When flyers and ads talk about free offers there is often times a catch. “Buy $100 of this and we will give you a free teddy bear” or “Free shipping when you purchase $100 of merchandise”. These offers are sometimes useful and sometimes not. It all depends if you want to buy a $100 of what they are offering and if you need a free teddy bear. Sometimes you go for it and regret it later. My wife still has a free teddy bear in the closet she doesn’t know how to get rid of.
But in this newsletter you will get FREE marketing tips. Things you can do right now to promote your business that are… well, they’re free.
1. Increase Sales Immediately Through Word of Mouth
The simplest way in the world to get referrals is to ask for them. Whenever someone compliments you on a job, let them know you appreciate it, and that you’ll do just as good a job for their friends. Tell them that you’d appreciate it if they could spread the word if they really like your work. You may assume that people would tell their friends, but it’s amazing the difference it makes if you give them that gentle reminder. People like to help those that do a good job for them and they feel good helping out their friends, who just happen to be your next customers…
INEXPENSIVE METHOD: Give out extra business cards when you ask for referrals and ask them to pass the cards on. RESPONSE! frequently runs unbeatable specials on glossy color, business cards in large runs of 1000 and 5000 which is perfect for when you plan on increasing referrals.
2. Solicit Testimonials
FREE METHOD: Testimonials are a great way to make people feel more confident about spending money with your business. You can put up a testimonial board in your waiting room, publish them in your promotion, include them on your web site. My wife often scours through online reviews and testimonials and decides what to buy based on these alone. She particularly looks for one’s that mention a similar situation or lifestyle to her own. Which is the next piece of advice. When soliciting testimonials from satisfied customers ask the person to write specifics: what their problem was, how the product or service helped them to resolve it, what the result was. Don’t be shy to direct them. The more specific the testimonials are, the more the reader will be able to relate to them personally. Such as the following excerpt from a testimonial we received from one of our clients:
“I have been doing Google Adwords for several years and advertising in a local newspaper. However, my calls and income were not responding as I expected. As soon as I started the postcard campaign as well as talking to people, my income started responding. Thanks a lot for your help and advice”
INEXPENSIVE METHOD: Use the RESPONSE! newsletter and e-newsletter service to publish the testimonials you have garnered. Our Customized Newsletter packages are without equal: the prices are really good and we will infuse your business image and personality on every page.
Another recommendation we have is signing up for a Constant Contact account and order a custom Testimonial Template designed by RESPONSE! Use it to send out your testimonials every month by email.
3. Share Your Tactics With Others
FREE METHOD: Most small businesses focus on geographic zone. Similar small business in a different area not necessarily in competition with you. Discuss your successful methods with other business owners and get new ideas from them. Even pool resources.
Did you know that when a Starbucks moves into an area it often boosts sales for local coffee shops? As Starbucks converts consumers to quality, high-priced coffee beverages these consumers are more willing to buy a $4 latte from other coffee shops, too. So pooling resources can be beneficial to all concerned. In fact, one of my favorite independent coffee shops had a brochure with a map and description of the other independent coffee shops in the city encouraging us to support local business.
There are also online communities of like-minded professionals where you can visit and discuss marketing methods. Just google for forums related to your industries.
ANOTHER FREE METHOD: Schedule a marketing consultation with me and I can fill you in on what is working for other companies in your industry.
4. Compile a Mailing List
FREE METHOD: A list of your own clients will get you the best return on any mailing program you attempt. They already know who you are and have good experiences with your business. That makes them the most likely to buy from you in the future and to buy 60-70% more than a new customer. Then remind them to buy from you. You can write letters to them, send them birthday cards or best of all send them a newsletter that provides them with information related to your products and services.
5. Put Up Notices on Community Notice Boards
FREE METHOD: Community notice boards are hot-bed of activity for small businesses. Print notices about your business and find the boards wherever there is major foot traffic. This includes near universities, local coffee shops, Laundromats*, etc. Keep a list of these places and replace the notices weekly or monthly. The notices should be in a readable font and include your phone number and website.
6. Social Networking
FREE METHOD: Visit online sites like Facebook, Plaxo and LinkedIn and sign up for accounts. Start contacting people by adding them as friends and then talk to them about your business or ask them questions about theirs.
INEXPENSIVE METHOD: RESPONSE! can set up a number of these on your behalf, hook up your blog to broadcast to these networking accounts and show you how to blog, network and get known out there in cyberspace.
7. Make Public Service Announcements (PSAs)
FREE METHOD: Non Profits can often get announced on radio and published in newspapers. But businesses can also get PSAs released. If you are holding an informational free talk — for instance a weight loss seminar, or workshop on proper dental hygiene — and you do not intend on making sales at the event you can promote it through PSAs. And, of course, you’re still allowed to collect up addresses and information from attendees of the talk for follow-up. And offer a free service to have them return.
PSAs are written in the same format as a press release but replace “FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE” with “PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT”. Send them out to media about 3 weeks before the event, especially community newspapers and radio stations. After sending out the PSA’s call the media and talk to them about getting it placed.
INEXPENSIVE METHOD: RESPONSE! can write your PSA’s and get placements on your behalf.
8.Take Advantage of FREE Directory Listings
FREE METHOD: Get free listings online for your business. There are a number of places like Google Local Business and Yahoo Local Business. Include your web site link to get more online traffic. INEXPENSIVE METHOD: RESPONSE! can do hundred’s of directory submissions for free listings. Ask about our Submission and Registration Packages for a one-time low cost.
9. Make Guarantees
FREE METHOD: Reduce the risk of buying for the consumer. Make an outrageous guarantee to make buying safe. An example is, “Double your money back if you find it somewhere else for cheaper” and “Lifetime warranty”. Our favorite logo apparel company offers a 10 year guarantee on all their shirts, no questions asked.
And 10. Regular Sales Training
FREE METHOD: Increase your close rate by training the sales staff every week. People may have talents but it is practice that makes them great. Tiger Woods put in a lot of time on the green to become a world-class champion.
I recommend at least 30 to 60 minutes of sales training every week to be conducted by the manager or best sales person. Work on improving the sales skills of all the staff who are involved in selling and keep it upbeat so the staff look forward to it. And don’t just train the sales team, train everybody in the office so they can talk your business up.
In Closing: FREE Marketing Consultations
Feel free to give me a call and schedule a marketing consultation. I can help you spot gaps in your promotion program and help you figure out how to capitalize on opportunities. The advice is free and I can fill you in on what others have found to work and not work. And I love learning more about marketing from your experiences, too.