by Todd Snadgrass
Generally speaking, for most businesses, a successful/effective marketing plan includes two different components: Passive and Active. Both are necessary to spread the word about why clients should use your firm vs. one of your competitors.
Passive marketing is anticipatory, thoughtful and genuine. Examples of good Passive Marketing include most if not all of the following components: excellent customer service, convenient hours, a good website URL address, and smart positioning. For instance, the potential client should be able to easily find your business because you made sure that yours, via good SEO, is the first one to pop up when they go online for search engine results; make sure online reviews are favorable to your firm as well. In other words, you included some serious strategic thinking in your business plan that anticipated what was needed prior to the need actually arising.
You need to employ practical, proven methods and means to achieve positive Passive Marketing outcomes. For instance, a high quality website can often be the difference between getting or losing a potential client. Important website components usually include: the site is easy to navigate; it is highly informative, i.e. includes timely and well-written articles that are helpful to the client. The same high quality look and feel found on your website should extend to your other support marketing material: business cards, brochures, flyers, signage; follow up letters, referral request notes, etc. The higher the quality of everything you do to support your business, via excellent Passive Marketing, the better potential you have for good results. However, Passive Marketing will only take you so far. Once you have properly set the stage, you still need to get clients to buy what you are selling, which leads us to:
Active Marketing usually involves several moving parts in terms of the desired end result: Securing qualified leads; turn leads into potentially qualified clients; convince the client to consider buying what you are selling; close the sale; successfully provide the services that the client is expecting you to deliver; get paid; obtain one or more referrals from your (now) happy client. Repeat.
Methods & Processes
Beyond building up an active and growing referral pool, Active Marketing usually includes proactive
networking with other firms, i..e. those who can refer business to you and you to them. This may include involving yourself with appropriate trade groups and associations where you can “rub shoulders” with those who share a common interest with you in furthering their own businesses, and the industry as a whole. As the old saying goes, All ships Rise With The Tide.
Selective advertising is another potentially viable option to drive new clients your way. However, since advertising can be pretty expensive, this type of marketing needs to be well thought out, purposeful and deliberate. Advertising can take the form of direct mail, signs, internet ads/listings, door to door flyer handouts, cold calling, trade show flyer distribution, leaving business cards at trade association meetings, etc.
Needless to say, this type of Pro-Active marketing requires persistence, skill and patience. Make sure you have adequate resources to be able to sustain a marketing campaign long enough for it to achieve the desired results that you anticipated in your Marketing plan. For example, it is a tried and true axiom of direct mail advertising that it usually requires a minimum of seven separate marketing exposures to a potential client before you can expect any real results. Also, Active Marketing, depending on the type of client you are trying to reach, may require extraordinary expenditures for items such as discount offers, incentive gifts, money prizes, salesperson bonuses, etc.
Active Marketing usually costs more over time vs. Passive Marketing. Active Marketing is usually a constant and on-going work-in-progress. If some particular tactic seems to be working well, you do more of it. Passive Marketing is often more of a set-it-and-forget it proposition. Yes, you have to spend cash at the outset to set up the Passive Marketing plan, but those are usually minimum investments, and hopefully one-time costs for things such as setting up a website, social network outreach, blog setup, FAQs, etc. Of course the Passive Marketing components need to be freshened up from time to time, but for the most part they are static costs. The truth is, these days, you need both Active Marketing and Passive Marketing to maximize the odds that your business will survive and thrive over time.
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