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Q. Our company's ads and style served us well for almost 30 years. Lately they simply quit doing their job, and we are considering quitting our radio and newspaper spots. What is the cause of this? The public still need our products, but it is getting harder and harder to get the buying public into the door.

Define 'lately'. Things over the past 10 years are not even on the same planet as before. Count the major department store chains, oil companies, airlines, and other business entities that have vanished. Who would have ever thought that Target would be a casualty in Canada? Here is the short version - bad radio ads don't work anymore. Ditto for bad TV, bad newspaper, bad signage, bad websites, and bad sales habits. Consider yourself lucky to still be in business if you are using ad copy that predates personal computers and fax machines! Get help now for your own good.

Q. Do I need a website?

Only if you intend to stay in business. At the very least, your website is a free catalogue and product guide. At the very best, it is an interactive lead generation machine that educates your target market.

Q. My website hasn't pulled any traffic for us for some time. Is it true that with the millions of websites out there that it is impossible to stay well placed on the internet in the eyes of the public?

Unless you are actively working the search engine optimization game with a professional, your chances of staying relevant are slim. You could be #7 today and #57 tomorrow. The typical business owner has a much better opportunity to drive traffic to a marketing 'friendly' website - and once there - to captivate the viewer with engaging copy. It cannot be simply 'flash' video, or meaningless chatter. The buyer today is gone in 1.4 seconds if you try valiantly to bore him to death. Put yourself in the shoes of your buyer to see just what he wants and NEEDS to know. Then, give him just that - and combine it with a low risk offer. The big secret is driving the traffic to your site with other lead generators or specific social media campaigns, which bypasses the necessity to always be charming on your site's good will alone. The next obvious necessity is to ensure your website actually is a good one.

Q. Our business is very unique. How can your conventional marketing work in a rather unusual situation?

We frequently meet business owners who determine that their business is 'so unique' that it won't work. The number of business types that we have consulted is in excess of 400, and the actual number of companies ranks in the thousands. We don't care what you do - there is a target market or demographic - they need or want your product or services - they get their information to determine their selection process in one or more defined or undefined methods - and ultimately they make a selection based on their best information. Marketing's job is to discover what these variables are, and to develop tools to meet this task. Nothing is so unique that it defies these laws of the marketplace.

Q. How much money should a business spend on their marketing?

At the risk of sounding flippant - as much as you can possibly muster. Marketing is the one investment that can create exponential returns. Some companies spend as much as 40% of their revenue on marketing of some sort - others may be in single digits. The most honest answer is only determined by looking carefully at all your expenditures. Hire a couple of new salespeople and you have just plunked down $100,000 into marketing. Experience tells us that new salesmen are a vacuum cleaner on your wallet for at least the first year. Consider a starting salary of $40,000 along with car expenses, employment related contributions for the new duo - and you are there. In addition, if you run a full page ad in the local Yellow Pages, or run a Google campaign, that may set you back another $4,000 per month. Do some trade shows, brochure printing, and add in some incidentals and you may be spending $200,000 on marketing already! What if your message was OFF - your new salesmen were not using their appropriate scripts, and your ads were of the 'me too' variety? Does this look an area that you can possibly afford to not take seriously? Call us for a full market evaluation on your ad pieces. If the above numbers are not too far off for you, we categorically guarantee we can save you money/earn you money. They are one and the same.

Q. My staff won't listen to me. How can I make them do this marketing?

You cannot make your staff do anything - any more than you can will a teenager to clean his room. People only do the things they wish to do, and it is your job (and ours) to create an environment that will make it a win/win to roll out a marketing campaign. Frequently business owners of long established businesses with long term staff ask us to broach the new 'system' with their staff. When laid out properly they usually jump on board. If they don't, you better be prepared to get rid of them before they take your business down. Don't scoff - well established businesses have been run into the ground by inappropriate staff choices. We don't recommend that you let yours be one of them.