Don’t Ignore The Obvious With Your Small Business Marketing

Charlie Cook   |   © In Mind Communications, LLC, all rights reserved.

Every day we make decisions based on hard information and numbers, but when it comes to marketing, most people ignore the research and go with their ‘gut’ or personal preferences. Are you making this small business marketing mistake?

I was on a conference call with a client and his brand new marketing coordinator reviewing their web site. Over the last few months I’d worked with this client to remove the Flash from their site and eliminate extraneous links. The result? Their lead generation went up by a factor of 6. Recently, I wrote new copy for the site, and they’d seen qualified leads increase even more, from 60 to 150 per week.

The success of the improvements I’d suggested were quantifiable. Even so, the first thing the new marketing coordinator said in our conference call was that the copy on the page was too long, and the words and phrases in bold type looked messy. He wanted shorter copy because it gave a cleaner look. Can he afford to dictate these changes and ignore the sales results?

What’s the best way to make decisions about your small business marketing?

You look at the numbers to make all kinds of purchasing decisions. You drive to the gas station that has the lowest prices or you pick a mutual fund that has the best track record. You use hard data to make important decisions. Shouldn’t you being do the same in marketing?

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While I want my clients’ marketing materials to look nice my first priority is that their marketing message, ads or web site generate more leads and more sales. I regularly am asked to review marketing messages, brochure and web sites. Clients ask me, “How do you like them?”

My response is to ask is how many visitors they are getting to their site and how many leads and sales they are generating. My advice to clients is based not on what I personally like, but on what gets the best results.

If you’re serious about increasing your sales and growing your business don’t reinvent the wheel. For years marketing and advertising professionals have been accumulating data about what works and what doesn’t. This is research that you can use to guide your planning, writing and design of your marketing materials. Then you can test your specific ideas on the web to further improve the response you get.

For example, I don’t use an opening page with Flash on my web site because research shows that Flash openers send 80% or more of site visitors away. Testing and experience on the web have shown that effective web copy has more in common with direct mail than capabilities brochures, and that it should be personal and conversational. Other tests have shown that putting key sentences of web site copy in bold type helps the reader skim and scan quickly.

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What do I mean by testing your ideas?

Before I settle on the wording of a marketing message for a client, for example, I give it a test run. I place Google Ads using the different options I’m considering. Then I watch the results for a few days to see which versions get the best response. Once I see a pattern, I tweak the most successful version of the marketing message to see if another word combination will get an even better response.

By the time I’m done, I know what prospects respond to. I have a clear winner; a marketing message that typically gets two to ten times the response of the one my client had started with.

You can test ad headlines, Flash elements, length of your copy, and even your use of bold type. Every element should be included or not based on whether it contributes to increasing response rates and profits.

You can improve the response you get to your marketing, increase your sales and grow your business. Test each element of your marketing, use that information to make your marketing decisions, and you’ll generate many more leads and sales.

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