Seven Steps to Practical Marketing

1) Know your budget.

You don't want a surprise when you get to a vendor and find out all your work is going to cost much more than you have. Set a budget and then work with vendors so you develop the best possible product within that limit.

2) Know your audience.

Knowing how your audience thinks will help keep your message on track. The more you can learn about your ideal prospect, the more focused you can be in targeting their needs with your message, and thereby, improve the response.

3) Know your delivery system.

Now that you know your budget and your audience, you can determine how best to deliver your message. What will your prospects respond to that can be created on your budget? Will a postcard work best? Or letters? Or email promotion? Don't guess at this one. Worse yet, don't select a medium just because someone is trying to sell you that service.

4) Know the language that triggers response.

Be sure your message is not all about you or your company. Your message should enlighten prospects about the benefits you offer them. People act for many reasons. Triggers such as make money or save money, safety and security, and build reputation are good examples. What are the trigger words that will make your prospects act?

5) Know what result you want.

Use a "call to action." Always, always, always ask your prospect to take action. Lead prospects with good information that is useful to them and bring them to a point where you can ask them to take the next step: call for more information, send in a reply card, go to our Web site, call customer service and place your order now, reply now for a free report, and more.

6) Know how to present your message.

Every page, printed or online, has a hierarchy where some parts of the message are more important than other parts. If you try to make everything important, then nothing is important. A hierarchy also helps guide readers through your message. For example, the main idea of your message might be contained in a large headline at the top and the location of the company's headquarters in smaller copy at the bottom.

7) Know what not to say.

Work to limit your message to one at a time. Don't confuse readers with multiple (particularly if they are unrelated or conflicting) messages. Stick to one thing, get one idea across. And then repeat that message.