Monday, April 7, 2008

Three Great Marketing Tips for Under $100.00

Three Great Marketing Tips for Under $100.00

One of the requests I hear from time to time goes something like this:
“Never mind the philosophy, never mind the talk about ‘branding, ‘centers of influence’ and ‘the buying experience,’ just give me a few, low-cost, anyone-can-do-it marketing tips for busy professionals.” Try these on for size.

Tip Number One:NOTE CARDS

Every Monday morning, have your assistant put a stack of 50 fold-over note cards on your desk. If you don’t have an assistant, pay one of your children to do it. It’s a great way to get them into the entrepreneurial experience. Childless? Do it yourself on Sunday night, put them in stacks of 10 with rubber bands around them and write the day of the week on them.
Your task is to write a quick, one- or two-sentence note on each card and then send out all 50 cards that week, 10 per day.
You should send the cards out to anyone and everyone. These include fellow professionals and referral sources, your clients, old clients who haven’t heard from you in years, prospective clients, and the person you saw in the elevator last week, your minister or priest, to anyone you’d like to meet and to anyone you recently met.

How many network events have you gone to this week that you may never call or even scan into your database or add to your e-mail list? This old fashioned way of correspondence is a great “new” way to communicate and get the word out, connect with people and “hello,”—form relationships. Personally I always open a hand written hand stamped envelope. Even if it’s one more invitation to a charity event! I always open that note card or invitation. From the time I was ten I have always loved to get mail.

Take this a step further. Go and buy a copy of your local newspaper. In the business section there is usually a page or so devoted to announcements–who has been appointed, who has been promoted, who received an award, who attended an event, etc. It may take a little doing but get their address and send them a congratulation note.

Send every one of these people a note. When you are finished with your ten notes a day, five days a week, you will have 2,600 personal touches back in the 1960s; a car salesman in Detroit was something of a legend in the world of automobile sales. One year, he made $200,000, at a time when the chairman of General Motors was earning a salary of $125,000. When interviewed about his outstanding success, very little about him seemed remarkable. One of his habits seemed strange, however. Every month he sent out 13,000 postcards.

Each one said the same thing: “I like you.” Asked why he did this, he replied, “I just want folks to know I like ‘em.” If you send out 50 cards a week, you will send out 2,600 cards each year. That’s 2,600 personal touches that will give someone an overwhelmingly positive impression of you. Here’s a great idea, also put your business card inside so that when they are thoroughly impressed, they can call you.
Many will mention it or show it to someone else. You do the math. Weekly cost: about $25 in cards and postage. If you send out 50 cards a week, you will send out 2,600 cards each year. If you are a three AM person like me and forget to mail your mail even the utility bills sometimes, then you can use a service like Send Out Cars, for under $1.00, including postage, you can personalize the card and Send Out Cards will send it for you.

Tip Two—A Welcome Sign

You heard me!
A warm welcome Have a welcome sign in your lobby. No matter what business you are in, you are in the relationship business. Your relationship with your clients and potential clients begins in earnest when they step through your door. A welcome sign demonstrates the importance you place on your relationship with that client or prospect, your attention to detail, and the courtesy each person can expect from your entire organization. Years ago, I remember a sign in someone’s office that said, “Through these doors pass the finest people in the world, our Customers.” You know thirty years later I am not sure I remember the name of that business, but I remember how the sign made me feel. Today, much older and wiser and more cogniscent of things like that, I would remember the business. A simple sign that can be purchased at most office-supply stores for less than $85 can make your prospects and clients feel special. Kinko’s or Staples or other stores will personalize it for you for that price.

How many times a year do you think people will echo my sentiments of telling you, “That sign makes me feel special.” For a few dollars and very little effort, you can demonstrate your commitment from the very first moment you meet with someone and for each visit thereafter.

Gift Certificates

For under a $100.00 you can print a special gift certificate. Make sure it’s graphically impressive. Many of my clients use one that looks like a dollar bill, but you can make it in any denomination you want. The gift certificate entitles the potential client to a one-hour planning session (or consultation, or evaluation). Whenever the opportunity presents itself–at a seminar or a networking event, or simply when you meet a prospect–give him a gift certificate. However, I suggest you write two things on the certificate: the person’s name (the certificate is nontransferable), and an expiration date (usually in three weeks). This is because you are giving a workshop next month and all your available free consultations soon will be taken. The gift certificate helps you overcome a number of challenges.

First, one of the biggest obstacles of marketing a professional service is that the service is invisible and intangible. The gift certificate gives form to something you do, something you offer. Another problem you usually face is procrastination on the part of the client. The gift certificate creates a perceived shortage (of your time) and a sense of urgency (he has to use it in the next three weeks). It capitalizes on those two great human motivators–fear (”I might lose out if I don’t make the appointment̶, this gift certificate expires in three weeks and greed (”I can get a $500 planning session for no cost.”).

Finally, the certificate helps you create an emotional bond that is far more important than any demonstration of expertise. People do not perceive the certificate as a sales effort; they see it as a gift. Cost: approximately $78.00 for 200, four-color gift certificates. Give yourself a break and have them printed up professionally.

Now go on, put at least one of these on your "to-do list." If you do not, an organizer friend of mind, Deirdra Gross of Makk Strategies says, “If you don’t schedule time on your to-do-list “to do-it,” it won’t get done.”

Any part of this blog may be reproduced with the following information:
© Joanne Quinn-Smith, Dreamweaver Marketing Associates, 412-628-5048
Host: Monday Morning Marketeer, listen 9 AM every Monday for fifteen minutes of free or low cost marketing tips for your business.
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