eclipseD-Tools partner Leslie Stevens of Eclipse Marketing offers integrators 10 great tips to improve business in the new year.

With the Presidential Inauguration over, people are moving forward with their lives and looking onward towards better times.  With optimism ahead, now is it the time to reach your customers and share your enthusiasm for a better way of life.  Start your communicate strategy with a well-defined marketing plan.  People like to buy from companies they are familiar with.   View 10 marketing tips to help you get started.

1. Develop a marketing plan

Every successful marketing campaign starts with a well-defined marketing plan.  Key elements that should be included are: 1) Identification of your target market  2) Your marketing tools or method of communication  3) How and when you will communicate your message 4) Your expected response and subsequent results, and  5) The cost to implement the campaign and your Return On Investment.

2. Build your database

Your ability to effectively communicate with customers on a regular basis is critical to your survival.  Build an accurate database of their contact information, especially their e-mail addresses.  Also, include special notes, such as birthdays and their kid’s names.  If you already have a database, make sure it’s up to date.  Don’t waste money on postage that will be returned to you. Some methods for building a good database include: open houses, relationships through community associations, referrals, and lists provided by local publications.

3. Host Open Houses

Open Houses are a great opportunity to network with existing customers, potential customers and partners, such as architects and interior designers.  Open houses enable you to build rapport with new business and it re-establishes connection with past clients.  Consider partnering with a manufacturer to help you host your event. Request the manufacturer conduct product or system demonstrations.  Don’t forget to show a movie in your showroom home theater or media center. To add to the excitement, make X-Box and other desirable games available in different rooms.  Distribute your company literature. If you don’t have a showroom or retail location, partner with a company who does.

4. Send Targeted Mailings

Direct mail allows you to deliver a controlled message directly to your target audience.  Mailings can be as simple as a postcard or elaborate like a roll-fold with a reader response card.  Your campaign should have a consistent look and feel.   However, a direct mail campaign is not a one time promotion, you need to be prepared to mail your literature to the same customers on a regular basis.  People buy from companies they are familiar with.

5. Conduct Press Relations

Your personal relationships with key editors of local magazines and national audio/video publications it critical to your public exposure.  Public relations is a credible and cost-effective way to capture the attention of your target market.  Potential customers will get a chance to learn about your work and you will be positioned as the expert.  You can assemble professional press kits by simply packaging together the following: a detailed description of your installation, professional photographs, company literature and your contact information.  Once you submit your package to editors, follow-up by placing phone calls.

6. Marketing Literature

Company literature is a basic staple of all businesses.  It can be used for multiple purposes, such as sales presentations, mailed to potential customers, distributed at local events and offered in your showroom or retail center.  Also, you can make them available from your installers.  Keep brochures in your trucks when they are on the job.  You can also attach a plastic box with a lid (such as a real estate lawn box) and mount it to your vehicle for when it’s parked. Your company literature should always include high-quality photos that illustrate your products and services.  Keep in mind that the professionalism of your marketing tools gives the reader the impression of your work.

7. Local advertising

Advertising is an effective way to build your brand within a specified community.  This includes your local residential market and your local trade associations, such as the AIA or ASID chapters. The key is to a successful advertisement campaign is frequency.  If you only advertise in a few issues, you’re wasting your money.  People need to become familiar with your company and services over time.  Their comfort level is very important to your marketing success.

8. Website

Your websitemakes a statement about your company.  If your site is professionally designed, you’ll give the impression your company is professionally managed as well.  Same basic elements you should be includ in your website are: 1) The types of services you offer  2) You company history 3) High-quality photos illustrating the types of installations you install  4)  A download link for your company brochure  5)  A sign up link to add them to your newsletter.

9. Online newsletters

Electronic newsletters are a cost-effective way to communicate with your customers, provided that you don’t bombard them with excessive e-mails.  Online newsletters should include informative information that readers will find helpful, such as technology updates, new advancements in products and safety tips.  You can also include related items, special events at your location.  E-newsletters should link to your website and provide download links for company literature.

10. Join community associations

Associations offer a good forum for generating referrals.  However, you need to do more than simply pay your annual dues.  You need to leverage your membership by getting involved with the group.  For example, offer to speak on a hot topic during one of their local meetings.  There are many subjects that would appeal to them, such the status of Digital Transition or Green standards.  Keep plenty of business cards in your wallet and distribute literature.

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About Eclipse Marketing and Leslie Stevens

Eclipse Marketing provides professionally designed and cost-effective marketing tools to dealers and integrators.  The company also provides Member Marketing tools to CEDIA, PARA, TechHome InfoComm International and NASBA.  Leslie Stevens, President of Eclipse Marketing and author of this article, can be reached at leslie@eclipsemarketing.net or by calling +1.949.363.5340.  You may view affordable marketing tools available at http://www.eclipsemarketing.net/.