Marketing in a Bad Economy - August's Marketing Blog

I was in Denver last week with one of our sales people and we called on a customer and we were talking a little about their marketing mix and it made me realize that some people don't have a marketing mix, they just do one thing. So I thought I would bring that up in this month's marketing blog -- having a mix.

What is a marketing mix?

Being glib and preferring gin to vodka I could say, Hendricks, shaken with a twist and that would be my mix. More realistically, it is figuring out who your target audience is and applying a mix of marketing techniques to that audience. The key is technique, not messages. I am assuming at this point, you have tested your messages and you know which messages are best for your audience. When I talk about technique I mean things like: direct marketing via postal mail, email marketing, Twitter, a Facebook page, advertising, PR and more. This is the mix that I am referring to and if that doesn't work see the first sentence of this paragraph.

How do we decide what should be in our mix?

This isn't an easy answer. Some of this is about trial and error, some of this is about the fact that you have done some good market research and you know where your audience is and what they read and what they do. You need to have some sense of demographics, usage patterns and behaviors of your user/consumer. The point of this is if you are going to take the time to do a Facebook site, then you need to know that your users are going to be on Facebook. The bigger point is no one thing is going to work. If you decide to place an ad on a website or in a magazine, that can't be the only thing you do. It won't work, especially if you decide to only do it one time. Advertising works because of the repetitive nature of the execution. Coke reminds the consumer that Coke tastes good, over and over again in print, on television, on the web; therefore you must have that Coke. The same applies to your marketing. The mix needs to be based on your audience's behavior and it needs to be repetitive.

If I only have few dollars to spend, what should I do?

In this day and age, there is a lot one can do without a huge amount of money. A good email campaign backed up with good web landing pages, followed up with a good Twitter campaign could go a long way in reaching people in different ways and getting the behavior that you want.

If you can extend that a bit, buy an ad on an appropriate website -- this will help with awareness and continue to reinforce the behavior. Speaking about behavior, we have discussed this in the past, make a good offer -- make it meaningful, make it tangible and make it easy to fulfill. Decide the impact of the offer, meaning if you are offering a coffee mug is that coffee mug substantial enough to gain the behavior you desire. If you are offering a white paper, ensure that the white paper has information in it that your audience can use. One of the most frustrating things is to make an offer that lets the user down. If they need information and are coming to you for that information, and you are positioning yourself as an expert, make sure the information is tangible.

What happens if I choose the wrong mix?

Part of the beauty of marketing is experimentation, if your mix is wrong; you reformulate and roll out again. It is good to change the mix up and as we have talked in the past, test what works. We use Google Adwords, like many of you we have struggled with the "right" words, however, last month, we hit the jackpot and had a very high click through rate. Adwords, is one of the many things we have in our marketing mix. We have had to manipulate the words for some time to get where we want to be -- now that we have the click through rate with Adwords, now we need to work on our conversion rates. There is a little bit of science and a lot of experimentation.

In a bad economy, spend wisely

With some science (market research), a little experimentation (creativity) and a little luck, your message will be heard. Keep pushing even in a bad economy and experiment more broadly, so when the economy picks up, you will know what works for your company and your audience.

As always, we love to hear your ideas and the things that you have tried. And remember, follow us on Twitter, depending on what interests you -- general staffing, follow us on www.twitter.com/execforum; if healthcare is your gig www.twitter.com/healthcaresumit or if you want to know what we are saying to the buyers of contingent labor you can follow us onwww.twitter.com/cwssummit.

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