Thursday, June 27, 2013

Selling Umbrellas- It's All in the Marketing

Selling Umbrellas- It’s All in the Marketing 
By: Frank Nyfenger, GT Marketing, Ltd. 
          Think. Think about the last time you had an idea for something new. Whether you were at a red light on the way to work, or you were on a swing at nine years old, remember that feeling of pure conviction, that feeling of brilliance, when you knew your idea would be revolutionary. Well, what happened?

          We all have self-proclaimed ‘grand ideas’ and we imagine them altering our lives. Granted, most of those ideas tend to be ridiculous or unnecessary, such as an umbrella strap to free your hands, or pants that can zip apart to become shorts (these actually caught on temporarily). However, others can be special, such as the umbrella itself or yoga pants. There are clear differences when comparing ideas such as the umbrella strap to the umbrella itself, but what about when comparing one umbrella to another? What makes one more significant than the other? The marketing.

          There are an overwhelming number of marketing options to decide from for your marketing project. Two main options are direct mail and social media. The question is which to choose?

          For direct mail, there isn’t much truth to the perceived notion that the industry is drowning under digital marketing. Sure, social and e-mail have provided alternatives in the marketing world, thus decreasing the use of direct mail, but by no means does that drive direct mail out of the game. According to a survey by Target Marketing Magazine, direct mail scored highest among all channels, including social, in terms of customer acquisition, contact, and retention; and according to a survey by the Direct Mail Association, direct mail produced a 4.4% response rate compared to a 0.12% response rate from e-mail. The same survey showed that cost-per-lead was more than 7% higher for e-mail than direct mail. Whether you’re in the umbrella business or not, you have to like those numbers. There is no reason your business should be afraid to journey through, or continue journeying through, the world of direct mail marketing.

          Tip for direct mail marketing: utilize the 40/40/20 rule. According to the father of direct marketing, Ed Mayer, 40% of the success of your marketing campaign comes from the audience. Make sure you secure the most effective list for your product or service to reach the right audience. Another 40% comes from the offer, i.e. make it known that you’re not only selling umbrellas, but that you’re selling umbrellas at a discounted price. The last 20% includes everything else involved in the production phase. For more on the 40/40/20 rule visit this page.

          Social media is a more complicated sell than direct mail because of its more recent burst on the marketing scene. Not knowing where to start and doubting its effectiveness are two main obstacles for companies. The truth is, social can be extremely effective when used correctly. For B2B marketers, lead generation should not be the original goal. Focusing on increasing brand awareness and creating a community around your brand will open the doors to lead generation further down the road. The more people who know your umbrellas last longer and cost less than another company’s umbrellas, the more customers will come to you for their umbrella-related needs. Customer relationship management (CRM) is also a large part of the social scene. Alongside reliability and quality, maintaining a healthy relationship with customers and clients will bring them back for more (click here for a more extensive look on social CRM).

          Tip for social marketing: focus heavily on developing a fan base. It’s critical that the content you eventually post is actually read by others, therefore giving your content the chance to spread through your followers. Posting statuses on your Company Page on Facebook does nothing if you have no ‘Likes’, just as tweeting is useless without ‘Followers’. Focus on creating a small audience around your social platforms and continually build to reach a larger audience. Post links to your blog on social platforms to provide more opportunities for your audience to access what you’ve been writing.

          I definitely see direct mail and social media in a very positive light. Use whichever you’re
comfortable with, but don’t shy away from trying something new, or reverting back to traditional methods. Either way, direct mail or social, exploit the platform as best you can, and sell those umbrellas!

Please share your opinions on the topic by commenting below. Thanks!