By: Michael Cooney
From time to time, every business large or small needs to light a fire under its sales efforts. These versatile, relatively easy methods can be used successfully regardless of your company’s size. And if you believe, as I do, that many sales arms are better than just one or two, then you may want to make these a permanent part of your marketing efforts.
Sell Pieces of Paper for $100 (also known as Gift Certificates)
I’m constantly amazed by how many businesses don’t offer this fun and effective sales-getter. First, you have nothing to lose by offering gift certificates. It doesn’t matter if you’re a stockbroker or a dentist (teeth whitening?) or a retailer—you can benefit by allowing your clients to use their imaginations in deciding how to use them. Second, it’s pre-sold business, which helps cash flow. Third, it’s a great way to get new customers. Some of your certificates will be given to people who haven’t dealt with you before, and will now have a most enjoyable way of getting acquainted!
Here’s what I recommend: Let your client decide the amount—no minimums, no maximums—rather than pre-printing them in a few denominations. If you printed them in $10 and $25 denominations, and your client is in a generous mood and wants to give $500 worth to his wife, why make him wait while you fill out 20 certificates? You’ll sell larger denominations if you let your client dictate the amount. Also, please don’t print expiration dates on them. Doing so only creates ill will, and is unfair to the purchaser.
Have a new product or service? Try this. Have your top salesperson script and record his best five-minute pitch for your new or under-publicized product. Think of all the ways it can be used: Mail it to clients as a pre-sales-call interest builder. Or send it to pave the way for a first phone call. Give it out at trade shows. Mention it in your ads as a response generator. See how versatile it is?
Next, whatever else you do, make SURE you do this: Print plainly on the cassette’s label that it is a five-minute presentation. I can’t tell you how many cassettes I receive and throw away every month because I don’t know if it is going to require five minutes or fifty minutes of my time. Five minutes I have. But if I don’t know the time requirement in advance, I assume it’s the typical 30 or 40-minute presentation and I don’t bother. Also, include your contact information on the label and at the end of the recorded message for easy follow-up.
Newsletters—the Lost Goldmine of Profits
No matter what industry you’re in, there’s at least one, and probably several, newsletters serving those interested in your field.
So, how do you mine them? By remembering three important truths about newsletters: They are highly focused on a particular market. They are often more "accessible" for your submissions than larger publications. And they are usually much less expensive for placing advertising.
If you advertise in a newspaper, you’re paying to reach a readership where, depending on your product or service, only one percent to ten percent may ever be in the market for your offering. This is not true, of course, if your product is food or clothing or cars. Otherwise, you may be paying for wasted readership. With newsletters, however, 80 to 100 percent of the readership will be highly interested in what you are offering—as long as you pick an appropriate newsletter.
You can do two things: advertise, or submit an article. Either way, you’re reaching a market keenly focused on what you have to say, which makes for highly desirable prospects in both consumer and commercial applications. Whether advertising or submitting an article, call the publication and find its requirements for either. Some may also accept news releases, which gives you a third option.
Here are two directories that carry descriptions and contact information for thousands of newsletters: Newsletters in Print (by Gale Research) and Oxbridge Directory of Newsletters (by Oxbridge Communications, Inc.). The Pasadena Central Library has Oxbridge in its reference section. If you’d like a copy for yourself, it runs about $445.
I hope you’ll try at least one of these three fast business builders, and let me know how you’re doing. Since my list of "fast ideas" contains 30 more examples, perhaps I can tackle a few more in a future article. Till then, good hunting!
Michael Cooney, co-founder, Global Development, a marketing and advertising consulting group