Is your company marketing itself in the most efficient way? Or are you relying on email blasts to hundreds or thousands of people on purchased lists, or cold calling potential clients, telemarketing, or spending large sums on attending trade shows around the world that may not be relevant to you?
If you are using a scattergun approach, shooting far and wide in the hope of hitting a small number of the right customers, you need to know that this a strategy that has become out-of-date.
So-called "outbound marketing", the belief that if a firm disseminates its message far and wide enough, it may find a business needle in a haystack can work but is more likely not to and is not the best way to deploy resources. In today's ultra-competitive world where everyone is playing the same game, the chances of success are hugely reduced.
Think about the outbound marketing you receive on a regular basis, such as emails that you delete without even opening. That is roughly the success rate you can expect if you send out an email or promotional company newsletter simply saying how great you are and not providing implementable information. Cold calling potential clients has about the same level of success. Today's news is that today's consumers – whether fellow diamond firms that you may be trying to sell to, or end consumers if you are a jeweler – have become largely impervious to traditional means of snagging them.
Research indicates that close to 50 percent of direct mail is never opened, almost 90 percent of viewers skip TV ads, and more than 80 percent of people in the vital 25-34 age group leave websites due to pop-up ads that are invasive, irrelevant or just plain irritating.
Retail research shows that since the global financial crash of late 2008, consumers have radically changed their mindset. They are not just looking for lower prices, but an honest approach from retailers. They don't want to be blasted with insincere advertising, but to be seen as valued clients. Above all, they want retailers to engage with them.
And that has led to a concept dubbed "inbound marketing". A company's aim is to "get found" by people who are interested in the type of goods it sells. Your aim is to provide information that gives them added value, not to say: buy this now and receive a 10 percent discount. Social media – whether a Facebook page, Twitter comments or YouTube films – are relatively inexpensive and provide an opportunity to give potential buyers information. That can also be achieved via blogs, where the aim is to spread awareness of your company name and the products you can supply.
Engaging with potential customers essentially means giving them something for nothing. Coffee shops, for example, have been known to provide recipes on their website or Facebook page. In other words, the company is not saying: 'Come to the shop today and get a free (expensive) muffin with each two that you buy.'
The point is to become the customer's friend. The underlying message is: 'We would love to see you come in with your friends and each buy a coffee and cake, or a $50 birthday cake. But even if you don't, here's a recipe for our special chocolate cake that you love so much, or a five-minute YouTube film showing you how we make our brownies.'
Give potential customers actionable information. Engage in a conversation with potential clients so that they see you as an authentic and authoritative source of information. Give them some news or other information relating to the diamond industry or the diamond center in which you operate. Above all, give clients a reason they should buy from you and not from scores of other firms.
Inbound marketing aims to create leads at a lower financial layout than traditional marketing operations. And, having been 'discovered' by prospective customers, so the theory goes at least, conversion rates are much lower because the customers are already 'qualified', or ready to buy.
Does it work? By its nature, this type of marketing takes longer to carry out than traditional advertising and marketing, and requires, at least at the beginning, time and a commitment to develop it and stick with it.
But maybe it's time to stop shouting at clients, and start talking to them. At a time when margins have never been slimmer and competition more fierce, surely the time has come for diamond businesses to re-evaluate the way they market themselves