T Nation

I Suck at Marketing

Hey folks,

I know that some folks on here are quite sucessful in business and other may at least dabble. I’m looking for resources that will help me learn to market my business better. I believe I have a sound business model (there are a few companies like me sucessfully operating int he states) but I need to learn how to get in front of more people who can say yes.

Does anyone have any resources they could point me toward?

Stuart

[quote]Sturat wrote:
Hey folks,

I know that some folks on here are quite sucessful in business and other may at least dabble. I’m looking for resources that will help me learn to market my business better. I believe I have a sound business model (there are a few companies like me sucessfully operating int he states) but I need to learn how to get in front of more people who can say yes.

Does anyone have any resources they could point me toward?

Stuart[/quote]
I’m not an expert on marketing, but I have found through my own experiences, however anecdotal the evidence may be, that sprinkling inconspicuous amounts of cocaine on everything that people come into contact with makes them want that product even more. This works especially well with food products and flu medicine. Like they say, a good product sells itself, and cocaine definitely has no peers when it comes to selling itself.

You need to knock more doors and get rejected a lot.

If you can be more specific about your challenge I can list actions for you to focus on.

I believe real life experience, reflection and habits are how you improve.

Use positive language - if you say you “suck” then you really will suck at it.

I’ll bet I can help you, but you’ll need to be a little more specific about what business you are in and how you are selling yourself.

One thing to keep in mind about marketing is that marketing is NOT advertising. Advertising is a part of marketing, but marketing is basically what you are all the time, everywhere, to everyone. It’s an important distinction, because advertising will get people to look at you, but if they don’t like you once they look at you the first time, it’s unlikely you’ll ever get their business, now or at anytime in the future.

Reading How to Win Friends and Influence people will go a long way in marketing yourself.

I’ve read how to win friends and influence people.

I’m well aware of the effect of language, I used “I suck at marketing” to catch attention here, it’s not exactly what i walk around all day saying.

Let me give you more details:

www.custom-clothing.ca

This is my company, we make made to measure custom clothing for men. Suits, shirts that sort of thing. We come to your office or home for the consultation so you don’t even need to go anywhere.

Basically our sales have been word of mouth and while our clients are starting to drive people our way it’s not really doing much at this stage.

What have we done? Well we joined the chamber of commerce and have done a lot of networking events I get a lot of interest and I’m sure I will start getting sales from these eventually.

My biggest issue is that I’m great in person, if you put me in front of people I do very well at selling our products (though of course initially i’m not selling the prodcut so much as a consult).

My problem is that I don’t know how to effectively get us in front of more people. We’re a small company so even dropping $3k on doing a large trade show is a risk, if it doesn’t pay off that’s two mortgage payments down the drain for me.

I’m trying to figure out how to get myself in front of more people. I tried knocking a lot of doors and I have no issue with rejection but when you knock on a lawyers office they dont’ even open the door. unfortunately the no-soliciting feeling businesses have has prevented me from even being able to open the door.

I’m getting stumped.

[quote]Sturat wrote:
I’ve read how to win friends and influence people.

I’m well aware of the effect of language, I used “I suck at marketing” to catch attention here, it’s not exactly what i walk around all day saying.

Let me give you more details:

http://www.custom-clothing.ca

This is my company, we make made to measure custom clothing for men. Suits, shirts that sort of thing. We come to your office or home for the consultation so you don’t even need to go anywhere.

Basically our sales have been word of mouth and while our clients are starting to drive people our way it’s not really doing much at this stage.

What have we done? Well we joined the chamber of commerce and have done a lot of networking events I get a lot of interest and I’m sure I will start getting sales from these eventually.

My biggest issue is that I’m great in person, if you put me in front of people I do very well at selling our products (though of course initially i’m not selling the prodcut so much as a consult).

My problem is that I don’t know how to effectively get us in front of more people. We’re a small company so even dropping $3k on doing a large trade show is a risk, if it doesn’t pay off that’s two mortgage payments down the drain for me.

I’m trying to figure out how to get myself in front of more people. I tried knocking a lot of doors and I have no issue with rejection but when you knock on a lawyers office they dont’ even open the door. unfortunately the no-soliciting feeling businesses have has prevented me from even being able to open the door.

I’m getting stumped.[/quote]

OK, I am your target audience: a lawyer who buys custom suits. I use two guys.

First, call a big firm during the EARLY part of summer and ask for the “Recruiting Coordinator”. Tell them you are a suit salesman and would like to sell a single suit and 3 shirts — AT COST — to their Law Clerks, who will need suits. Bring her (the recruiter is inevitably a bubbly, hot, girl) something nice. Need fast delivery because the clerks are their for 6 weeks only.

Do the same thing deal for brand new lawyers at the firm who start in September, so call in late August. Call the firm and ask for the associate coordinator, who works to pass out work. If there is not one, ask for the office manager. Sell first suit at cost, with 3 shirts at cost.

Go to the recepitionist at firms, give her something. Ask her to send an email to the new male lawyers telling them that a custom suit guy will be coming on X date and if they want to get on your schedule, they should call/email X number before end of business today before you get booked up. (Thereby creating exclusivity and exegency.) Write out exactly what she is to say and type in on an email. Sell these at cost + 1/2 your normal margin.

[quote]Jewbacca wrote:

[quote]Sturat wrote:
I’ve read how to win friends and influence people.

I’m well aware of the effect of language, I used “I suck at marketing” to catch attention here, it’s not exactly what i walk around all day saying.

Let me give you more details:

http://www.custom-clothing.ca

This is my company, we make made to measure custom clothing for men. Suits, shirts that sort of thing. We come to your office or home for the consultation so you don’t even need to go anywhere.

Basically our sales have been word of mouth and while our clients are starting to drive people our way it’s not really doing much at this stage.

What have we done? Well we joined the chamber of commerce and have done a lot of networking events I get a lot of interest and I’m sure I will start getting sales from these eventually.

My biggest issue is that I’m great in person, if you put me in front of people I do very well at selling our products (though of course initially i’m not selling the prodcut so much as a consult).

My problem is that I don’t know how to effectively get us in front of more people. We’re a small company so even dropping $3k on doing a large trade show is a risk, if it doesn’t pay off that’s two mortgage payments down the drain for me.

I’m trying to figure out how to get myself in front of more people. I tried knocking a lot of doors and I have no issue with rejection but when you knock on a lawyers office they dont’ even open the door. unfortunately the no-soliciting feeling businesses have has prevented me from even being able to open the door.

I’m getting stumped.[/quote]

OK, I am your target audience: a lawyer who buys custom suits. I use two guys.

First, call a big firm during the EARLY part of summer and ask for the “Recruiting Coordinator”. Tell them you are a suit salesman and would like to sell a single suit and 3 shirts — AT COST — to their Law Clerks, who will need suits. Bring her (the recruiter is inevitably a bubbly, hot, girl) something nice. Need fast delivery because the clerks are their for 6 weeks only.

Do the same thing deal for brand new lawyers at the firm who start in September, so call in late August. Call the firm and ask for the associate coordinator, who works to pass out work. If there is not one, ask for the office manager. Sell first suit at cost, with 3 shirts at cost.

Go to the recepitionist at firms, give her something. Ask her to send an email to the new male lawyers telling them that a custom suit guy will be coming on X date and if they want to get on your schedule, they should call/email X number before end of business today before you get booked up. (Thereby creating exclusivity and exegency.) Write out exactly what she is to say and type in on an email. Sell these at cost + 1/2 your normal margin.

[/quote]

This is solid but my prices are already very low and by offering a sale i devalue my product further which I dislike. So my question there becomes why offer it cheaper? As a loss leader to get me more clients? Not a bad idea but again it simply shows that I don’t think my product is worth what I’m asking. Maybe I could put together packages (buy a suit and 3 shirts and get a volume discount as that doesnt’ devalue the prodcut as much)

However there are options as I can bring in some very high end fabrics that I don’t ususally stock at the beginning of the summer for crazy pricing. making sure of course to put the regular price on my website.

STuart

[quote]Sturat wrote:

[quote]Jewbacca wrote:

[quote]Sturat wrote:
I’ve read how to win friends and influence people.

I’m well aware of the effect of language, I used “I suck at marketing” to catch attention here, it’s not exactly what i walk around all day saying.

Let me give you more details:

http://www.custom-clothing.ca

This is my company, we make made to measure custom clothing for men. Suits, shirts that sort of thing. We come to your office or home for the consultation so you don’t even need to go anywhere.

Basically our sales have been word of mouth and while our clients are starting to drive people our way it’s not really doing much at this stage.

What have we done? Well we joined the chamber of commerce and have done a lot of networking events I get a lot of interest and I’m sure I will start getting sales from these eventually.

My biggest issue is that I’m great in person, if you put me in front of people I do very well at selling our products (though of course initially i’m not selling the prodcut so much as a consult).

My problem is that I don’t know how to effectively get us in front of more people. We’re a small company so even dropping $3k on doing a large trade show is a risk, if it doesn’t pay off that’s two mortgage payments down the drain for me.

I’m trying to figure out how to get myself in front of more people. I tried knocking a lot of doors and I have no issue with rejection but when you knock on a lawyers office they dont’ even open the door. unfortunately the no-soliciting feeling businesses have has prevented me from even being able to open the door.

I’m getting stumped.[/quote]

OK, I am your target audience: a lawyer who buys custom suits. I use two guys.

First, call a big firm during the EARLY part of summer and ask for the “Recruiting Coordinator”. Tell them you are a suit salesman and would like to sell a single suit and 3 shirts — AT COST — to their Law Clerks, who will need suits. Bring her (the recruiter is inevitably a bubbly, hot, girl) something nice. Need fast delivery because the clerks are their for 6 weeks only.

Do the same thing deal for brand new lawyers at the firm who start in September, so call in late August. Call the firm and ask for the associate coordinator, who works to pass out work. If there is not one, ask for the office manager. Sell first suit at cost, with 3 shirts at cost.

Go to the recepitionist at firms, give her something. Ask her to send an email to the new male lawyers telling them that a custom suit guy will be coming on X date and if they want to get on your schedule, they should call/email X number before end of business today before you get booked up. (Thereby creating exclusivity and exegency.) Write out exactly what she is to say and type in on an email. Sell these at cost + 1/2 your normal margin.

[/quote]

This is solid but my prices are already very low and by offering a sale i devalue my product further which I dislike. So my question there becomes why offer it cheaper? As a loss leader to get me more clients? Not a bad idea but again it simply shows that I don’t think my product is worth what I’m asking. Maybe I could put together packages (buy a suit and 3 shirts and get a volume discount as that doesnt’ devalue the prodcut as much)

However there are options as I can bring in some very high end fabrics that I don’t ususally stock at the beginning of the summer for crazy pricing. making sure of course to put the regular price on my website.

STuart[/quote]

Just be blunt: doing it to get market share and lifetime clients. One time only, only basic fabrics. If they go up to whatever, price + 10.

Same model as a drug dealer: first hits free, baby.

The young lawyers move around a lot to other firms. This will be stage two, where you get money by word of mouth.

Here, just get in the door and don’t worry about profit.

Look at menswear blogs. Try emailing the guys at puthison.com and maybe create some threads on style forum.

Just start writing thing showing why you love what you do and what you have learned from it. Then put a link to your website in your signature line.

I think you’re in a pretty niche market with a lot of competition. Your main selling point is doing custom fittings which a lot of the websites don’t offer, which limits your market that much more.

I would definitely take Jewbacca’s advice to heart. He is one of the most astute, upstanding guys I know. I’ve been in business for myself (rather successfully, I might brag) for 6 years now, and I’ve developed a fairly decent bullshit filter. If JB were to offer me advice on anything at all, I’d make him wait while I got a notepad and paper.

Your business does, indeed, sound very specific. It definitely appears to be the kind of service that you NEED word of mouth business. I don’t even know how trade shows would help you all that much, unless you just really dazzled at the shows. Your business involves a very personal product. The type of people who buy bespoke suits take their purchases very seriously, and will not trust just anybody to take care of them. The way most people finally make the decision to go with one guy or another when they decide to is, as you’ve already surmised, word of mouth. Even when you personally walk in the door, you’ll be WAY better off if your prospect has at least heard something about you.

With all of that said, I’d ask you what your strategy for getting referrals is. I think your continued success in the short run is going to hinge on damned near forcing your clients to give you referrals. How are you obtaining your next prospect?

[quote]Cortes wrote:
I would definitely take Jewbacca’s advice to heart. He is one of the most astute, upstanding guys I know. I’ve been in business for myself (rather successfully, I might brag) for 6 years now, and I’ve developed a fairly decent bullshit filter. If JB were to offer me advice on anything at all, I’d make him wait while I got a notepad and paper.

Your business does, indeed, sound very specific. It definitely appears to be the kind of service that you NEED word of mouth business. I don’t even know how trade shows would help you all that much, unless you just really dazzled at the shows. Your business involves a very personal product. The type of people who buy bespoke suits take their purchases very seriously, and will not trust just anybody to take care of them. The way most people finally make the decision to go with one guy or another when they decide to is, as you’ve already surmised, word of mouth. Even when you personally walk in the door, you’ll be WAY better off if your prospect has at least heard something about you.

With all of that said, I’d ask you what your strategy for getting referrals is. I think your continued success in the short run is going to hinge on damned near forcing your clients to give you referrals. How are you obtaining your next prospect? [/quote]

It turns out here that those recruiting drives happen in the fall, they also happen at accounting and other professional firms at the same time so it looks like next fall will be a busy time for me.

At this point we do have a referral program in place for our customers but it’s impossible to force them to refer for us at this point I work hard to provide a quality product at a good price with over the top customer service and I hope that they will tell their friends and family.

Stuart

Hi Sturat,

I think your business is interesting and has alot of potential. I think there is an upside towards custom fit professional wear in recent years.

Your business reminds me of Astor and Black, who essentially did the same thing from the ground up.

I think following Jewbaccas advice is sound.

Major fashion houses do a similar “sell at cost” method to get items out during sample sales. Granted, alot of them already have pent up demand, but if you have a quality product from the get go, selling a few at cost that in turn will be visible to others will be worth it.

Another avenue you might want to consider is business schools. Astor and Black had a custom suiting deal where they came to my school ahead of the interview and recruiting season. MBA students need suits, and will generally pay to have a good one. A lot of them do not have the time or knowledge to go around shopping for one in their regular schedule.

I do not know of business schools in your area, but if you are open to travel in the northern and particularly northeast part of the US, that is a large market you can gain entrance to. The average entering MBA class is 300 or so students. Many of the top schools are in close proximity (in the northeast). You could hit up Columbia, Harvard, Yale, UPenn, CMU etc in a week. The same goes for law schools.

Just my 2 cents, best of luck.

Another option for your referral base would be something similar to Gilt Group. Refer a friend and get account credits if the friend purchases services. Granted, people might not need more than one suit, but 30% off a custom dress shirt if someone spends more than say 500 dollars on your services would be an incentive.

[quote]Sturat wrote:

[quote]Cortes wrote:
I would definitely take Jewbacca’s advice to heart. He is one of the most astute, upstanding guys I know. I’ve been in business for myself (rather successfully, I might brag) for 6 years now, and I’ve developed a fairly decent bullshit filter. If JB were to offer me advice on anything at all, I’d make him wait while I got a notepad and paper.

Your business does, indeed, sound very specific. It definitely appears to be the kind of service that you NEED word of mouth business. I don’t even know how trade shows would help you all that much, unless you just really dazzled at the shows. Your business involves a very personal product. The type of people who buy bespoke suits take their purchases very seriously, and will not trust just anybody to take care of them. The way most people finally make the decision to go with one guy or another when they decide to is, as you’ve already surmised, word of mouth. Even when you personally walk in the door, you’ll be WAY better off if your prospect has at least heard something about you.

With all of that said, I’d ask you what your strategy for getting referrals is. I think your continued success in the short run is going to hinge on damned near forcing your clients to give you referrals. How are you obtaining your next prospect? [/quote]

It turns out here that those recruiting drives happen in the fall, they also happen at accounting and other professional firms at the same time so it looks like next fall will be a busy time for me.

At this point we do have a referral program in place for our customers but it’s impossible to force them to refer for us at this point I work hard to provide a quality product at a good price with over the top customer service and I hope that they will tell their friends and family.

Stuart
[/quote]

Accountants do not have money. Correction. Accountants are cheap bastards who think they don’t have money and will never buy a nice suit.

Law clerks have money. THey are paid like a new associate while in law school, so like $3,000/wk. For most law students this is the first real money they have.

All clerkships at large law firms in the United States are late May to Mid-August, generally in two 6-week grups with July 4 weekend in the middle.

You want this.

The idea of going to law schools or businss schools is sound as well.

Go to the law school make an appointment with the “Editor and Chief” of the Law Review.

Offer all Law Review students and the 1st years students who “make law review” your very best deal.

(Law Review are the elite and this will give a cache to your product. If non-law review people call you, tell them you’ll make them a special deal “just for them.”)

Come to the school for fittings.

Do this before interview season and before clerk ships.

++++++++++++

FWIW, my experience is not only being a lawyer, but working in my Uncle Moshe’s furniture store from about age 8. I can sell anything. You just need to think this through.

[quote]666Rich wrote:
Another option for your referral base would be something similar to Gilt Group. Refer a friend and get account credits if the friend purchases services. Granted, people might not need more than one suit, but 30% off a custom dress shirt if someone spends more than say 500 dollars on your services would be an incentive.[/quote]

Maybe. But lawyers have no time or inclination to track this sort of thing. They do have money and will buy in bulk to save the hassle of shopping.

Buy 4 get 1 free on shirts or the like. Buy 8 and get 3 free.

I started buying custom clothes because I don’t have time to go shopping, I don’t work or shop on Shabbos, and work on Sunday.

You’ve been given some good ideas for offline marketing, but you are definitely missing out on untold #s of clients from online marketing.

To be blunt, your website is HORRIBLE. I can’t imagine you get many blind leads from it. The main problem is when you go to your website, I cannot figure out what you are selling without scrolling down. Nearly all of your “above the fold” space is just pictures of guys in suits. As a browser, I would really have to work to figure out you sell custom suits at low prices.

The other major problem is there is no real call to action on the site. There is a phone number but why would people call - they have no idea what you are selling. 99% of people aren’t going to read your site for 5 minutes to figure out what your business is. As a side note, fix your text. It’s tiny and gray on gray text will turn away customers.

Here is an example of a high-converting site (not mine) that is not very attractive but converts to leads at a high rate:

mpmarketingsolutions.com

Giant text telling people what they are selling (SEO services) and why they would want them (rank higher in google) with a giant form taking up most of the screen. If your website was set up like this, you would get a lot more % of your visitors filling out the form, which you could then attempt to convert to the best of your ability.

Once you have a high converting site, all you have to do is drive traffic. There is a ton of ways this can be done and I don’t really have time to write that up, but you’ll need to fix your website before engaging in most of these tactics. For example, with a good site you might get 1 lead per 20 visitors. With your current site, I doubt you break 1 in 100. If you increase your conversion rate by 500%, you can afford to spend a lot more per visitor to your website.

[quote]Sturat wrote:
This is solid but my prices are already very low and by offering a sale i devalue my product further which I dislike. [/quote]

You do suck at marketing. You are selling a personal product. You need to get in front of people.

You do not need to worry about depreciating your product.

No website, no marketing show, not anything other than in-person sales will get your product sold. Just gettting in a guys office, measuring him for a suit and selling him the first one.

I “sell” my services at drilling oil wells. I sold by drilling good oil wells, on time and on budget. I started out selling at what-is-called “footage” (that is, risk on me, often at cost or a small loss).

I now sell at day rates, $15-18K+ plus expenses, out of which I net $8-10 per rig, per day.

I got this way by knocking on doors when I had one shitty rig and getting people to take a chance on me. I’ve sold my company once and started over with someone else’s money, this time with guys sending whores to suck my dick to get to the top of my list.

FWIW, I still don’t have a website or even a business card.