Sometimes it astounds me how much companies are prepared to spend in order to ‘market’ their products or services.
I usually enjoy getting packages through the post, especially when I know I’ve ordered something, like a book I’ve been recommended or a new gadget, and our postwoman rang the bell this morning to give me a surprise package. But it turned out to be a business card box containing one business card and a toffee rattling around in it from a printer who was touting his wares.
Eh? Another cryptic stance at some marketing which doesn’t ring home. I didn’t recognise the name, so this kind gesture was lost on me, though it did raise a smile. What a waste of postage and jiffy bag (though a good box for me to put bits in). Was I supposed to ‘feel’ the card and appreciate the ‘quality’ of the printing, but then don’t they all have that?
The other day we had a full set of Next Directory catalogues left outside our house. My daughter was delighted, but we hadn’t got a clue who they were meant for, the most likely recipient having moved away. We are amazed at a) how many hardback catalogues there were, b) the weight of the numerous pages, c) the sumptuous print quality and d) the cost of postage! We also wondered if Next really managed to recouperate the cost of producing these luxury products from its directory subscribers at such an obvious outlay. I knew someone who was involved in maintaining the quality production of these volumes, and it was not taken lightly.
Staples also provides another communication to plop onto our doormat. This arrives in various forms, from a very thin 16 page magazine to a fully binded catalogue. OK, the production certainly isn’t as high quality as the Next Directories, but the frequency is astounding (and noted they do use some clever marketing and upselling tactics), which again leads us to wonder if all this production actually makes it worth while? Obviously, or they wouldn’t be doing it – would they?
The purpose of this post is to question whether these companies calculate that their activity is successful in bringing in enough sales to make it worth while. What I mean is, does the quality of the Next Directories guarantee more purchasing power from its subscribers, or the frequency of the Staples magazines jolt more positive responses? And because these established businesses are doing it, and giving the impression that it works, is it the right thing to do for your business?
My reply is ‘no’, because unless you have an established name like Next or Staples, it would be a waste of money and effort. It is much better to market your organisation through relationship and expertise building, providing value and good advice to exactly the right target market at exactly the right place and time. This may be slow at first, but if you can maintain a good base of satisfied customers, ask for referrals and other viral marketing tactics, broadcast your successes and valuable tips where many can see them, publicise snippets of what you can do on social networking, and create a thoroughly interactive website used in conjunction with focused promotion campaigns, then you can market your business without wasting money.