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Marketing Lesson #1: Be Frequent & Consistent with your Message

31 May, 2005 By: Ian Crockett imageSource

Marketing Lesson #1: Be Frequent & Consistent with your Message

I once had a client tell me
that even if his company was burning down to the ground and someone was to ask
him at that moment, "How’s business?" he would enthusiastically respond with a
positive answer. A sales training speaker I saw some time ago said he had a set
reply for that common question, "Cashing checks baby; cashing checks."

A good number of office technology dealer principals come from the sales side,
and, as you may know, salespeople always tend to see the glass as half full. Of
course, many sales reps have had to stretch the truth a bit over the past
several years. But from where I view the office technology industry today
compared to about a decade ago, that is not necessarily the case anymore.

Business is generally good all over the country and more importantly,

confidence is higher now than it has been in quite some time, probably since
Alco Standard (IKON/Danka) ended its buying spree in the mid-90s.

It appears that a lot of factors are coming together for the dealer community.
The products are working well and interfacing with customers’ networks without
too many glitches. New products, such as color boxes, are being received well in
the marketplace. And there are more products and services available to the
dealer to feed into the existing customer pipeline.

Dealers now have more opportunity to grow revenues with a greater share of
customers. No longer are they limited to a copier and the related service and
supply business. They are now selling printers and printer service, networking
services, shredders, storage and retrieval hardware and software, and some are
even selling office supplies to existing customers, along with toner cartridges.

Setting the Table

With all these opportunities out there for dealers, they are looking to
advertise and have more aggressive marketing efforts than they have in some
time. Since there are so many terrific methods of advertising products and
services, I’m going to use this regular column to review many of these
techniques. Remember, sometimes knowing what not to do can be as beneficial as
knowing what to do. I am going to offer you two quick, basic marketing lessons
to get you thinking about possible problems with your marketing campaign.

Lesson # 1

The first marketing lesson I will offer you is to remain patient. Most dealers
are entrepreneurs and tend to get bored or restless when something doesn’t
provide immediate gratification. I like to use the phrase “frequency and
consistency” when I write articles and give speeches.

Frequency of the message is important. Even if you tell people you’re giving
away gold on a street corner, they won’t believe you the first time. You need to
continually get your marketing message out to the public. The consistency of
your message is also critical because you need to cut through the clutter. You
can’t tell your audience that you’re the low price leader in your market and
expect them to believe you are also the best service organization in town. Give
them that one consistent message that brings the strength of your business to
the forefront.

Staying with the same medium is also vital. You can’t try radio for three
months, get bored, and then try billboards for six months. Then, before you know
it, your buddy is telling you he has made a fortune using direct mail and
suddenly take a crack at that for a couple of quarters. The simple fact is that
everything will work given enough time with a consistent and correct message.
There is little chance your marketing plan will work if you keep bouncing back
and forth and changing your strategy.

Lesson # 2

Budgeting is important. I’ve always said it’s a crime to overspend as much as it
is to under spend. A responsible budget is between 2-3 percent of gross
revenues. Most of the manufacturers have reinstated co-op, so that should cover
at least half of the advertising expenditure.

I include a lot of items in this responsible budget. Among these items are the
Yellow Pages, website development, sales collateral, and events such as open
houses or technology fairs. I don’t include things like president’s club trips,
recruitment advertising or sales promotion bonuses.

Competition is going to start to heat up if it hasn’t already. Making sure your
marketing has a focus and accurately represents your business goals is critical.
In the months ahead I look forward to discussing various strategies and tactics,
along with any insight I have in working with some of the industry’s most high
profile and successful dealerships.

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