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MENAFN - Khaleej Times - 02/01/2014

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(MENAFN - Khaleej Times) Smart marketing is about growing your business with tools and strategies that are low in cost and high on efficacy. There are three elements to smart marketing:

Using messages that stick. To get customers attention, you don't necessarily need a large marketing budget - you need the right message. Marketing is about your customers, and not about your business. Your messaging needs to reflect that. Powerful messaging speaks, in a very simple way, about customers' problems and pain points. That's when you hook a customers attention and present a solution that's led with emotion. For example, insurance companies don't sell insurance - they sell peace of mind. According to the Pan Arab Research Centre, 1.58 billion was spent on advertising in the UAE in 2012 - that's over 4 million every day of the year. There are hundreds of messages hitting us every day, and its only the sticky ones - that is, the ones that touch us emotionally - that will influence customers.

Uncovering latent customer needs. Wikipedia, which was launched 20 years ago, officially killed the king of printed encyclopaedias when the Britannica, which first started in 1778, announced that it would stop its printed edition in 2013. Smart marketers realise that they must understand what their customers needs are and how they are changing - but at a faster pace than we have ever known.

So how do you stay on top of what your customers' needs are? Start by asking them for feedback. Asking customers what they want is a great way to minimise risk and learn what matters most to them. Asking them to comment on your products is even better. Doing this early on in the product development stage helps shape better products, lowers risk, and avoids wasted time.

Being useful to customers. This is mostly about capitalising on today's universal access to information at the swipe of a smartphone screen. Previously, customers didn't have any choice but to ask sellers for information about what was being sold. This is no longer necessary. These days you can, for example, google a list of all the stores within a 2km radius from your location that sell the latest iPhone and compare prices.

Since customers are doing this anyway, businesses that capitalise on this trend will be able to build trust by being transparent about what they have to offer. An easy way to start is to list what your customers ask about most with regards to your products and then answer those questions on a blog, Youtube video, audio podcast, or any other online medium that customers use.

Being useful to customers is a form of smart marketing that can help your business by generating leads, educating customers, building brand awareness, and generating website traffic. It is also far more cost effective than traditional marketing.



Smart marketing in action

Prior to 2009, Marcus Sheridan's swimming pool business was in shambles. With a tanking US economy, the need for luxury items like swimming pools were simply unnecessary. The company was also heavily in debt. In March 2009, Sheridan started using smart messaging that his customers remembered, instead of focusing on selling. When asked what business he was in, he would respond: "We are the best teachers in the world on the subject of fibreglass swimming pools, and we happen to build them as well".

To further understand his customers needs, Sheridan asked customers to post their questions online, and he would answer every one of them: which pool types to buy, what materials are best, and so on. In sticking with his smart marketing strategy, Sheridan turned to being even more useful to customers by blogging about pools. His website now also has free educational DVDs, free downloadable pool guides, videos, and other content all designed to educate and build trust with customers.

The results speak for themselves: Sheridan generated more customer leads in 2011 than in the previous two years combined. By then the company was free of debt, and even better, was on its way to becoming one of the most sought after pool companies in the United States.

Smart marketing is a simple and powerful way to grow your business - and an approach that more and more successful businesses are using to connect with customers.



The writer is the managing director of ACK Solutions. He has worked internationally in marketing, sales, and strategic planning companies such as The Coca-Cola Company, Philip Morris International and Dell.

 






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