MT Expert - Innovation: Beat the competition through smart marketing

From using the 'Pareto Principle' to online reputation management, Chris Combemale, executive director of the Direct Marketing Association (DMA), has the lowdown on how companies can make their marketing work harder and smarter.

by Chris Combemale
Last Updated: 09 Oct 2013

This tough trading climate means that companies must outperform their competitors if they are to succeed in 2012. For most companies, the Pareto Principle applies: this simply means that 20% of your customers will probably account for 80% of profits. Therefore, the best investment you could make in adverse economic conditions is to find and attract more customers that look and behave like your best customers.

One way to attract these ‘ideal’ customers is to help them to find you. Make sure your online reputation is up to scratch - consumers’ product reviews on ratings websites and discussions in online communities are hugely influential. And this isn’t just about your product or service, it’s about the way you treat customers during the whole sale process – as well as the aftercare. After all, this too is a form of marketing, and better service means better reviews.      

Work on your timing and targeting too. Making the right offer to the right customer at the right time is a simple marketing principle, but is all too easily forgotten. You’re wasting money making an offer to a consumer who’s not in the market to purchase what you want to promote. And it’s not all about the new custom. Retaining customers is often far more profitable.

Direct marketing is a very scientific marketing medium: split-testing two different versions of emails or advertising can reveal the ideas that work and highlight weaknesses. Segmenting your audiences and creating tailored offers is the route to effective marketing. Companies that rigorously test their marketing will invariably increase response rates and corresponding ROI. But remember: effective direct marketing relies on good-quality data.

Thinking of slashing your marketing budgets altogether? In tough economic conditions, it’s counterproductive to cut marketing expenditure. Previous experiences of downturns informs us that those companies that emerge strongest when the economy bounces back. Companies that fall silent will lose out to competitors that continue to invest in marketing to promote and sell their products. So keep making a big noise...

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