There’s a better way to market your business.

Most business owners try dozens of “marketing strategies” and are disappointed by most, if not all, of the results. Friends or business associates have likely told you to try the following:

  • Classified ads
  • Television ads
  • Radio ads
  • Networking
  • A Chamber of Commerce membership
  • Yellow Pages ads
  • Postcards
  • Bus signs
  • Direct mail
  • And on and on and on

In fact, these are not marketing strategies at all but marketing vehicles. A marketing vehicle simply delivers your message to your target audience. Don’t blame the messenger for poor results. Most business owners focus 100 percent of their time and energy on trying various marketing vehicles but get little response because their marketing strategies are weak, flawed, or totally ineffective.

Your marketing strategy is the key to great results. 

Don’t let the word “strategy” scare you. Your strategy is nothing more than your general plan for achieving the results you want. It doesn’t have to be complicated.

Ask yourself, “Do I have a marketing strategy that I am certain will generate results for me?” If your answer is no, then you must understand that any marketing vehicle you try will likely fall short of expectations.

Consider Frank. Frank owned a frozen custard stand. For many years, he believed that his customers were fully aware that, in addition to his popular cones, he sold custard in bulk packs. This fact wasn’t promoted anywhere in his store, however. Frank’s strategy had been to wait for his customers to ask if he had any bulk custard for sale. Only then would he sell any. This ineffective strategy cost Frank thousands of dollars in lost sales. 

And so, Frank finally changed his strategy. He created a large sign (a marketing vehicle) clearly stating that his   wonderful custard products were available in bulk. He also listed the prices. Immediately, Frank’s bulk custard sales shot up, and his monthly bulk sales tripled — all because he changed his strategy. 

Do you think this is an extreme example? It’s not.

Now consider the case of a particular coffee shop. The first few times I stopped in, I noticed something unusual.  There was no hanging menu listing what was for sale and no display case of products for sale. There were dozens of bags of specialty coffees on the display shelves, and a few other related specialty items, but that was it.

When I finally asked the owner about this, she told me the menus were on a little rack over in the corner. I’d never noticed it before.

When I opened one of her menus, I was surprised by the variety of products she offered: regular coffees, specialty coffees, sandwiches, bagels, breakfast, etc.

Her strategy was to save money by making paper menus and not putting up a clearly visible, hanging menu of her products. She assumed that her customers would all find her menus and would order from them. Her strategy was clearly flawed.

The last time I visited, the owner confided that she was considering reducing her hours of business. Why?  Because she wasn’t generating the sales she had hoped for. She said that her location wasn’t the greatest and that the poor economy was really hurting her sales. 

In fact, there were easy things she could have done to change things, such as make her menu more prominent and draw every patron’s attention to the fact that she sold really good food in addition to great coffee. 

Poor strategy equals poor results.  

One More Example

Bob sells landscaping and lawn care services. When he first started his business, his strategy was to send out brochures to targeted areas and then just wait for the phone to ring. That was it.

Every once in a while, Bob would get a call from someone who had received his brochure, but he wasn’t getting nearly enough business.

After Bob learned that a targeted, proactive strategy would produce much better results, his new strategy was to target people building new homes in his marketplace. These people would soon need a lawn and very possibly complete landscaping services.

Bob also learned that timing was critical with his new strategy. If he waited too long to make initial contact, one of his competitors would often beat him to the sale. His new strategy included mailing a letter and a brochure to each new homeowner as soon as he learned his or her name. It also included a personal visit within a week or two after the homeowner had moved in. Bob’s new marketing strategy produced instant results, and his sales continue to grow, year after year.

So, if you want to start seeing results from your marketing, try changing your strategy, not your vehicle. I bet you won’t be disappointed.