Tips on Marketing & Advertising

So many folks ask me to help them with marketing and advertising when I do a consulting assignment. Historically, most recyclers don't spend enough of their revenue on advertising (I recommend at least 1-2 percent) because they have had bad results and don't know what to do. I am always amazed when I see sponsorships of race cars and softball teams touted as effective marketing and advertising.

I am completely self-taught on marketing, and you can be too. It's not rocket science. If you read a few good books, you will know most of what you need to know. In addition, I used Mike French for my direct mail campaigns; he is a lifesaver, as he understands our business so well. Moreover, he designed, printed and mailed the piece. About every fourth job, I got competitive bids, and I don't believe he ever lost a job.

In 1994, Inc. Magazine did a nice article on our marketing and advertising at AAA Small Car World. We had a very simple but sophisticated system for tracking results from all forms of advertisements and direct mail, and then tracking and reconciling sales and phone calls; so we knew which mediums delivered the most bang for our buck. E-mail me for a copy of that story.

A good marketing and advertising campaign has to start with a genuine understanding of your customer, your products and services, so that you can make sure they are all aligned. For too long, recyclers have believed that anyone that drove a used vehicle was a prospect, but that definition is much too broad.

A sustainable, result oriented program must include these factors:

•Direct mail, with measured results
•Print and the Yellow Pages (likely only a small amount of Yellow Pages) advertising
•Internet and web presence, with e-mail capability
•Products and services that match your customer and mediums, with a thorough understanding of the desired retail and wholesale mix
•Press releases and other methods of networking (many are free)
•Focused campaigns for existing customers and prospects.

Charles Tandy (of Tandy Corp. fame) once said, "The most likely person to buy something from you is the person that just bought something from you." We spend an inordinate amount of time trying to get new business instead of prioritizing and focusing on existing customers.

There are 2 types of advertising: brand building, and selling. Although your brand is valuable intellectual property, I believe we should spend the bulk of our budgets on selling advertising. Here are examples of each:

1. Brand advertising-A flier shows a bottle of Jack Daniel Whiskey and says, "Reward yourself".

2. Selling advertising-A flier shows a bottle of Jack Daniel Whiskey and says "Jack Daniel quarts, $8.99 at Bud's Liquors, through July 31".

There are examples; Some URG partners have leveraged the URG logo and standards of quality and service into something that differentiates them from their competitors. I once wrote an article that discussed branding sand. Your job is to create the perception (real or not) that your products are better than your competitor's. One way we accomplished this over a decade ago was by offering lifetime warranties. Let's face it; your used alternator is not very different from your competitor's offering. I once had an inquisitive recycler ask me, "How can you guarantee parts forever?" I said, "We don't guarantee them forever." He said, "Your ads say that." I followed, "Yes, our advertisements say ask about our lifetime warranties." I am not sure if he understood that our willingness to guarantee the part forever created the perception that it must be better.

Figure out how to differentiate yourself from your competition; then use selling advertising to leverage that into greater sales and profits.

Remember, only you can make BUSINESS GREAT!

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