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Effective Marketing Takes Time
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By Rick Crandall

Most marketing involves a noticeable delay between the work and the results. You have to design and pay for an ad, wait for it to come out, and wait for responses. Or, you write a script, telemarket to ten people, then make a second call and a third call before one or two of them spends money with you or invites you to make a bid.

Psychologically, this involves dealing with a "delay of gratification." In other words, you have the costs up front and the money later. If you have little faith in your own product of service, or hate marketing, this means that you are tempted to put it off in order to avoid the short-term pain. Unfortunately, if you put marketing off this week, you won't have any leads to follow up next week or next month.

For many managers, marketing is an "extra" job. If you are not full-time in sales or marketing, you have other line responsibilities. If you are the chief executive of your company, overseeing marketing is just one of several jobs that you should be doing. This means that it's easy to end up working full-time "fighting fires" without getting around to taking on a marketing project.

Knowing that your marketing will take time to work has another benefit. It means that you don't put pressure on people who aren't ready to buy from you. It means that you are prepared to spend time building relationships, rather than trying to force a sale.

It may be that your product or service is appropriate for a customer or prospect, but it may take them time to reach this decision on their own. You really can't force it. By being prepared to delay gratification, you give your future customer time to become emotionally ready to buy. This builds the long-term relationship you need.

TALK TO YOUR CUSTOMERS

If you don't have customers, talk to the people who you hope will become your customers. Good market research consists of anticipating the needs of your customers and then confirming that they actually want what you have to sell.

Too many people never actually talk to customers "on the front line." If you are in a large company, talk to the people who talk to customers every day: salespeople, customer service, order clerks, receptionists, whomever. Better yet, follow the example of a number of large companies where top executives spend a day or two a month in the field directly serving customers.

Why be guessing what customers want, when you can ask them directly? Some companies run regular focus groups where they get to test ideas out on customers. These are not scientifically accurate, but they are better than your guesswork. No matter how smart you are, you are not
your own customer.

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