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Marketing 101: A Monthly Column for Processors

By Nancy Drexler

I've been in the marketing business for more years than I care to admit, and I've learned a few things along the way. In this column over the next few months, I will share with you some of what I've learned.

If you flip through issues of The Green Sheet, it should quickly become obvious that we are in a growing industry. As processing becomes more and more competitive, good marketing might just become the only thing that separates a successful business from a failed one. And good marketing means far more than simply getting your name in The Green Sheet.

It means getting the right message to the right people, and then getting those people to do what you want them to do: buy your product or service, buy it often and buy it at a good price.

And believe it or not, being successful at getting that particular job done doesn't necessarily require a tremendous knowledge of processing.

Marketing is not about what you are selling; it is about the customer you are selling to. To be successful at marketing, it is just as important-if not more important-to know your market as it is to know your product.

In its simplest form, marketing is a quid pro quo-a deal between you and your potential customer that inherently implies, "I'll give you this, and in exchange you'll give me that."

I'll give you a nice, white dress shirt in exchange for $50. You'll give a contribution to my charity, and in exchange I'll make you feel important and I'll give you a tax deduction. Or, I'll fly you to England, and you can become a frequent, loyal customer of my airline.

Marketing becomes important because there are a lot of white dress shirts and a lot of charities and a lot of ways to get to England.

What makes the customer choose your product or service becomes a factor in how you manage the infamous

Four 'P's' of marketing: Product, Price, Place and Promotion. And how well you do that depends on how well you know your customer-not your product.

So let's take a look at the basics:


  • What are we selling?
  • How is it different from what our competitors are selling?
  • How do we make our product stand out?
First, we need to understand what our target consumer wants. If he wants price, we communicate that ours is the lowest. If he wants fast service, we make that product attribute stand out.

Would we create a product that nobody wants? Not if we want to earn a living. So the key to growing our business is to look at the market, find a need that is not being satisfied, and develop a product that satisfies it-ideally, in a way that is not only different from but better than anyone else's solution.


Developing a pricing strategy is not as simple as looking at the competition and pricing yourself in the middle-or at the bottom. While your pricing does need to be in line with industry averages, there are other issues to consider.

Obviously, you need to make a profit, and you need to make enough of a profit that you can continue to reinvest in your company.

But you also need to understand that price communicates. If you charge less, the customer may assume that he is getting less and vice versa.

Again, the trick is to understand your market, and set a pricing strategy that 1) meets the customer's needs, 2) is realistic and 3) produces enough revenue for growth.


In marketing, this 'P' often refers to the brick-and-mortar location of a business.

But in a service industry, place can also refer to distribution channels, accessibility and convenience, etc.

  • Do your customers feel that you are in a place where you understand their needs?
  • Do they feel they can reach you when they need to?
  • Will you be able to respond to their needs in a timely manner?
The answer to all of these questions becomes a part of the 'product' you are selling. Promotion and Publicity

If you're reading this, and you've made it this far, then you understand the value of promoting your business. Whether you call it advertising, public relations, promotion or publicity (and they are all different), the bottom line is that you can't sell your product if nobody knows that it exists.

Nor can you move merchandise if your market doesn't perceive a need for it, understand how to get it or how to use it.

And it doesn't stop there. If a customer buys a product that fails to deliver on its promise, you're in for trouble. So this 'P' is what most people think of when they think of marketing: getting the right message to the right people in the right environment via the right channels.

Yes, that requires knowing your product, knowing what marketing vehicles are most important and knowing what budget expenditures make sense.

But most of all, it means knowing your customers.

  • What products and services do they need?
  • What price makes sense to them?
  • What communications channels will most effectively deliver your message?
I hope, in future columns, to give you some simple tools for answering these questions and making wise marketing decisions. I hope to show you what will help your business grow-and what will hurt its growth.

In the meantime, please give some real thought to your target customers: where they are, how they live, what is important to them, and if there are any common bonds between them.

And if you have any questions for me, or any topics you would particularly like to see covered, please don't hesitate to e-mail me at .

Nancy Drexler is the Marketing Director of Cynergy Data, a merchant acquirer that provides a wide array of electronic payment processing services while continually striving to develop new solutions that meet the needs of its agents and merchants.

In addition to offering credit, debit, EBT and gift card processing, along with check conversion and guarantee programs, the company offers its ISOs the ability to borrow money against its residuals, to have Web sites designed and developed, to provide merchants with free terminals and to benefit from state-of-the-art marketing, technology and business support.

Founded in 1995 by Marcelo Paladini and John Martillo, Cynergy Data strives to be a new kind of acquirer with a unique mission: to constantly explore, understand and develop the products that ISOs and merchants need to be successful and to back it up with honest, reliable, supportive service.

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