What’s the Newest Thing in Marketing?


I am often asked by clients, prospects and in general conversation what the newest thing in promotional products or marketing techniques is. The truth is that, if you haven’t seen it before, it is new to you. (NBC even used to use that a slogan to get people to watch their shows during the summer rerun season to get people to change their normal viewing habits.)

New does not necessarily mean better or innovative or, sometimes even fresh: Take for instance the display of “new” products at every promotional product industry trade show. It amazes me how many of the items are “new” because they are new to that company or the product now comes in a new color. To me, that is not new. Or what about the new ideas that no one really gets – like a product I saw in January which is effectively a headset that you attach you cell phone to. You don’t plug it while your phone sits in your pocket and it’s not a bluetooth; you actually wear the cell phone on your head. Seriously, would you wear your cell phone on your head? I have a BlackBerry and I can only imagine the headaches I would get from attaching that to my head every day. New is not necessarily better.

Successful marketing is not really about what is new, or about what is tried and true. It’s about using the resources available to you wisely, creatively and effectively. After all, it’s not the method that counts so much as the results!

Do You Market to Your Employees?


Any customer service expert will tell you that every business has two sets of customers: the internal and the external. While most marketing efforts are directed towards external customers (the people who buy our goods and services), all too often, the internal customer (employees) is neglected or worse.

I tell everyone that the number 1 marketing tool any company has is their customer service. If a business does not offer an acceptable level of customer service, then all other marketing efforts and monies spent are wasted. That company will spend all its efforts replacing one-time or short-term customers instead of building and growing its customer base.

One of the ways that high levels of customer service can be attained and sustained is to treat employees as customers and market to them. Whatever the message regarding customer service is in the corporate culture, that is the way that employees should be treated. The Ritz Carlton used to have a motto about the demeanor of its employees: “We are ladies and gentlemen serving ladies and gentlemen.” That indicated that employees should never think of themselves as less than the guests in their hotel.ust as a business may have customer loyalty programs, how about instituting an employee loyalty program.

Companies where employees feel that they are an integral, respected and appreciated part of the work culture will be more productive. In addition, they will tend to stay with the company longer, cutting turnover rates – a tangible savings to employee-related expenses.

In other words, if you are not marketing to your employees, you are wasting an invaluable opportunity to grow your business.

If Your Mind Thinks You’re in July, then Your Marketing Is Suffering


I have a real issue with time. Ever since I started my business, I can’t remember what month I’m in. Today, for instance, I can’t figure out why it’s almost 100 degrees in October in San Diego.  OK, so it’s actually July and it does make sense, but, in my head, it’s somewhere between October and March!

Yes, I can read a calendar and I am not time disabled. I simply live my professional life three to six months out. Aside from the fact that I am carrying out the marketing plan for my company (Lev Promotions), I am also working on promotions, marketing plans, and marketing campaigns for my clients. Since marketing effectively means planning ahead, a good portion of my daily activities have to do with plans and actions that won’t come to fruition until three to six months from now.

My desk has three calendars on it – the calendar strip on my calendar that goes from July 2010 to June 2011, my 2010 desk calendar and my 2011 desk calendar. I’m not necessarily advocating this for everyone, but, when keeping track of my business and my clients’ marketing programs, it’s the only way I can see the big picture and the day-to-day. These don’t count the calendar on my Blackberry or the calendar in my ACT program, either!

So what does this mean for you? It means that, when you’re working on your marketing efforts, if you’re not looking at least three months out, you’re missing out on opportunities to promote your business more effectively and, possibly, at less cost! The marketing that you do today fills your pipeline of prospects for tomorrow which funnels into your sales of the day after that. If you don’t plan your marketing effectively, you will find that you are scrambling to keep up and your pipeline will slow down to a small drip, or worse.

Moral of the story, if your marketing mind is in October or later, your business will show the results. And, maybe you won’t feel that summer heat so much!

Marketing Plans: Etched in Stone or Just a Guideline


I recently did a quarterly review of Lev Promotions’ marketing plan for  2010 to see which tasks are being completed, which goals are being met and where we are not achieving what we need to be. Although I knew that our business was up this year over last year, I was surprised to see that we had hit or exceeded our marketing goals from January through June. This was a pleasant surprise, since I knew that not all of the tasks on the plan had been completed, or even started.

Why was I surprised? Although I knew that we’d been busy (I myself have been swamped with work and loving it!), I knew that we had opened up more avenues for marketing the company since last November. This, in my mind, became “busy work.” Yes, when we do it for our clients, it’s productive time, when it’s for Lev Promotions, it becomes “busy work” (see my blog from 03/05/10 for more on this aspect of business). I also knew that we had achieved or surpassed each month’s goal for new clients since January. What I failed to see was the repeat business being generated by new clients was significantly higher than we had ever seen before. In addition, I had failed to notice that our long-time clients were starting to place larger and more frequent orders.

By reviewing our marketing plan and really looking at the figures, I was able to determine where our new and existing marketing efforts were paying off and what we needed to tweak, cut back, or remove.

It is essential to realize that a marketing plan should be evaluated and rethought at least on a quarterly basis. As volatile as today’s economy is, it is absolutely essential that a marketing plan keeps up with what is happening in the real world. After all, a plan that was written in the third or fourth quarter of the previous year may be all but obsolete by the time you need to put parts of it into action 12 months later.

How Many Licks Does It Take to Get to the Center of a Tootsie Pop?


If you’re my age (no, I’m not saying!), you may remember that old cartoon ad? (I’ve actually seen it on TV again fairly recently.) Well, I may not be counting the number of licks, but I sure am aware of the number of “touches” it takes to close a sale in today’s world. For those of you unfamiliar with the term, I use “touch” to mean any type of contact with a customer or prospect – phone call, personal visit, e-mail, direct mail, playing together in a golf tournament, etc…

When I was taking marketing classes for my hospitality management degree, we were taught that it takes three to five touches to close a sale with a prospect. That was twenty years ago. In today’s world, 80% of sales are closed somewhere between the fifth and twelfth contact point; most taking place closer to the twelfth. Each year, these statistics go up.

Why, you ask?

Because we are constantly inundated with more and more ways to be connected. Between the phone, mail, in-person calls, e-mail, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, text messaging and more, technology exposes us to more messages from more people than ever before. The more inundated with messages wer are, the more it takes to break through the clutter to get noticed.

What does this mean? If you want to make the sale, you can’t stop after the first, second or third touch. It can take months or years to get that return phone call or request for information. It took three years before one of my prospects contacted me for information about a promotional product. They have been one of my best clients now for the last five years!

Don’t be afraid to be somewhat aggressive in your pursuit of prospects; just don’t become a stalker or lose your professionalism and sense of courtesy. Set up a drip campaign to keep you front and center in the minds of your customers and prospects. (Not sure what a drip campaign is, contact me at rama@levpromotions.com for an explanation).

With perseverance and a good marketing outreach program, you can land those customers within thirteen touches! Go forth and sell!