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Marketing Smart

Value Added Marketing
The high pressure tactics Selling Era created critical consumer perception of sales people with the expectation of lies and deceit, to sell products that failed to perform as told. This era drove marketers change there focus from selling people on the idea of a need to learning and serving up what people truly need and want. However, the suspicion of deceit in marketing has never really died away because even though we have learned to tailor products to the consumer, we did not really get the idea of serving the consumer after the sale until after the turn of the 21st century and then we have come to it grudgingly not really wanting to deal with consumer concerns after the sale.

Today, a combination of rising costs and lowering value perception has the consumer feeling generally overcharged and underserviced in almost everything they do. There is good reason to consider consumer suspicion has slowed consumer spending as much or even more than global financial insecurity. Filled with years of misleading claims and absent real information consumers hold high expectations that are often disappointed which are creating a far different and more difficult marketing environment than in previous years. One thing is certain, when consumers today do spend they are looking for more bang out of their every dollar and they demand accountability after the purchase!

Add all of this to the information age where electronics has made everything is instantly comparable and this has developed the discount mentality where literally every product or service becomes a mere commodity sold on price alone. It is an illusion to feel compelled by survival to do business based on lowest price by this development. The certain reality is this has forced marketers to barely survive on slim profits that can not sustain the required level of customer service or wake up and become better mainstream marketers than flea market hagglers.

Marketing smarter not cheaper requires you know your consumer and particularly what they do not know about your product or services. For example, consumers generally believe that realtors make an awful lot of money as parasites, simply creaming off the top off their net worth for doing nothing but filling out forms and waiting for the MLS system to sell their property. While as in every industry there are no doubt lazy representatives who may do this and are the most likely ones to sell on minimum discount commissions the most successful realtors are hardworking marketers who actually spend the marketing budget to get the buyers. And will actually be able to negotiate the best deal their clients interest because they are not geared to just processing paperwork. Only those realtors know who they are and all that they do and spend in achieving their client's best interests. They are the best kept public secrets, are they not? How is a consumer to know how many thousands of dollars more they could have benefited if they had not selected the service based solely on discounted pricing that really only allows for minimal paper processing service.

A savvy marketer recognizes this has become the information age filled with intelligent consumers who are questioning where their money goes and discerning where it will be best invested. If you can stand in your consumers shoes to know what they do not know you can educate the consumer to fully understand everything you offer and how it works and why it is valuable to them; educate the consumer to answer all misperceptions before the decision comes up. When your consumer fully understands all you provide in product or service you will have increased the value perception way over the competition and moved the majority of prospects away from the price-only buying decision. When you have a consumer educated to your benefits there can no longer be a direct comparison to competitors hocking price alone and you create and increase your brand loyalty. The first element of value added marketing is in originally developing your primary business offer to be visibly enhanced as higher value perception over competitive consumer options. This means your standard presentation of features creates a compelling consumer desire that has no market comparison making it worthy of your stated price.

The second element of value added marketing is to answer the general consumer desire to get the biggest bang for their dollar. Once a consumer is already feeling good about the value-price perception of your offer and may be hovering on the precipice of excluding your competition to make your purchase or signing the deal today this is a good time to introduce something, anything, to be added to the deal that normally is not part of the purchase. This can be any option of not included service you normally offer as an additional purchase; this is any option not usually included in your service or any one else's and it may be anything but most importantly this is an option or variety of options you have devised in advance to arm you with ability to sweeten the offer and leverage closing the deal now.

In this Information Age consumers have become knowledgeably aware and desire to make the best, most astute decisions, therefore, "Knowledge" has become a valuable commodity. This has been a powerful factor in changing the theories of marketing from glamour and impact to the primary importance of content. Sharing your expertise in educating the consumer with lots of free information is value added service prior to purchase that builds trust and loyalty. With value added information you engage the consumer freely and have the best opportunity to have that loyalty securely in place when the time for buying your product or service comes around. This is a good strategy that most often returns reward of future business but the downside of this investment you freely make is it done completely on speculation of future business without any assurance of loyalty and return on investment. Unfortunately, consumers are a fickle breed who may or may not feel engaged by your investment, therefore, may or may not return the favour of purchase based on the value freely received but it is a valuable bridge to most consumers.

Depending on the amount of personal time and effort you may spend on nurturing the relationship of a prospect with free flowing information this can be a devastating loss and sense of betrayal when you discover the window of opportunity to make your sale came and went with the now knowledgeable prospect simply purchased the product or service that was closest at hand at the time. Do not be swayed from your value added strategy by such circumstance, just know that when fishing sometimes the fish gets away with the bait. To avoid the sting of loss and betrayal try to monitor how much personal resource you pour into a prospect and limit the investment you make prior to buyer commitment.

The objective is to provide a taste of the "wealth of value added resource" you would provide when they purchase your product or service but not give away the farm before there is a buyer commitment. To achieve this you will need to blend personal and automated delivery of expertise. By limiting personal time and adding automated delivery you gain control over both personal one on one connection and depth of sharing consumer valued information with least investment of personal time. Automated delivery may be your provision of valuable information from website pages and also tangible value in prewritten eBook document that consumers may get only from you or your company.

Consider the value added educational eBook document content noted above is different from the content of your website. The freely accessible pages of your website should focus primarily on explaining features of dealing with you, your business, your products and services. This is an opportunity to showcase the real differences between you and competitors but to be truly effective this must be real, logical, believable, educational, consumer benefit, not just selling doubletalk. Testimonies from prior consumer successes with your products or services are very important to establish track record for your presentations. A rich list of FAQ's (frequently asked questions) is a powerful marketing tool that may educate and self-promote while providing consumer sought information. Do not hesitate to tell your story of origin in how and why you do what you do, that may make the deeper human connection to your prospects. Set expectations of the consumer end benefit for what may happen next when engaging your product or service and don't forget to lead the visitor-prospect to the next steps in contacting you; what information you need to support or help them in achieving their objectives with your product or service.

While your webpages need to harbour some free educational content that hints at the wealth of knowledge to be gained by engaging your products or services, it also provides the portal for offering download of free educational resources when visitors login with contact information. This is a value exchange of your knowledge and their contact information as a prospect. To create this type of value added content divide your products and services in education categories of interests that may be addressed separately. Each group of interests may be an individual emailable eBook or document. Additional consumer oriented tools like functional checklists for them to use in product evaluation are also a bonus marketing tool. Don't forget to include any articles that you may have written or ones that have been published about you. It will take time and effort to develop and write the content for each educational tool but consider that once this is completed each of these is deliverable to all prospective consumers with least personal time investment. This time investment becomes an asset amortized over thousands of prospects and particularly when listed on your website any request for this material from a yet unknown source is a profitable sales lead for personal follow up.

A further website resource that often brings additional publicity and aids in consumer perception is to make a Corporate-Product-Service Press Kit available. This is the provision of solid background material and information that is not written as a sales pitch. It would present key bios and photographs of those involved in your company product or services. This includes key facts about people and their background that would be required by journalists planning an interview. If this regards a noted innovator or expert of unique information or breaking product news it is worthy to aid journalists with a list of pertinent questions that could bring out important aspects during an interview. Also, offering ideas for key story ideas that focus on industry trends or themes related to your business products or services can develop into bonus publicity. Don't forget to add human interest angles from customer testimonials of success with your products or services.

Social Networking has brought a huge opportunity for marketers to covertly shine with value added marketing that builds consumer belief, trust, and loyalty. I say covertly, because a polished sales pitch presented in social networking is skeptically or not well received. However, steady flow of posting articles or blogging interesting and valuable information on your industry that may be covertly biased to your product or services view is more likely received as enlightening. At the very least it serves to impress readers and build a value added confidence in you as a knowledgeable and trusted go-to source.

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