Don't Be A Marketing Day Trader
Day traders buy and sell securities all day for a living. As opposed to "buy and hold" investment strategies, day traders are "trigger happy." Their 'quick in, quick out' mentality cares nothing about the long-term prospects of the companies they buy and sell.
Day traders are speculators looking for market opportunities that will turn a quick buck with little effort. It's a risky proposition-- which is why the overwhelming majority of day traders traded themselves into the red over the last few years.
In a similar fashion, many businesses pursue marketing strategies in the same short sighted, reactionary manner as yesterday's day traders. They never develop a marketing strategy. They do not consider the long term. They lack patience. And, like day traders, they receive the same dismal results.
The Long Term Investment
In light of the dot-com meltdown, the recession and the collapse of Enron, most people realize that gambling their financial futures on over-hyped, half-baked get-rich-quick schemes is simply not a good idea.
In the same light, it is usually common sense business marketing strategies that offer the most reliable road to success. Drawn from more practical approaches to finance, I call this the Long Term Investment Analogy, and at its center is the development of a highly visible, credible business reputation.
Think about it. We are all swamped with too many marketing messages. We have more choices than ever before. And with the existence of so many alternatives, it's hard to know who is for real.
Furthermore, we are sick of "interruptive marketing." We don't want marketers barging into our lives unannounced any more. We hate the hard sell. Rather, we want to approach businesses on our own terms, usually after we've kicked their tires a bit.
Moreover, trust is the foundation of American business--a foundation that is eroding across numerous business sectors according to the Golin/Harris Trust survey. By a margin of seven to one, survey respondents said that "recent economic events have created a crisis of confidence and trust in the way we do business in America," and as a result, they're "going to hold business to a higher standard in their behavior and communications."
"When more than two-thirds of Americans express this level of skepticism and cynicism, American business has a serious problem that goes beyond the 'Enron factor,'" said Richard Jernstedt, CEO, Golin/HarrisInternational.
Establish A "Reputation Fund"
In this hyper-competitive world, and consumer skepticism on the rise, it's crucial to invest in the one of the last things we can still count on--a good business reputation.
Raising your company's reputation quotient is surprisingly easy--if you begin with the right attitude. Instead of looking for a marketing miracle, you can build a profitable business reputation with series of small, sustained "deposits" that ultimately deliver long-term rewards based on patience, discipline and the magic of compounding.
All of this means a commitment to establishing a reputation fund.
Because prospects must decide whether or not to buy from you, your good reputation will be an insurance policy. It reduces the risk of doing business with you because prospects will know they are going to receive value and quality. Investing in your reputation positions you above the sea of available choices and delivers other benefits as well:
- A good reputation attracts prospects like a magnet. It's the exact opposite of chasing down business and making cold calls.
- A good reputation pre-sells prospects. It's like having an endorsement of quality and ability before prospects ever call you.
- A reputation creates a brand-like buzz around your business. Big corporations spend millions on corporate brand image--because it works.
- A good reputation will make you more money. The best charge more--this goes for everything from restaurants to law firms.
- A good reputation is recession-proof. Companies with the best reputations tend to do better in recessions than their lesser-known competitors
A Smart Investment Strategy
You don't have to wait for your reputation to "happen." You can design a reputation that meets your goals and shapes perceptions about your business while helping you stand apart from the crowd in a meaningful way. Your strategic "reputation marketing plan" will be based on the following principles:
VISIBILITY. A good reputation is only as effective as the number of people who know about you. There are many low cost, high impact ways to enhance your visibility, from writing to speaking to developing a convincing Internet presence. A commitment to sustained visibility is crucial to any successful reputation plan.
TARGETING. Visibility is ineffective if it reaches the wrong people. You must first determine the most desirable, profitable audiences to receive your message. Targeting means thoroughly understanding your ideal client/customer profile. It means learning what they read, what organizations they belong to and what web sites they visit. Make a list.
CREDIBILITY. Next, look for ways to build credibility into your business and ultimately your reputation. Today's consumers are suspicious. They want to know they are getting their money's worth. Your will need to make a case for yourself and give prospects a little "taste" of what you offer.
SHARING "EXPERT" KNOWLEDGE. If you've been in business for any length of time, you know something. Use your expert knowledge to make a case for yourself as a source of genuinely helpful information and one who makes a genuine contribution to your industry, clients and prospects.
Make Regular Contributions
There are countless ways to establish your good reputation, and they can all be used synergistically to increase the effectiveness of each one.
WRITE ARTICLES. Publishing an article in a trade magazine or newspaper gives you excellent free exposure and immediate credibility because your message carries the implicit endorsement of the publication. It also allows you to weave your core business message into something the reader wants to read in a way that no brochure or advertisement can match.
GET INTERVIEWED. Establish yourself as an "expert" resource to journalists who write about your industry. The journalists will be grateful for the help, and your potential customers will see you as an authority in your field.
PUBLIC SPEAKING. Few marketing strategies scream "established expert" than standing in front of a room of people and delivering a high-quality speech on a topic of importance. Chambers of commerce, trade associations and many other organizations welcome speakers with something valuable to say.
DEVELOP INFO PRODUCTS. Whether it's a published book, a taped seminar, or turning your expertise into information products is the ultimate way to establish your reputation, create multiple income streams and reach a much larger audience.
Patient, smart investing - whether in stocks or your reputation - guarantees good results over the long term. The sooner you begin establishing your reputation, the easier it is to make it grow--much like compound interest can grow small, steady investments into a massive retirement payload.
But compounding takes time to work its miracles. Building a reputation that works for you means planting many seeds early on to reap the big harvest.
Be realistic. Although your initial deposits will look small at first, make no mistake -- they will, if sustained, work to your advantage in a big way, propelling you and your business throughout your career.
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