Choosing Marketing Tools

Note the avoidance of calling this article “Choosing the Right Marketing Tool,” the point is that there are no wrong marketing tools, just the use of the wrong tool for a particular job.

Take the example of Fred’s Heating Engineers

It’s a multifaceted business covering

  1. The installation of new heating systems and boilers
  2. Boiler servicing
  3. Emergency / Out of hours repairs

Boiler and Emergency repairs are the most profitable.

Now, if your boiler fails and it’s freezing cold, there is a good chance you will go to Google or Bing and look for an emergency heating engineer. To make sure he gets these leads, Fred needs a “reactive” marketing approach, in this case SEO/PPC or search marketing, so he is found on Google and Bing.

Looking at Fred’s other profitable business, boiler servicing, he needs a different marketing approach. Boilers fail less in the Summer months, so to keep his staff busy, he wants to promote boiler servicing. This requires a “a proactive” marketing approach, an example is an email marketing or direct mail campaign offering a discount for servicing undertaken during these months.

Along with reactive and proactive marketing approaches, there is one more category to consider, retentive. The purpose of a retentive marketing approach is to retain customers long term. Loyalty cards are a good example, for Fred, it could be through offering an annual contract, paid monthly, covering servicing and emergencies. Once customers enter contracts, they tend to stick with them unless something goes wrong and they are dissatisfied.

Reactive Marketing Tools

Online search has pretty well replaced traditional tools such as yellow pages. Google is the dominant player for website searches, Facebook on social media.

Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)

Ideally you want your business to be on the search engines front page in one of the ten free or organic positions. The problem is that for most businesses there will be far more than ten companies fighting for them. SEO is the process of improving and maintaining your position. If you are in a niche market or working locally you stand a chance of a first page position, but for Fred above, based in a large city, it’s going to be difficult and expensive. Th ecost is in the labour and expertise, you cannot buy one of these positions.

Pay Per Click (PPC)

Here you literally buy or more accurately bid for a position on the front page, this is how Google and others make their money. When someone enters for example “boiler repair” into a search engine or on a social media platform, the complex logic displays advertisers with the closest match to what was entered and who have made the highest bids. Because of the way it works, a higher bidder may be listed before a closer match.

With PPC unlike SEO you can literally buy your way onto the first page. Implemented wrongly it can work out to be an extremely expensive way of generating leads. PPC experts will manage campaigns, they charge a fee but will save money on PPC charges.

Proactive Marketing Tools

Here we are talking about classic advertising; Radio and TV, Newspapers and Magazines, Billboards, Direct Mail and Email Marketing.

Radio, TV, Billboards, Magazines (general) and Newspapers

These are broad brush tools, reaching a wide audience but with no targeting.

Specialist Magazines and Direct Mail

These are more targeted, for example advertising gardening products in a gardening magazine. Direct Mail companies can target areas based on average wealth, house type etc.

Email Marketing

This is the main digital based proactive marketing tool. It relies on the fact that we are all addicted to regularly checking our emails. It soon fails if misused, as senders will get blocked.

Email adverts are often referred to as E-shots. They can be sent to a companies own customers and prospect database or to new prospects by using a specialist agency such as Web-Clubs that maintains suitable data that can be targeted as required. Email marketing experts have the knowledge to maximise responses through their skills in design, content and subject lines selection.

Newsletters are a softer sell than E-Shots, the aim is over time, to build awareness of a business or product and to demonstrate skills.

Social Media

Groups in social media have a similar role that specialist magazines had in the past providing an opportunity for targeted promotion.

Retentive Marketing Tools

Here the aim is to retain contact and a business relationship with existing customers. Successful business leaders know it cost far more to win new business than to retain the existing, so wisely invest in this area.

Loyalty schemes

There are obvious things like coffee loyalty cards, but also tools such as volume discounts.

Payment schemes

As mentioned in the Heating example, by offering monthly payments, you maintain a regular business arrangement, we tend to be loyal, statistics show that few of us change energy suppliers for example very often.


Both traditional printed and the more common today, digital versions sent via email. Newsletters keep customers in touch and as in their Proactive role, demonstrate your expertise.

Social Media

This can be used in a similar fashion to newsletters to keep people in touch, it needs constant effort posting.


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