you’re sending them is not clear.
  3. The offer you have made them isn’t attractive enough for  them to justify parting with their money.

But, if you just conceptualise the ad, design it, lay it out, and spend months on end analysing it, you won’t learn a thing, except that your procrastination cost you a lot of unnecessary time and missed income.

Better to get the ad out in the marketplace and find out if it works or if it needs improvement. No need to second-guess. Let your market evaluate it for you and tell you what corrections you need to make.

But do it carefully… by testing as we discussed earlier. Once you find that it works, take massive action. Roll your ad or mailing campaign out and let it bring you the profits you’ve worked so hard to earn.

If you have a marketing piece and are stuck in letting perfect get in the way of your progress and need some quick advice, email it through and I’ll swipe my eyes over it and give you a give you an expert second opinion. 

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Marketing Mistake #3 | Not Testing Your Marketing Strategies

One of the worst things a business owner can do is to fall in love with their product, service or marketing strategy.

Often a person spends so much time developing the “ideal” program or strategy, and they get so close to it, that their objectivity goes right out the window.

It’s important not to get blinded by how well you think your marketing efforts will pay off. Even with all the necessary research in place, nothing is certain. The real key is how the market responds to your efforts and offers.

Before you invest any significant amounts of time, money or effort in any marketing or promotional effort, it would be wise to test the effectiveness of your campaign. That way, if it doesn’t work the way you thought it would or should, you haven’t wasted unnecessary resources.

Here are a couple of examples to illustrate this point:

Let’s say that you want to do a direct mail campaign to 20,000 homes in a certain radius around your business. So, you rent the list of homeowners, print up the pieces, have someone stuff the envelopes, affix the postage and haul them down to the post office. Then you sit back and wait for the calls or orders to come in. But after a couple of weeks, you look at your results and find that you have only received 19 responses. You quickly take out your calculator and figure up that you just pulled a whopping .00095 percent!

Doesn’t sound like a very good return on your investment, does it? Well, it’s not. But, sadly, that’s the way most businesses operate.

But now, let’s suppose that instead of all 20,000 pieces being identical, and mailed at the same time, you decided to only mail to 5,000 the first time. And, let’s say you came up with five different approaches or ideas. Now you go to the printer, have 1,000 of each idea printed, and get them in the mail. After a couple of weeks, by monitoring the results, you notice that idea number three had the best response… 12 orders, or, .012 percent.

Not a great response, but far better than all the other letters combined. And, you’ve not only not spent a ton of money on your marketing campaign, but you haven’t tipped your hand to all your prospects with an ad that doesn’t work.

Now, let’s go back to the drawing board and fine-tune the letter that pulled the best response.

Make the headline more attention-getting, the benefits the reader will gain more appealing, and the offer more attractive. Then, send it out to another 1,000 names. This time, your letter pulls 47 responses. That’s a 4.7 percent response! Not bad in anyone’s book. And, you’ve only used 6,000 of your original 20,000 names. You still have 14,000 left.

You now have a “control” letter. By tweaking the letter again, you may find that it pulls even better. If it does, then this letter becomes the “control.”

Just because you rented 20,000 names, doesn’t mean you have to mail the same piece to all of them at the same time. That’s what most businesses do, and it’s why so many of them have given up on direct mail.

Once you have a letter that is pulling well, keep mailing is short runs, always trying to beat your control letter.

Do you see what has just happened?

By monitoring the results and by testing your mailing you were able to turn a complete flop of a promotion into a huge success.

Your testing is never complete. Just because you’ve run a couple of different tests, doesn’t mean you stop testing. You should always be testing something different to see if you can beat your control.

For instance, suppose you’re doing a direct mailing to residences and want to know whether you should use an envelope with teaser copy, or a plain white envelope. The answer can be found by testing. Here’s one way you might do it:

  1. Split your addresses into two groups; Group A and Group B. Thesecan be arranged by post codes.
    1. Group A will consist of addresses in certain codes and Group B will have addresses in different postcodes.
    2. Group A will have teaser copy on the envelope, and Group B will be in plain white envelopes.

It’s important that the contents of all envelopes be exactly the same. If the test is going to be accurately measured, you can only have one variable, and that variable in this case, is the different envelopes.

Now, when your responses or orders come in, simply keep track of the post codes they came from and you’ll know very quickly which envelope pulls the best. (This is assuming, of course, that the various post codes consist of similar demographics.)

Once you’ve determined which delivery system is best, you can go on and test other components of your mailer.

Some things that are worthy of testing are…

• Headlines
• Subheads
• Super-heads (or pre-heads)
• Body copy
• Bullet points or statements
• The offer
• Price
• Guarantee
• Return policy
• Whether or not to use graphics
• Which graphics pull best
• Drawings
• Objects
• Pictures of products
• Pictures of people
• Charts and tables, etc.

If your marketing can’t be segregated by post codes, you can use specially coded coupons or response cards. Use different codes for different variables that you’re testing.

Or, you might use different telephone numbers. Some businesses have the respondent ask for a specific person or department.

For instance, if they ask for “Susan,” you know they’re responding to one particular offer, and if they ask for “Heather,” they’re inquiring about the same offer but with a different variable being tested.

Such persons don’t really have to exist; you just use the names as codes to measure the responses.

When the phone is answered and the caller asks for “Susan,” you simply say, “I’m sorry, Susan is not available right now. May I help you?”

You told the truth. Susan isn’t available. And, you’re able to help them. What’s more, you’ve identified which offer the caller is responding to.


Testing is such an important part of any successful marketing effort that nothing should be rolled out in large amounts without first testing.

Just using this simple strategy can help you maximise your returns, minimise your costs in time, money and effort, and add significantly to your bottom line.

Whatever you do, don’t fall in love with your project so much that you can’t be objective. And don’t spend too much time trying to analyse and figure out why a particular thing works and why another doesn’t. It really doesn’t matter why. What matters is what. Put small test runs out into the marketplace and let your customers tell you what works and what doesn’t.

Happy Marketing! And if you would like a chart that can help you keep track of the variables you’re testing,  please fill in the form below and we will send it to you within the next 24hrs.



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Marketing Mistake #2; Failure To Monitor Your Results

Results. That’s all that counts in business. Results.

Any promotion worth putting your time, money and effort behind, is worth measuring how well it performs.

Only by knowing what kinds of results a certain marketing effort produces, can you determine whether or not to run it again, or what you may need to do to change or tweak it in order to make it more effective.

It’s absolutely amazing how many business owners don’t understand this simple concept.

They’ll let the Yellow Pages advertising salesperson sell them an ad in their local phone book, let the phone company ad department layout the ad, then let the ad run with no way of knowing whether or not a prospect called or a customer was obtained as a result of that ad.

The ad has no “accountability” or “measurability.”

So, next year, the same ad gets run, the same results are had, and the business owner continues to complain about how poor business is.

And the same thing happens with his or her newspaper ads, magazine ads, direct mail campaigns, Val-Pak marketing and every other type of marketing they do.


As an astute business person, you should never even consider running an ad or executing a mailing campaign or promotion without having some type of response mechanism to measure the results.

You wouldn’t think of ordering and paying for a product… any kind of product, and then not checking to see if you received it.

Yet, many business owners will run ads in their newspaper, magazines, Money Mailer, or Val-Pak, or send out a mailing and never even bother to see what kind of results the ad produced.

I know it’s crazy. But it happens every day. And millions of dollars are wasted because of it.

Some people even go so far as to say, “Well, my advertising isn’t to bring in customers right away. Its purpose is to keep our name in front of our prospects and create ‘top-of-mind-awareness’ so when they’re ready, they’ll remember me.

Well, top of mind awareness is important. There’s no question about that. But you can’t afford to operate your business on “deferred results.”

Each of your ads and mailings must have a definite, targeted purpose.
And each ad must be measured to see that it, in fact, does accomplish that purpose.
We’ll talk more about this in a later section.


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