“How can I optimize my marketing budget?” and “How can I get more sales?”
… these are two questions that I’m regularly asked and they are not only valid questions but they are indicative of reality… we need to spend less on marketing (and other expenses) while we increase our sales (and profit).
My answer is usually the same…
- Where do you currently spend your marketing budget?
- What marketing activities can be proven to increase brand recognition and sales?
- What do you spend your money on that you shouldn’t because it does not work?
- What do you spend money on without knowing if it is producing results?
Then, I ask tougher questions, still related to sales and marketing…
- Who is your ideal customer?
- What is your brand promise?
- What is your customer acquisition cost?
… and once we know these things… I ask the one-two-punch questions.
- Are you living your brand promise?
If you are not living your brand promise — consistently — and your customer experience is not consistently equal to or greater than your brand promise, you are simply wasting money.
Marketing isn’t just advertising, it’s every exposure to your brand. From the cleanliness of your premise, to your service, quality and your customer experience, you must be relentless in delivering according to your brand promise.
Put your energy and money into hiring, training, equipment, infrastructure and whatever else it takes so that you know that day-in-day-out you will deliver what you say do.
Then… work on creating and nurturing relationships with your customers (you know, the ones that love you because you do what you say you’ll do… each and every time). Use those relationships to increase referrals, increase joint ventures, increase sales and lower your customer acquisition cost.
A significant portion of a business’ value is based on intangible factors such as goodwill, partnerships, alliances and key employees, so it makes sense to spend time, money and energy to maximize that value.
A quick example of what to do and what not to do:
We have just returned from a cruise out of the Port of Miami. This cruise line’s branding is all about “fun” yet, on the ship we saw one lone crew member having fun (excluding the activities people). She was a waitress that had obviously bonded with a couple of passengers. She was laughing and interacting with them. Mind you, she totally ignored us but that’s a different story.
The rest of the crew, except for our cabin steward, who was friendly, hospitable and called out to us by name as he saw us; the dining room hostess who was the only person to ask for feedback and provide “hospitality”; and the waitress who served bar drinks on the “Serenity Deck”, the rest of the “team” appeared to be demoralized, unappreciated and they were certainly not having “fun”.
Eager to get back to our expectation of hospitality, I arranged to visit a couple of hotels while in Cozumel.
We went to the Intercontinental Presidente and we were thoroughly impressed by the property and the staff.
I loved their attention to comfort. They were hospitable, genuine, smiling and caring. We were invited to stay for lunch and it was delicious.
We then went to visit the Cozumel Palace. We’ve stayed at another Palace Resort twice in the past year and we’ve visited a couple of other properties. We know what to expect in terms of quality and service. This property was small – wedged between the road and the sea – and I was a bit concerned because of the noise on the road side and the lack of beach on the sea-side. However, we would stay there because of two things: Palace’s dedication to both quality and service.
So what has all of this got to do with “Living Your Brand Promise?”
Everything actually… you see, because the Intercontinental Presidente and the Cozumel Palace both deliver what they promise, they can lower their marketing costs and increase their sales because they engage their customers.
Engaging with customers means communicating with them..
Customer Engagement is different though … it means you’ve earned their “heart”.
Engaged customers are more likely to refer people to your business, they are more accepting when things don’t go right and they are more likely to continue to do business with you.
Compare this to a company that does not live the brand promise. They constantly have to hire new employees (after all, employees won’t stick around either if the brand promise is inconsistent with reality), they constantly have to deal with rookie learning curves, they constantly have to spend tons of money on marketing and they do not enjoy the repeat, high-profit advantage of engaged customers.
So, the best way to increase your profit, increase your sales and optimize all your expenses, including your marketing budget is to go back to your roots and be sure that you are living your brand promise each and every day.