Marketing

How to Power Up Your Small Business Marketing

Charlie Cook

Marketing should run like a car’s engine. Give it the right fuel and you’ll enjoy steady acceleration when you step on the gas, but let the tank run dry or put in diesel when your engine runs on gas and it will sputter and stall. If you’re marketing isn’t helping you attract a steady stream of new clients and accelerate the growth of your business, chances are you aren’t using the right fuel to market your business.

The first step in any successful small business marketing effort is to get the attention of your prospects. If they don’t know you or your products and services exist, you won’t be able to grow your business. All too often service professionals and small business owners think that touting their expertise and the benefits of their services will get them the attention they want. Unless you are a well published author or sought after expert, this marketing strategy rarely works.

Problems Precede Solutions

Prospects’ primary interests are solving problems and meeting their needs. If you can show prospects you clearly understand their concerns and know the problems they are experiencing you’ll get their attention and have the opportunity to demonstrate your expertise and the solutions you provide.

When you take your car to a mechanic you don’t want to them to replace parts until they’ve diagnosed the problem. A good mechanic will start by asking you to describe the symptoms, then they may hook your car up to the computerized diagnostic machine to further understand the problem before they order that expensive part.

Similarly if you want to sell your products and services to a prospect they must first have a problem that needs to be solved or a need to be filled. Despite an understanding of this fundamental sequence, most firms’ small business marketing efforts start with a focus on their services, products and credentials.

Learn how to position yourself and your business for success and where to start and how to focus your marketing to attract more clients and increase sales. Get started now >>

Client Problems Fuel the Marketing Engine

Without prospects problems and needs your firm wouldn’t exist. And without the services and products you provide, you wouldn’t have a revenue stream. You need both prospects’ problems and service solutions to keep your marketing engine running smoothly. Problems are the fuel that provide the power and your solutions are like the cylinders of an engine that do the heavy lifting.

Fueling your marketing engine requires a constant focus on client problems and needs. The more accurate your identification of client’s pressing concerns and interests, the more power you’ll get out of your marketing engine.

The first step to strengthening your small business marketing efforts is to clarify your prospects client’s common concerns. Do you know:
- What the concerns of your target market are?
- What problems they have that you can solve?
- Which problems they want to solve?

If you don’t know the answers to these questions, don’t panic. Instead, list the questions you could ask your prospects to get the answers. Chances are you already know your prospects’ concerns and the problems they want solved but aren’t using it to fuel your marketing.

Learn how to find the right words to explain exactly how you help prospects. With a brilliant marketing message or elevator speech you’ll attract more clients right away. Use the ’15 Second Marketing’ guide to create more business opportunities.

Power Up Your Marketing Materials

Take a look at your business marketing materials and or marketing meetings. Do you start with clients’ problems and concerns or do you start with a description of your services and products and benefits?

Prospects want to see themselves and their concerns clearly identified in order to feel confident that you understand their needs. If you lead with this in your business marketing materials you’ll get their attention.

Which of the following describe and focus on prospects’ problems and which focus on benefits and solutions?
- Your one liner describing what you do (Tagline, audio logo, meme, business card or elevator speech)
- Your positioning page (first page of your web site and /or brochure)
- Your ads
- Your exploratory conversations with prospects
- Any articles or press releases you write

If you are trying to fuel your marketing with the solutions you provide, chances are your marketing will sputter along and you won’t attract all the clients you want. Make the switch to using client problems to power your marketing engine and you’ll be amazed at how quickly your marketing helps your business accelerate. Charlie Cook coaches independent professionals and small business owners who want to attract more clients and grow their business.

Learn how to position yourself and your business for success with ‘The Insider Secrets to Attracting More & Better Customers’ manual. You’ll learn where to start and how to focus your marketing to attract more clients and increase sales.

Read More Marketing Ideas and Marketing Articles


Are You Getting The Benefits Of A Marketing System? If Not, Why Not?

Charlie Cook

Sales have been stagnating and we’d like to send out a mailing to attract more clients. Can you write a marketing message for us to use?” – Sam from Chicago

I get calls like this every week from people asking me to write their marketing messages.  I turn them all down. Wondering why?

Sam is a software specialist who writes and customizes software for small and mid-sized businesses and maintains their computer networks. I asked Sam, “If a client called and asked you to write one line of computer code for a program, what would you tell them?”

Sam instantly understood the point I was making. Computer programs are composed of hundreds, if not thousands, of lines of code. No individual line works without the others. To make your computer run your word processing, accounting, or inventory management program, every line of computer code needs to work together.

A computer program is a complete system designed to achieve a set of objectives. Writing just one line of computer code, however brilliant, wouldn’t achieve anything. It would be a waste of time and money.

The same applies to marketing. The best marketing is a system of elements that work together to grow your business, not a set of isolated parts.

Ready to get every component of your marketing strategy working together to grow your business? Use this link >>

The first step is to understand which components you need to make up an effective marketing system.

Some of these will be:

- A specific target market or set of target markets,

- A clear understanding of your prospects’ hot buttons, that is, what they want and need,

- A marketing message that explains what you do in terms of your clients’ concerns,

- A no-cost offer that prompts prospects to contact you,

- A cost-effective strategy for generating new leads each month to keep your business growing,

- Multiple ways of exposing your prospects to your offer, including a website,

- Marketing copy that takes over where your marketing message leaves off and gives your prospects a reason to keep reading,

- Reasons for your prospects to respond, to contact you and to buy,

- A follow-up strategy that builds on a prospect’s initial interest and convinces them that they need your product or service, can trust you to deliver, and should buy today,

- Once a prospect is interested in making a purchase, a way to increase the sale by 50% or more by selling them additional items they need,

- A way to keep your customers coming back to buy again,

- A referral strategy that prompts customers to refer their friends and colleagues.

Is your marketing stopping short of getting you the leads and sales you want? If it is, you’re not alone. Most marketing doesn’t deliver or help you grow your business the way it should.

Want to discover how to develop a finely tuned marketing system that will help you meet your business goals? Use this link to get a system that’s market tested and proven >>

Are the different parts of your marketing system working together? Take this quick test to find out:

- Are you often disappointed with the response to your ads and mailings?

- Do you wish your website generated more leads and sales?

- Could you use more referrals?

- Would you like to convert more of the people that contact you into clients and repeat clients?

- Do you wish you could grow your business by 30 to 50% annually?

If you answered yes to any of the above, then you’re struggling like most small business owners do to make your marketing work. Don’t keep looking for that one marketing message or one ad that it will magically solve all your marketing problems. A brilliant marketing message or ad is just the key to opening the door to your prospect’s interest, after that you need to have the rest of your marketing system in place to convert their interest into a sale.

You would never ask a computer programmer to solve all your computing problems with one line of code. You’d ask for the complete program. The same applies to your marketing.

If you want to see your sales increase steadily you need a comprehensive marketing system one where the pieces fit together like lines of a well-crafted computer program.  What you want is a marketing system that does everything from getting your prospects’ attention to closing the sale.

Use this link to get the small business marketing system that works >>


How To Cut Your Costs And Sell Up To 15 Times More

Charlie Cook

The accepted logic is that the only way to increase sales is to spend more on marketing and advertising. For the most part this is WRONG!

It’s true if you spend more on marketing and advertising you should bring in a few more sales but wouldn’t you like to spend less and make more instead? Using just a few key ideas you can increase sales by 15 times or more while cutting your per lead costs by thousands of dollars.

How can you make your sales soar and cut your marketing costs? Here’s the story of one savvy Vice President of Marketing and his amazing success.

A couple of years ago, Steve called me looking to adopt the lead generation system I use, which was of course the system that had prompted his call. He was frustrated and looking for ideas to increase sales. His company had a professional-looking web and was spending plenty on advertising, but was getting only a trickle of leads.

Steve explained that they were spending over $750 on pay-per-click ads, but their site was generating an average of only ten leads each week. This made their per lead cost $75 or more. At that rate they were just barely breaking even.

What are your per lead costs? Want to reduce them and increase sales at the same time?

As Vice President of Marketing, Steve wanted short and long term ways to cut costs and ramp up sales. To help them jump-start sales I started by having Steve modify his home page.

First, we added a marketing message that explained the benefit they provided to their clients. After some convincing, Steve agreed to put his company name on the side of their page, in smaller type. Then, we featured their marketing message at the top of the page instead.

The results were instantaneous. Lead flow increased by 300% and per lead costs started to drop.

Do you have a brilliant marketing message that generates leads and sales at the top of your marketing material? Get one >>

Over the next couple of years, Steve and I worked together closely to implement a host of changes. Today, his company’s per lead costs are less than $20, and I know they can be reduced even further. But before I give you the steps we took to help them save over $250,000 and make twenty times that in the last two years, here’s another secret.

After the first success we had together the staff at Steve’s company were believers and healthy skeptics at the same time. Each time a change was made to the site, they checked their web logs to evaluate the number of visitors to leads generated and see if sales were increasing. If the answer was yes, the change stayed, if no then we made additional changes.

For example when we replaced the homepage copy they checked to see if more or less people were contacting them and to see which links site visitors were using. Then we worked to optimize the most highly visited pages on the site to increase lead generation.

The secret of Steve’s continued success? Measuring the effectiveness of each change and then using the past month’s results as a baseline to beat the next month.

Want to increase the conversion rate of your web site to cut costs and make sales surge? Find out how >>

So, what were the most important changes Steve made to his site, which resulted in such an amazing increase in sales?

Some changes were small, some large. Here’s the top seven:

  • Replaced the company name at the top of the homepage with a 15-second marketing message.
  • Changed the page copy on the site from a focus on the company to a focus on the client and from a focus on selling to a focus on helping.
  • Used the location of links to direct visitors to key top-converting pages.
  • Developed and offered a helpful free guide.
  • Collected and added case studies and testimonials.
  • Replaced the sign-up form with a shortened new client focused version.
  • Measured the effectiveness of each change!

Want to cut your per-lead costs and increase your sales? You can!

Whether you’re an author, entrepreneur or mid-sized company, you simply need to know how to put the marketing process in sequence and increase your conversion rates. Once you have these secrets, you’ll see your savings and your sales soar.


Small Business Ideas: How to Play the Marketing Game

Charlie Cook

Marketing a small business is like any game. If you know the rules you are much more likely to win. All to often small businesses spend their limited time and money on advertising, networking, making calls, mailings, meeting with prospects, yet only achieve middling results. The problem isn’t that they don’t know their business or provide high quality products and services, its that they don’t know the rules of the marketing game.

Marketing To Win
To win the small business marketing game, you need to know the rules. The key rules to getting the clients you want are:

1. Market Solutions
2. Target Your Market
3. Demonstrate Value
4. Build Your Network
5. Stay in Touch

1. Market Solutions
Most service professionals focus their marketing on their approach and the products and services they offer. While competence is a key to doing the work, most clients’ primary concern is getting problems solved and having their spoken and unspoken needs met. Instead of marketing your credentials, your processes and methodology, focus on your prospects’ problems, and market your knowledge – the solutions you provide.

Small business marketing is about making connections, specifically between a client’s unmet need and the solutions you provide. The best way to impress clients is to show them you understand the problems they are experiencing. If you want to leverage your credentials, mention past clients when you provide examples of how you solved similar problems.

Discover these small business ideas to learn how to play by the marketing rules and attract more clients >>

2. Target Your Market
Are you getting a positive response to your small business marketing efforts? If not, then you may not have targeted your market and their specific needs and interests precisely enough. Independent professionals or small business owners often try to do the impossible and be everything to everybody. Instead the idea is to target your niche market and get the attention of this group.

3. Demonstrate Value
Actions speak louder than words. If you want clients to be aware of the value of your products or services, you will need to give them a test drive. Open the door with your newsletters, workshops, a free session or a business idea found on your web site. Over time demonstrating the value you provide will convince prospective clients of your ability to solve their problems and help position you as a trusted adviser.

4. Build Your Network
The objective is to know who is interested in your products and services. Networking is a good idea because people like to buy products from people they know and trust. If they’ve met you or been referred to you they are more likely to trust you.

Depending on the business you are in, you can build your network of prospects through conventional networking or through your web site and email. Either way the more qualified prospects you have in your network the better.

5. Stay in Touch
Memories are short. Once we hit middle age most of us can’t remember what we had for dinner two days ago, much less the host of services various firms provide. In most cases its safe to assume your target market has forgotten about the range of solutions you offer, if they remember you at all.

Stay in touch with your target market on a monthly or, at a minimum quarterly basis. When you contact people be clear about the action you want prospective, existing and past clients to take.

Win the Marketing Game With These Small Business Ideas
Once you know the rules to marketing you can apply them to map out your small business marketing strategy, and to select marketing tactics that will leave your competition in the dust.


Million Dollar Sales & Marketing Ideas on a Shoestring Budget

Charlie Cook

You want to market your small business but you don’t want to spend a lot of money? You may be just starting out and have precious little capital or you may have a successful business but want to spend as little as possible for the greatest results. Or, you may just be cheap. How can you create a small business marketing strategy that results in a steady stream of new clients on a shoestring budget?

The key is having the KNOWLEDGE, SKILLS, SYSTEMS and TOOLS to create and implement your sales & marketing plans.

Is your sales and marketing strategy helping you earn as much as you’d like? Does your small business marketing plan help you generate hundreds of prospects a week and help you convert them to paying clients? Are you getting the results you want from your marketing?

Discover the marketing strategies and tactics that can help you grow you online and offline business >>

KNOWLEDGE
While service professionals and small business owners are experts in their business, they often don’t have the knowledge they need to grow their businesses. If you aren’t attracting dozens of new prospects each week and converting at least one of them to client status, you need to learn what to do to market your business.

Depending on your budget, you can:
1. Visit your local library and read a dozen books on marketing, sales.
2. Spend one or two hundred dollars on a couple of manuals from the marketing masters on the web.
3. Hire a coach or consultant to help you learn what to do and how to do it.
4. Pay an expert to do your marketing for you.

SKILLS
Once you have a marketing plan you’ll need to develop some skills, no matter what your role is in your organization. The three most important skills are:

1. Asking the Right Questions
Open-ended questions are the best way to direct prospects to engage prospects, direct their thinking and learn what they want. Do you know:
- What your prospects care about?
- The problems your prospects want to solve?
- What information your prospects want?

Use questions to get the answers. Put together 5-10 questions to ask your prospects.

2. Listening
Listen carefully to understand, provide a synthesis of their responses and use a problem-solving approach to provide the link between symptoms and causes.

3. Writing Compelling Copy
The copy in your marketing materials and the copy you use for your “elevator speech” will make the difference between attracting or boring prospects. Demonstrate to prospects, that you understand their concerns and their business context, and that you are the expert they need. Start by regularly giving them an idea they can use.

SYSTEMS
Establish systems to support your small business marketing plans. Setting up the systems to market your business costs little and make an unmanageable task a clerical function you or your assistant can do. You’ll need to set a schedule for marketing activities, define responsibilities and use your computer to automate tasks.

The most important systems to develop and implement are a way to collect leads and stay in touch with prospects and clients. You’ll need a centralized database and a schedule for staying in touch with prospects and clients in order to do this.

Automate functions where possible so you can focus your time on delivering products and services. There is simple and easy to use software that can help you manage contacts, add prospects to your database and send out broadcast emails to the people who are interested in getting your ideas. Once you’ve put these marketing systems in place, you can focus on handling the growing number of inquires you will receive.

TOOLS
The tools you need to market your business will vary depending on your target market and the products and services you offer. The basics include:

1. Your marketing message and elevator speech. The verbiage you use to tell people why they need you and why they should contact you.

2.Marketing materials, the finished copy you use on everything from your business card, to your brochures, or online.

3. Questions, the questions you use when people call about your services, or when you meet with clients, or to find out what
information they want so you can write the perfect proposal.

4. Communication tools, such as a phone, email and web site.

Take a look at your marketing and determine if you have the Knowledge, Skills, Systems and Tools to attract a steady stream of new clients. Identify the gaps and fill them. You may need to invest a few dollars to make many, but with these small business marketing strategies you can limit marketing expenditures and maximize profits.

Learn how to get attention with your elevator speech and marketing message.

Use this link to discover how to increase sales with a better small business marketing plan.


Small Business Keys to Success

Charlie Cook


Use of Articles and Marketing Ideas

Charlie Cook

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Use of more than three of Charlie’s articles at the same time is strictly prohibited unless written permission is sought and personally provided by the author. Bundling of articles is forbidden without the author’s explicit written authorization.

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Permission is provided to use articles on a one time basis only and sale of articles, either individually or bundled is strictly prohibited.

Thank you for your interest in my educational articles and adherence to these publication stipulations. If you have any questions about use of articles or contact information to include, please email or call me (1-800-795-1858).

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The author, Marketing Coach, Charlie Cook, helps small business owners and marketing professionals attract more clients and be more successful. Sign up for the Free Marketing Ideas eBook, ’7 Steps to get more clients and grow your business’, full of practical marketing strategies you can use at: Small Business Marketing Ideas

2010© In Mind Communications, LLC. All rights reserved.

The author, Marketing Coach, Charlie Cook, helps small business owners and marketing professionals attract more clients and be more successful. Sign up for the Free Marketing eBook, ’7 Steps to get more clients and grow your business’, full of practical marketing strategies you can use at:Small Business Marketing Strategies

2010© In Mind Communications, LLC. All rights reserved.

The author, Marketing Coach, Charlie Cook, helps independent professionals and small business owners attract more clients and be more successful. Sign up for the Free Marketing eBook, ’7 Steps to get more clients and grow your business’, full of practical marketing tips you can use at: Marketing Plans for Small Business.

2010© In Mind Communications, LLC. All rights reserved.

The author, Charlie Cook, helps small business owners and marketing professionals attract more clients and grow their businesses. Sign up for the Free Marketing eBook, ’7 Steps to get more clients and grow your business’, full of practical marketing strategies you can use to increase profits.

2010© In Mind Communications, LLC. All rights reserved.

The author, Charlie Cook, helps small business owners and marketing professionals attract more clients and grow their businesses. Sign up for the Free Marketing Plan eBook, ’7 Steps to get more clients and grow your business’, full of practical marketing tips.

2010© In Mind Communications, LLC. All rights reserved.

The author, Marketing Coach, Charlie Cook, helps small business owners and marketing professionals attract more clients and be more successful. Sign up for the Free Marketing Guide, ’7 Steps to get more clients and grow your business’, full of practical marketing ideas you can use to be more successful.

2010© In Mind Communications, LLC. All rights reserved.

Charlie Cook is President of In Mind Communications in Old Greenwich, CT and can be contacted via www.marketingforsuccess.com. To get the Free Marketing Guide and the ‘More Business’ newsletter, full of practical marketing tips go to www.marketingforsuccess.com

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Create Your Own Small Business Marketing Breakthrough

Charlie Cook

Do you ever get frustrated with your small business marketing plan? Are you putting in a lot of effort but not getting the results you want? Don’t you wish you could just hit a switch and get a better response from your mailings, sales calls and web site?

You hear a lot about breakthroughs; is it all hype, or can you really create a breakthrough in your marketing and sales? I know that you can.

I spent last weekend skiing in Vermont with my wife, nephew and his finance Sonia. We were all having a great time on the slopes, except Sonia. Sonia doesn’t have as much experience as the rest of us and was struggling to keep up. Her problem wasn’t one of effort. She was working much harder than the rest of us, fighting each turn and slowing her progress down the hill.

In a few minutes, I showed her how to tip her skis to make an easy, graceful S shaped turns that took advantage of the new shaped skis. After making a run or two, she was skiing twice as fast with less effort, and having more fun.

You too can experience a breakthrough in your skiing, golf swing or in your small business marketing. If you are like most business owners, you advertise, send out mailings, make sales calls and have a web site. This is what you do to market your business; the way you do these things will make the difference between success and failure.

Discover how to create a breakthrough in your small business marketing and sales >>

What would constitute a breakthrough in your business? Like Sonia, you may be inadvertently working harder than you need to be to get the results you want. With a few changes to your small business marketing strategy and techniques you could be getting a lot more attention, generating more qualified leads and converting more prospects to clients and having more fun.

Here are five ideas to get your marketing plan headed for a breakthrough:

1. Focus on your target markets’ primary concerns in your sales calls, your brochure, your ads and on your web pages. Your prospects’ problems and wants brought you together; use
this to keep prospects’ attention.

2. Use questions to get the conversation going. Whether you’re on the telephone, writing web page copy or writing an ad, ask your prospects questions to get them thinking about what they want and how you can help them.

3. Give something away that your prospects need. The more helpful information you give away to prospects, the more business you’ll receive in return. Give away ideas they can use and help them understand when and how to use your products and services.

4. Build a mailing list of people who want more of your ideas and information. Use the list regularly to stay in touch and you’ll increase your credibility the perceived value of your goods and services, and your sales

Create a breakthrough in your web site marketing and increase sales >>

Other Breakthrough Marketing Ideas
• When people are at the point of purchase, prompt them to buy additional products and you can double your revenue.

• Call people who have bought your products after a couple of weeks to get feedback. There is a good chance they’ll be interested in buying additional products or services.

Whether you want to become an expert at small business marketing, skiing or cooking, the key is to let go of methods that aren’t working for you, and learn and apply the techniques used by the experts. Nine times out of ten, the problem is in getting the basics right. You can achieve a breakthrough in sales when you understand and apply these proven marketing principles and techniques.


Understanding The Marketing Cycle To Increase Sales

Charlie Cook

The three phases of small business marketing are as predictable as the phases of the moon. Work with the small business marketing cycle to generate a steady stream of prospects and to convert prospects to clients.

You want to attract more clients to grow your business, but you’re not sure where to start or where to focus your efforts. You’ve tried advertising in various media, a web site, cold calling, brochures, and direct mail, but none of these are generating as much new or repeat business as you’d like.

Marketing is costly and can be frustrating when its not working; to get more out of your investment of time and money, understand how marketing can and should work to drive prospects to your door.

Understanding the Marketing and Sales Cycle
Marketing progresses through a series of steps to get to a sale or repeat sale. No matter how much you might like to have a full moon on any one night, you can’t skip the quarter moon and half moon to get there.

The first phase of marketing is Getting Attention. People need to know that you exist and what it is that you do or offer before they can buy. The second phase is Positioning; before a prospect will part with their hard earned dollars, they need to get to know and trust you and learn the value of what you provide. The final phase of the marketing cycle is Selling, getting first time and repeat sales.

Unlike the moon, you can affect the marketing and sales cycle. You can influence your prospects to generate a steady stream of clients and customers.

Learn how to attract more prospects and convert them to clients by putting the marketing cycle to work for you. In “Earning More by Marketing Smarter” I detail what how do this.

In “Earning More by Marketing Smarter” you’ll learn how Get Attention and Position your business, and increase sales.

Getting Attention
Step 1 – Generating Awareness
Introduce yourself to prospects and tell them what you do and how you can help them. Make sure your marketing message addresses your prospects’ interests, and then use it to write ads that pay for themselves, whether you are using google/adwords, ezine ads, newspaper ads, or radio spots.

Step 2 – Motivating Prospects to Action

Use everything from your ads, to your business card to your web site to stimulate a contact or a conversation. Give prospects a reason to take the next step and respond by emailing or calling you or visiting your store.

You can get attention to grow your business in just 15 seconds. The key is having a brilliant marketing message, one that prompts people to contact you.

Positioning
Step 3 – Establishing Credibility

People won’t buy from you until they feel confident that they know and trust you. Use your articles, books, interviews, and testim0nials to establish your credibility and help prospects feel confident in buying from your firm.

Step 4 – Clarifying Your Value
Whether you are selling a $15 book, a $10,000 business consultation, or a $50,000 car, prospects won’t make a commitment unless they understand in their own terms the value you are providing. Use your small business marketing materials, your web site, and your conversations to help prospects define the value of your goods or services.

Selling
Step 5 – Receiving Commitments

Whether it is helping a prospect to sign up for your free ezine, scheduling a conversation, buying a manual or sending you a check for your services, to move the process forward you need to ask for and get a commitment.

Learn how to use your web site to get attention, position your business and increase sales >>

Step 6 – Providing Service that Generates More Revenue
You’ll sell your products or services if they solve a problem or satisfy a need. Your objective is to give people what they want. Do so and they’ll be happy. The second objective is to sell them what they need. Do this and they’ll come back to buy your other products and services.

Step 7 – Maintaining the Relationship
Once a prospect has become a paying client, you want them to stay with you and continue learning and buying from you. Continue to stay in touch, clarify the value of your products and services and prompt prospects and clients to buy from you and refer new clients to you.

Getting Attention, Positioning, Selling
a three-step cycle that you can anticipate and influence using the seven steps outlined above. Put these steps in order and you’ll move many more prospects through the marketing cycle to increase sales.


Small Business Marketing for Service Professionals

Charlie Cook