A tactic has little value if you don’t know how to USE it.

AIM’s objectivity is a huge advantage when it comes to evaluating and recommending proper tactics. A company marketing a flexible piping system in fire protection called us in for consultation. His competitor was running full-page ads in major trade publications. After product evaluation and competitive study, AIM recommended direct mail. Initially skeptical, we assured the executive that his audience – the fire protection contractor – is easily identifiable and can be given “an offer they couldn’t refuse.” We utilized a direct mail package that offered a free sample. Response was overwhelming – over 250 leads from the first mailing. And when we recommended mailing the same piece to the same audience, the client was dumbfounded. Ultimately convinced, this tactic produced another 200 leads! The use of the proper marketing tactic is dependent not only on experience, but on researched methods. AIM has that knowledge.

Media planning

Many agencies that do media planning utilize complex equations using costs per inquiry, costs per exposure, and so on to develop projections. For example, most agencies deal strictly with the “price” of the media, which is the last factor that AIM considers. In fact, price is the least important factor in the equation. In one media planning experience, a client planned to run full-page ads. Examination of the magazines involved suggested a fresh approach would better deliver a dramatic new product introduction, and still educate the audience. Using a third-page flanking the full page allowed our client to dominate the spread. Strong negotiations with each of the magazines not only enabled us to stay within budget, but also maximized the client’s exposure in this space. AIM media planners offer you knowledge and flexibility because they incorporate expert thinking about the creative product AND the specific media to be utilized.

Positioning

As the Internet becomes the preferred venue for many marketers, a dilemma arises: Do you push your message to customers and businesses using traditional tactics like advertising and direct mail, or do you follow the “new” mantra – create inbound marketing strategies and methods that will pull in customers searching for what they want? Customers have ALWAYS searched for what they wanted. Even before the Internet, customers paged through magazines, listened to radio commercials, talked to peers and acted in much the same way they do today.

AIM studies BOTH pushing (active) and pulling (passive) techniques, and has the discipline to recognize what positioning is truly about. For example, one client wanted to “look like” their competitor and wanted to shape their product offering to mirror the competitive offering. AIM recommended ignoring the competition, re-discovering their own differentiation, and offering that. No company can position itself as anything, after all. We can focus efforts on our message, but our position is a place and someone else puts us there: your customers and prospects. AIM can help you understand where your customers are placing you.

Advertising

He who has a thing to sell and goes and whispers in a well is not so apt to get the dollars as he who climbs a tree and hollers. Sage advice, found on a sugar packet! Advertising is the “big gun” in the marketing arsenal. Even in this age of ignoring advertising, what is any website except advertising? Business is about selling things, so from the moment the company phone is answered (or not answered), to the way invoices show up, the company is “selling.”

One client hired us to conduct a phone audit on how the phones in its nationwide offices are answered. We structured a beginning-midend of day grid, and called each office six times during the business week. After tabulating the results, the report guided our client to understand the phone communications aspects that were being handled well, and those that were not. The client was well aware that the impression created by the person answering the phone leads to more business and better consulting projects. Yet, how many companies use an automated attendant or no attendant at all? AIM can help you understand the true value of advertising in everything you do.

Internet

Quite simply, nothing should be done without an Internet component. The Internet, like the invention of the printing press, is revolutionizing our information sharing behaviors. Regardless of the tactic, a company should always figure an Internet component to supplement the marketing tactic. For example, a loyalty program run by AIM involved 2,000 distributors. In addition to the direct mail package which outlined the program and the product involved (including spiff amounts), AIM built a website so the distributor can register “online” and track his results from month to month. While submission of documentation was still provided through the old-fashioned way, the web interface allowed participating distributors to “scan and send” program communications.

Another example is how AIM built a mini-CRM platform for lead distribution to rep firms. This system enabled the company to follow rep activity on competitive projects. Our programmers and designers work closely together with our project managers to assure true integration.

Publicity

A product or company message is leveraged through media outlets which have a vested interest in publicizing newsworthy items to the trade. AIM practices a public relations technique called “marketing public relations.” Unlike traditional PR, marketing PR has only one goal: response.

One of our clients had a recall to a series of products. AIM immediately went into “crisis management” mode. We built a website so customers could check their products against the failed batch, did mailings to the customer/warranty file, and scripted responses for the phone center to answer customer questions. We moved so quickly, so efficiently, that the client received recognition from the Consumer Product Safety Commission on their handling of the event. But managing the crisis also led to improved phone techniques with the customers, and additional marketing opportunities. The “good will” created in the minds of customers went a long way to building the brand and making the client the leader in that category of products.

Direct Mail

Direct mail is the soul of AIM. We subscribe to the Bob Stone principle of Response, “People won’t switch brands, try a new product or service, unless they have a reason. And there are only two reasons why people buy anything: to gain something, or protect what they already have. Keep that in mind, and you’re on the way to overcoming human inertia.”

For example, one program (ongoing) involves writing letters to key decision makers requesting an interview to discuss specific topics.
This one-page letter is sent with the AIM return address. The letter concludes with, “If you are NOT interested, please do me a favor and Fax this letter back to me indicating ‘Not Interested.’” Would it surprise you to know that 10% of the people take the time to respond to us this way? Furthermore, would it surprise you to know that we re-connect with them, thanking them for their response? And would it surprise you that people actually called us from this letter to be interviewed? The point is: direct response that is well-crafted, works.