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What a Relay Race Can Tell Us about Marketing

I often speak about how most small businesses have more in common than they think when it comes to their marketing. It transcends categories with photographers, florists, caterers, plumbers, and dress shops all using the same basic principles when it comes to attracting new business. It also transcends borders, cultures, and languages.  

To illustrate the concept I like to use the analogy of a relay race, where the baton is passed from one runner to the next. Only instead of runners, you have these steps: Advertising/Marketing/Social Media > your website > email/phone > you. Your marketing is only as strong as its weakest link, where the “baton” is getting dropped the most.

Follow the bouncing baton

Your prospects find out about you through your advertising, marketing, and/or social media. Their next likely step is your website. If they like what they see on your site they email you, use your online availability checker, or fill out your contact form. You then have an email conversation with them (phone if you're lucky). If you do that well you get them in for an appointment. If the appointment goes well you get the sale. At each of those points the baton is getting passed. At any, or all, of those points the baton can get dropped.

If your ad is not compelling or well designed, they won't go to your website. If they don't like your social media presence they'll move on. If they do get to your website, but aren't moved to take action, once again, the baton has been dropped. If they do like what they see on your site and contact you, but your email communication skills are weak, you don't get the appointment. If you do get the appointment but your sales skills are lacking, you don't get the sale. 

You don’t have to get it right every time

Very few people get it right at every touchpoint, which means you're losing potential clients at almost every step. You can never get it right every time, so the goal is to minimize the drop-offs and maximize the conversion. Conversion is getting someone to take action. Clicking from your WeddingWire storefront to your website is taking action. Clicking from your website to contact you is taking action. Engaging in an email conversation or phone call is taking action. Scheduling an appointment is taking action. And of course, buying is taking action. Those are all positive actions. 

Seeing your ad but passing it by and clicking on another ad is also taking action. Visiting your website and leaving without seeing any other pages (it's called bouncing) is also taking action. Emailing you but not agreeing to an appointment is taking action. And of course, coming in for an appointment and not buying is also taking action. These are all negative actions and they're costing you business.

Accentuate the positive

What you want to do is facilitate as many positive actions as possible, while minimizing the negative actions. How do you do that? Start by plugging the leaks where you're losing prospects:

• Invest in better branding and marketing pieces, from your business cards to brochures, to packaging. Consider hiring a professional designer. You’ll usually notice the difference right away and so will your prospects.

• Advertise in the best places, where there are the most prospects. Get the most high-profile placements you can - you can't expect to get the best results with a free or "back-of-the-bus" placement. (You don’t want them hiring you because you’re free)

• Design better ads, which again may mean hiring a design professional.

• Have a better website experience, probably the most critical link in your marketing chain, since all roads these days lead through your website. This too may require you to hire a professional. The same as with ads, you can't expect the best conversion on your website with a free or cheap site. You want high-quality prospects, you have to “fish” with high-quality “bait.”

• Learn how to communicate better via email, likely their first contact method with you.

• Learn better sales skills, or hire a professional salesperson if you don’t have the time or skillset.

Invest in your success

Will some of these things require an investment on your part? Probably, but you want your prospects to make an investment in you to get the highest-quality results, right? Then heed your own advice and invest in yourself and your business so you, too, can get the highest results. Seize every opportunity for education and training. Surround yourself with successful businesses, not just in your own industry, rather successful businesses of all types. What you'll find is that the most successful businesses aren't afraid to make investments in their future and growth.

Thanks for investing time with me to read this article. Let me know how else I can help you. Take a look around my site and see the consulting, coaching and website evaluation services I have to offer businesses like yours. Whether you’re a one-person company or dozens, even hundreds on your team, I have scalable services to help.

Alan Berg has been called “The Leading International Expert and Speaker on the Business of Weddings & Events.” He speaks at every Catersource conference, as well as conferences around the world. Visit to find out more about his speaking, sales training, website reviews, business consulting, books, and audio presentations.

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Alan Berg

Alan Berg

Marketing Guru,, Kendall Park, NJ

With more than 20 years in wedding & event related sales and marketing, Alan Berg has been called "North America's Leading Expert on the Business of Weddings & Events". He's uniquely qualified to help caterers achieve success in this most important sector of the business. As a highly regarded industry expert in all aspects of marketing, his knowledge and expertise can help practically any caterer move to the next level. As the author of the popular books "If your website was an employee, would you fire it?" and “Your Attitude for Success” (both in their 2nd editions) and the mini-book “Don’t Paint The House”.

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