Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Tricks for the Frugal Budget!

Small start-up businesses don’t usually have the money to launch huge advertising campaigns in multiple media formats. In fact, even if you are already in business, chances are you don’t have an extensive cash allotment set aside for promotion, or you’ve tried many different advertising approaches and haven’t hit on a really successful campaign yet. Believe me, you aren’t alone!

Advertising can be extremely expensive. Despite ample funding, even large national companies often find it difficult to develop successful advertising campaigns. And, with an increasing number of companies advertising through every imaginable communication outlet, it is becoming increasingly hard to attract the attention of consumers.

There are other approaches to promotion. They generally require less money to apply and are often more effective. The only catch is that they require time and imagination to develop.

You don’t have to distribute coupons in print advertising or in big direct mail campaigns. You can hand them out on the street corner, at trade shows, real estate offices or just about anyplace else. You can send a few to your best customers, or you can include “next purchase” coupons in customer orders.

Coupons are easy to design and print because their selling point is price, not image. To assure your chances of getting an additional sale or establishing an ongoing relationship with your customers, make your coupon offer extremely generous.

People love contests. They even love to see other people win! Just check out the extraordinary success of game shows on television. If you choose to develop a promotional contest, make it with fun, make it silly, and don’t forget to really talk it up. If your contest is crazy and different enough, you should be able to get good media coverage—and remember, this is essentially free advertising!

People love to receive something for free, even if they have to pay a premium price for a more expensive item to get the freebie. Don’t ask why! It doesn’t make sense, but it doesn’t have to, as long as you make money. While this technique has been used most successfully in the beauty and cosmetics industry, it can be used in almost any business endeavor. It isn’t unheard of to see deals such as a free computer desktop with the purchase of a higher-priced notebook computer or, even a free subcompact car with the purchase of a full-price luxury sedan!

Frequent Buyers
Frequent-buyer programs can be very powerful tools for building loyal customers for both retail and service businesses. The more widespread approach is to give customers a card that is marked after each purchase and results in a free or reduced-price product or service offering after a specified number of regular-priced purchases. For example, ten haircuts may gets you one free haircut. Another approach is to give regular customers a discount on purchases upon presentation of their “Frequent Buyer” discount card.

Some businesses charge a small fee for their frequent-buyer cards. Others tie freebies or discount levels to purchase volume. For example, after buying 5 tours from a virtual tour provider the agent might receive a free tour. After spending $250 you might receive 10 percent off your next purchase of $25 or more.

Hosting a special event in your business establishment, such as a celebrity appearance or a charity fundraiser, is a terrific way to introduce people to your business or maintain contact with existing customers. It also will create an aura of excitement and goodwill. You may even obtain media coverage! You can also sponsor a local event to gain exposure. For example, Real Vision Studio of Metropolitan Detroit sponsored a client appreciation event for Coldwell Banker at the Woodward Dream Cruise. They gained new clients due to that exposure.

You don’t have to be a movie producer or own an international fast-food chain to cross-promote your product with another business. You might consider offering free tickets to the local theater with each purchase of a particular item or price level. Another great business-to-business cross-promotion might be to offer free tickets to a ball game to any business willing to invest fifteen minutes of time just to listen to your sales pitch.

Ever notice the ads for car washes on taxi cabs? Car washes don’t pay cash for these advertisements! They get the exposure in exchange for cleaning the taxis every so often. If you are absolutely sold on developing an advertising campaign, remember that smaller media venues will sometimes accept products/services in lieu of payment. Barter Perk: Ever wanted to take that awesome vacation at that little Bed & Breakfast or that fabulous houseboat trip, but could never afford it…. Barter your product/services for the trip or stay. For example, the owners of Real Vision Studio of Metropolitan Detroit wanted to take a houseboat trip in Tennessee. They contacted several companies and offered their services (virtual tours) in exchange for a trip. Low and behold, they had some takers. To date they have been on 3 bartered houseboat trips which in turn gained them new clients due to the exposure of those virtual tours.

You’re probably wondering how you can make money if you give away product! It’s really a lot easier and less costly than advertising. In actuality, giveaways have their place in just about every type of business.

Selling business-to-business, you can generate goodwill with the people you choose—your best customers or a select roster of potential clientele—by intermittently giving them a small gift when you call on them. The giveaway should not be so expensive that a feeling of bribery is conveyed, but nice enough that it doesn’t end up trashed the minute you leave.

For consumer service businesses, you may want to offer your product for free trial periods, or offer free estimates if you are in a service-oriented business.

New customer offers
Attracting new customers is one of the most difficult marketing challenges to achieve. That’s why different businesses—national manufacturers to local delivery services—offer incentive pricing, freebies, or extra advertising allowances for new customers. Even lawyers customarily offer a free first consultation.

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