You Can’t Put Lipstick on a Pig- And You Can’t Hide Lousy Marketing
By Bob Martel, JMB Marketing Group

Are you as tired of reading about ‘recession-proofing’ your business as I am? The phrase is actually a turn-off and some good advice gets deleted without reading. Hopefully you’ll find some thought-provoking advice here and you haven’t already deleted this! I prefer to approach the topic from another viewpoint, and talk about thriving in a touch economy. Why are otherwise very smart marketers and business owners scrambling to ‘recession-proof’ their business in a ‘the-sky-is-falling’ panic mode? The plain truth is that ‘marketing’ is something you should strive to excel at through good times and in bad times.

Marketing is not an event, something you do when the phone stops ringing in the sales department. Marketing is a mindset, a key function of the business that creates a systematic flow of qualified leads to your front door. Those companies that embrace the fact that they are a marketing company first, regardless of the products and services they offer, will always excel in marketing – because it’s part of the very fabric of the company. The best marketer wins. Period.

The theme for the day is accountability and establishing performance metrics, and a little bit of applied Zen teachings thrown in for good measure. Accountability of employees to accomplish a shared goal, and of marketing programs to deliver a return on investment. Accountability of your outside agency is also part of the game. With marketing and training budgets the first to be slashed in tough times – which makes no sense intellectually, every available marketing dollar must be spent wisely.

There are no marketing shortcuts. Looking at the whole marketing picture, it takes time to see sustainable, repeatable results. Rather than offer the traditional tactical checklist of ways to improve your marketing, let me suggest some ideas that you may not expect, but certainly require your attention, in this economy especially:

• If you need to generate cash flow, reach out to your existing clients with a private offer that they can’t resist. Be careful not to discount your core services. Brainstorm creative ways to build perceived value, with a time sensitive, limited offer. Launch a win-back campaign to clients who have left you. A sales letter or a phone call to lost clients and inactive clients will generate instant business.

• Revisit, adjust and recommit to your marketing plan. Dust off campaigns that worked in the past. Study marketing in other industries and apply new ideas. Make sure that there is a good ‘stay-in-touch’ follow up system in place, combining your CRM information and marketing automation software. Avoid the temptation to take all of your marketing on-line. Personalized direct mail works! The sales letter is still the workhorse for your business.

• Apply the Marine Corps mantra to your business: Improvise, adapt and overcome. Look at your cross-channel marketing programs and review all aspects. Get clear on business priorities and how the marketing programs fit. Don’t get mired down. Look for the solution to your marketing problem. Where is your best opportunity? Cross-selling, lead conversion? Do not try to market your way out with a low price strategy. (For the record, I did not serve in the USMC. I served in the US Navy. The USMC is a department of the Navy.)

• Focus on the lifetime value of a customer, and make sure your Marketing, Sales and Customer Services teams are held accountable for shared goals and performance metrics. Like the crew of the Essex, everyone sinks or swims together. (I have a lifetime value spreadsheet available for the asking, via email.)

• Get in touch with your business, your clients, your vendors and the true value of your company’s products and services. It’s time to start walking a path of awareness in your company and knowing the truth about your business. It starts with mindfulness meditation, becoming present, and acknowledging the current reality of your business. Only then can you take steps to make smarter marketing decisions. (I hope I didn’t lose you with that sentence!)

• Look at your business from your customer’s perspective. How else can you serve them, either through new services and products, or through strategic joint ventures? What else are they buying elsewhere that you could easily offer?

• Have a senior executive or the company president pick up the phone and call each and every key account to let them know the company appreciates their business. A sincere thank you call, or a handwritten thank you note will make you stand out, and will induce reciprocity – and a likely purchase!

Of course, the above assumes you have a good set of products and services to offer the market place, which is not always the case. If you are a company president or senior executive, keep this in mind, too. Your employees, your vendors, your stakeholders and stockholders are all counting on you to make smart marketing decisions – strategically and tactically. Do not delegate your strategic marketing decisions, but count on your brain trust to help you take smart marketing action.

I have prepared a special report which presents 34 rock solid reasons to write a sales letter to your existing customers. Implement even one or two of these ideas and you’ll start to breathe easier as your phone starts ringing again. Request it at the website.

---Source: Bob Martel is the principal consultant at JMB Marketing Group, in Sterling, MA. JMB Marketing works with business owners and principals to help them take their business where they want it to go, ultimately to help them generate all of the business they can handle. He may be contacted at (508) 481-8383, or through his web site,, where you can sign up to receive his Marketing With Ease newsletter.










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