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Troubleshooting Your Marketing
© 2004 Alfred Lautenslager

In many marketing discussions, one of the first things you hear about is the marketing plan. A lot of marketing plans are written for businesses that are starting out or that have done no marketing at all. What about those companies who understand marketing, who have a marketing plan and who implement different marketing initiatives for the purposes of growing their businesses? A plan is not what is really needed. What is needed is an understanding of why the marketing that has been tried is not producing satisfactory results and a solution for positive contribution.

Troubleshooting marketing is almost the reverse of planning marketing. Think of all those things you would do in marketing your business, products or services, itemize them and analyze each one to see whether they are working or not. Once you understand these components, they can be isolated, changed if necessary and re-tested for contribution significance.

Usually when you feel that marketing is not providing some results or the results you had hoped for, it is due to one of 4 primary marketing components, and guess what? It is not one of the 4 Pís.

The 4 components of the troubleshooting formula, that follow, are those items to isolate, analyze, fix and test:

ē The message

ē The vehicle

ē The consistency of the message

ē The target audience

Letís review each component.

The Message

Although sometimes subjective, the marketing message must be clear, concise and attention getting for your audience. Does the message create interest, desire and is there a call to action? Does the message relate to you, your company, product or service or does it relate to the challenge that you are offering a solution for? If all is in order and the message is convincing or purposeful, consider one of the other components. Sometimes more than one message can be ideal for a respective marketing situation. It is still ok to test messages. Testing always is a tradeoff to whatís working now. If the message you have is working now, it may be effective for your target market and you may decide to leave it unchanged.

The Vehicle

The definition of a vehicle is something that takes you somewhere. If it is not taking you where you want to go, you need to change vehicles. The same thing applies to marketing. You may be using a nice letter in an envelope that appears as promotional in nature and is automatically discarded by the receiver when a postcard would do the job more effectively. You might be trying to use television advertising when radio would be better. This is common in the business to business market. Another vehicle that sometimes is ineffective is a sales person with poor appearance, poor demeanor or poor selling skills. That would be the wrong vehicle to carry your marketing message to your customer/prospect. In todayís world of technology, different audiences require different medium as compared to marketing of yesterday. This all has to be considered. If itís not working and you know you have the right message for the right audience but its not getting communicated, change the vehicle, test its effectiveness and make the necessary corrections to optimize your marketing.

The Consistency of the Message

How frequent a message gets to a target market can make or break a marketing campaign. Someone once said, ďI tried direct mail once and didnít get any business.Ē There are all kinds of statistics out on how many times someone must be exposed to you or your message before they take action. Once is certainly not ideal. Most will say 6-8 times while others have said even higher. This being the case, have you given your message a chance before you stop or change it? Usually the person that tires of the message first is the marketer him/herself. Usually the target audience doesnít remember as well as the sender and still can be impacted when receiving the message. Does this mean once a day, you communicate your marketing message? Usually not, but sometimes you see or hear something related to consumer brands daily, e.g. Coca-Cola. This must be measured against audiences tiring of your contacts and effectiveness. In the case of direct mail, once per month is probably optimal. In the case of direct sales, it depends on the sales cycle, the stage of the relationship and the magnitude of the sale. Different audiences will require different frequencies of messages. Each must be evaluated as to the optimum effectiveness. If itís not enough, change it. If itís too much, change it. Consistency and frequency is just one more component to be evaluated when troubleshooting your marketing.

The Target Audience

Weíve all heard the saying about what is heard if a tree falls in a forest and no one is there to hear it. The same anecdote can apply to marketing when it comes to the target audience. You could have the best marketing message ever, the best vehicle over and over and if the right potential buyer doesnít receive your message, nothing gets marketed; no one acts. Putting yourself in front of a potential buyer is the key to marketing and selling. No potential buyers? No selling. The right target audience might be the right segment, the right niche within a segment or the right people within a niche. If you are marketing to banks, are you marketing to the bank President or the branch manager? If you are marketing to manufacturers are you marketing to the operations department or the purchasing department? All this has to do with having the right target audience for your marketing. Just as a side note, donít forget about current customers as part of your target audience. Even breaking up current customer segments into different targets may be more effective for your marketing. Find the people to populate the forest and let the trees fall.

If all of the above is in order and deemed to be effective, donít fix anything. If all of the above is in order and marketing is still not being effective, then we need to revisit the 4 Pís of marketing. Hopefully before any campaign you have evaluated strategically your product, distribution, pricing and promotion and advertising. Troubleshooting is not only trying to find out what the problem is, but what the problem is not. With these four components outlined, you can differentiate what is working and what is not.

Get a free 7 step PR plan by sending a blank email to prplan@Market-For-Profits.com or get a report on how to instantly add 50 people to your network by going to www.Market-For-Profits.com.

Al Lautenslager is a speaker, author, business owner, consultant, a certified guerrilla marketing coach and also the author of The Networking Workbook, How to Instantly Add People to Your Network. It is available at www.NetworkingWorkbook.com as an immediate download. Al also is the featured PR expert for entrepreneur.com. He can be contacted at al@market-for-profits.com or through his website, www.Market-For-Profits.com.

PERMISSION TO REPUBLISH: These articles may be republished in newsletters and on websites provided attribution is provided to the author and it appears with the included copyright and resource box.

Email notice of intent to publish is appreciated: al@market-for-profits.com.


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