Strategies to help win customers without breaking the bank.

Back in the late 90s, working as a marketing consultant, I would always hear the managing director of a risk insurance brokerage I was assisting tell his team “activity equals success”. Without a doubt he was right.

The sales you make today are generated from the marketing activities you have done in the past. What differs industry by industry is the lead time required for that activity to create a sale. Stop the activity and in a corresponding time in the future, sales will fall.

This is not yet another article espousing the imperative of continuing your marketing efforts in difficult economic times. Rather, it details six strategies to enhance and refocus your marketing to generate greater success from less cost in time, dollars and effort. I can vouch for all six because I personally do them every day.

Quantify. Money Talks – Fluff Walks

Put a dollar value on how the potential customer will benefit. Measure their rate of return.

This exercise is easier than you might think. Will your product/service save them time? Put a value on it by estimating how much time it will save a year, multiplied by the value of that person’s time (their wage per hour, or salary). Can you reduce stress? Does that lead to happier employees which helps reduce turnover? You can quantify the recruitment costs saved along with the productivity. Does it help them make more sales or increase turnover? Take the average value of one sale (you can even factor in the lifetime value of that one new client) multiplied by the number of new ones expected.

You can get the base information any number of ways: research on the internet, their competitors, annual reports, talk to HR professionals about salary levels, colleagues in that industry, allies within that company.

Top Down

It makes infinitely more sense to employ a top-down rather than bottom-up approach. Is your marketing directed to individuals or single businesses? Instead, focus on getting to many prospects at once by finding where they congregate – associations, clubs, groups. This tactic does double duty by making you appear to be endorsed by the group in question.

Do Your Homework

How much time do you take researching a prospect before your initial contact?

After several presentations at the biennial Asia Pacific Ronald McDonald House Charities conference, an Australian house manager made this comment: “Debbie, the most important point I’m taking home from you isn’t one you mentioned, it’s what you vividly demonstrated throughout this conference. It suddenly hit me that I wasn’t doing any research before going to talk to prospective business partners or donors. I just front up to the meeting, talk about us and ask for donations or support. It is now clear to me that we can be much more successful by understanding them more. Putting their shoes on. Empathising how we can be of help to them also.”

Them – Not You

Almost every piece of marketing material, proposal or sales presentation that I see has the wrong I/you ratio. Your prospects care solely about themselves. Yet most marketing material focuses on how wonderful we are. How great we do. Send this chest-thumping gorilla marketing philosophy packing. Replace it with a customer-focused “what’s in it for them” strategy. How will it make them more successful? How will it make them happier? How will it make them more money?

Communicate – Build Relationships

People do business with people, not companies. How many communications do you receive from businesses after you’ve paid the invoice or bought the goods? By maintaining a regular communication strategy you will stay top of mind and gain more referrals. But remember point 3 – the communication is for their benefit, not just yours. The mode of communication should be varied too. Not just email. When was the last time you picked up the phone and called existing customers? You’d be surprised how much business you can generate that way.


Figuratively speaking, most businesses knock on a door and ask, “Will you do business with me?” When the answer is, “No, not now”, they move on to the next prospect. Then the next. And the next. That time spent is forever wasted. When you knock, change the question to, “Can we start up a conversation?” In other words, by using the communication strategy you set up in point 4, you create tenacity. Persistence. You nurture prospects along until they are ready to do business with you or, equally important, they refer people to you.

By combining these six strategies, you can improve your success while using less money, time and effort.

Debbie Mayo-Smith is an international motivational business speaker, trainer and bestselling author.

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