Ever seen something advertised in such a way that it made you feel like you had to have it?
And if you didn’t have it, you were missing out. Marketing has an innate quality of defining how we feel about a particular product before we have even tried it for ourselves.
The one outlier to the above theory is Apple. Sure, Apple has revolutionary products that offer impressive new features and technology that appeals to just about everyone. When I use an iPad, it makes me feel a certain way. That didn’t happen by itself. That was marketing working with technology. That was tens of millions of dollars at work. Not lazy.
All of the above sounds really discouraging, doesn’t it? So if all marketing is marginal these days, why even market your company? And who has tens of millions of dollars to spend? My answer is simple: because your competitor’s marketing is most likely mediocre! It’s not that hard to stand out if you take some time to consider how you want your customers to feel about your product—whether it is a product or luxury ground transportation company.
Here are Seven Ways to Survive in the Modern World of Marketing:
1. You Can’t Beat Them if You Join Them. I see this way too often. Companies look at their competitor’s brochures and websites and create an almost exact replication. Be brave and take the road less traveled. Stand out from your competition. Make your brand unique, not status quo.
2. Simplicity in Design. Whether it comes to the design of your marketing materials or your website, make it simple. Choose no more than three colors (maybe four if it is a shade) and three fonts in your branding. Let people form an opinion about your company before they have even clicked a link or picked up a phone. Analyze what people think. Ask around. Experiment with a few choices and find one that identifies with you and your business. I understand that designing a whole new look and logo can be expensive (especially when you’ve put them on everything from your vehicles to your employees’ shirts.
3. Simplify the Message. So if an overhaul is not in the budget (and, in most cases, it isn’t) redefine your brand and simplify the message. Know your pool of customers and give them what they ask for.
4. Be In the Right Places. Think of marketing as fishing. You don’t fish in salt water with fresh water tackle. And sometimes fish aren’t biting. And sometimes you need to experiment with different lures and bait before you start catching the fish. Like marketing, fishing is based on testing. Experimenting. Check your results with everything, including e-blast subject lines, website traffic, postcard leads, social media responses, etc. Make sure to use separate codes when tracking results. Everyone gets lazy at times. I was for awhile.
While working with another company, I started using Google AdWords and set a daily budget of $100 at a low price of 4 cents a click. Once my daily budget hit $100, the ads I was promoting would stop running. I was losing money until I started tracking who was clicking on my ads. I eliminated some sites that were pure money pits (sites where teenagers migrate) and targeted sites where the reader would be more educated and have access to their own money (news websites, for example). By targeting the right market and not being lazy, my results turned around almost overnight.
Your staff should know or be getting familiar with your target customer market—don’t be looking for corporate clientele by advertising on a diner place mat. Use your intuition and market in the right places. What kind of demographic needs your luxury ground transportation services? Start there. Selling to everybody is selling to nobody.
5. Host an Event. So you have this great website, branding, great chauffeurs and an immaculate fleet… or maybe you have two nice vehicles. Host an industry function at your location, whether it is an association meeting or a community event. Reach out to local businesses or other industry-related companies and see if they want to participate in some way, like sponsoring the food or a door prize. You could even do a charitable function that gets your business some exposure locally and in the industry.
6. People Care About Themselves More Than They Care About Your History. I know your company history is important to you and it means longevity and dependability, but it’s more about what your company can offer others. Think about your purchasing decisions on important products or services. Was your decision based on the history of the company or was it based on how the product or service appealed to you? Again, separate yourself from your competitors by focusing on what makes your luxury ground transportation company different than the competition. What makes the experience of riding in your vehicle different than others? A company that does a fantastic job with marketing is Reston Limousine (www.restonlimo.com). Just by visiting their website, I know they are a well-run company. Their website is updated daily with specials, calls-to-action and blog entries. That alone makes me trust them.
Another company that gives me the same feeling is ETS International (www.etsintl.net). Like Reston, ETS runs weekly specials, valuable blog entries, and a clean website design that makes me feel like using them would be a wise decision.I’m not saying that your company history isn’t important, because I know the two aforementioned companies pride themselves on their storied history. I’m just stating that the feeling you get when you go to a company website or look through their marketing material goes beyond history.
7. Testimonials. Don’t be afraid to ask people about their experience. Make a follow-up phone call or email a quick questionnaire with some promotion (a referral, perhaps). Get that customer to use your services again and tell their friends.
As I have been writing this, I have been listening to some contemporary music and it reminded me of something my Father would say. “All of your music sounds the same,” he would say with a judgemental laugh. Well, I finally now get what he meant then.
Don’t let that be said about your company’s marketing. Make it unique. Make it yours. Don’t get lazy. Whatever you do, keep trying to write your hit song. //LD