marketing MArKet liKe A chAMP investor By Abe Kasbo I started my career working for legendary stock picker and investor Mario Gabelli. In my brief stint at Gabelli's Rye, N.Y.-based firm, I learned much that has stuck with me to this day, including the basics of value investing. Value investing is about kicking the tires, doing your research from the ground up, and carefully evaluating a company and its stock based on its intrinsic value… before you pony up one dime for shares. Value investing also looks at businesses in their totality and, just as importantly, over the longterm. No flipping stocks, no short-term trades; value investors are overwhelmingly in it for the long run. The era of managing quarter to quarter is over. If you're in business, surely you're in it for the longterm, right? So your business, including your marketing approach, ought to reflect that reality. No one doubts Gabelli's success, just as we all love to hear from Warren Buffet, the renowned value investor, pontificate about his latest corporate conquest. Both Buffet and Gabelli run their businesses the same way they invest: with an eye on value and for long-term success. W hat can we learn from these legendary investors about marketing and promotion? Here are four suggestions to include in your marketing plans that will deliver real value for your business: within an overall campaign and why it did not work, he replied, "What campaign?" A tactical approach to marketing is far less effective than a strategic one, so invest in and employ market-driven strategy. Then measure your strategy in its entirety; don't simply examine one tactic, no matter how important. Know thAt PeoPle Buy FroM PeoPle: Bring your business out of the office. Target trade shows that have a close affinity to your firm. Investing in trade shows goes far beyond having a nice booth. It's a great chance to network with other businesses, each a potential client. Trade shows allow you to measure yourself against the competition. Additionally, invest in chances to make personal connections, such as the simple act of taking potential clients to dinner. It may sound clichéd, but it's the blocking and tackling that allows you to move down the field with consistency, and not the 60yard "Hail Mary." Very often, personal connections win more business than 9-to-5 sales tactics. do good, do well: In the 1980s, American Express KicK the tires: Do your homework on marketing, including media. Not all media are created equal relative to your products, services, customers, and geographic service area. Take time to review all options before investing a medium. And because media companies are recognizing that we are in the age of engagement, many are providing advertisers with more venues to reach customers. They may include websites, networking opportunities, and direct mail, in addition to its core business offers. So do your homework on media and negotiate a good deal. Avoid MArKeting BoMBs: Without a marketing plan, you're dropping marketing bombs and wasting your hardearned money. Recently, a CEO of a $500-million firm that sells telecommunications equipment said of his marketing: "Yeah, we got that idea, we tried it, and it didn't work." When I asked him about the context of that particular tactic developed a unique campaign for their customers to help restore the Statue of Liberty. A penny for each use of the American Express card and $1 for each new card were donated to the Statue of Liberty Restoration campaign. In four months, $2 million was raised and, more importantly to American Express, its transaction activity increased by 28 percent. So integrating social causes into your marketing strategy will surely allow you to "do good"—while doing well. PlAn For the long run: The above are valuebased tactics that should be included in your overall marketing plans. Don't rely on one approach. Delivering value through marketing is ensuring that you integrate your tactics with business-driven strategy. So, if you agree with me that we're in a new era of customer engagement, you'll give your marketing plan a second look. If you don't have a plan, build one around adding value to your business. And remember, that plan must deliver value to your market not just for now, but for the long run. Abe Kasbo is CEO of Verasoni Worldwide, a marketing and public relations firm and author of the book, "Hey, Marketing Genius." He blogs at www.verasoni.com/vblog. Third Quarter 2009 | | 31
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