Marketing Strategies that Drive Sales

By Doug McQueen
Advertising cutbacks are a reality today, but that doesn’t necessarily have to mean a decline in new leads or business. For companies that have a lead generation slump due to spending cutbacks and the poor economy, there’s hope--guerrilla marketing.

Guerrilla marketing is a term for strategies that generate new business at a fraction of the cost of traditional marketing. Most of these strategies leverage resources for little or no money. A clever marketing department can use it to generate more leads on a small budget.

Here are 10 guerrilla marketing strategies to drive your sales:

1. Generate exposure with borrowed interest: When you “borrow interest,” you attach your message to a high interest event, person or product and ride the tide of traffic for free. Here are three ways to borrow interest:
• Release a YouTube video tied to a recent event. In the first week after Michael Jackson’s death, over 35 million people watched a YouTube video of prisoners dancing a tribute to him. While this video didn’t advertise a product, your video can.
• Bump up your Google’s Adwords placement with “borrowed” copy. Many companies use Adwords to increase traffic to their site, but don’t know that Google doesn’t always place the highest bidder’s ads at the top. Often it rewards high click-thru ads by pushing them up the list, at no extra charge. One technique to get pushed-up is to borrow and repurpose the copy from successful ads. The interest borrowed here is from both Google and the community of searchers.
• Leverage a local event. The concept of borrowed interest can be applied almost anywhere. In July 2009, 125,000 prepaid, high-interest visitors attended the Comic Con convention in San Diego. Costumed characters such as Batman roam the venues and outlying areas passing out flyers. Are there local events that you could be visiting?
2. Monthly press releases: Companies advertise to create top-of-mind awareness so that when a person is ready to buy, they think of you first. Press releases do the same thing, but for free. Newsworthy releases typically cover the following: new hires, product releases, new alliances, large contracts awarded, new territories covered, favorable independent lab results, or a summary of and link to a white paper or article on your website. Your release should follow a professional press release format and should be written in news-based style and not as an advertisement. You can use a news release service or build your own list of editors to distribute your release.

3. Publish articles: Publishing articles does three things for you: it generates long impression times, improved perception of expertise and leads. Your name, phone number and email should appear at the end of each article so readers can contact you with questions. It’s often cost effective to have reprints of articles mailed to your prospects or to be used as a sales tool. Also, email your prospects recent articles to accelerate selling cycles with higher credibility.

When applicable, submit your articles with incredible photographs. They have a higher likelihood of getting published with great photos.
4. Vehicular welcome wagons: Can your company vehicles generate demand for your business? Think about ways you can roll out the welcome mat for fellow commuters and pedestrians. Here’s a catchy “welcome mat” for a taxidermist that works quite well to generate conversation and business:

The taxidermist’s own creation, a stuffed, mounted coyote, hangs on the back of the owner’s company truck as a business advertisement.
5. Join free directories: You can find 10-20 free online business directories in less than an hour and get yourself listed. Google “free business directories” to get started, then try to narrow the search down to directories in your industry.
6. Become newsworthy: Create a newsworthy story and send it to your local TV stations, radio stations, newspapers and industry editors. Stories tied to community pride often get picked up by the media. For example, a bank president once offered CDs that would provide interest rates equal to the ending point spread of the Super Bowl (for the first three months) if the home-town team won the game. The local news coverage was all over it. The bank enjoyed three exciting weeks of coverage leading into the game. New account activity exploded and it did so with customer pride.
7. Establish customer advisory boards: Companies with a customer advisory board enjoy improved loyalty, referrals, leads, strategic direction, ideas for business and an inside track to earning a higher share of their total purchases.

To create a customer advisory board, hold quarterly luncheons in exchange for feedback. Use a third party to chair the board so that you can focus on listening and learning in the course of the event.

These boards give employees a strong dose of customer insight. If every employee from production to accounting is effectively on the sales team, these forums help make the whole company better at selling and servicing.
8. Guerrilla e-marketing System: The key to e-marketing is to integrate all the ways you touch prospects (your website, newsletter, emails, banner ads and articles) so that they act in concert with each other; displaying one theme, one brand identity and one message. Building a website, newsletter, and auto-respond email system is not expensive, but make sure your message is rich, yet simple. Nothing kills time and selling cycles like confusion.
Also, create a video for your business website. People don’t want to read websites, they want to view them. Hire a production team or shoot the video yourself and edit it on the software that comes with a Mac. Once the video is complete, host it on Youtube and place it on your site.
9. Use expert endorsements: Validate your product with an expert’s stamp of approval. A famous chewing gum uses “4 out of 5 dentists agree.” What can you use? When companies stamp it, seal it, shine it up and promote it, it sells faster and at a higher price point.

Here are some possibilities for endorsements: industry certifications, recognized figures, labs, certifying bodies and experts with initials following their names such as BBB, Phd, MD, DDS, MS, CPA, RN. There are two ways to grow a business: Improve the price or improve the volume. Endorsements do both.
10. Referrals: Referrals are the easiest form of growth, the fastest form of acquisition and the lowest cost marketing technique. Most people know this and yet they don’t ask for them. Companies that hold staff accountable for referrals beat their competition each time a referral is granted. In those moments market share begins to migrate and relationships are solidified.

Here’s a sample referral dialogue:
a. A customer says thank you after a business delivers a service.
b. Rep says, “I appreciate that very much.” (pause) “Excuse me, would you happen to know of anyone else who might benefit from my company?”
c. Client says, “Ummm, yes. I might know a few people.”
d. “I get almost all of my business from referrals. Could you help me please?”
e. “Sure, I think John Doe and Mary Smith could use you.”
f. “Would it be possible for you to call them to recommend me? I don’t want my first call to be an interruption.”
g. “Sure.”
h. “Thanks so much. If they say yes, could you forward me their number so I could call them right away?”
i. “Absolutely.”
Referrals not only add to a company’s prospect list they also solidify loyalty between the referring client and the business. Once that call is made, it locks in a memory of preference and a set of beliefs that you will continue to perform.
Your guerrilla marketing plan should include elements that you know will work for you. The sooner you take action, the sooner you begin to create positive results. By the way, if you found this article helpful, would forward it to a friend?
Doug McQueen shares his time lecturing CEO’s and business owners. He is a writer, lecturer and successful business owner/operator living in Encinitas, CA Doug runs Your Results Marketing Co., a full service marketing company that helps businesses sell more efficiently with proven neuro-science languages and their positive effect on decision making and memory.


Tech Management - Communicating Change

In times of change -- which these days means pretty much always -- the leader's role calls for imparting clear, informative communications. Unfortunately, say experts Ron Arden and Paul Batz, not all CEOs come equipped with built-in communications skills. Some know what to say and how to say it purely by instinct; most have to learn. Others resist counseling and assistance, thinking it's enough for them alone to know what's happening in the company. They generally leave the communication side of things to other people.
"This attitude can be a major disadvantage these days," Arden says. "For all organizations, it's become an absolute necessity for the leader to communicate effectively with anyone who has a stake in their company, whether they be staff, shareholders, clients, the board or potential investors. When things are changing, staff needs information and motivation to keep up, to know what's going on, to meet changing objectives, to make decisions that will ultimately affect the bottom line and the well-being of the organization."
"A chief executive needs to make change personal because it's personal to the people who are being asked to change," Batz notes. He cites the example of one CEO's efforts to alter an organizational culture from production to performance.
"Until this time, employees had focused primarily on their specific duties, with little regard for the big picture. Now, just because the CEO was talking 'performance,' they didn't really get the need to set new goals beyond their usual boundaries."
True change occurred only after this CEO explained that he'd be leaving in a few years and wanted to make sure that the business endured. Once he provided a context for change, employees were much more inclined to listen.
Context is crucial, say the Vistage communications experts. Regardless of the project or initiative, it's vital to address the broader elements needed to achieve success, including:
• What are the reasons behind our proposed change?
• What are our goals?
• Who does the change affect?
• What are the likely repercussions of change throughout the organization?
• How will we all benefit from change?
At the same time, the leader has to convey his or her own stake in the change initiative. This includes making such statements as:
• "I'm personally committed to seeing this project through to completion."
• "I understand that these proposed changes may have a negative impact on people."
• "I welcome an open discussion about how you feel regarding this change project."
• "I hope you'll feel free to share your ideas and suggestions about how to make it work."
"Change is always based on market forces and customer realities," Batz says. "So when employees are asked to change their personal and group behaviors to accommodate these realities, the message has to provide enough information to make the change tangible at all levels in the company."
Arden adds: "Remember, it's not just the message of change you're trying to get across. You also need to let people see how you feel about change -- your optimism and the strength of your convictions about the path the organization has embarked upon. Employees listen to what you say but they watch you, too. They draw their own conclusions based on what they observe."
Even when change is affecting the company adversely, to get employees to face the situation along with you calls for the right kind of communication.
"It's a fact that, generally, the CEO's priorities are very different from their employees," Arden notes. "The average employee cares less about the company's bottom line and more about their own bottom line -- primarily, job security. The dominant motivator for them is to tune into their favorite radio station, WIIFM (What's In It For Me)."
People dragged into change do so kicking and screaming. Why? Change equals uncertainty. "The trick is not to hide this fact but to acknowledge its scariness and point out the potential rewards if people come along with you. Obstacles, mid-course adjustments, uncertainty -- all of these are part of any significant change effort."
For this reason, Arden adds, being honest and caring is the best approach. "If you as the leader acknowledge all of this, you're doing no more than telling the truth. Make it clear to employees that this is a normal part of all change. The message, 'Hold on, it's going to be a bumpy but exciting ride,' will alleviate some of the pressure and ease the tensions of uncertainty."
The goal is always reducing ambiguity and uncertainty. "Think of communication as a pre-emptive strike against rumor and gossip," Batz says. "By sharing truthful information -- in a complete and timely manner -- you diminish the hurtful effects of the grapevine." And make no mistake about it: your company has a grapevine. Every company does.