In the last issue, we covered the first steps to developing a marketing plan and tracking where your customers are coming from.

The thing that I noticed when I did this for my own business was that the majority of new clients could be attributed to more than one source. For example, a current customer gave them my name (#2 in the trust diagram), the person then visited my website (#5), viewed my portfolio (#4), and then made the decision to contact me.

This ties in to the rule of thumb that it takes seven contacts with a potential customer before they will make the decision to purchase. Now when I sold real estate, this usually was used by sales trainers in the context of, “Make seven cold calls and eventually they will list with you.” I don’t know about you, but for me cold calling just takes all the fun out of what I’m doing. Who wants to get business that way? Going back to the client trust diagram, that is the least effective way to get business.

A more accurate way to describe it would be that it takes an average of seven exposures before someone makes a decision to purchase, with some types of exposures having more weight than others.

When planning your marketing campaign, evaluate your forms of promotion by which functions they perform:

  • Awareness
  • Credibility
  • Call to Action

Awareness: Newspaper ads, flyers, directory listings, etc, are all forms of advertising that can create awareness of your product or service.

Credibility: Referrals from current clients, endorsements, articles, and columns can build credibility, anything that gives a sense of who you are, what your business does, and that you are good at what you do.

Call to Action: Give people a reason to call you.

Obviously some forms of marketing will fall into more than one category. If a new customer is referred to you, that is creating awareness and establishing credibility.

A newspaper ad will create awareness and can provide a call to action. However, unless the ad is large enough to include testimonials, it’s probably not going to be building credibility.

One type of marketing is not going to be the end- all- to-be-all solution for your business. The key is to determine which types of marketing will be effective for your business, what types of functions they perform, and integrate them into a cohesive marketing message that will build to a critical mass.

If a potential customer has one exposure to your business, you want it to lead to a second, third, and fourth, until they make that purchase decision.

Look at each promotional piece that you put out and check to see if it ties in to another. In addition to your contact information, your business cards should have your web site address to give another avenue for someone to learn about your business. A newspaper ad should have a call to action as well as your contact information and web site address.

One of the easiest ways to increase the number of exposures to each potential customer is by making sure that everything that has your business name on it also has your web site address. A web site can be used to establish credibility through information about your company, products or services, and testimonials. It can create awareness and provide a call to action.

A good example of this is the Kingwood Photo Lab. I was looking for a place to develop family photos and wanted better quality than Eckerds. A photographer friend told me about Kingwood Photo (establishing credibility), and so I looked up their website online. There I was able to get information on all the services that they offered and they had a special only available on their website for 25% off developing (call to action).

The first exposure (referral from a friend) and the information on their website created the trust needed for me to make the decision to use their services. They now also have a sign up for a photo email club (continued exposure).

My theme for this year is going to be Marketing to a Critical Mass. As part of this, I will be having special promotions for different aspects of your marketing plan.