- 1. Hand Out Free Gifts.
If you want guaranteed attention, offer a free gift. A free gift for a particular amount or item of purchase. A free gift for responding to a direct-mail solicitation. A free gift of a second item with the purchase of a first a more tantalizing and successful version of the two-for-one sale. Also consider handing out specialty gifts to prospects and customers: free pens, scratchpads, mugs, T-shirts and other items printed with your company name, address, phone number and business slogan. To explore the range of gifts available, consult some of the "Advertising Specialties" firms listed in the Yellow Pages. Ask the reps to suggest gifts that have been used successfully in your industry and pay special attention to new, just-introduced items whose advanced design or technology may appeal strongly to your customers.
- 2. Use Coupons As An Advertising Vehicle.
Coupons offer a proven method of generating trial. Enclose them in invoices. Hand them out at the cash register. Distribute them through your sales force. Include them in a coupon pack prepared by a direct-mail advertising house. If you decide to produce your own coupon, study samples around you to see how they're written and designed to specify the product and trumpet the savings boldly and unequivocally. If you give your coupon an expiration date, which you should do to encourage prompt use, make sure it's conspicuous.
- 3. Build Awareness Through Sweepstakes or Contests.
Sweepstakes and contests provide exciting ways to build awareness of your products, services and company, as well as produce the goodwill that giveaways naturally inspire. Whether entrants will win a free lunch at your restaurant or a free week in Paris (perhaps co-sponsored by a local travel agent), you must check the legalities with your lawyer before you start. Then plan out your promotion step by step, from how customers will enter and how entries will be handled to whether you'll award prizes below the grand-prize category. For example, will everyone win something just for entering? Afterwards, generate publicity about the winners and display photocopies of all resulting news stories at your business.
- 4. Be Creative With Telephone-hold Marketing.
In most businesses, callers will at some point be placed on hold. So play a telephone-hold audiotape that, over background music, talks about your products, services or even your company itself. Besides helping the time pass faster, tapes can answer callers' questions and even inform them of products or services they need but didn't know you provide. To find a company to produce your telephone-hold tape, check the Yellow Pages under "Telecommunications-Telephone Equipment, Services & Systems." Most firms provide everything you need produced tape, hookups and phone equipment for a monthly fee.
- 5. Sell With Store Signs.
Use interior signs to tell customers about the goods and services you offer, such as free delivery, free alterations or free trials. If you stock a specialty line, like environmentally safe products, point it out. If you've just received merchandise with a high-demand feature, let customers know. Signs also provide an easy way to answer customers' most commonly-asked questions. Post explanatory labels to help customers differentiate among various models. Write out shelf signs describing special features that make products outstanding values or unique in their field, or telling customers where to find accessories. Use signs, in short, to tout your company's competitive advantages and to make shopping easier, more informative and more motivating for your customers.
- 6. Act Now to Extend Your Seasonal Sales.
Is your business seasonal? If so, suggests business writer Carol June, utilize year-round marketing to improve your sales. Before the season, stimulate repeat sales by sending coupons to current customers for upcoming purchases or offering special deals on early orders. After the season, use follow-up mailings or phone calls to stay in touch with customers and encourage their loyalty. Or maintain interest with an end-of-season or offseason sale of leftover merchandise. In the longer term, consider a second-season business or product line that would both be a logical extension of your current operation and appeal to your customers. A holiday fruitcake company, for example, might branch out into year-round baked goods; a ski shop, into camping gear. Or, if you're a retail firm, expand not your season but your customer base by adding a catalog or direct-mail wholesale operation. To sum up, marketing is a 365-day-a-year job. It demands persistent attention on satisfying customers' needs. Equally important, it requires a constant program of efforts to develop your customer base and stimulate sales a program initiated and implemented most effectively by putting your own twist on direct, hard-working, tried-and-true ideas such as the 12 described above. For it doesn't take novelty or large sums of money to succeed in marketing; first and foremost, it takes action.
DYNAMAX BUSINESS CREDIT
Twelve High-Impact Marketing Programs part 3