Laurie:  Today I’m talking with Louis Gudema about his new book, Bullseye Marketing. Louis, I interviewed you about a year ago on your bullseye marketing techniques—but now you’ve written a book on it!  So, I’ll start by asking you, with so many books out there on marketing, why do we need another one?

bullseye 2.jpgLouis:  I wrote the book—and developed the bullseye marketing approach—because there’s so much clutter and so much babble around marketing. It’s overwhelming for marketers, and even more so for owners and C suite people in small and mid-sized companies. Marketing used to be simple. There were just a few marketing channels—such as TV, print, radio, direct mail, and ads. But now, there are dozens of channels, over 6000 companies selling marketing software, plus thousands of consultants.

Many these marketing applications are point solutions, that help you to manage one channel, like social media, or search advertising–and they’re pushing that channel as the silver bullet. But companies need to take a step back and figure out what type of marketing will produce the fastest most cost-effective results for them.

Laurie:  So how does the book help?

Louis:   The Bullseye Marketing approach is both contrarian and intuitive—and one that will produce results for you in three to six months. The first step—or ring—in bullseye marketing is to take advantage of the marketing assets your company already has: your customers, e-mail lists, the traffic on your web site, and learning to take better advantage of them. Start using this data to grow business in existing accounts—which is much faster and less expensive than closing new accounts.

Laurie:  What about expanding the prospect base? Most SMBs also need to do this,

bull_center-325Louis:   With bullseye marketing, this would be the third ring of activity. You start by growing business in existing accounts, then move to the second ring, to identify and connect with prospects who are in market and planning to buy. You do this with content data and search advertising to help identify serious buyers vs. those just doing preliminary searches. The third step is building those awareness programs for leads, which does provide value over the long run—but takes longer to produce results than the first two rings.

Laurie:  You mentioned that there are over marketing 6,000 marketing solutions. Technology has really changed what it takes to successfully market your brand and your products. How are your SMB clients keeping up with all of this?

Louis:   I actually did a study on this, which surveyed 351 SMB companies. I used a nine-point digital marketing scorecard to see how many digital marketing programs they use. It turned out that there was a big division between SMB software companies and SMB in other industries– manufacturing, medical devices, professional services, etc. Software companies were killing it. Software companies had a median score of seven out of nine. Everybody else had a median score of two. And there is a strong correlation between the level of marketing and growth.

This year, I’m updating the study with that same set of 351 companies. So far it doesn’t look like there’s been a big move forward in these other industries. I think many SMBs think of marketing as just an expense, or not as the investment in growth that it can be and should be.

Laurie:  SMBs do face time and expertise and cost constraints, they need to know they’ll get a good return on a marketing investment.

Louis:   True. Fortunately, we now have incredibly sophisticated set of marketing tools that are amazingly affordable. Take email marketing, which McKinsey estimates is 40 times more powerful for customer acquisition than social media. Using a platform like MailChimp or Constant Contact or others, you could have 10,000 e-mail contacts and you can email them many times a month for less than $100. That’s the center of the Bullseye Marketing program.

Laurie:  But you need to do e-mail marketing right, or your emails will end up in cyber trash.

Louis:   Sure, the book has a whole chapter on e-mail marketing to help people get it right.

Laurie: What else do you cover?

Louis: Talking to customers—not sales conversations, but really listening to customers to learn about what they think about you and your competitors, and what they really want. Listening is free.  And yet, time after time when I talk to business owners they don’t have these kinds of conversations.

Laurie:  And these more casual conversations can help build the relationship. It just takes discipline to carve out the time and do it.

Louis:   That’s the biggest challenge for SMBs—executing. SMBs are super busy, and any time you do something new, it can be uncomfortable. The book offers hundreds of tips and best practices to guide you—whether you’re the company owner or you’re delegating to a staff person, or to an external contractor.

Laurie:  Does the book help people to understand if they’re do a good job with marketing—or what success looks like?

Louis:   Yes, but there’s so many different industries and types of companies. You have to find out what content works best for your customers. It’s not a one-size fits all.

Laurie:  So how would you sum up the value of the book to a business owner?

Louis:   Bullseye Marketing provides a framework, or an approach, for you to start or ramp up a marketing program—focusing the tactics that are going to produce the fastest, least expensive and most effective results. Then it will help you scale marketing in other ways that may be more expensive or take longer to produce results—but can still have a great ROI for your company.  The book not only offers strategy, but detailed chapters many different areas, such as email marketing and search advertising to help you craft and manage programs.

Readers can check it out by downloading two free chapters at louisgudema.com.