What's The Shelf Life Of Your Marketing?

20/12/2010 18:03

Your marketing information is perishable like a loaf of bread. Leave it on the shelf for longer than 7-10 days and it's stale as far as the majority of your prospects are concerned.

I was talking with David, a client from Arizona who owns four physical therapy clinics in the Tucson area. I asked him how business has been since we talked two weeks ago. He said three of his clinics were booked solid but the fourth was suffering from a lack of clients.

When I asked him what he thought was the problem, he acknowledged that his sales representatives for that clinic hadn't been in touch recently with the doctors who refer patients to them. In contrast, the pharmaceutical companies have three reps assigned to visit each of the same doctors' offices every week.

Even though doctors in the area had used David’s firm's services in the past, and their patients have a continuing need for these services, without recent contact the doctors had started referring their patients elsewhere. As David had quickly learned, just because someone knows about your services doesn't mean they will remember you when they are ready to make a referral or a purchase, even if they were a satisfied customer.

According to a study by e-consultancy.com, prospects cool quickly, at an estimated rate of 10% per day. In other words the shelf life of your marketing on average is about the same as a loaf of bread, 7-10 days.

Grocery store managers know that people won't buy stale produce or moldy bread, so they continually replace their stock. The same thing happens in marketing. Your prospects will lose track or discard your previous marketing information, even if they need your products and services. To keep your marketing information fresh in their minds, you need to expose them to it on a regular basis.

Obviously, your marketing shelf life will vary depending on the type of information you want prospects to retain and the type of communication. When people visit my web site they can fill in a contact form requesting a call. On occasion I get these and respond within 10-15 minutes. The majority of people I talk to remember filling in the form, the content of my site, but can't remember the URL for the site.

If people can't remember the URL of your web site, even if it provides an essential service they want to pay for, they won't be able to find your site and buy from you.

Estimated Average Shelf Life of Your Marketing:

- Visiting your web site to forgetting your web site: 2 minutes

- Reading a page or more of your marketing materials to forgetting your products or services: 5 to 7 days

- Talking with you to forgetting you; 2 to 3 weeks

- Buying from you to forgetting your company; 1 to 3 months

It's not that you don't provide essential products and services and people don’t want them; the problem is that your marketing information regularly gets buried in your prospect’s minds.

We have the same struggle with my teenage son. Much as we’d like him to sort his laundry and put clothes neatly away in his bureau, gravity takes over and the clothes end up on the floor. He sees and wears the clothes at the top of the pile. In short order, he's run out of shorts. Where are they? Buried at the bottom of the pile.

If a prospect has just been to your website, read your marketing materials, talked with you or made a purchase from you, your information is at the top of the pile in their mind. Each day that goes by they take in more information that gets added to the top of the pile, and your marketing information gets pushed further and further down until they no longer remember it.

How can you avoid having your marketing go stale in prospects' minds or get buried by all the other information they process?

1. If you have a web site, focus on getting prospects to give you their contact information so you have a means of getting in touch with them.

3. Whether it is by email, snail mail, over the phone or in print, stay in touch with your prospects so they don’t forget you.

3. Track your contacts with your prospects so you know how frequently you've approached them and by what means, and keep your objectives clearly in mind.

4. When a prospect becomes a client or a customer, don't assume that they'll remember to come back for the next purchase. Follow up immediately and tempt them with a special offer. This tactic alone can boost your sales by 30 to 40%.

It's hard to believe, but most of the people who need and want your products and services will forget you after they've read your marketing materials. Don't let your marketing shelf life expire and get discarded by your prospects.

Develop and implement a system for contacting your prospects so they remember you. You'll get permanent shelf space in their minds and you’ll get their business.

The author, Charlie Cook, helps small business owners and marketing professionals attract more clients, whether you are marketing in print, in person or online. Sign up for the Free Marketing eBook, '7 Steps to get more clients and grow your business', full of practical marketing strategies you can use to increase profits at www.MarketingForSuccess.com.

By Charlie Cook 

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