Does your marketing and advertising disappoint you? Here is an eight-step process to follow to ensure better results.

  1. Define your objective. It sounds simple, but few marketing efforts begin with a clearly defined objective. What, specifically, do you want to accomplish? Do you want to promote tankless water heaters, kitchen and bath upgrades, or discounted demand services? Do you want to build a direct-mail list, add followers to your company Facebook page, or something else? Define the objective of each marketing piece as specifically as possible.
  2. Identify your target. Who are you trying to reach? Most service plumbers target women homeowners age 35 and up because they are the people who call for service and who are present when the plumber arrives at the house. Women homeowners age 35 and up is a good start, but it isn’t sufficient. Where does she live? What’s her household income? What’s important to her? What is she worried about? By defining her better, you can speak to her more directly. Your marketing improves.
  3. How will you reach your target? You cannot select your media until you understand your target. Different targets pay attention to different media. Are you going to advertise on the radio? If so, it should be something she listens to. If you advertise on sports talk, you’re reaching out for your buddies, not necessarily your target. What stations does she listen to? What does she read? Does she still get the newspaper? What websites does she frequent? What cable shows does she watch? Where can she find the information that’s important to her in her daily routine? For example, where is information about the local schools published?
  4. What is your call to action? Once you have settled on the media, you can create a call to action. This defines how you will direct your target to fulfill your objective. What do you want her to do? Make sure the call to action is appropriate and consistent with the media. Any call to action should have an offer or promotion. What is the incentive for the target to act? Is it a discount or sale, bonus products, free or extra services, or something else? For example, you might provide a free water quality test. Show how the target can save time, save money, or ensure the wellbeing of the family. Give the promotion an end date or limit it to a certain number of customers. Create a sense of urgency and reason to act now.
  5. Create the message. Once you know your objective, target, media, and call to action, it’s time to create your copy. The copy will vary based on the media and the call to action. In some cases, brevity is everything. In others, you make take more of a long-copy approach and tell a story. Regardless, ensure you are communicating in words and pictures. Ensure you create a compelling headline. The headline must grab attention and sell the rest of the piece. Pictures are important because they can convey feelings succinctly. And pictures should be pictures of people — not trucks, and not stuff. Show a person who reflects the target (or how the target sees herself, which is usually a little younger, slimmer, and more attractive than reality).
  6. Track everything. We have more ability to track marketing today than ever before. You can purchase special tracking phone numbers that can be used for a specific promotion or media. You can track internet clicks. You can even rely on the old tracking numbers for printed material.
  7. Test. Change a few words in a headline and you can dramatically change the results. This is frustrating for marketers, which is why so many rely on A/B tracking where two versions of every marketing initiative are prepared. With proper tracking, this helps you refine your marketing over time.
  8. Check your timing. Remember, all marketing is done in advance. Think what the weather will be like in six to eight weeks when direct mail hits the street. What events will be happening in town or nationally that might affect your efforts?

This checklist is not a silver bullet. There are no silver bullets. There is a proven process that gets better results. Use it and your results will also improve.