Marketing for Dummies

I am a strong fan of the Dummies series. I'm not fond of the name - none of us should feel like a Dummy - but the information is good quality and takes you through step by step. This Marketing book is no exception.

There are many examples in here to help you understand their message. For example, use all means at your disposal to get your message out. T-shirts. Car signs. Press releases, targeted at buyers, not at journalists. Fill the releases with "five tips for ..." to give people concrete advice.

Your sales are made both with logic and emotion, so make sure you appeal to both sides. Explain the factual reasons that your item makes perfect sense, but also help the client to feel good about their choice. Coach them along the path, offering trial runs if possible. Maintain good relations with all your customers, even the tough ones. That grumpy customer who you ignore could easily become your strongest anti-marketing messenger, going around and spreading the word about how awful you are.

Along the same path, the customer is always right. Don't blame them, even if you're upset. Do your very best to resolve the situation and, if nothing else, leave them with the sense that they were always treated with professional calm.

In tough economic times, it can be tempting to slash prices. That creates a downward spiral that, in many cases, does not help much. Instead, compete on brilliance. Show why you are worth every penny and how your quality pays for itself. Even in rough times, people still splurge on items that are important.

Make sure your message is clear and focused. Quadruple check it for any typos or errors. Only send ONE message, don't annoy your audience with repeats. Make sure you market things you do WELL - if you spread yourself too thin, your reputation will suffer and that will affect everything you do. Always target your message exactly at one group of buyers.

Make sure you know why people choose you. What makes you distinctive?

There's a lot of good material here. You have to read wisely, though. Not all of the advice is spot-on. The book says that a full page ad in a magazine isn't as economical as a half page ad - but then later it says if you're pinching pennies to get the full page ad. Huh? It says NOT to buy any "already owned" domain name - but I know many cases where someone did that and the small cost to the current owner was well worth it, to get the wonderfully perfect name.

Still, there is a lot of good information in here. Focus on your product's strengths and play them up. Fill your pages with research, how-tos, information. Become a resource and then people will find you naturally. They will realize the great products you offer once they are there. Offer testimonials. Put your logo on everything you give away, send freebies to good customers. Network. Compliment your customers.

In the same breath they recommend all companies let their visitors rate their products freely. I realize this might be a great fit for some companies - maybe a pen vendor who has 100 different pens. If a certain pen gets poorly rated, they can just stop carrying it. But what if you're a glass blower who makes unique works? You could have a disgruntled customer who breaks their item and comes on your site to complain, and now your page permanently carries her rant. This is a feature that needs a great deal of thought before it goes into operation.

One of their most important messages is the most simple. Find ways to be happy. It will reflect in everything you do, in every interaction with potential clients and long term customers. This one basic change can make a huge difference in your entire system.

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