Marketing Toolbox

“Do you have a flier for this? I’d like to sit down with my wife to discuss it a bit further and show her the pictures.”
“Actually, no. We’re working on it. …I can email you some information and pictures though. Would that help?”
Inwardly you’re cringing for a missed opportunity while you offer this compromise. Have you lost the sale? Not necessarily. The fact that you just offered what may be an adequate substitute may do the trick.

In any business you get a lot of questions coming your way from prospective customers, many of which have to do with channeling them through the sales funnel ultimately to the closed sale at the end. The tough part is when you get a question or request and aren’t prepared with the right answer.

Toolbox Checklist

Here’s a checklist of items, Friend, you may need to give you the ‘right answer.’ I won’t cite which ones are best for you, as the answer is different for every business. What I suggest is that you ask yourself which of these tools is missing from your Marketing Toolbox. And if it’s not missing, like any tool, some may be worn and need replacement.

  1. Flyer – Almost every business, without exception, could use a double-sided, letter-size flyer that explains the very basics of what you offer. This can be a letter-size tri-fold brochure or merely a quick letter-size document created in Word that you print off your desktop.
  2. Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) sheet – What questions do you most commonly hear from prospective clients? Ideally you want a series of Q&As on your website (that’s easy to find) as well as in hand when meeting prospective clients face to face. If you’ve been nursing this lead along for awhile, tailor the list of questions and answers to this prospect’s specific needs.
  3. Testimonials – If you don’t have these yet, ask existing clients for testimonials. (If you’re just starting a business, be sure to ask each client for one.) Next, keep copies of them in a portfolio of your work (if you do personal presentations). Online, post copies of your testimonials with specific, correlating products (for e-commerce sites) or try spreading them out liberally on different pages of your site to reinforce the prospect’s good perception of your business.
  4. Photos – There’s a reason YouTube is doing so well. Videos go a long way towards selling your products, services and even yourself. Still photos can do the same – particularly when you’re offline. In your brochures or just by themselves in a portfolio, include photos of yourself, your team, products, facilities and even equipment if it’s relevant. People like to see who they are hiring. Even if your company primarily sells oil changes, it makes a positive impression on customers to see clean work areas and a pleasant waiting area for customers waiting to pick up their cars.
  5. Brochures – This includes all collateral about you, the company and its products and services. From catalogs to sell sheets, even postcards and magnets. If you need to pass out collateral to prospective clients always have some on hand. If all sales are made online, then ensure your website has the requisite “Send to a Friend,” “Like this page,” or “Print this page” links, making it easier for prospects to buy.
  6. Trade show materials – What items reflect your brand? At a trade show, you may need a banner with your name and logo. You could also have posters, standard colors, signs, point-of-purchase displays and so on. I was just at a fair this weekend and was surprised at the large number of booths that had no signage, making a less-than-zero impact on me.
  7. Key client list – For some businesses the key to getting more business is to be able to show with whom you’ve already done business. In other businesses complete confidentiality is required. If you can’t list client names or show testimonials, is it possible to do it anonymously or by request? Can you offer case studies as an example without the client names?
  8. Awards and Certificates – If the name of the game is to build credibility through displaying testimonials, collateral, case studies and so on, awards and certificates wonderfully underscore your growing credibility in the eyes of your prospect. This also includes copies of Proof of Insurance for some businesses and any licensing. Do what’s appropriate for your business category.
  9. Press Releases – Have you recently introduced an extension to your product line? Did you open a second office in a new location? Are you giving a seminar about your field of expertise? Did you publish an article in a trade magazine? Make sure this information is prominently visible to prospects.
  10. Trade Associations and Memberships – The classic example here is showing you’re a member of the Better Business Bureau. For some lines of business, it makes considerable difference. If your business is Diamond-Certified or has some Green-Certified qualifications be sure to toot your horn (ahem!) appropriately! And be sure to explain to prospects why it’s important for you to be a member of the organization you’re pointing out to them.
  11. Examples – Prospects often find it easier to understand what they’re buying – particularly when it’s a service – if you can provide samples from work with previous clients. This may include a sample of your bid sheet or report. Even a sample invoice copy may help them understand what they’re buying. Most artists know prospective clients want to see samples of their work, from photographers to copy writers, architects, actors and contractors. If you can show off your work quickly and easily, you’ll close more sales.
  12. Resources – More than anything a prospective client is looking for help. Whether you can fulfill her need or not, if you can help connect her with the solution, she’ll be grateful. In your personal portfolio and on your website include links or reprints of useful articles, other websites, blogs and even competitors when it’s appropriate. Make it easy for them to find solutions to their problems.

If your head is whirling from all these ideas, let me help reduce the spin:

  1. Make note any time a prospect asks for something you don’t yet have in your toolbox.
  2. Make a list of tools that are missing. (You can’t go without a tape measure for long!)
  3. Prioritize the list. Do you absolutely need to organize that file folder of testimonials? Or is posting a Resources page to your website the top priority? Make your choices.
  4. Once your list is prioritized, write it out again in ranking order to ensure you’ve got your to-do list ready to go.
  5. If it’s merely a matter of pulling pieces from existing client files to go into a portfolio case, get it done. And if you need to add sections in the portfolio for awards or press releases, determine how your sections should be organized for best reviewing by prospects.
  6. Do some of the items on the list require outside expertise? (You know where to find me for help with a company brochure or flyer.) If your product photos are poor, you can be sure that will translate to reduced sales right away. Always present your products in gorgeous, professional photos.

Got a plan now for reorganizing or refilling your Marketing Toolbox? What would you add to this list? (And if you liked this post, please click on one of the Share buttons below to spread the word!)