Tricks and Tips for a Cost-Effective Marketing Campaign
From Taking an Idea to Market
by Molly Tschida Brennan, in NAWBO's Entrepreneurship Trilogy
By this stage in your business development, you've researched your competition, defined your target customer, devised a business strategy, surrounded yourself with a top-notch team, taken legal steps to protect your idea, and secured financing to get your company off the ground. At long last, you're ready to get down to, well, business.
But before you hit the streets--or airwaves, or Internet--hawking your product or service, take a step back. Before you make a single sales pitch, you need to spend some time considering your marketing strategy and devising a marketing plan
You might be thinking that the last thing you need is another plan, and that what you really need are sales, and lots of 'em. But without the direction and focus of a marketing plan, you're more likely to spin your wheels and waste your money than generate serious sales leads. When you're faced with a seemingly endless array of marketing options, a well-defined marketing plan can focus your efforts and help you get you the most return for the least expenditure.
Learn more about how to put together a successful marketing campaign, and pick up some low-cost tricks of the trade.
The Corcoran Group New York, New York Barbara Corcoran, Founder and Chairman Year founded: 1978
Barbara Corcoran landed on the mean streets of Manhattan in 1973 with one goal: to become, in her own words, "the queen of New York real estate." At the time, it seemed her dream would remain just that. When she and a boyfriend started a small real-estate business, Corcoran-Simone, the naïve 23 year old had little more than her Princess-style telephone and the New York Times classifieds. She did, however, have a flair for public relations and a knack for spotting trends in the New York real-estate market.
By 1975, she realized the market was shifting from rentals to condominium and co-operative apartment ownership, so she quickly adjusted her strategy. By 1978, she had dumped the boyfriend (well, truth be told, he dumped her), she had her own business with seven agents, and her dream was starting to look a little more attainable. In 1981, a clever press release landed her in the New York Times , with the article citing her research and quoting her as an expert in the field. Today, she heads up a multi-billion-dollar company with multiple offices and hundreds of agents. Her dream has become a reality. "If there's one thing the little guy has over the big guy, it's creativity," Corcoran says. "And if there's one thing the big guy has over the little guy, it's money. I'll put my money on creativity any day."
Corcoran's own creativity has been her key to success from the very beginning. When she first came to New York, she got a job working as a receptionist for a real-estate firm. She soon realized that she could rent apartments as well as the brokers for whom she was answering phones, and went into business with her then-boyfriend. Her first rental was a testament more to creative marketing than to the merits of the apartment itself. Corcoran was trying to rent a standard one-bedroom unit, but she knew there was little to distinguish it from the many other properties listed in the Times. She convinced the owner to build a wall dividing the living room in two. The one-bedroom was suddenly a "one-bedroom+ den," and it rented in one day.
A few years later, Corcoran and the boyfriend split, and she struck out on her own with The Corcoran Group. As she built her business, Corcoran used more creative tactics to rent and sell otherwise generic apartments. She knew that her product, New York apartments, was not noticeably different from anything the broker down the street was offering. Consequently, Corcoran decided early on to market not just her properties but herself. "My competition spent a lot of time advertising the heck out of the properties, but I found little value in that," she says. "Rather than putting the properties forth, I decided to put myself in the limelight. I knew that if people liked me and responded well to whatever image I was putting out there, chances are they'd like my product."
It was the late-'70s and early-'80s, and Corcoran saw that the New York landscape was changing. The city was moving from being a market composed predominantly of rentals to one of individual ownership. Corcoran knew little about the condominium and co-op apartment market, but she sensed a tidal shift was about to occur, and she wanted to ride it. She brushed up on the co-op market and took a close look at her competition. "At that time, the winning real-estate firms all had a sort of snob appeal, a 'we're the true bluebloods' marketing strategy," she remembers. "But that didn't apply to New York anymore. Manhattan was changing from a small nucleus of very wealthy people who bought, to a very fast-moving, new-money group that was interested in buying. These people weren't interested in snob appeal. They were more attracted to a style that was fun and appealed to their 'make-your-own-society' attitude."
So Corcoran built a reputation and a brand that reflected the vitality and enthusiasm of a fresh-off-the-bus Manhattan newcomer. For example, when she ran her first corporate image campaign, she used the tagline "The Corcoran Group: Power Brokers," but depicted her brokers wearing their favorite sport clothes, posing with children and pets, and generally having fun.