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Five Selling Mistakes that Cost You Marketing Dollars

It’s guest post day here at Duct Tape Marketing and today’s guest post is from Mike Montague– Enjoy!

sales-mistakesMost businesses these days seem to take a sales or marketing approach to business development instead of a sales AND marketing approach. These common mistakes in sales can cost you marketing dollars and a lot of revenue from potential sales. If you are looking for a better return on your marketing budget, you might try looking at your sales department.

You don’t tightly target your prospects.

When business is slow, the temptation to tell your story to whomever will listen is great.  Instead, be choosy about the people to whom you “tell your story.”  Use your existing customer base to identify the characteristics of your best customers.  With that information, have the sales and marketing departments sit down together and develop a profile of your “ideal” customer.  Then, search out prospects that most closely fit the profile.  You may meet with fewer people, but you’ll close more sales.

You’re not sufficiently selective about the prospects with whom you meet.

Expressing an “interest” in your product or service is not a strong enough reason to schedule an appointment with a potential prospect. If prospects’ “interests” aren’t backed by recognized needs or desires for your product or service – now or in the immediate future – then there’s no compelling reasons to meet with them.  Find out why prospects are interested and what trigger event sparked their interest before you schedule sales appointments.  Use the marketing department to score the leads and nurture them until they are “sales ready”.

You neither establish credibility nor demonstrate expertise.

In sales, your job is to help the prospect view their situation from different perspectives and discover elements or aspects of their challenges they didn’t previously recognize.  And most importantly, you can’t just tell them! Prospects can get information from your marketing, but you must be able to ask questions in such a manner as to help prospects make those “discoveries” through a conversation.  Here’s an example:

When you asked your production manager to measure the injection pressure differential between the beginning and end of the production cycle and to what extent it contributed to the casting inconsistencies, what did he report?

Educating your prospects through intelligent questions demonstrates your understanding of their problems and allows the prospect to discover your expertise. It is perhaps the single most important skill to master in modern selling.

You don’t ask “tough” questions.

To be valuable as a salesperson, you must be able to identify elements at the center of controversies, uncover root causes of problems, discover carefully guarded information, and obtain rarely volunteered commitments.  You won’t be able to accomplish any of those tasks without asking tough questions. Again, marketing materials can explain features and benefits, but only great salespeople can ask and answer tough questions.

You rush to make presentations.

Many salespeople are too eager to make presentations.  They view them as opportunities to establish the value of their products or services by demonstrating their unique aspects. However, the real purpose of presentations is to confirm your ability to deliver the solutions prospects are predisposed to buy.

Until you know what and why you are presenting, you should refrain from making presentations.  Don’t cool off your lead from the marketing department by presenting information they don’t care about, instead heat it up by discussing the prospect’s situation and understanding why they are considering your help.

Make the most of your marketing and sales opportunities!

If both departments work together, the harmony can take your organization to the next level. Marketing can become sales enablement specialists who create and nurture leads, and then escort them over to sales at the perfect time. The sales team can relax and become closing conversation masters that bring the expertise of a trusted advisor to remove road blocks for prospects. Both departments can work together to create an environment that allows the customer to buy and enjoy doing so!

These five mistakes are just some of the ways selling mistakes hurt your marketing. If you can think of others, please share them in the comments below.

 

Mike-Montague-2013-smThis is a guest blog by Mike Montague, Associate and Certified Trainer at Sandler Training Kansas City. Sandler Training empowers their clients to achieve higher levels of success through innovative training courses in sales, management, and customer service for companies and individuals around the Kansas City area. They offer public and private courses for individuals and organizations who value lifelong learning and continuous improvement.

Does Your Business Have a TV Show?

It’s guest post day here at Duct Tape Marketing and today’s guest post is from Kevin Jordan – Enjoy!

If you watch any television at all, chances are you’ve stumbled across one of the many reality TV shows that turn the day-to-day drama of a small business into prime time entertainment. There’s TLC’s Say Yes to the Dress (starring Kleinfeld Bridal in Manhattan) and Cake Boss (featuring Carlo’s Bakery in Hoboken, NJ), the History Channel’s Pawn Stars (Gold and Silver Pawn Shop, Las Vegas) and American Pickers (Antique Archeology in Le Claire, Iowa), and my personal favorite–the Discovery Channel’s Flying Wild Alaska (about the airline Era Alaska, based in Unalakleet, AK). These shows have turned the owners and employees of obscure small businesses into international celebrities, and generated tens of thousands of dollars of revenue for the businesses (if not more). What small business owner hasn’t watched one of these shows and thought to him or herself, “I wish I had a TV show about my business distributed by a media giant to millions of viewers around the world”?

Well, I’ve got great news for you. You can have a TV show about your business, and Apple will deliver it literally into the hands of 1.5 billion people around the world. It’s called a video podcast, and for the business owner who has the time and resources to devote to creating one, it’s a very effective way of delivering educational content to your target audience and establishing yourself as an authority in your niche.

iTunes Video BlogsWhat’s a Podcast?

Before I go any further, perhaps I should clarify what exactly a podcast is, because the name “podcast” actually is no longer a good way of describing it. You see, a podcast is basically a means of distributing content to an audience. That content can take the form of a radio show (audio podcast), a TV show (video podcast), or a newspaper (yes, you can actually distribute PDF documents using a podcast). The reason it’s called a “podcast” is that in the beginning many people were listening to audio podcasts on their iPods. However, there are now many different ways that people can consume podcasts, so that’s a little bit of a misnomer.

Just as is the case with more traditional forms of syndicated content distribution, people can either consume one “episode” of your podcast (like picking up a newspaper from the rack at the news stand), or they can subscribe to your podcast and have each episode automatically delivered to their favorite device when it is released (smartphone, laptop, iPad, iPod, etc).

Why would you want a video podcast?

Now, you may be thinking to yourself, “I already have an email newsletter that people can subscribe to. Why should I have a podcast also?” Unlike an email newsletter, this method of delivering content to your target audience is completely spam-proof, and does not require someone to divulge any personal information (like name and email address) in order to receive it. Therefore, all barriers to entry are essentially removed. It’s a great way to let people “try out” your business at no risk–a key component of the Duct Tape Marketing Hourglass concept.

As to why you should consider a video podcast instead of an audio podcast, there’s a couple compelling reasons:

  • With a video podcast, there are fewer restrictions on the type of content you can produce–think live demos, screen capture videos, virtual tours of your facility, etc.
  • Your personality comes through more powerfully in a video (assuming you appear on-camera) than in an audio broadcast
  • In some cases (depending on your content), you can separate the audio from the video in your editing process and use the audio files to create an audio podcast without any additional editing, thus reaching a wider audience.
  • Right now, there are a lot fewer video podcasts than audio podcasts, meaning less competition. Also, Apple is actively promoting video podcasts in iTunes and has expressed interest in getting more of that type of content on their platform.

What will your show be about?

So, now that you’re convinced that this whole video podcast thing is at least worth investigating, the only thing left to decide is what your show will be about. Here’s a few ideas:

  1. Use your show to teach customers (or potential customers) how to use your products. For example, the Basic Brewing video podcast teaches people how to brew beer, and its host, James Spencer, has an online homebrew supply store.
  2. Use your show to establish authority and credibility in your niche. If you’re a speaker, author, or coach, a video podcast is a great way to position yourself as an expert. See the NutritionFacts.org video podcast for an example.
  3. Your show could simply be a method of broadcasting company events, messages and updates to your employees, strategic partners, vendors, and customers. For example, the White House publishes a video podcast that is simply a recording of all the president’s speeches.

If those examples don’t give you any ideas or inspiration, just go to iTunes and search for video podcasts about topics you are genuinely interested in (you can even find video podcasts about video podcasting). Subscribe to a few and start watching them on a regular basis. Chances are, before long you will start to view the hosts of the shows you subscribe to as experts you can turn to for trusted advice. You may even end up buying products or services from some of them! There’s no reason why you can’t be one of those “trusted experts”. Start a TV show for your business so you can share your knowledge and experience with the world, gain the trust of your target audience, and position your brand at the top of your niche.

Kevin JordanKevin Jordan is an authorized Duct Tape Marketing Consultant living in central Virginia. He’s also the host of the Small Business Marketing Minute, a daily video podcast for small business owners looking for simple, affordable, and practical marketing tips. He teaches several online courses on small business marketing, including video marketing.

How to Get More Customers for Free This Week Through Google

It’s guest post day here at Duct Tape Marketing and today’s guest post is from Erik Larson – Enjoy! 

You’re getting frustrated.

You see neighboring businesses, competitors, and everyone else get customers through their door, and you’re getting nothing.

So you ask around, trying to figure out what’s going on.

You keep hearing your friends tell you “My customers keep telling me they ‘saw me on Google’ or they ‘found me through their smartphone’”.

You have a website! That one guy you paid way too much money to put up your website said you would be found on Google! What gives?

So you type your name into Google, and sure enough, there’s your website, right where it was. And you remember that supposedly, you were going to be on the first page of Google for [whatever your industry is, let’s say plumbing]. So you type in plumbing, and you’re nowhere to be found. But you do see this:

PlumbingMaine1Large

‘Wait, how come I’m not on that map?’ You ask. ‘This must be why the other plumbers are crushing me!’

Welcome to Google My Business, a free service provided by Google.

I know it can be frustrating to see your competitors looking really good on Google, and you’re nowhere to be found, I understand that. I also understand the idea of getting your business up on Google can be intimidating, the idea of going through a huge elaborate process, jumping through hoops, and not understanding any of it is scary.

But guess what, it’s surprisingly easy.

Using the built-in Google My Business tutorial, you will usually be able to get setup and going in an hour or less. Anyone that has a basic understanding of how to use the Internet can do this, so by the sole reason that you are reading this blog post, I believe in you.

Let’s get started so we can  get you some more customers, shall we?

First off, there are some important things you need ready and at your fingertips:

  • A Google or Gmail account
  • A nice picture of the front of your building
  • Your address
  • Your logo

Once you have these things ready, go to http://www.google.com/business/, and click on the “Get on Google” button. Follow all the directions exactly, make sure to fill out as much as possible. Once you’ve got your account setup and verified, it could take a couple days to get your business in the results.

Getting the HUGE boost in traffic we talked about

Alright, so now that your account is setup and verified, here’s the tricky part, making your business stand out on the search page.

I typed “Plumbing in Portland, Maine” and I got these results.

PlumbingMaine2Large

Which result do you think gets the most clicks?

As you might have guessed by the lack of reviews on the front page, getting a Google Review can be kind of tough. I’ve seen a lot of companies with Google profiles that have been up for a long time, and still don’t have any reviews.

So, how do we go about getting these elusive reviews?

Here are three really easy steps to getting a Google review:

  1. Type your company name and city into Google. [For example: “Joe’s Plumbing, Baltimore”
  2. Find the “Write a review” link, right click it and copy the link.
  3. Send that link to 30 of your best and favorite customers, and ask them to write a review.

In the email, make sure you thank them for being an amazing customer, and make sure to thank them again after they wrote the review. If you are a customer of theirs as well, you can offer to do the same thing for them.

Once those reviews start rolling in, you’ll likely notice a bump in traffic to your site, your Google+ page, and your business.

Getting even MORE customers

Wait, you want even more customers?

Well, if you have the money, there’s a way to boost the amount of people coming to your website dramatically. If you’re a brick-and-mortar business, Google Adwords Express let’s you show up in Google Maps results, and you’ll show up in the yellow bar in Google search. It’s pretty easy to setup, and it’ll run automatically.

If you want to go more in-depth, you could run a campaign in Google AdWords, there are tons of great tutorials out there to help you out.

Now, the next step is to get your business set up in Bing Places, to take advantage of all of the Siri and Windows Phone users out there.

How many of you have used Google My Business? How has it helped your company?

150portraitErik Larson is the founder of RunTheMarket, a small business marketing blog. He is also the SEO specialist for Lendio, a free online tool to find business loans, and writes on small business topics on the Lendio Blog. He can also be found on Google+ and Twitter.

 

Can Accounting Reports Really Be Beautiful?

It’s guest post day here at Duct Tape Marketing and today’s guest post is from Tyler Nay – Enjoy!

AccountingAs a small business owner, what is more rewarding than focusing on the area of your business that you are most passionate about?  To invest your uninterrupted attention in doing the things that pushed you to start your own business in the first place?  Closing a big sale, writing a book, designing a new product, understanding expenses . . .

Did I lose you with the last one?

What about controlling cash flow or understanding which products generate the most profit? Accounting is frequently an overlooked area in small business as it does not hold the flash and appeal that some other areas of owning a business hold.

The good news is that the days of simply relying on old, stuffy, boring spreadsheets with confusing terms and data have come to end. Software app makers have given accounting reporting and analytics a whole new face making understanding the numbers that drive your business a powerful competitive advantage. (Oh, and they keep the accounting, payables, receivables, banking and tax folks happy too!)

Below are examples of 4 tools that any small business can employ to help stay on top of its bookkeeping and better understand its financial position.

Xero

Billed as the company that makes “Beautiful Accounting Software”, Xero is standing at the forefront of the cloud based accounting software revolution. After playing around with the software, it’s easy to understand why people refer to it as “beautiful”. The easy-to-navigate user interface removes a lot of the pain out of finding different tools, booking entries, and negotiating through the site. In fact, its overall design has been credited by some with making accounting “fun”. Another major benefit is the ability to sync your business bank accounts and credit cards with Xero. It saves loads of time, removes some of the redundant data entry from the accounting process, and reduces the likelihood of key strike error.

Zoho Invoice

The speed at which a small business gets paid for services rendered is vital to health of that company. Zoho Invoice strives to improve cash flow by making invoicing easy and payment receipt faster. I really enjoy the entire invoice conversion feature offered by Zoho. You can issue an estimate to a customer and once approved, turn that estimate into an invoice and email it directly to them. The invoice design is also highly customizable which allows you to add company logos and your own unique style to the layout.

QuickBooks for PC

A mainstay in small business accounting software, QuickBooks still offers a PC version of its small business accounting solution that is ideal for a small business that wants an on-premise accounting solution with few users who need access to it. The array of features offered by this product and how it can conform to almost any small business is an important element. As a past QuickBooks user, I would recommend purchasing additional reading material to help navigate all the features. The software offers a lot of reporting capabilities that can be difficult to navigate.

Square

Producer of the little white reader box that sits atop your Apple or Android device to complete credit card transactions, Square’s point of sales system allows users to complete payment for service transaction anywhere, anytime. Square allows users the ability to integrate with their small business accounting software programs like Xero or QuickBooks – a highly attractive feature.  Through this integration, your accounting software automatically creates the accounting entries necessary to record your daily Square sales, in turn, leaving a small business owner more time to focus on the more enjoyable aspects of his or her business.

By implementing any of these four products, small business owners will see immediate dividends paid in their accounting and bookkeeping department. I personally enjoy the direction in which Xero is moving. Its cloud-based accounting software seems to be the direction that small business accounting is moving and the simple, easy-t0-use interface is attractive for users who may not have a lot of accounting experience.

Tyler NayTyler Nay is presently a senior operations accountant at Watco Companies, LLC, a transportation company based in Pittsburg, Kansas. Over the course of his career, he has spent time in both the public and private accounting sector, where he developed the passion for streamlining accounting information systems for any business, regardless of size. If you would like to connect with Tyler, please do so on LinkedIn.

 

7 Ways Entrepreneurs Can Use Video To Grow Their New Business

It’s guest post day here at Duct Tape Marketing and today’s guest is from Joe Forte – Enjoy!

Congratulations! Your business plans are in place, perhaps you have sought out and won investors, and gotten a foothold in the market with your product. Now it is time to grow. No doubt you are raising the mantle of social media dominance and gathering all the “followers” and “likes” that are to be had, but have you got the moves to keep their attention?

Properly designed and produced videos are an amazing way to build strength behind any marketing campaign. Let’s look at 7 ways entrepreneurs can use video to grow their new business.

1. Viral Video Marketing

This is old news to anyone with an Internet connection, but also extremely hard to do for the average Joe with a low definition webcam. You need something shocking, wowing, the “AH!” factor if you will. Like any good song, your product not only needs a hook, but a melody to provide the ear-worm and make your work a household name. Seeking out a firm with good copy writing and production staff can help bounce your ideas into a whole new audience.

In our example, we take a look at the 2011 start-up Dollar Shave Club and their viral video “Our Blades Are F***ing Great”. The CEO, Michael Dubin, wrote the script and had his good friend co-direct it. They produced the video by themselves without the help of a professional video company. It cost roughly $4,500 to make and it was shot in a day at their actual factory warehouse.. The viral video was responsible for 14 million views and 12,000 new orders that arrived within the first 48 hours of it being uploaded, and since then, Dollar Shave Club has gone on to produce other viral videos to continue the buzz surrounding their fast growing business.

2. Creating Brand Recognition

What names come to mind when you think about online search engines? What about cake mixes? More importantly, what name will come to mind when people think about your product? Your company, your product, is your baby. You have invested hundreds of hours and devoted many sleepless nights into planning, research, and development. Quality, targeted videos of your product, and your mission, will put you head and shoulders above the crowd.

Lyft, a privately held, San Franciso-based transportation network company that was founded in 2012, recently released a video that explains how their peer-to-peer ridesharing mobile phone app works. They do a great job by incorporating their signature furry pink mustaches on their drivers’ car into the branding of the video, to create instant brand recognition when you’re out on the road. Do you think their branding messaging is working?

3. Use Your Videos to Introduce Yourself

video production companiesPut a name and face on your brand! People like relating with people. Studies have shown that it is hard to shake hands with the Internet though. (A little humor). Let the world meet the people behind your product. Who makes your widgets and why do they love making them? Why did you start making your widget and why do you want to share it with the everyone? Everybody loves a good story, give them one!

4. Use Videos to Share Testimonials

You can use this opportunity to showcase your product as well as share “visual reviews” with the world. Written reviews are fantastic and have their place, but your product alongside the smiling face of a well satisfied customer carry some extra weight. People trust people, it can take some time to build the trust in the brand, and this will help to bridge that gap. If a picture is worth a thousand words, how many words is a brief 3-minute video worth?

5. Vlogging

I know, buzzword alert! This is a time tested way to help personalize your business though. Since the inception of social media marketing and YouTube, business execs, small-business owners, and private marketeers have been offering their personal perspective through vlogs. This is your chance to tell the world who you are and why you do what you do. Getting them invested in you will help to get them invested in your success and your business.

6. Offer Behind the Scenes access to Your Product

This is called “Building the Hype Train”. Congratulations, you are launching a shiny new Earth shattering product… Who cares? You do of course, and who better to share that excitement! Get the word out, show the world your new widget! (Use discretion if still in development, they don’t need to see software source code, or how much butter goes into your new dish).

Think of this like ordering a dish at a new restaurant. Your friends have been telling you for weeks just how good this place is, you have cleared an evening that you are anticipating will be filled with bliss. You have been salivating over how that steak will taste as you throw yourself into the first bite, and now, you hear it still sizzling from the grill as it nears your table…

Give your audience that same anticipation! Build them to the first bite of your succulent new widget. Make them tell their friends how after their first bite, they couldn’t wait to share with the world!

7. Offer Instruction and Promotion for your Product

Is your product tech? Don’t assume everyone knows how to mount and port files, offer some guidance, make it accessible. High quality, well edited product demonstration and instruction goes a long way with many people, even those who know what they are doing but like shortcuts. The only things people have bought that they didn’t want to be easy were Rubik’s Cubes and 10,000 piece puzzles. Unless you are selling those, help them along!

Dash, a startup company founded in 2012. recently released a video that showcases its connected car platform that turns any car into a “smart” car. The video does a great job showcasing how to use their product, especially since it is technology based and makes it much easier to understand than having to read long form text.

 

Dash – Mobile – Driving – Demo from Jamyn Edis on Vimeo.

 

Use these 7 ways that you the entrepreneur, can use video to grow your new business! Find yourself a good firm to work with that has good copywriters and a solid film crew. Sure, you could do it on your own, but let’s face it, you are busy enough running your company. Enlist the help you need to make it a success, otherwise it is just a hobby.

 

joe-forteArticle written by Joe Forte, co-owner and producer at D-Mak Productions. D-Mak Productions is one of the top video production companies based in Phoenix, AZ that specializes in corporate video production.

 

Five Ways You’re Not Going To Get An Investor For Your Startup

Thursday is guest post day here at Duct Tape Marketing and today’s guest is Weston Bergmann – Enjoy!

Angel InvestorThere are a lot of ways to attract an angel investor to your startup. There are even more ways to turn them off. These are some of them.

1. Not Having Traction

Sophisticated investors invest in companies that are ready to scale. Meaning the founders have proven on some level that people will pay for what they’re selling and they’ve proven they can repeat said process. The investment dollars are meant to extrapolate on this proven traction. If you’re asking for dollars and you have no traction, what you’re really saying is you want investors to gamble on your experiments.

2. Not Knowing Your Cost Of Customer Acquisition

Knowing how much it costs to acquire a customer is debatably the most important variable in an investor’s equation. Here’s a simple example, if you know how much it costs to acquire 100 customers…. than investors can use this equation:

Cost of getting 100 customers = X

Revenue from 100 customers = Y

Amount of money investor is willing to invest = Z

(Y minus X) times Z = total profit

Z divided by X = amount of customers

Now the investor can ask himself or herself if the amount of new customers and their profit is a big enough splash to get them to that next level. That next level could be something like organic growth possibilities, a larger round, an acquisition target, etc. If it’s not big enough you’re either not asking for enough money (red flag) or your cost of customer acquisition is too high (bigger red flag).

3. Having a Weak Team

Every investor says the same thing: bet on the jockey, not the horse. They’re looking for a “wow factor” that stands out from the crowd. Think about it…if you don’t stand out, how can you create something else that does? There are a lot of attributes that defines an entrepreneur’s “wow factor.” You don’t need all of these, but it’d be nice:

-Out-of-this-world storytelling ability

-Remarkable education

-Previously failed startup

-Extremely successful previous startup

-Personal money invested

-Ability to build your own product

-Connected (social media, rolodex, leadership roles)

-Back story that stands out (Olympian, celebrity, star athlete, successful author, etc.)


4. Being Unlikable 

If you’re about to take a bunch of money from someone to go off and change the world you’re solidifying a relationship with that person for the long-run. No one wants to work with someone that’s not fun, isn’t likable, isn’t agreeable, and isn’t at least a little cool. If you’re thinking, “wow, this isn’t me at all,” it’s your responsibility to find someone that is and make them the face of your company. Yes, this is sometimes called politics. Deal with it or fund the company yourself.

5. Not Being Honest

There are two major reasons why you want to be honest. The first is it adds credibility. If you don’t say the answer “I don’t know” at least once in a long Q & A session you’re not going to get funded. Investors are going to ping you with hundreds of questions until you’re blue in the face, and they’re purposely going to ask you at least one question there is no answer to. They’re testing you to see if you have the confidence to tell them you don’t know. Obviously you can’t say, “I don’t know” too much, or that looks bad for a different reason. But once-or-twice adds a lot of credibility to the rest of the questions that you did answer.

The second reason why honesty is important is something called fraudulent inducement. It means that if an investor can prove you lied to them about anything during the pitch and due-diligence stage – they’re entitled to 100% of that money back. Trust me, you will have already spent some of it (if not all of it) by the time they want it back. The best way to not get caught lying to an investor…surprise, surprise…don’t lie at all. Ever.

Wes with BootstrapWeston Bergmann is the founder and lead investor in a business incubator in Kansas City called BetaBlox. He’s acquired part of over 60 startups in the last two years alone. He is a radical practitioner of lean methodologies and an honors graduate from the W.P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University. He’s lived in ten different countries and his dog’s name is Bootstrap.

Taming the Print Zombie: How to Use a Once “Dead” Medium to Market Your Business

Thursday is guest post day here at Duct Tape Marketing and today’s guest is Pamela Wilson – Enjoy!

print-marketing-zombieTwenty years ago it was one of the most important means we had to market our businesses. Its death has been announced more than once in the past ten years. And today, using it can be a radical move that helps your business stand out from the crowd.

I am speaking, of course, about printed marketing materials.

The postcards, brochures, flyers, and newsletters that papered our world just a couple of decades ago have all but disappeared now. And that’s exactly why it might be time to reconsider them.

Because while all your competitors are reaching out and touching their prospects’ inboxes, what would happen if you arrived in their mailboxes?

If this sounds intriguing, read on for money-saving ideas and tips so you can explore the possibilities of print collateral to market your business.

Ideas for Print Materials

Stationery

Well-designed letterhead, envelopes, and business cards make your company look polished and professional. You’ll be motivated to send out estimates, proposals and follow up letters when you know they’ll reflect favorably on your business.

Postcards

Postcards are inexpensive to print, and less expensive to mail than an envelope. Think about them as an opportunity to send content marketing to your prospects and customers: checklists, buying guides, how-tos, etc.

They’re also the perfect place to make a special offer, which you can send them to your website to pick up (more on that later).

Consider using oversized postcards to stand out in people’s mailboxes, and be sure to explore variable printing, which allows you to personalize and customize elements of the piece depending on who you’re sending it to.

Presentation folders

A beautifully-designed pocket folder has a multitude of uses.

You can rely on it to help your business stand out when you’re making a sales proposal or presenting a report. If you keep it simple and remove your address and phone number (these can be on the paperwork inside) you can use your presentation folders for many years.

This is a “print once, use for years” investment you won’t regret.

Note cards

Simple pre-printed note cards and envelopes that feature your logo will motivate you to send thank you notes, words of encouragement, and follow up notes to people you meet at networking events.

Saving Money with Print

Standard offset printing works best when you’re printing large quantities. To print smaller runs, consider digital printing.

Digital printing happens on machines that are large, sophisticated versions of the color laser printer you may have on your desktop. The quality is similar to traditional offset printing, but the cost is reduced.

Consider using online printers for some of your print materials. Online printers “gang up” their print jobs: your artwork is placed next to other customers’ art on a large sheet, which saves everyone money.

Integrating Print with Your Web Marketing

Finally, if you’re going to use print, make sure you integrate it with all your other marketing efforts.

Start with the obvious: add your website address to all print materials.

For promotional items like postcards, consider creating a custom landing page that’s visually similar to the piece you’re sending, and include the URL on your postcard so you can track visitors.

Coupon codes which are exclusive to your postcard offer are another way to track who received your mailing and see who takes you up on your offer. With variable printing you can even use a different code on each card so you can track clicks to users.

Dip Your Toes in Print Marketing

Print marketing materials are different than web marketing because they’re permanent — once it’s in print, you can’t modify it like you can a web page.

This means taking extra care to proof your information carefully, and working with a graphic designer and printer who can help you bring your vision to reality.

Precisely because print takes extra effort — and not as many marketers make this effort today — tangible print materials can help you stand out.

Start small. If you don’t have a business card, work on that first. Once you’ve created those, consider a simple note card.

Dip your toes in print marketing — because sometimes the most radical way to stand out is to create a tangible object people can see, touch, and hold onto.

Pamela-Wilson-150px-sqPamela Wilson helps small business owners combine strategic marketing and great design to grow their businesses at Big Brand System. Thousands of small business owners have used her free Design 101 series to polish up their marketing. Want it? Just sign up for her free Marketing Toolkit here, and you’ll get the first lesson today.

10 Marketing Tasks You Should Be Delegating

It is guest post day here at Duct Tape Marketing and today’s guest is Amy Metherell – Enjoy!

10 Marketing Tasks You Should Be Delegating_DTM

Photo credit: Krasimira Nevenova

If you’re running a business, there’s no doubt that you have a lot of marketing tasks on your plate.  Yes, there are some things that only you can do, but there are also many marketing tasks you can delegate to an assistant. Yes, you really can!

Here are 10 Marketing Tasks You Should Be Delegating

1.     Blog Management

Have you ever wanted to start guest blogging to get your name/site out there but don’t have the time to implement it? Have someone else do it.  Someone else can easily do things like research blog topics, find images for your posts, find contributors for your blog, or even write posts if you are finding yourself short on time or really don’t like writing.

Do you find it a hassle to manage your editorial calendar? Don’t even have an editorial calendar?  Have someone create one for you and then manage it.

2.     Social Media

Is there a Twitter party you think would be good to participate in but don’t have the time?  Let your assistant do it.  He or she can also create a social media strategy and track and report on the progress.

An assistant can easily post and engage with your audience on any and all social media outlets on your behalf.

3.     Event Coordination

Do you have an idea for a live or online event but no time to make it happen?  Delegate it!  An assistant can secure venues, food, speakers, sponsors, and all the logistics that come with live events such as securing sponsors, bloggers, and prizes for online events.  An assistant can also handle the marketing for that event as well as reporting after the event.

4.     Prospecting

An assistant can easily make calls to qualified leads to weed out anyone who isn’t really going to make a purchase.  This way, you only spend time talking to true leads that are more likely to lead to a sale.  An assistant can schedule those interested prospects on your calendar so all you have to do is make the calls.

5.     Market Research

An assistant can create surveys, send them out, and organize the results into usable data.  He/she can also create and manage focus groups and conduct research about your competitors and your target market.

6.     Follow Up Calls

Follow up calls can mean the difference between accomplishing a sale or not, which means they’re really important but they also take time.  Why not have an assistant do this?  He or she can remind the lead of your initial call and feel out whether it’s worth pursuing.

7.     Newsletters

Communication is core in building up a business relationship and newsletters help with this.  An assistant can create, edit, and send email newsletters for you.  Just provide an example or your ideas and let the assistant take over.  No need to spend hours of your own time on this task.

8.     Send Thank You Notes

Handwritten thank you notes tell your customers that you really care.  Have your assistant organize thank you notes to each new customer and any customers who have referred others to you.  Your customers will appreciate the thought.

9.     Email List Management

You know that huge email list you have?  It’s great that you have it, but what do you really do with it?  Have an assistant manage the list (remove bad emails, etc.) so it’s always in top shape.  He/she can also create auto-responders so you’re always in touch with your subscribers, and track and report the statistics of these campaigns.

10.    Networking

Networking is about making connections that lead to mutually beneficial relationships.  Yes, some networking you really do have to do yourself, but not all of it.  Your assistant can comment blog posts, monitor and comment on your social sites such as Facebook, LinkedIn, twitter, etc.   An assistant can also research online communities for you to join as well as networking conferences to attend.

Now you know 10 marketing tasks you can delegate, so why not try it out?  Try delegating 1 task and see how it goes.  All you have to lose is that huge to-do list!

AmyMetherell_BioPhotoAmy is a Virtual Assistant who started in early 2013 by attempting to get one client on the side of her full time job just to see if she could.  She got three at once and didn’t know whether to cry or do a happy dance.  She did the dance and “stumbled” on several more clients after that and her business has been growing steadily ever since.  Her alter ego is the ringleader of a circus (otherwise known as her family) consisting of a husband who DJs weddings, 2 rowdy kids, and a little dog, too.