Unusual Marketing Ideas For Your Business, Part 2

Select One Idea And Use It In The Next 90 Days!Part 2 of a 3 part series

Here is yet another idea to help you focus on your niche market. Go to the Equifax site on the worldwide web at http://www.ends.com and play the Lifestyle Game. By entering a U.S. postal zip code, you can learn more about the demographics of that particular market. You can use this information to plan more effective direct mailings!

This is an idea that makes people happy and brings them closer to your business. When you were a kid, did you belong to a birthday club? Did a restaurant, or an ice cream shop, entice you to join its birthday club just by filling out a card? Probably so. And it made you feel good, too, didn't it? So why don't you use this idea in your business? Doesn't matter the type of business. On a customer's birthday (or anniversary), an accountant could provide a free hour of consultation . . . a carpet cleaner could offer a free bottle of stain remover . . . a contractor could offer a free inspection of a previous job . . . an HVAC business could offer a free filter cleaning . . . a swimming pool cleaner could offer a free cleaning . . . etc. etc. How about calling up your customers and singing Happy Birthday to them by phone?! That ought to make them remember your business.

Similar to a Tip Club, here's an idea to help you get more customers by networking with a friend in business. Think of another business owner -- someone with a customer base similar to yours, who could promote your products or services, and in exchange you could promote their products and services. For example, you're an interior, residential painter. You know a contractor who specializes in remodeling kitchens. Or, you own a maid service. You know a carpet cleaner. The idea is that you both have similar customer bases, but you sell different products and services. Call that other business owner and suggest a networking event for just the two of you. Reserve an entire morning or afternoon for this. The two of you get together with your customer databases, or rolodexes. Meet at an office, or in a home, where you can have access to two separate phone lines, preferably in the same room. Each of you gets on a phone and starts calling your customers to recommend the other's products and services. At the end of three or four hours, you'll both have several appointments and opportunities for new business. Do this quarterly, or more often if you can think of enough business owners with similar customer bases.

Use this idea to show your customers you're going out of your way to help them feel more satisfied. The Broadview Hotel in Wichita, KS has developed an idea that's phenomenal in the hotel industry. If you can adapt it to your business, it will be powerful! If you make a reservation at the Broadview, a week before your arrival you can expect a phone call from the hotel's concierge asking if there's anything special you will need during your stay. Isn't that terrific! Have you ever heard of such service before from a hotel, or any business? A manager at the hotel says guests are always shocked, but pleasantly surprised, to receive the concierge's call. The interesting thing is that while no one asks for anything all that special, or unusual, almost everyone comments on the brilliance of this idea. The Broadview's concierges make 6,000 of these calls a year . . . can you imagine the goodwill these phone calls generate? If each guest just tells one other person, that's an extra 6,000 people who hear about the hotel . . . How can you adapt this idea for your business? How can you show customers you're willing to go out of your way to help them feel more satisfied? Maybe it doesn't make sense to call your customers before you provide your service . . . but how about a follow-up phone call?

Here's an idea to help you build your marketing budget. Small businesses spend three to five percent of gross receipts annually on marketing. When you price a job, or provide an estimate, add a percentage for your marketing budget. Then, when you collect your money, be sure to set aside the percentage for marketing. Businesses that say they can't afford marketing are losing ground to their competition, even if they don't realize it!

This idea piggybacks on an annual event. There are plenty of ways to adapt it for every business. Every year, the U.S. Government require people to pay all taxes due and outstanding on or before April 15. You can piggyback on that date by offering "April 15" specials. For example: 2-for-the-price-of-1 when you place your order by April 15. Or $15 off when you order by April 15. Or, you could mail a tax refund coupon to your customers, offering a percentage-off on purchases made by April 15. Keep in mind that hundreds of thousands of consumers receive tax refunds in the Spring of every year. For many, this extra money will be re-invested in their homes or automobiles, or used for leisure activities and products. Help consumers spend their tax refunds by offering them "tax refund specials." Piggyback on other annual events . . . Mother's Day, Father's Day, Secretary's Day, etc. etc.

Here's an idea to help you introduce new products and services. Many times, customers are surprised to discover that a business they've frequented for months or years offers products and services that they didn't know about, but would buy if given the opportunity. When you introduce a new product or service, how do you spread the word to your customers and prospects? Here are three easy ways to get the word out: List products and services on (1) your fax cover sheets, (2) your invoices, and (3) postcards that you mail to your customers, or include with outgoing correspondence or packages.

This idea will bring you closer to your best customers and encourage them to help you find more customers like them. Do you know your top five customers? Shame on you if you don't! Not only should you know these customers, you should make it a point to take each one to dinner once a year to celebrate their loyalty to you and your business. This is a terrific way for you to say "thank you" and at the same time discuss the development of your business. Ask these customers to help you identify prospects who might want to become customers! Remember, it will cost you six to ten times more money to find a new customer than to sell something again to an existing customer. The price of a dinner, even a really nice dinner, may pale in comparison to the cost of replacing a good customer.

©Copyright, 1998, John P. Hayes, Ph.D. For more information see my site at Hayes Worldwide

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Demographics To Your Neighborhood

I couldn't find the Lifestyle Game on the Equifax tab on Ends.com that John refers to, but I did find Demographics Guru that seems to do what is described. Input your zip code and it spews out households, number of businesses, average income, etc. You can control the area and radius of the report as well.