There are three reasons why companies need to spend their marketing dollars smarter:

1. Marketing communications exist in a competitive environment with tremendous clutter. To see the clutter, just look at the proliferation in the number of television commercials. Remember when they ran 60 seconds? Then 30 seconds? And now we see 15-second spots, which quadruples the number of messages we can be bombarded with in one minute. And that’s just television. Advertising is now everywhere: on buses, movie screens, even shopping carts! Amid all this clutter, it is a real challenge to capture customers’ attention. Companies can’t be assured that their message is going to be heard with the frequency they need. Not only do marketers have to break through that clutter, they’ve got to do it consistently.

2. Consumer and business audiences have become fragmented. For years, there was just Coca-Cola. Today, we have Coke, Classic Coke, Diet Coke, and sodium-free and caffeine-free varieties. Clearly, marketing has identified a growing diversity of consumer needs. As a result, we’re moving away from mass marketing to niche marketing, a trend that will continue as new and improved technologies create more demand for niche-oriented products and services. Communications vehicles need to reflect this change, creating new ways to reach niche markets.

3. Marketing dollars are being held more accountable for sales results. In past decades, companies allocated more money for image advertising. Today, companies are turning to marketing disciplines with more measurable results, such as promotions and direct marketing. So, how does a company spend its marketing dollars more wisely?

I recommend the following:

1. Narrow your focus, defining your customers as precisely as possible.

2. Carefully and strategically select a message that is relevant and meaningful to your target audience.

3. Decide on the best way to reach your customers.

4. To achieve spectacular results, invest in creative thinking.

Here’s an example of how one company did this: Dremel, a company owned by Emerson Electric, manufactures and markets a hand-held rotary tool, the Moto-Tool. The tool was very well-known in the hobbyist market and gaining some recognition in the do-it-yourself market. After analyzing the situation, Dremel realized the hobby market was flat but that the do-it-yourself market was taking off. So, the company decided to focus on do-it-yourselfers and hardware retailers.

To get their attention, Dremel introduced a cordless version of the Moto-Tool — and, to maximize the impact of this new product with a limited budget — focused its efforts on the National Hardware Show, targeting the top 100 dealers and distributors. Direct mail was used to get these top buyers to the booth. Before the show, each one was sent a little cardboard box. The outside said, “Some wheeler-dealers deserve to be taken for a ride.” Inside the box, which contained a toy car, the message continued, “We’re sending a car for you.”

The box was a creative invitation for the buyer to come to the Dremel booth to be eligible for free limousine service between the show and the hotel — a very appealing offer for anyone who’s ever been to a crowded trade show and knows how difficult it is to get a cab at the end of the day. The buyers were assigned to waiting limousines. What they didn’t know was that in the backseat of each limo was a Dremel salesperson, whose job it was to talk about the new cordless Moto-Tool.

The result was that Dremel sold the entire first year’s inventory of the product at one trade show, at a cost of less that $10,000! Dremel took into account the three main challenges to communications: The company cut through the clutter of a major trade show. It spoke directly to a specific market niche. It translated marketing dollars into sales. Dremel also followed the four steps of smart marketing: It narrowly defined its audience. It developed a meaningful message for that audience. It chose the most effective vehicles to communicate that message. It did it all with creativity.

(Ed. Note: The above essay is one of thousands of articles about leadership, management, and business success that are available on the “Instant Consultant” CD from Executive Excellence Publishing. If you’re interested in learning more about it, click on http://eep.com/Merchant//newsite/iclp_agr.htm)

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