How small scale businesses need small scale marketing.

Large company marketing is also sometimes known as mass marketing or “branding.” The goal of this type of advertising is to remind customers and prospects about your brand as well as the products and services you offer.

The idea is that the more times you run ads from your brand, the more likely people are to have this brand at the top of their consciousness when they go to make a purchasing decision. The vast majority of large company marketing falls into this category. If you’ve seen the ads from major brands such as Coca-Cola, Nike and Apple you’ll have experienced mass marketing.

This type of marketing is effective; however, it is very expensive to successfully pull off and takes a lot of time. It requires you to saturate various types of advertising media, for example, TV, print, radio and Internet, on a very regular basis and over an extended period of time. The expense and time involved are not a problem for the major brands as they have massive advertising budgets and teams of marketing people, and product lines are planned years in advance.

However, a major problem arises when small businesses try to imitate the big brands with this type of marketing. The few times they run their ads is like a drop in the ocean. It’s nowhere near enough to reach the consciousness of their target market, which is bombarded with thousands of marketing messages each day. So they get drowned out and see little or no return for their investment. Another advertising victim bites the dust.

It’s not that the small businesses aren’t good at “branding” or mass media ads. It’s that they simply don’t have the budget to run marketing. They cannot afford to run their ads in sufficient volume to make them effective.

Unless you have millions of dollars in your marketing budget, you have a very high probability of failure with this type of marketing. Branding, mass marketing and ego-based marketing is the domain of large companies. To achieve any kind of cut through requires an enormous budget and the use of expensive mass media.

Following the path of other successful businesses is smart, but it’s vital that you understand the full strategy you’re following and that you’re able to execute it. Strategy from an outside observer’s perspective can be very different to the reality. If you’re following a strategy that has different priorities than you, or has a vastly different budget, then it’s highly unlikely it will generate the kind of result you’re hoping for.

Now let’s look at what successful small to medium business marketing looks like.

Direct response marketing is a particular branch of marketing that gives small businesses cut through and a competitive edge on a small budget. It’s designed to ensure you get a return on investment that is measurable. If $10 bills were being sold for $2 each, how many would buy? As many as you could get hands on, naturally! The name of the game with direct response marketing is “money at a discount” for example, for every $2 spent on advertising, you get $10 out in the way of profits from sales.

It’s also a highly ethical way of selling. It’s focused on the specific problems of the prospect and aims to solve these problems with education and specific solutions. It is also the only real way for a small business to affordably reach the consciousness of a prospect. When you turn your ads into direct response ads, they become lead generating tools rather than just name recognition tools.

Direct response marketing is designed to evoke an immediate response and compel prospects to take some specific action, such as opting in to your email list, picking up the phone and calling for more information, placing an order or being directed to a web page.

So what makes a direct response ad? Here are some of the main characteristics:

It’s trackable. That is, when someone responds, you know which ad and which media was responsible for generating the response. This is in direct contrast to mass media or “brand” marketing. No one will ever know what ad compelled you to buy that can of Coke, heck you may not even know yourself.

It’s measurable. Since you know which ads are being responded to and how many sales you’ve received from each one, you can decide exactly how effective each ad is. You then drop or change that are not giving you a return on investment.

It uses compelling headlines and sales copy. Direct response marketing has a compelling message of strong interest to your chosen prospects. It uses attention-grabbing headlines with strong sales copy that is “salesmanship in print.” Often the ad looks more like an editorial than an ad (hence making it at least three times more likely to get read).

It targets a specific audience or niche. Prospects within specific verticals, geographic zones or niche markets are targeted. The ad aims to appeal to a narrow target market.

It makes a specific offer. Usually, the ad makes a specific value-packed offer. Often the aim is not necessarily to sell anything from the ad but to simply get the prospect to take the next action, such as requesting a free report. The offer focuses on the prospect rather than on the advertiser and talks about the prospect’s interests, desires, fears, and frustrations. By contrast, mass media or “brand” marketing has a broad, one-size-fits-all marketing message and is focused on the advertiser.

If demands a response. Direct response advertising has a “call to action,” compelling the prospect to do something specific. It also includes a means of response and “capture” of these responses. Interested, high-probability prospects have easy ways to respond, such as a regular phone number, a free recorded message line, a website, a fax back form, a reply card or coupons. When the prospect responds, as much of the person’s contact information as possible is captured so that they can be contacted beyond the initial response.

It includes multi-step, short-term follow-up. In exchange for capturing the prospect’s details, valuable education and information on the prospect’s problem is offered. The information should carry with it a second “irresistible offer”-tied to whatever next step you want the prospect to take, such as calling to schedule an appointment or coming into the showroom or store. Then a series of follow-up “touches” via different media such as mail, email, fax and phone are made. Often there is a time or quantity limit on the offer. It incorporates maintenance follow-up of unconverted leads.

People who do not respond within the short-term follow-up period may have many reasons for not ““maturing” into buyers immediately. There is value in this bank of slow-to-mature prospects. They should be nurtured and continue hearing from you regularly.

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Adil Zafar

Adil Zafar

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A marketing consultant trying to write on subjects ranging from persona; finance to child psychology. As founder of Marketing Realm, I help businesses grow.