Johnson's World: Random Thoughts about Consistency

I’m in no position to lecture you about getting back into shape, but I do know a thing or two about consistently marketing your services.

February 1, 2012

The holiday season is over, and we are all hunkering down in the midst of a booming and busy first quarter. (I’m writing this at New Year’s, so here’s hoping for a booming first quarter!)

Perhaps you made some New Year’s resolutions. Most resolutions hold up through the first few weeks of January, but many go by the wayside about now as life and old habits overrule our good intentions. Any health club manager will tell you that membership soars on January 1, but that attendance returns to normal levels within three weeks.

Marketing Resolutions

I’m in no position to lecture you about getting back into shape, but I do know a thing or two about consistently marketing your services. Many of you have resolved that in 2012 you will do a better job of marketing. There are many reasons for such a resolution. Some of you realize that the public no longer understands what you do just from your name. Some are frightened by declining sales. Some of you have made this vow every year for the past 10 years, but are determined to truly act on it this time.

I have some examples of consistency in marketing that I would like to share.

Lake County Press produces a calendar each year that is outstanding in quality. Each year around Christmas we receive many calendars (but not nearly as many as we used to) from vendors and competitors. Most wind up being used somewhere, but the Lake County Press calendar is the only one that people fight over.

We usually call them up to request extra copies. Yes, their calendar is that good. So good that, even though they have a digital and small press division which competes with us, you’ll find their calendar hanging throughout our offices.

The layout and design changes every year, but the photography, design, and printing are consistently excellent. Each month highlights a specialty of the company, such as hexachrome printing, coating, and—new this year—digital printing.

I’ve received this calendar every year for as long as I can remember. I’m sure it has been more than 20 years. They’ve never missed a year, so they’ve created expectation. People begin asking about the calendar in early December.

Practicing What I Preach

My own company, Copresco, produces a newsletter called Overnight Lite. It mails every month, month after month. Occasionally, we combine two months, but we’ve never missed an issue. 2012 will be our 23rd straight year of publication.

We know people like our newsletter because they tell us when they move, even if it is to another company. When I visit a customer or a prospect, I find our newsletter tacked to the wall of the cubicle or on the bulletin board in the hallway. Or both.

Whenever we feature a product or service in our newsletter, we see an upsurge of estimate requests for the featured item.

Our newsletter is a single 8.5x11-inch sheet with jokes and cartoons on one side. “Delightful humor” we call it. If it doesn’t delight, our customers call us to tell us that we need better jokes.

The reverse side presents technical information, company news, awards we’ve won, and case histories. Everyone laughs at the jokes, but over the years we reduced the humor and increased the technical info, per our customers’ requests. People really read this stuff.

It takes a fair amount of time, effort and expense to keep Overnight Lite coming month after month. Obviously, we’ve discovered that a monthly newsletter pays off for Copresco.

Would a monthly newsletter or yearly calendar work for you? It will, if and only if it is produced and distributed consistently.

If you have resolved to do a better job of marketing in 2012, consider making consistency your top priority.