Smart Phones – Making Them Work for Your Business With Inexpensive Marketing

So here we are in the age of technology with so much going on it’s sometimes too much to think about. With the integration of smart phones into our world we simply cannot ignore their benefits when it comes to marketing our businesses!

Now don’t start freaking out here, you don’t need to know much about technology such as building applications and such to maximise the marketing effects these gadgets can have on your business. It’s just simple yet effective promotion of your business that is proven to effectively generate hot sales leads for your business as well as boost your other marketing efforts.

Most businesses these days have a website; if you don’t then you need to get one ASAP! Websites are a great interactive and informative tool for customers who are looking for your products and services and they are like a shopfront for your business. Many businesses spend huge money in driving traffic to their websites to generate more sales and increase their online presence. Many businesses simply have not considered how smart phones can be a great source of traffic to their website but this is something we simply cannot overlook with so many people owning and using smart phones on the go daily.

We all want to get our company information out there, that’s why we list our businesses with yellow pages, online directories and much more. Imagine getting all of your company details sent through to thousands of people within your region or country daily with all of your business details right there at your fingertips! Again, smart phones can achieve this for your business.

How can smart phones do all of this for you? Well its simple, through the power of SMS marketing we can now send through a marketing promotion directly to someone’s mobile phone. Now of course they wont all be smart phones but for the majority that are, we have more than just SMS marketing taking place here.

You can actively plan your SMS marketing campaign to cover more than one area of your marketing. Which in effect can either save you money on other forms of marketing, or simply bring you more business and marketing at an extremely low cost.

Using smart phones for building more traffic for your business website

With the technology of smart phones you can now send an SMS message promoting your business, products and/or services and also include in that SMS message your website which will promote more traffic to your website, with the simple click of the link on the SMS message you will have more traffic coming through quickly to your website every time you utilize SMS marketing.

Smart phones sharing your business email

These days many people prefer contact via email, its free, easy and accessible. You can include your email address in your SMS messages as well which allows people to contact you directly via email in regards to your products and services.

Smart Phones and your phone number

Including your business phone number in the SMS will allow the smart phone owner to simply click on that number to dial it. With such simple functionality you will find that your incoming calls will increase quite dramatically.

So now that you can see quite simply how easy it is to utilize this technology to effectively market your business you need to simply think of a promotion or product / service you would like to get out there for your business. Something to catch peoples eye and get them clicking on your website directly from their phones, emailing you on the go and calling you with just one click.

This inexpensive way of marketing simply isn’t being used as much as it should be; it seems Australia has fallen behind the times a little with this whole technology thing especially with small businesses. But now you can see that you don’t need to get too technical, it’s simply a matter of understanding how to use technology to your businesses advantage.

You don’t even need to actively put this into place yourself. You can simply enlist the services of a company who specialize in business marketing and can set up an SMS Campaign for your business, with pricing from a maximum of 10c per message which decreases with the amount you order and includes replies of any SMS messages to be sent directly to your requested email address you simply can’t go wrong. You can even get discounts the more you order. But you can start off small with just 1,000 messages just to test the market for your product. You can also select the time period you would like the SMS messages sent over, exact times, dates and number of SMS messages to send. And you don’t even need to lift a finger. You have simply got to love technology these days!

To incorporate SMS marketing into your business really is a simple and inexpensive process. It will certainly make your phones ring hot, your emails fill up with enquiries and potential sales. And your website receives much more traffic and improves its online presence. So get your business that technological edge today without the headache!

Direct Mail – A Numbers Game

Six seconds, one percent, 3000 addresses, thousands of dollars. Direct mail. It’s a numbers game.

Yes, it’s a numbers game, but there is no other marketing approach that allows a regular business to reach so many prospects, in such a powerful way, at so low a cost. Not advertising, not telemarketing, not personal sales calls, not the Internet.

Clients often ask, “What should go into a direct mail campaign?” Everything. Actually, no. Everything needs to be in a Direct Response Campaign; other direct mail campaigns require fewer things.

First, a definition: Direct Mail means addressed to an individual, not to the “occupant”, “general manager” etc. Neither is it un-addressed admail. There are two general kinds of direct mail, based on the target audience: business to business, and consumer. And there is a difference between regular direct mail, and “direct response mail”. Direct response is a subset of direct mail: in it, the goal of the campaign is to have the target respond to it, before it can be considered successful.

As consumer mail has the most statistics behind it, I’m going to refer to it most often. Where business to business (B2B) differs from consumer, I’ll put the B2B information in an “aside”.

Once they’ve come across your envelope in the post, your prospect will take less than three seconds to decide to open it or trash it. By opening it, they’re identifying themselves as real prospects.

B2B is often sent in plain business envelopes, which tend to be opened as a matter of routine.

Next your prospect takes about nine seconds to scan the contents: the response device, the letter, your brochure and the response device again. (People look at the response device twice, as it has their name on it, and, it turns out, people like to see their names in print.) If you fail to hook them in that time, you’re in the trash.

As you can see, you don’t have much time.

Your task is to get your audience emotionally involved with your mailing. They’re either emotionally involved or it’s into the trash.

One method, used in consumer mailings to build emotional involvement is creating visual clutter. Visual clutter roughly drags the viewer around the page, and through the various inclusions. By “exploring” the mailing, they become “involved” with it.

While this should work with B2B mailings, your business prospects are less tolerant of clutter.

Some direct mail approaches:

  • Postcards. The implication is: good news, an easy decision, quick to deal with. However, they can be seen as representing low value, if they are not done right. Production values and creativity are extremely important with postcards.
  • Self mailers. These are often used in B2B. They tend to have very high pass along value. They’re a quick read, and often used to sell seminars, conferences, single books, for lead generation or traffic building. Statistically, seminar mailings pull 0.3% or less.
  • Catalogues. These have a fairly high response rate, and are kept for a comparatively long time. However, they are hugely expensive to print and distribute. These are being replaced by postcard invitations to view an online catalogue.
  • Standard direct mail package. At the minimum, these consist of an outer envelope, sales letter, brochure and business card. They can get very much more complicated than this. These can pull from lower than 0.5% to as high as 5%, or even 10% for outstanding campaigns.
  • Standard direct response package. At the minimum, these consist of an outer envelope, sales letter, response device, brochure and return envelope. They also can get very much more complicated than this. Again, these can pull from lower than 0.5% to as high as 5%, or even 10% for outstanding campaigns.

For the most part, direct mail packages are seen as more personal than the other methods. They can also deliver a larger quantity of information. If you want someone to respond to you, you need to give them enough information to justify their actions.

In the briefest terms, any good direct mail package does the following:

  • It frames the offer.
  • It highlights the benefits.
  • It visually reveals the concept.
  • It calls the reader to action.

You don’t know which piece of your mailing a prospect will look at first. So, every element in the package must contain the key benefits and focus on the offer.

COPYWRITING

There are six kinds of copy you need to write for your direct mail piece. Each one plays a different, but important role.

The first is your benefit copy. It builds desire. A benefit shows the improvement that the user will gain through the product or service.

Then the descriptive copy makes up for the fact that your reader can’t “kick the tires”. This is where the product/service is made tangible. Visuals play a big role here.

Support copy validates your story. It can be data, statistics or research. Or it can be examples, case studies, histories, (Which are 3rd person recommendations.), or testimonials (Which are 1st person recommendations.) Of course, it can be all of these together.

Then there are the “sweeteners”. These are incentives and choices: “Free gift”, “Yours to keep”, “Buy now and get blah blah blah, etc.”

Finally, the “facilitators”: guarantees, “toll free numbers”, “pay later”, etc. These make it easier for your reader to say YES.

THE ENVELOPE

To develop a good envelope, you need to answer these questions:

  • What is your prospect thinking?
  • What’s going to get the envelope opened?
  • What’s going to get the response you want?

Consumer oriented direct mail envelopes announce that they’re advertising something. They use teaser copy, bold graphics, even photos to get people to open them. When people open these, they know they are about to be “sold” something.

Direct mail lead generation and other B2B mailings often use a more subdued #10 or plain 5 7/8 x 9 envelope, often without even a company name on the envelope. This has its dangers, as a recipient might feel “tricked” into opening it.

(Fundraising mailings often take the direct sales approach. The trick with them is not to look spendthrift.)

Postal regulations are complex. If you’re doing any large quantity mailings, review your options before you design your mailing. Review the regulations at ups.gov for Americans or canadapost.com for Canadian mailings.

If you intend to do a large mailing, it’s best to hire a lettershop to assemble it for you. They will actually save you money, as they can put your mailing together the best way to suit the postal regs. Make sure your materials will fit their equipment and your envelopes. For ease of insertion, your envelopes should be 1/2 inch longer and 1/4 taller than your material.

I intended to give you the whole story in this article, but I realize I’ve carried on for quite a long while. I’ll finish my story of direct mail in Direct Mail the Numbers Game, Part Two, where I’ll talk about sales letters, response devices and brochures.

Network Marketing in an Internet World

In a fast changing world and difficult economic scenarios, it is but normal that individuals will turn towards innovation, fortitude and creativity in order to ramp up or bolster their earnings. The time for that though, as we all know, is past. No longer can individuals supplement earnings by taking on extra work. With the labor markets, worldwide, in depression, millions of people have to find themselves a primary source of income in order to meet the most basic expenses. And data coming out of nations around the world (at one time heralded as economic juggernauts that would help drive the world past the banking crisis) shows that even India and China are beginning to reel under the impacts of European and USA economic issues.

So the outlook isn’t rosy, but that doesn’t mean the end of the world or a shutdown of economic activity. It does however; necessitate a need to look at avenues of income generation from a fresh perspective. And this article intends to discuss a specific route of employment and income creation, its associated pitfalls, the overwhelming misinformation about the work genre, the competitive advantages the industry enjoys and how the Internet is helping push revenues up higher than ever before. Welcome to the world of Network Marketing in the Internet Era.

Network Marketing – An intro

Network Marketing, also called Referral Marketing or MLM (Multilevel Marketing) is a business model where employees are hired as marketers for a business or product, and are rewarded on both, the sales they generate, as well as the sales invoiced by the staff they subsequently hire. Essentially each member has to sell products as well as recruit new sales people in order to reach the highest earning potential. (For this article, MLM and Network Marketing will be used interchangeably)

So for example you sell home insurance for AIG (just an example), and you process 3 policies successfully, you get a share/commission of the sale value.

Now, you can hire more staff to help you sell these policies, and when they do, you get a percentage of the total policy value sold by the people You hire as a reward for increasing the sales force and generating revenues for the firm. In marketing speak, your recruits will be referred to as Your down line, that is to say this stream of income was started by you, making you eligible for higher benefits.

Some people confuse MLM and direct selling. While it is true that MLM or network marketing is heavily reliant on customer referrals, word of mouth promotions and direct selling techniques, MLM is just one form of direct selling.

Network Marketing Criticism

MLM or network marketing has come under the scanner for practices that opponents say are unethical, designed to serve a handful of people, and can rupture personal relationships, but they continue to thrive. In fact some of the world’s most successful firms including Avon and Amway are examples of how well MLM can work for representatives and the parent entity. The issue though, is that many critics vehemently argue that Amway is the best example of Pyramid Marketing schemes that serve the interest of the parent firm and not its representatives.

And here’s the issue. People tend to conflate Pyramid Schemes with Network Marketing which, widespread as it is, is also misleading. Pyramid Schemes stand out from MLM or Network Marketing in that they tend to require entry fees and promise exaggerated returns without any grounding in fact or performance records.

Therein lies the rub. Network Marketing has been used as a convenient label for firms who have been known to indulge in Pyramid Schemes thereby devaluing what is, a legitimate marketing strategy and business model.

Independent Investigations and Findings

This is what the Federal Trade Commission of the USA delved into when it investigated Amway in 1979 for Pyramid practices.

However, court rulings and governmental investigations into MLM have firmly established that Amway is not a ‘pyramid’ scheme. The Federal Trade Commission’s (USA) ruling In the Matter of Amway Corporation, Inc., et al.) in 1979, concerning the business practices of the firm explicitly stated that Amway was not an illegal pyramid scheme.

The rulings reinforced what many marketers propagated for years. Marketing strategies come in all shapes and sizes, and the misuse of a practice does not make it illegal or unethical.

Think of it like this. Internet Marketing is a growing practice for firms and individuals across the world. And we all know the impact spam has had on our virtual existence. Unsolicited, mass communiqués that people dispose of before they even look at them. Usually sent by ‘bots’ or computer programs that flood email addresses, forums and comment posts, it has become the bane of Internet Marketers. Can you say that ‘bots’ are the standard tools of practice for all internet marketing?

No. Because it’s a few individuals who are using underhand techniques, and who do not have the necessary expertise in Internet marketing causing the issue. Not the practice or functional area itself. The same applies to MLM or Network Marketing. The tarring of a whole industry with the same brush due to some unethical practitioners and extremely vocal opponents despite it enjoying significant advantages is frequently overlooked in the den of criticism.

Strategic Advantage of MLM

Now that this article has discussed the potential issues and the criticisms of the Network Marketing professionals, it is prudent and in the interests of fairness that the unique advantages that MLM enjoys be looked at.

The biggest advantage that MLM brings to prospective practitioners is the availability of a rather large mentoring team. These individuals have had experience in the practices that yield results, how to nurture client relationships and be consistent with efforts to drive achievements.

With firms like Amway and Avon, the huge expenses of advertising are nullified for distributors and marketers, helping them enter a market with almost no overheads and investment costs.

The established reputations and credentials of firms like Amway and Avon also help the Marketer in gaining authority with their prospective clients, negating the need for years of carefully cultivated marketing messages and demonstrated product excellence that a startup/newcomer would need.

And perhaps the biggest advantage is Brand Recall. Individuals from the American East Coast, to the towns of India and the shires of Australia, immediately understand who Amway or Avon are. Demonstrated quality and products which are complemented by excellent MLM strategies. However, the Internet has opened up larger potential for Amway, Avon and MLM professionals.

Network Marketing in the Internet Age

With the internet opening up markets internationally, and borders becoming as irrelevant as VHS tapes thanks to Skype and Email, it is fairly sensible for marketers to move their model onto this much larger canvass, thereby triggering potential windfalls for their firms and employees.

Distributors utilize Internet Network Marketing strategies to build networks online and use them to spread their reach across a larger consumer and employee base. The crux of the strategy, as with offline initiatives, it to prospect potential distributors and representatives, and there are 3 ways in which firms approach their online presence.

• Internet Communication Prospecting
So let’s suppose you are a MLM professional and you manage to source some leads for your products. Traditionally you would call them and try to setup an appointment so you can then present your product and idea to the client.

With the internet, the same thing applies. Except now you aren’t limited to the people you meet offline. You can search through groups, forums and chat rooms for specific members who match your target market, introduce yourself and then send them an email outlining your firm, its advantages and how they stand to gain from developing an association with you. And with Skype, you aren’t limited to chat conversations, but a video conference, and a global reach.

• Internet Attraction Marketing
Internet Attraction Marketing is a strategy that uses the online presence of a firm to bolster its attraction to potential clients. This strategy is in no form or manner one that’s exclusive to MLM or Network Marketing. One of the most prominent uses of this tactic is the ‘learn how I made $1000 in a day’ advertisements that you see everywhere on the web.

And it’s used by bloggers, by e-vendors, by public speakers and all sorts of businesses that are moving their product and services onto the virtual environment. By giving out free material, so let’s say, a brochure advertising the exact steps you took to succeed at MLM, you can reach out to a large audience and all they need to do is sign up for your newsletter or ‘webinar’ (a seminar you can hold online using basic communication software) where you can then convince them to join your MLM business.

• Internet Advertising Prospecting
While prospecting for clients is one of the challenges of MLM, there is no reason that you cannot make the prospects come to you. Unlike offline prospecting, in the online world you can choose your advertising methods, budgets and placement far more carefully.

A MLM firm can purchase banner ads or use pay per click advertising where the audience clicks on an advertisement and are directed to your home page where you can then explain the product and its benefits in greater detail.

It also scores over conventional prospecting by drastically slashing your commuting and travel expenses since you can effectively cater to a larger segment online so long as you have a good grasp on the Internet, Search Engines and Online Marketing.

Conclusion

Network Marketing has, traditionally, been an extremely competitive marketplace like many other professions. The issue though is the fact that extremely low entry costs make it an attractive proposition for numerous people. This can lead to what people call ‘market saturation’ i.e. supply far outstrips demand. This is, unfortunately, misleading.

And here’s why. Low costs do mean higher people get on board, but a lot of people, paradoxically, don’t invest the time and effort required to grow ANY business since they have almost literally ‘nothing to lose’. This means a fair few prospective MLM professionals drop out very early and don’t pay enough attention to strategy and marketing initiatives, relying on luck or some other manner of good fortune to bestow them with the success that their ‘up line’ associates may have gathered.

Such individual shortcomings cannot, and indeed, should not be used to malign MLM/Network Marketing professionals who use legitimate means to promote legal products to consumers. And this is evident from the success of Amway, not just as a firm, but as a defendant in the 1979 ruling by the FTC (USA).

Access to mentors, a large network and low costs make MLM a great professional choice, as well as a brilliant way for individuals to generate income in a struggling global economic environment.

And with the advent of the Internet, professional marketers can utilize outreach strategies that outstrip traditional methods by huge leaps and bounds. Cutting across cultures, boundaries and demographics, the Internet can be utilized to sift through potentials and leads by allowing the audience to connect with you, which translates into higher interest, and therefore, a much more likely sale for Network Marketers.

It’s fair to say, and indeed this article has pointed it out, that MLM has become the boogie man of Modern Marketing techniques. The issue is that people confuse unethical practitioners with unethical industries which are not the same.

And with the economic forecast for the immediate future not looking like it will become brighter in the near future, individuals have to, like we pointed out at the start, become creative about their career choices. And the Internet makes the job doubly easier. There is no reason for prospective MLM professionals to not do their research, ask the right questions from their ‘up line’ sources and not be enthused by the opportunities that are on offer.

A better future, stability and income generation are basic rights of all people, no matter where they are or what they do. And MLM definitely provides for that.