The Best Marketing Tools Ever – And How to Pick The Right One(s)

One of the most frequent questions I get from other cash flow professionals is “What are the best marketing tools and methods to find new prospects?” The truth is there is no silver bullet and one size does not fit all. Some marketing tools and strategies work better for some, while others… well, you get the idea.

Therefore, the correct answer to these questions is “It depends”. Of course, no one wants to hear that answer because it’s simply not what anyone wants to hear and everyone thinks I’m dodging the question. Is it an honest and correct answer? Yes. Is it a constructive one? No. Or is it?

Maybe if we understood on what “it depends”, we could better focus on how to optimize the effectiveness and efficiency of our marketing by selecting the most productive tools and strategies. By the way, by “effectiveness” I mean the quantity and quality of the marketing results, while “efficiency” refers to the investment (i.e., money and/or time) required to achieve those results.

So what does it depend on? Which are the variables that really influence the success or failure of your marketing the most? This may come as a surprise, but here are the key contributors and most crucial variables you can influence directly that account for most of the difference between your marketing success and failure:

1. You (your background, expertise, skills, personality, style, etc.)

2. You marketing message and communication

3. Your investment (time and money)

However, the marketing tools you choose in order to deliver your marketing messages to your target group play a role as well, of course.

To illustrate this point I have first grouped the various and most commonly used marketing tools/strategies into three distinct groups:

1. Direct approach such as ads, direct mail, flyers, brochures, website, and even cold-calling: The marketing purpose is obvious. It’s a one-on-one delivery directly to your target group and focuses clearly on the benefits of your product/service).

2. Indirect approach such as networking, presentations, articles, press releases, and social media: The marketing is more subtle and more of informative nature. Benefits communicated could be more generic, i.e., not only linked to your specific product/service but to the product/service category. It’s delivered to groups – not individuals – which may also include contacts outside your intended and immediate target group.

3. A 3rd party referral approach is the typical relationship based marketing approach; you don’t “market” per se, but you build relationships and a network of strategic alliances with people who can and will refer business to you. Also referred to as “word of mouth” marketing.

Based on our own experience and what others have told us about theirs, we can then sort the various marketing “delivery tools” by their effectiveness and efficiency. Now, this information may be useful when you have to decide which marketing tools to use and which ones you can do without. Here is a summary of what we found:

Referral based marketing / word- of-mouth strategies are rated as highly effective and most efficient. This seems logical, as nothing beats a good recommendation, and all you have to do is earn one! Of course, this is often easier said than done.

Among the “indirect approaches‘, networking is also seen as highly effective, yet slightly less efficient, because it involves a heavy investment of time and patience. Results are seen mid- and long-term, but success does not come overnight.

Direct approaches” – especially advertising, direct mail, and even the frequently shunned cold-call are effective marketing delivery tools. Of course, they also rank among the least efficient, as they require a lot of investment (both, money and time).

The final vote on social media strategies is still out and so far and currently a mixed bag at best. Some have a lot of hope and swear by it, others consider it a waste of time.

Other “direct approaches” such as websites, brochures, and business cards are considered a clear “must have”, but their value as New-Business-Development tools seems rather limited.

While this is a good start and may function as an initial guide, we have to realize that it is not a “scientific model” with hard numbers behind it. It’s merely an aggregate of opinions. Expert opinions, but opinions nonetheless. Secondly, the model is only derived from marketing tools used in a B2B environment without any validation in the business-to-consumer marketing world. Although I would surmise that similarities are likely to exist.

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