Ghostwriting Sample: Offline Marketing
Any kind of marketing – online or offline – requires for successful implementation a Standard Operation Procedure (SOP). However, in a world where ‘Time is Money’ is more a religion than a cliché, SOPs are very often considered as too time-consuming to be used while developing or maintaining a business. In Germany, where I live, I have met several businessmen who have lost their savings heavily during the current economic downturn. And almost all of them said they were too busy utilizing their time in making money to spare some for making careful investment concepts for their earnings. They just relied more or less blindly on what their investment agents proposed.
An SOP for marketing can also be called a marketing strategy, a more familiar expression for most of us. The main objective of a marketing strategy should be to enable an organization, big or small, to focus its limited resources on the biggest opportunities available to create a sustainable competitive advantage. One can safely assume that such a strategy will consider customer satisfaction as one of the key performance indicators to measure the business success. Before talking about offline marketing, which can be described as a sub-strategy to be applied to achieve the goal of customer satisfaction, let us understand how to create a symbiotic relationship between customer requirements and any particular business model. In order to create such a symbiosis, one must ask:
a) Why am I in business?
b) What are the customers looking for?
c) Can I provide what the customers are looking for?
d) Why will they buy from me and not from my competitors?
Why am I in business?
A clear answer to this question is quite decisive for the success of a business, irrespective of whether it is new or old. Am I in business because I have a product or an idea thereof which I want to sell? Or am I in business because I want to make money by selling any product from shoes to online casino games? Both are legitimate, but the approach required to implement them differs. In the former case, I must first define the purpose of my business – in the form of a mission statement – and then do some (market) research to find out whether there are customers interested in my offer. In the latter case, it is exactly opposite. I must first do some market research to find a business domain which could be worth investing time and money. An ideal business domain would be characterized by high customer demand and low offer from producers. Next I should create a mission statement defining my business purpose in line with the results of my market research.
What are the customers looking for?
Let us assume I found that in a country X many are interested in Internet gambling, but there are very few online gambling sites or portals accessible in the native language of that country. Let us also assume I have sufficient knowledge of this domain to build up a gambling portal in the native language of the country X. Let us further assume that it is not forbidden in that country to offer or play online gambling. What do I need to know about my potential customers before starting the business?
Some examples of required information:
a) What type of games are popular: casino, poker, sports, skill games …?
b) Are they interested in detailed gaming guides?
(which will be the case if many of them are newbies)
c) Preference for flash or download version of a casino.
d) Preference for certain payment methods.
e) Preference for free games, free spins etc.
f) Preference for High Roller bonuses, which may be the case if there are many players interested in high wagering.
So now I will have to do some in-depth market research. Where will I go, especially if my research budget is pretty low? Here are some possible sources of information I need:
a) My relatives, friends and acquaintances
b) Land casinos, discos, bars, ‘Student’s Dens (could be very productive’) etc.
c) Gambling-related exhibitions and conferences
e) Gambling magazines, blogs
Can I provide what the customers are looking for?
- Have I gathered enough information about customer demands?
- Do I have technical competence and resource to create and maintain a portal that would attract customers?
- Do I have the right content suppliers (casinos, affiliate programs, 3rd party content writers …) for my potential customers?
- Do I have enough budget to produce what the customers want?
Why will they buy from me and not from my competitors?
(This question must be answered even if I have only one competitor!)
After visiting the sites of my competitor(s), can I claim that I will
a) supply information faster?
b) present information better?
c) offer better customer support?
d) offer more attractive products (special promotions, tournaments …)?
If I cannot answer at least one of the 4 positively, I should reassess my business project. Otherwise I can start formulating a mission statement for my future business and begin with its implementation, including creating a marketing plan.
The main objective of any marketing – offline or online – is to create a sustained brand awareness. Brand awareness is most effective when anyone thinking of acquiring a product of a particular type immediately thinks of a certain product or supplier. The marketing is an instrument to create such symbiotic relations.
Offline marketing is, compared to the online marketing, a more costly affair. Two of the most basic elements of marketing – marketing medium and distribution channel – will cost you almost nothing in online marketing. The marketing medium, the Web, and most of the distribution channels like Search Engines (Google etc.), Social Networks (Facebook etc.), Social Bookmarks (dig etc.) and Blogs are all free for use. This is significantly different in offline marketing. You may have to spend a lot for both, and so the selection of the right marketing media and distribution channels are crucial to the survival and success of your business.
Marketing Medium / Distribution Channels
The costliest offline marketing mediums are print ads, radio spots, and television commercials, because their pricing is directly related to levels of distribution, scope of the audience addressed and ratings. However, they are also considered as the most effective offline marketing media. They are definitely very useful if the business has already created some brand awareness. Information gathered from surveys of established customer bases can then be utilized to optimize the inputs for the print ads, radio spots, and television commercials.
But there are also many inexpensive way of marketing your business which may yield high ROI if deployed intelligently. Some examples here:
a) Business Cards
Make out of your business card the cheapest mobile ad space you can think of. Make it look attractive and don’t leave the back of the card blank. Bring there either some unique message about your business or features of your product. Make sure your web site address appears on it and don’t be stingy while distributing your cards. Leave back plenty of them wherever you expect people to come and go.
b) Flyers and Posters
It is worthwhile spending some time and money in designing attractive and handy posters and flyers. Hang them up in strategic locations, first in your town and then elsewhere. You will be amazed how often you will get visitors to your website coming from this distribution channel, provided you didn’t forget to include there your website address.
c) Yellow Page Ads
Put an ad in the Yellow Pages. They are still widely used.
d) Ads in free local newspapers/magazines
They are generally distributed to all households in a locality weekly or monthly. Probably you will have to pay something for your ad, but this investment can bring you plenty of visitors to your site because large number of individuals will read your ad regularly.
It is not very expensive to brand items such as pens, mousepads, key chains, calendars and letter pads with your product logo. People may keep such presents for years and look at them several times a day.
f) Car or yourself as mobile ad platform
Print company name, website address and some contact information on your car. Instead of printing the information you may also stick a printed magnet board on your car.
In the current days of economic downturn, you may even be able to hire ad space on other cars for a modest price.
Similarly, you may add your company data to your clothes, hats, shoes and bags. Bit awkward, but people will look at you and read about your company. Many may even start a chat with you. What more can you expect from marketing?
g) Visit exhibitions and conferences
Exhibitions and conferences are almost obligatory for keeping in touch with developments in your specific field as well as for establishing contacts with your suppliers and consumers
h) Write a column in a newspaper or magazine
Newspapers and magazines are always looking for interesting contents. Try to become a regular columnist in one of them. The best way to introduce yourself is to offer them a report on any exhibition or conference you visited. If you can write well, many publishers will receive you with open arms
i) Win-Win Bargain
Swap promotional materials with business partners who have many customers. You may e.g. offer a bookstore either an ad on your website or his logo on your letter pad. In return, the bookstore can include your business card or a poster in the bag containing the books his customer has bought
j) Create a Promotion
Sponsor a game contest during a local event with some prize with a tag to your business. On a larger scale, you may create a concept for a promotion that would interest listeners and viewers of a local radio or TV station. Offer a weekend holiday for two to the winner of a quiz contest or something similar. The exposure you will receive will by far outweigh your financial investment.
These are just some samples of possible offline marketing channels. You will find many more in books and on internet. However, one should select only a few of them to start with. The best channels will be found only by trial and error.
In the above section we talked about the offline marketing medium and distribution channels. But before you can start utilizing them, you need to create your ads. It is obvious that the content of an ad as well as the technique for creating it will depend on the distribution medium you have chosen. Print ads will need a good visualization of the concept, corresponding graphic design and printing. Radio ads will need scripting, recording and sound mixing. TV ads, generally the most expensive of the three, will require other tools which will depend on the degree of sophistication, but will very often blow up the budget constraints. It is very very essential to plan a budget that can cover a longer period before starting creating ads, instead of blowing up a big chunk of the whole budget just for one or two ‘super’ ads.
Collecting information from customer surveys and feedbacks from an existing customer base is extremely important for successful marketing. Only in this way one can get a concrete picture of the market a product is serving:
- The average age range of the customers
- Their geographical location
- The size of the market – is it growing or shrinking?
- The ‘taste’ of the customers – is it changing?
It is worthwhile keeping a part of the budget for conducting surveys through some professional agents. One should differentiate between surveying ones own customer base and the survey of a representative portion of the market segment. By combining the results of the two, one can create a solid basis for the future marketing.