Bob DeStefano: Smart Marketing in a Tough Economy

Think of marketing as an investment, not an expense.

Bob DeStefano is an online marketing strategist and marketing speaker with more than 18 years experience helping manufacturers and distributors leverage online marketing to produce results.

Smart companies know that the last thing you should do in a tough economy is pull back your marketing. Instead, you need to learn how to do more with less – making sure every marketing dollar is working for you. How can your company thrive in these challenging times? By marketing smart. The following tips will help put you on the path to success.

An Investment, Not an Expense
If you think of marketing only as an expense, you’re probably doing it wrong. Marketing is an investment that should produce a measurable return in the form of qualified leads and bankable sales. Just as you would carefully review the return on investment (ROI) for stocks and funds in your retirement portfolio, you should carefully evaluate the ROI for all of the investments in your company’s marketing portfolio, including online and
offline marketing activities.

Measure Marketing ROI
So, how will you know if your marketing investments are producing significant return on investment? You need to measure results. ROI needs to be as fundamental an ingredient in marketing as it is in finance, sales, R&D or any other strategic department in your company.

Unfortunately, very few marketers know how to measure marketing ROI. If you’re not measuring marketing ROI, it’s time to start — and it’s not as hard as you think. The following ideas will help you get started:

  • Implement a Web Analytics system, such as Google Analytics, to measure how well your website is working toward achieving your marketing goals. This online report will show you where your most profitable Web traffic is coming from, what products and information they are looking at and what ‘calls to action’ are generating the most leads and sales.
  • Use unique, trackable phone numbers and unique Web addresses for each of your marketing activities (e.g., print ads, catalogs, postcards, etc.) to track online and phone-in leads generated by each marketing activity.
  • Leverage a Marketing Analytics system to track your marketing ROI. These systems will automate all of the above-mentioned ROI measurement tactics.

Cut Marginal Marketing Investments
Now that you know what’s working and what’s not, it’s time to cut, cut, cut. Cut marginal investments that are not producing a return. Save this money, or choose to funnel it into activities that are producing stellar returns.

Many companies are reevaluating their marketing strategies — sticking with traditional marketing that works, dumping what doesn’t and increasing investments in online marketing activities such as websites, search engine marketing, e-mail marketing and social media.

Turn Your Website into a Lead Generation Machine
The most successful companies consider their website to be their most powerful marketing tool. Do you? Your website is the most public face of your company. More people will visit your website than will ever visit your location, view your catalog or talk to your salespeople. Make the most of this marketing channel by transforming your website into a lead generation machine.

Begin by providing customer-focused content and interactive features that speak to the needs of your customers and provide the solution they are seeking. Next, don’t rely on your website’s ‘Contact Us’ page as the sole method for prospects to take action. To turn your website into a lead generation machine, pepper your website with a variety of relevant offers tailored to the needs of your target audience, such as:

  • Request a quote or purchase online
  • ‘Call me now’ or online chat
  • Order free samples
  • Register for seminars, webinars or events
  • Request access to ‘premium content’ – white papers, knowledge base, articles, etc.
  • Subscribe to your e-mail newsletter

In addition, don’t forget to prominently display your phone number on every page. More than half of Web visitors prefer to call rather than complete an online form.

Attract New Customers from Search Engines
If you are not focusing on search engine marketing, it is likely that your company is invisible online. Search engine marketing is extremely important because, according to research, over 80 percent of customers begin at a search engine like Google when researching products and services online.

Simply defined, search engine marketing helps ensure your company’s website is presented at the top of the search results when people are searching for your products and capabilities. Prospects who find your website through search engines are
actively looking for your products and will be motivated to take action when they land on your website. And, with the pay-for-performance model of search engine advertising, you only pay when a qualified prospect clicks on your ad and visits your website.

Cherish Your Existing Customers
Last, but certainly not least, strengthen your relationships with your existing customers. We all know that it is by far easier to sell to existing customers than to try and win new ones. So, make sure you do everything you can to demonstrate to your current customers that you are a valued partner that understands their needs.

Many successful marketers are turning to e-mail marketing and social media marketing to help with this effort. Through e-mail marketing you can generate repeat visits to your website by producing an educational e-mail newsletter with valuable ‘how to’ content. In addition, you can generate repeat sales by e-mailing targeted promotions to your past customers. This same educational and promotional content can be leveraged for social media marketing by sharing this information with your company’s network of fans followers and connections.

By embracing these ideas and ‘marketing smart,’ your company will be well-positioned to succeed in these  challenging times. CS

Bob DeStefano is an online marketing strategist and marketing speaker with more than 18 years experience helping manufacturers and distributors leverage online marketing to produce results. Bob is STAFDA’s online marketing consultant and a member of the University of Industrial Distribution faculty. Contact Bob at, or call 877-786-3249.