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Time For Small Ball… Says Marketing Speaker, Jim Ackerman | Marketing Wizard's Alliance

Time For Small Ball… Says Marketing Speaker, Jim Ackerman

By Jim Ackerman · Thursday, March 1st, 2012

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In my last column I talked about the power of relationships in marketing. I want to take that a bit further this time, in this light…

It’s no secret the world of marketing has literally been turned upside down with the advent of the iPhone (smart phones), the iPad (tablets) and online and mobile media in general.

But in the end, it’s not the technology, but the way it has allowed society to return to its roots — without even realizing it — that has revolutionized the world of marketing and advertising.

The result of the technology is the “social media.” And while I have decried the expected longevity of online societies like Facebook and Twitter as viable marketing channels in the long run, specifically because there is no barrier to entry — everybody can get in for FREE — they have created societies that return us, in some sense, to the ways societies worked in yesteryear.

Maybe you’d have to be as old as me to remember this, but it used to be that people knew their neighbors. It used to be they knew most, if not all their neighbors. They went for walks, they sat on the porch or on the stoops. They got into conversations with each other. And it didn’t end there. They played penuckle together, had back yard picnics and barbecues, went to church together. They socialized.

Enter the television, commutes to work, two-income households, crime, fear, excessive government intrusion into our lives “to keep us safe,” and we saw an erosion of the societal rituals and norms that had sustained civilization for generations.

The result was a society that increasingly “holed up” at home, in front of the tube. Shoot, we even stopped talking to each other in our families.

And the early electronic and digital technologies exacerbated the situation. Transistor radios, then personal cassette players, then iPods (mp3 players). We got more and more separated; isolated.

Things began to swing back ironically enough, with the introduction of the Internet. Yes, now we were even more tied to that computer, but with email, then chat, we were able to connect with others, anywhere and anytime, so easily, that we began to do it again.

The communication is different, to be sure. Not as intimate in many ways; lacking a certain depth, perhaps, but it is taking place again.

Enter the mobile media. Texting, Facebook, Twitter and their ilk. The online hook-ups have us back on the figurative stoops, sharing our experiences one with another. We’re slowly getting used to “the neighborhood” again, even if that neighborhood literally spans the globe.

As in days of old, if you screw up in business with a customer today, the whole world is going to hear about it in minutes. It won’t take months, weeks or days. My son, Dave, did a controversial YouTube video a few weeks ago and within 6 days, over 636,000 people had not only heard about it, but actually saw it.

So the collective appetite for relationship has been re-whetted. But still, there appears to be a longing for more; a longing for a greater than digital connection.

And this is where marketing “small ball” has an opportunity.

Big ball — tall ball, if you will — was the old foundation of mass marketing. Advertise on radio, TV, in the newspaper, in the yellow pages, and people will come. True once, much tougher anymore.

The numbers, as we’ve discussed in this column in the past, simply are no longer there.

But the people are. The population is still growing, so they’re around somewhere. Just not in one place anymore…

Well, that’s not exactly true. Fact is they ARE in one place. Your place. Your customers have gathered in one place and it’s your customer database.

By now, you see where I’m going. Whether they know each other or not, your clients, customers or patients — every single one of them — have at least one thing in common… YOU. They all know you and you know them.

A neighborhood is born!

Now it’s your job to pull that neighborhood together. Here are some ways to do it…

1. Do a newsletter. It can be delivered electronically, if you want, but make sure it contains lots of acknowledgement of specific individuals in your “neighborhood.” Welcome newcomers to your business or practice. Thank referrers for their referrals and name who they referred, and how you rewarded the referrer. Make offers. Tell case histories. Include testimonials.

2. Use the telephone. Ashley Green Miller of Green’s Jewelers in Roxboro, NC was chatting with another jeweler about the perils of unmoved inventory. The other jeweler indicated he was going to do a mass ad campaign to get the product turned. Ashley said, “why don’t you just call your best clients and offer it to them?”

Indeed, why not? Don’t the people in your “neighborhood,” your circle of influence; the ones who have already shown you the most loyalty, deserve the best you have to offer, before the inventory gets picked over by bargain-hunters you may never even have met?

And if you have employees you’re paying during slow times, just to be there, the phone is a great way to make them more productive. Trust me, your clients won’t be offended, they’ll be thrilled!

3. Use email, but more importantly, use SNAIL MAIL. Open rates for email are below 10%, often even with people who have said they want to hear from us. Most snail mail gets looked at, and at least opened. Especially among people we know and like, and especially when the mailing doesn’t look like advertising.

Use an announcement sized envelope. Hand address it. Use a first-class stamp. Sure it’ll be more expensive per unit, but I’m betting your cost per lead and cost per sale drop like a rock. (Again, you have dormant employees. Have them stuff and address. After all, you’re playing small ball here. You’re not mailing to 10,000. You’re mailing to 500. Maybe less. That’s what small ball is all about.

4. Integrate. Use all three systems; snail mail, email, the phone. Bill Warren, another Jeweler client of mine does exactly that. He has response rates to his promotions that range from a low of around 6% to highs above 30%. What would happen to your bottom line if you were able to get response rates like that.

Want to find out? Play small ball this spring and watch your sales go big.

THE END

EDITOR’S NOTE: Jim Ackerman is a Salt Lake City-based Marketing Speaker, Marketing Coach, author and ad writer. For Jim’s speaking services go to www.marketingspeakerjimackerman.com Subscribe to his VLOGS at www.YouTube.com/MarketingSpeakerJimA, where you get a video marketing tip o’the day, and at www.YouTube.com/GoodBadnUglyAds, where Jim does a weekly ad critique and let’s you do the same.

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