Gil Effron: How To Give Your Business An Extreme Marketing Makeover - Author interview
Renowned marketer, and President and CEO of Strategies For Growth, Gil Effron, was kind enough to take the time to answer a few questions about his very practical and business changing book How to Give Your Business an Extreme Marketing Makeover.
Gil Effron describes the process and the business mindset changes necessary to turn an ordinary business into an extraordinary, industry leading company.
Thanks to Gil Effron for his time, and for his tremendous, and very comprehensive responses to the questions. They are both greatly appreciated.
What was the background to writing this book How to Give Your Business an Extreme Marketing Makeover?
Gil Effron: I’ve been in business for 35 years, most of those years as a provider of marketing services. Where each of us is today is always the sum total of our entire experiences. So my lifetime of experience working with businesses of all sizes, shapes, and industrial categories is my best credential.
When the bubble burst two years ago, my clients––and the business owners I spoke with––were facing major difficulties. Marketing budgets disappeared. It was a matter of life or death, and survival. I had to help them find ways of working smarter, not harder.
I’m highly analytical to begin with. That led me to look at a business or organization’s approach to marketing differently. In doing so, my first step was to eliminate marketing activities that were not pulling their own weight. Next, I needed to understand what challenges the organization––and especially the sales department––was facing. This led me to explore the organization’s current sales process––what was working and what wasn’t.
Once I understood those two elements, it was easier for me to choreograph a marketing approach that directly and specifically supported the sales process.
Those ultimately became the first three steps of my Extreme Marketing Makeover process.
Why do so many companies require an extreme marketing makeover?
Gil Effron: For one thing, marketing wears out. It loses its effectiveness. It does so because the world is constantly changing.
Secondly, throughout the years, businesses implement a number of marketing strategies and programs. Some stick around long after they lose their effectiveness. They become part of the culture, “because we’ve always done it that way.”
Add to that that businesses usually don’t quantify the effectiveness of individual marketing elements, and I contend they really don’t know what they have, what’s working, and what individual marketing elements are doing to support their mission.
In other words, they don’t calculate return on investment for individual marketing elements. They literally don’t know what they have, and they don’t look to see if it’s actually supporting their sales efforts.
As I reflect back on the clients I’ve worked with throughout the years and think about what was wrong, I now know that many problems occurred simply because marketing was not in tune with the sales process and it did not adequately support the sales process.
Gil Effron (photo left)
How can a business person tell if their company needs a marketing makeover?
Gil Effron: I look for several things. If a website isn’t accurately representing what the business is today, that’s a real red flag. If the company’s client attraction process is not working as well as it used to, that’s a sign that something needs to change. If there are “brick walls” or points of constraint in the sales process that seem to bring everything to a dead halt (such as when a prospect hears the price for the first time and the transaction slows or stops), it’s clear that there is a problem and a problem always indicates that there’s a better way.
Businesspeople also need to look at client retention. If a business is not retaining clients or customers, they need to figure out why. Any of these point to the need for a marketing makeover.
Will the process of an extreme marketing makeover work for every business and why?
Gil Effron: Yes. I firmly believe that it will work for any business or organization regardless of industry, location, or size of business.
The reason I say that with such conviction is that every business or organization has a process of generating revenue. Wherever there is a process, I know the process can be improved, simplified, shortened, and streamlined. A better process will always bring about better results.
You describe something called a marketing inventory. What do you mean by that?
Gil Effron: Early in my book, I talk about a television program called What Not To Wear. It runs on the TLC network. The program deals with fashion and each episode features a man or, most often, a woman who could improve their outward appearance. The hosts of the show go into the closet and throw out what doesn’t work.
The marketing inventory is much the same. However, we don’t throw away things haphazardly. In the marketing inventory, it’s important to identify every marketing activity. We want to know what marketing is working and what isn’t, and then to quantify the value or return on investment of every marketing activity.
Many businesses are committed to marketing and advertising activities that they have long forgotten about or that are no longer effective. If a marketing activity isn’t pulling its weight, out it goes. But the first step––the inventory––tells us what’s there.
How can better marketing work with what you call an ideal sales process?
Gil Effron: There are five steps in the Extreme Marketing Makeover process. The first is the marketing inventory. The second is an analysis of the existing sales process. I start at the beginning––at client attraction––and work all the way to the end, to maximizing lifetime value.
The third step is to create a new, ideal sales process that is shorter and more effective. Once that new ideal sales process is in place, I identify specific points within the sales process that could be directly supported by what I call “good marketing.” And I define good marketing as any activity that speeds, shortens, streamlines, or favorably influences the outcome of the sales process.
When people think about marketing, they often focus on the client attraction process. But marketing materials or messages can be strategically placed anywhere along that sales process continuum. When a salesperson shows a prospect a flyer with a time-sensitive offer at some point prior to presenting the price, that’s effective marketing and it’s supporting the sales process. Better marketing doesn’t need to be fancy or expensive. It needs to be supportive of moving the transaction ahead to a successful conclusion.
Why are so many business people reluctant to change their marketing system, whether it's effective or not?
Gil Effron: This is like asking why are humans always human?
I think each of us becomes very comfortable with the people, places, and things in our world. We may contemplate a change. But we know what we have, and even though it might not be the best, we live with it.
People hold onto stocks too long and sell at a loss. People think about divorcing their spouse for years before it happens. Marketing is no different. We’re used to it. We’ve always done it that way. It’s uncomfortable to change.
Why should a marketer consider the lifetime value of a customer?
Gil Effron: The cost of acquiring a new customer or client is extremely high. Existing customers and clients know us. They know what they can count on. When they’re happy, they stick around. They buy more. They tell their friends and business associates. They become our ambassadors. The longer a business can hold onto a customer or client, the more valuable that customer is, and the more they contribute to that business and success.
For example, if someone walks into a shoe store and buys a pair of shoes, the store makes a profit. If that customer never returns, they’ve still made their profit. But if the store can keep that customer coming back so that he buys two pair of shoes each year and brings his family and friends, and remains a loyal customer for three or four or five years, it really adds up.
Also, if businesses are not able to keep customers and clients, it’s a sign that they’re doing something wrong. It’s too much work to find new customers only to bring them into a situation where they disappear after their first experience with a company.
How can a businessperson determine the best marketing activity for a specific job?
Gil Effron: While creating the ideal process, I’ll ask, “What could we do earlier in the sales process that would speed, shorten, or simplify reaching this point while at the same time maximizing overall efficiency and increasing the effectiveness of the entire sales process?”
Most of the answers to this question result in marketing solutions or activities that are really very simple, logical, and ultimately inexpensive to implement.
For example, a handout describing a good-better-best pricing option early in the sales presentation could be extremely supportive of moving the transaction forward and dealing with points of constraint relating to price. A pop-up window attached to a shopping cart that says, “purchase $100 today and we pay the shipping” may be just the incentive the customer needs to jump from the $70 purchase they were going to make to a larger sale.
The point that I want to make is that marketing doesn’t need to be slick or glitzy. It just needs to be functional and relevant. Everything should be tried, tested and tweaked so that it can be made better.
What is the first step that a businessperson should take to assess their current marketing program for effectiveness?
Gil Effron: Well, of course I’m tempted to say buy the book or purchase the Do-It-Yourself Marketing Makeover Mini-Course. Both walk a businessperson through that process.
But, while they’re waiting for the book or mini-course to arrive, every businessperson should go into their marketing closet and take an inventory. They should look at every marketing activity they do––no matter how seemingly insignificant. Then, they should calculate a return on investment, if they can. If it can’t be equated directly to dollars or sales, the simple question is, “If I stopped doing this, would it have a negative impact on my business?” If the answer is no, the marketing initiative can be tossed out with no harm. In general, chances are if it can’t be quantified, it probably isn’t doing much for the business.
So, every business should take a look at what they have. They need to be sure to look in those dark corners of the marketing closet where they keep the skeletons.
What is next for Gil Effron?
Gil Effron: Two things. First, I know that there are elements within the Extreme Marketing Makeover process that could be very helpful for start-up businesses. Not only could I help them avoid making mistakes, but I could also help them create a marketing approach that––from the outset––would be more effective. So I need to address that need.
Second, I make a claim in the book that the process works for any business, any size, in any industry. I’d like to prove that beyond a shadow of a doubt by consolidating dozens or hundreds of case studies that describe how businesses and organizations treated themselves to an extreme marketing makeover, and then prospered as a result. This would be an ideal training tool.
My book review of How to Give Your Business an Extreme Marketing Makeover by Gil Effron.
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