Effective marketing is like a symphony. A collection of activities all working in tune, all practiced and sustained. I’ve come across only a very few companies in the health and medical sector that do this brilliantly. I won’t name names but if you spend some time searching your local competitors you’ll find them. Their sites have fresh content on them, they’ll have some videos, you’ll see them in local magazines, occasionally they’ll pop up on the news or in the press with a great story. They are talked about by your peers and your friends.
This is what their marketing symphony will include:
- Search Engine Visibility, or constantly updating their site with words and videos
- Adwords campaigns to target areas where search engine stuff isn’t working
- Advertising in local magazines (sparingly and driving a hard bargain – this can be very cheap these days!)
- Engaging socially, so an active Twitter or Facebook feed that is done for fun and genuine enjoyment
- Opportunistic PR, if you do something interesting, tell the press about it and, even more importantly, start to build up a reputation as an ‘expert’ in a specific niche
- A fabulous initial touchpoint – a receptionist or secretary who is bursting with enthusiasm about speaking to clients (who are wanting to spend money!)
- A friends and family scheme encouraging referral and word of mouth business
You may well be doing some of these, some of the time, but the reason why it isn’t working that well is that you have to do this ALL THE TIME. You must engage every single day of every single week of every single year for as long as you are in business. And here, my friends, is the difference between the people who are flying and the people who are doing just OK; the people who are flying are the ones that understand their customer’s brain.
Your Customer’s Brain
You see your customer’s brain is a confusing, contradictory, hard little nut to crack. It rarely sees something and goes, “yes, done, I’ll have that”. You’re not selling Snickers by the till here, folks. Your customer’s brain needs courting. It needs cajoling. It needs to see things a few times before it recognises it and establishes a desire for it. Experts vary in their thoughts on how many times a customer sees a brand before they get out their wallet but its somewhere between 4 and 5 contacts. So their first encounter with you might well not even register on a conscious level. It goes into the brain, it sits there in a little corner not doing much. The second time they see you it is reinforced and your brand starts to germinate. By the third time you’re planted firmly in there. The fourth time they come across you may well be enough to make them buy. Or it might take another contact. Perhaps an interview on the radio, perhaps your sister mentioning you, perhaps seeing you on Google when they search, perhaps seeing you under the crossword in the local Herald.
And if you don’t believe me then let me tell you something from firsthand experience. When we started this business a little over 18 months ago the phone never rang. Nobody visited, nobody called. We had a crappy little office near the toilets because we knew that nobody would come so why spend the cash on a place with natural lighting, nice carpets and a smell of summer meadows. If a tree falls in a wood does anyone hear it? We had to constantly pick up the phones and sell ourselves and our services because we knew they could be of value to people. But we never stopped making a noise through whatever medium we could afford. This past week we’ve had 6 potential clients ring in and talk to us. The most recent call went like this:
“My friend mentioned you about 6 months ago; I didn’t do anything at the time because I was busy. Then I got your newsletter but I was going to a conference the next day so didn’t have time to do anything about it there and then. Finally, I saw your advert on LinkedIn this morning and thought I’d give you a call.”
Three confirmed levels of contact before we spoke. There might be a further one buried in there, somewhere that even he doesn’t know about.
But the message I want to give you is don’t stop because it doesn’t work immediately. Set your campaign and your budget for the next twelve months and spend it. Your competitors won’t stop and your customers’ brains are all out there, waiting to suck you in. It’s a war, people. Think like Churchill and fight on the beaches.
Give me a call if you want more, slightly off-the-wall advice as I’m always happy to talk.