In the world of marketing techniques, whether online or offline, the business owner can make many mistakes and lose huge amounts of money that could be spent on hiring another employee, purchasing more products or simply keeping it safely in the bank. Profits can be reduced and what may follow could be stress and a lack of productivity.

The most important thing to understand is without a clear and concise marketing plan you’re out there floundering around throwing marketing ideas against the proverbial wall, “hoping something sticks.” No successful business person begins a marketing campaign without a plan.

It’s vital to do small marketing trials to using several techniques until you find one or more that is the most effective. Below are some tips for discovering what works and what doesn’t so you keep your losses to a minimum.

Define Your Market and Demographic

Who are the people most likely to purchase your product or service? What is the average age of your past client base or in general, the age of clients you are targeting? With laser-like accuracy you need to determine what works and hone in on that specific market.

When business owners or marketers use the “shotgun” method of marketing you will waste time and money contacting non-target market people who won’t even consider what you are offering.

Professional Marketing Materials

If you don’t have the software or programs to create business cards, flyers, tri-fold marketing pieces and other information you can physically place in the hands of potential customers you are making yourself and your business look cheap and cheesy.

Paying someone to create professional looking marketing pieces and having them printed at Kinko’s or other places (check around for the most inexpensive) will serve you well and even if you’re a one-person business you can look as up-scale as one with hundreds of employees.

Remember that a first impression is the most important impression. When a potential customer sees a simple, cheap looking flyer they know you made on your computer using the most rudimentary of software programs they have an immediate, visceral feeling of believing you’re “small potatoes.”

Obviously, a professional designed website is now a necessity in today’s online environment to conduct business.

However, the flashiest and most fancy marketing pieces can be useless if you don’t get your message across. Your prospect must be able to read it and within minutes completely understand what you are offering or selling.

I’ve seen marketing pieces that someone who didn’t quite ‘get it’ actually left off the phone number and/or the website. If a potential customer has no idea how to take your materials, go to the phone and pick it up and call you they will NOT bother trying to find you.

Your Marketing Plan

Sit down and create a marketing plan that has a purpose, a time frame and set your goals for how many sales or customers you would like to acquire in a certain period of time. Do your homework. It may take doing research online or by purchasing books, CDs or DVDs on how to set up a good marketing plan.

Ask people you know who are successful how to put a good marketing campaign in motion. Of course, your competition may not be on board with giving you advice on how to take away some of their business, but you will find lots of mentors in other fields who will be glad to help.

There are so many online “gurus” who do teleseminars and webinars on the subject you’ll have no problem finding someone who can give you some tips and ideas.

Whatever marketing tools and plan you use, make sure to follow through. The follow through is the big secret most people skip. You can’t just do one marketing campaign and expect success. Your first few may be dismal failures so don’t quit before you find the sweet spot that begins to bring you those valuable customers and clients you need.

Romance Your Prospects

This may sound strange but you need to ‘court’ potential clients, customers or business associates. The whole idea is to win the hearts and minds of those you have targeted as your perfect demographic.

In some business models there is no age group but instead, as in the case of those looking for people to join them in a home-based business, you’re looking for someone who wants and needs to make more money. That is a huge demographic, especially in this chaotic economy.

On the other hand, this group of people is continually hammered by your competition so you are in essence marketing ‘yourself’ to them.

They must like you, trust you and feel like you are someone they’d love to build a business together.

They cannot be pushed, rushed or feel pressured or they will turn the other way and run.

They won’t return your calls and you may as well lose their contact information.

Take your time (we’re not talking months or years here) but give them a chance to look over everything and come back to you, ready to get started. Of course, a small ‘nudge’ if they seem on the verge of a decision but don’t quite commit won’t hurt.