Here’s a marketing idea that has been working for us . . .

I’d like to share a marketing tactic that has worked well for us. You may be able to use it in your business too. We have started offering classes that relate to our services. We call the program MarketSmart Academy and currently offer about 10 different classes. As I walked into the office this morning I was startled to see our reception area crowded with about 15 people staring at me. I shouldn’t have been because it seems like the classes are going on all the time now.

Here’s how it works. Each division of our company – PR, Internet, Events, Expos, Writing and Strategy – is responsible for developing and teaching classes that resonate with prospective clients. The classes are offered free, range from a couple hours to a half day, and are limited to about 15 attendees.

When attendees arrive, they gather in our conference room for introductions. Next we take them on a tour around the company and then we move to a another conference room that we have remodeled to resemble a small classroom.

The feedback is overwhelmingly positive. As you can imagine, having prospective clients in your office, learning about the company and its products while they build trusted relationships with key staff members is a powerful way to attract sales. The continuing stream of new faces week after week, month after month (and now year after year), flowing through my business warms my marketing heart.

The icing on the cake for us is that we can use the class as an example of “reach and teach” marketing which is the foundation of all our services. It opens their eyes to the new marketing paradigm of engaging prospects through promotional channels where customers willingly listen.

Out with old, in with the new. Well, sort of . . .

As marketers, we have to react to the market and if the herd moves, we need to move with it. I can’t tell you the number of business owners I know who have asked me how involved they should be in social media. None of them know anyone who has made their social media efforts pay off in a big way and they are skeptical of spending into the channel.

I tell them they don’t have any choice. The market has migrated into social media so they need move with it. As the herd moves from the open field where there are easy pickings into the forest where its members are harder to find, business owners better get in there and learn new ways to hunt.

But I also caution them not to get so distracted with the new that they abandon what is already working.

Don’t forget who brung ya to the dance . . .

Our biggest selling service is publicity. I know that to a hammer all the world is a nail, but for goodness sake make sure you are budgeting for as much publicity as you can afford. Publicity is a beautiful marketing channel that just keeps on giving. It used to be that if a reporter did a nice article about your company, the benefits were wonderful but short lived, like a shooting star. Today, media coverage is more like a comet. The Internet and electronic media have extended the life and reach of publicity almost indefinitely.

If you don’t have much of a promotional budget, use publicity. If you have plenty of money for marketing, use all the channels but buy all the publicity you can get (from us).

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About the author: Lonny pioneered the concept of our nationally trademarked Pay Per Interview Publicity business model which allows clients to purchase publicity by the story rather than pay hourly with no guarantee of coverage. His business foresight is evident in many ways including quickly reserving portal web addresses such as publicity, media relations, and checkerboard, and advising clients to do the same. Lonny has written two books: Media Hypnosis: Unleashing the most powerful sales tool on earth, published in 2002 and Reach & Teach Product Promotion: Teaching Consumers to BUY in 2007. In his spare time, Lonny teaches marketing as an adjunct faculty member at Dakota Technical College.
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