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Rochester, NY 14623
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An Interview
About MICRO MARKETING

IS  R E P R I N T
Editor's Note: Based on marketing experience with major corporations over the past 20 years, in 1991, MICRO MARKETING was launched as a new Direct Marketing program designed specifically for Small Business. IS Senior Writer George Shay interviewed MM in April.

IS: What is MICRO MARKETING?
MICRO MARKETING is a simple, yet sophisticated, little personal direct marketing program. It was originally designed for small businesses and independent professionals to enable them to do low cost yet very effective marketing and new business prospecting.

IS: What does it involve?
In basic terms, the program involves identifying a seller's high potential markets, isolating the specific needs of the buyer within those markets, and then communicating real solutions the seller can provide to meet those needs.

IS: What's your communications media?
A simple web site, personal business letters and high impact postcards.

IS: MICRO MARKETINGís Direct Mail then?
No. If anything, MICRO MARKETING is Direct Mail taken to a higher level.

IS: How do you mean?
Consider the present evolution of Direct Mail.

As personal sales costs continue to rise, Direct Mail has become the most popular way to introduce a product or service to a new buyer. Last year, American business spent more than $3 billion on Direct Mail.

And, because Direct Mail works, more and more companies are mailing. To meet demand and to be price competitive, Direct Mail houses have automated the process by standardizing the product.
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As a result, nearly all Direct Mail has the same look. It's so impersonal that, even when an offer might be of real value, more Direct Mail is tossed in the trash than is opened and read. In a very real sense, Direct Mail has become junk mail.

Now, the current thinking is to continue standardization, further cut costs, and just mail more pieces. The logic being that if one response in a hundred is acceptable, then at half the cost, one response in two hundred is just as good.

Of course, that's a disastrous cycle. You have to continually increase the mailing size and frequency to hit the same numbers. You spend tens of thousands to reach millions. And the millions become more and more questionable as qualified prospects.

A better solution, we think, is to fine focus the target and increase the effective reach. And that's MICRO MARKETING.

IS: Doesn't Direct Mail have the same agenda?
Not really. Direct Mail concentrates on the mailing - the size, frequency, and response rates. With MICRO MARKETING, we focus on communicating a specific message to a specific market about a specific issue or problem. Basically, Direct Mail is context driven. MICRO MARKETING is content driven.

IS: I'm not sure I understand the content difference.
The keys are seller distinction and message alignment.

In reality, a buyer can't totally differentiate the superiority of one product over another until after the purchase is made and the product is in use. So, often, the buyer's final choice becomes subjective. Therefore, there's no pivotal gain for the seller to key on the technical advantages of his offer. But, there is a huge gain if the seller can differentiate his company from the competition.

You see, a buyer actually makes a purchase based on two criteria: The product (which other sellers could also provide) and the relationship he (the buyer) establishes with the seller (which no other seller can match exactly). In short, the buyer doesn't just buy a product. The buyer buys the product and the person who represents the product.
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So, we focus on distinguishing the offer and the company from all others and in aligning the right message to the right market. If the alignment is on target, a simple proposition exists: The buyer has a need; the seller can supply a solution. So, the seller and buyer have a common interest that benefits both. And, that's the basis for a good, long term business relationship.

IS: You use the personal business letter and personalized postcards as your communications forms. Are they really that effective?
Yes, in a big way.

You see, ultimately, a buyer may not respond to an offer for a variety of reasons. He may not like the offer. He may like another offer better. Or, he may not have the money to buy.

These are realities. But, there is another, fundamentally more important reality that Direct Mail often ignores: A buyer will never respond to an offer unless the buyer knows what the seller is selling. Quite simply, if the offer is tossed in the trash, there is no chance of a sale.

Therefore, the real key to winning new business is through effective reach...getting each and every potential buyer to read the offer. Consider your own reading habits. Do you open all the Direct Mail pieces that cross your desk? On the other hand, don't you always open and read all personal letters? And donít you always quick scan postcards?
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IS: But, can you tell the whole sales story in a letter or on a postcard?
One of the most powerfully written messages in history is the Gettysburg address. It has 268 words.

Again, the key is alignment. If you deliver the right message to the right market, the market will respond. And again, we're not actually trying to make a sale. Our real interest is in introducing the seller to the buyer and in proposing a single good idea that may be the basis for on going future business.

IS: How do you establish that interest level in the message?
We focus on three elements: Motivations, implications, and action prompts.

IS: Walk me through motivations.
In today's market, the greatest motivation for a buyer to take action in buying a product or service is not for gain but rather to cure a problem. Therefore, we focus on identifying what is important to the buyer and then we propose a solution to deal with the problem or issue.

IS: And what about implications?
I'll give you an example. Pretend that you're trying to sell a car. It features a powerful engine which means the car can go very fast. If your target market were accountants, the implications regarding the car's speed would have no bearing. But, suppose your target market was bank robbers. The car's ability to go fast would have significant implications regarding a get-away. See, it's not just proposing a solution to a problem. It's understanding and communicating the implications.

IS: And what about action prompts.
Crudely said, nobody does nothing for nothing. If a seller wants the buyer to take the next step toward a purchase, then the seller must offer something that prompts the buyer to act. Without offering a strong action prompt, the seller is dependent upon the buyer to take the initiative. And that is reactive rather than proactive.

IS: So, MICRO MARKETING is different from Direct Mail in how you target the market and the message. Is there any difference in the actual mailings?
Yes. Our offer is a personal offer rather than a standardized offer. And, our mailing rate is different.
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For the small business, it makes no sense to mail a hundred thousand pieces, get a thousand responses, and not be able to follow up. So, we mail small batches of new letters or postcards to new prospects every day.

By daily small batch mailings, we're controlling the follow up. Our feedback is more timely. And, we can respond to market conditions better and more quickly.
Further, since we don't preprint in large quantities, we can change or adjust our offer at any time without losing money by having to dump preprints.

In total, with small batch mailings, we have continual market presence, good continuity, flexibility, the opportunity for good follow up, plus good cost control.

IS: Tell me more about cost control and risk management.
Our program economics are very different.

In Direct Mail, if you hit two and a half per cent, you'd have a great campaign. But, we think if one professional sends a personal letter to another professional about a common interest or a good idea, then the two will make further contact. And that's the real name of the game...further contact.

By mailing as few as twenty new letters a week, over a twelve month span, we're making personal contact with more than 1,000 prospects. And remember, they're pre-qualified.
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Even if we reached only half the people we wrote to and called, we would still achieve a new business base of 500 potential customers. In Direct Mail, at one and a half per cent, we'd have to mail over 33,000 pieces to reach the same number. With MICRO MARKETING, we're mailing 1,000. You tell me which is more effective and efficient.

Also, with Direct Mail, you don't get any input until the whole mailing is out. With MICRO MARKETING, our input is continuous, week-to-week.

IS: And the numbers work in your favor in developing a prospect mailing list as well, I suppose?
Yes, absolutely. Flip the numbers we just talked about.

Let's say you need to generate 500 potential new accounts in a limited geographic area. At a one and a half per cent response rate in a Direct Mail program, you'd have to mail to over 33,000 prospects. There may not be that many prospects in your trading zone. What do you do? Mail to less qualified prospects? Increase your trading radius? With MICRO MARKETING, even if one out of two prospects did not respond to a personal letter and a personal call, we'd still only need to mail to 1,000 prospects to reach our goal.
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IS: So, your target prospect mailing lists are much smaller.
Yes. Smaller and they cost far less. But, more importantly, since we don't need a large potential universe, we can qualify our prospects in more detail and be highly selective in our mailings.

IS: MICRO MARKETING is a system. Why is the system approach so important?
Small business people work very hard doing what they do best. And that's as it should be. But, at the same time, they must have a system in place that keeps the growth process going. So, while they are working on present assignments, someone (or some thing) is working just as hard toward getting the next assignment.

You see, we all know New Business Prospecting is the most difficult aspect of marketing. It takes the most amount of time and offers the least encouragement and initial reward. In basic terms, MICRO MARKETING handles new business prospecting better than any other system we know of.

IS: And the MICRO MARKETING system makes it all happen?
Yes, but not necessarily in the way you think.

If you want to get intellectual about it, MICRO MARKETING contributes to a behavioral discipline that makes it happen. Simply said, MICRO MARKETING is a catalyst. In truth, if you develop any approach, follow that approach, and take a positive action toward a particular goal, something will result from that action.

By sending out new letters to new prospects each and every day, MICRO MARKETING puts the small business person automatically in position to make a personal follow up call to the prospect. And, when a seller makes personal contact with a buyer, there is the potential for something to happen.

In short, if you do nothing, nothing will happen. If you do something, something else can happen. MICRO MARKETING can make things happen.

IS: I get the impression you're saying MICRO MARKETING is a basic system that can work for every company.
Yes, in one way or another.

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For a large company, MICRO MARKETING is extremely effective in getting sales personnel or reps or resellers to buy into a sales strategy since they are involved at the outset. At the same time, they are accountable for results and feedback.

For a small company or independent, a MICRO MARKETING program may be all the marketing they need. It's small, controllable, affordable, and offers direct one-to-one communications with a pre-qualified prospect.

In total, MICRO MARKETING is a tested and proven program. And, it's based on a very simple truism: If you create a logical plan and consistently follow that plan, the plan will achieve results.

IS: So, the key is?
The key is patience.

Generally speaking, Small Business people are impatient. They are quick to change, which is a great advantage in crisis but a real disadvantage in a growth process like marketing where consistency and continuity count.

Simple advise: When prospecting for new business, be patient and stay with the program.

IS: But, you do make program changes?
Absolutely. We make adjustments to reflect changing conditions. But, at the same time, we try to hold to another simple rule: If it is not necessary to change, it is necessary not to change.

IS: What can a small company expect for a rate of return with MICRO MARKETING?
Rate of return...sounds like Direct Mail again.

MICRO MARKETING, like any good marketing program, is not a gamble. It is an investment. It's really this simple - If the buyer has a need and the seller has a solution, then any marketing program that aligns both will work.

On the other hand, if an industry or market is dead, or the market and message are misaligned, it doesn't matter how good or bad the offer is. For example, you can't do much with a skate sharpening franchise in Orlando or a swimming pool cleaning service in Siberia.

But, for comparison sake only, I can tell you that a simple MICRO MARKETING program can and will out-perform any other marketing program in any given industry. And, that's a tested and proven fact.
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IS: Do you ever quit a program?
We try not to. When you quit a program, all the money invested is lost and all the previous efforts become increasingly worth less as market awareness fades.

Therefore, if a program generates (or contributes to generating) more revenue than its cost, the program is worth continuing. Our focus is usually on ways to enhance the effort...to expand what works well and to adjust what needs improvement. The key is in finding better and smarter ways to continually improve the alignment between need/solution and buyer/seller.

IS: I think I follow.
Perhaps, MICRO MARKETING is just a completely different mind set.

To us, it's basic enough: To win new business, you must approach new business. To consistently grow, you need a simple system that automatically fosters the growth process. MICRO MARKETING is a proven program that handles the front end of the job better than any program we know of.

IS: In a way, MICRO MARKETING sounds like a program anyone could create. What makes your personal contribution unique?
We've created marketing presentation materials for some of the most sophisticated companies in the country...Aetna, Braun, Rockwell International, The Boston Globe, Xerox. So, our communications tools are pretty sharp.

At the same time, through five years experience with MICRO MARKETING, we've worked with hundreds of companies in dozens of industries. Quite simply, we know, through broad band experience, how to develop, write and effectively align the sales message to the needs of the market.

On the execution level, we have the software and the procedures to keep a system operating each week, every week. It would cost a company 25 percent more per piece to execute the same program in-house.

Simple enough, we can build the program and run the program. So, while a small business is taking care of business, we're working on the business of developing more business for the company.

IS: Certainly, MICRO MARKETING is a novel idea. The thought of down sizing a marketing program just seems to go against the grain. But, I guess the key question is: Does it work?
Yes, even better than we had originally planned.
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Our work up sheets are comprehensive. Our prospect qualification and list purchasing is accurate and low cost. Our market and message alignment strategy has proven to be a very effective. The small batch continual mailing is efficient and economical. And we have experience with companies in industries across the country. It's all synergistic. The whole program works.

IS: Is MICRO MARKETING the ultimate marketing weapon?
More to the point, for an independent professional or small company, a simple, personal, new business presentation letter program like MICRO MARKETING is one of the most effective, easy, low cost ways to market a product or service to a new prospect. For some, it may be all the help they need.

IIS: Final thought?
Simply said, if a company has ever had trouble finding new markets, reaching qualified new prospects, or in just establishing an on-going system to win new business, MICRO MARKETING may be just the right program to help them reach their goals.

The fact is there isn't another personal direct marketing program that offers as much as MICRO MARKETING. And, there isn't another complete program that's as cost effective or efficient.
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