28 Low Cost Ways To Get Customers, Part 1

May 1, 2009

By Matt Michel

1. Accept Trade-Ins
Every spring one of the last remaining independent hardware stories in the area runs a special.  Bring your old mower and they’ll give you $100 trade-in. 
You mean, you would really give me hundred bucks for this old thing?  No kidding?
The hardware store’s got guys like me figured out.  As long as I can get the old mower to start, I’ll be darned if I’ll get a new one.  It’s like leaving food on your plate when there are starving children in the third world (oh, and for the record, broccoli doesn’t count as food).
If the hardware store offers me a hundred dollar discount, it doesn’t motivate me to take action.  As long as my mower still runs, it’s wasteful to get rid of it.  But… give me a hundred dollars for it and I’m thrilled.  I’m going to pat myself on the back about how smart I was to get money for my old mower.
Offer trade-ins for old equipment.  Give the trade-in a sense of urgency by limiting the trade-in to old equipment that’s still working.
2. Advertise In Church Newsletters
Most churches, and all large churches, mail newsletters to members.  The newsletters are better read than your typical newspaper, and most carry advertising.  The advertising is surprisingly affordable and the newsletters’ readers are inclined to buy from newsletter advertisers, assuming they are members of, or supporters of the church.  By advertising in the newsletter, you are supporting the church.
Advertise in every church newsletter you can.  At the very least, advertise in the newsletters for the churches your employees attend.
3. Advertise In HOA Newsletters
Many homeowners associations (HOAs) also have newsletters.  Few companies advertise in HOA newsletters and the companies that do, signal the neighborhood that they are area specialists. 
Usually the local town hall contains information on HOAs.  See if you can get a listing of the presidents and ask about advertising opportunities.
4. Advertise In Political Newsletters
People who are active in local politics tend to be well connected, centers of influence.  Most are also well-heeled.  Usually, political club newsletters are inexpensive advertising venues and because of the clout of their members, strategic advertising opportunities.
Your politics should not matter when placing advertising.  You may support one side or the other, but you should advertise wherever there are buyers.
5. Barter
Dick called me to tell about his new television spot.  It was good.  I asked how much it cost him to produce it and he said it was only a few hours of labor.  He bartered for it.
Another friend traded some consulting for a year’s worth of sponsorships of National Public Radio’s Marketplace, a high quality, drive-time business oriented radio program.  It was the perfect way to promote his consulting business among local decision makers, yet one he could probably not have afforded otherwise.
If you can’t afford to advertise, consider bartering for it.  You might be surprised how receptive media outlets can be.
6. Buy Remnant Advertising
Remnant advertising in unsold inventory.  It’s ad space a magazine or newspaper didn’t sell, so they used filler.  It’s unsold broadcast time the radio or TV station fills with public service announcements.  Often, it’s available for sale at sharply reduced prices.
You cannot plan on remnant ads.  You can let the media sources you advertise with know that you are interested.  Existing advertisers tend to get first crack.
When get a call about remnant space, it will be last minute.  You need to be ready to move, which means you need stock advertising, ready to go.
7. Clip And Mail Newspaper Features
Read your local newspaper and business journal with a pair of scissors.  Cut out feature articles about people and mail them a copy with a business card and note attached.  It’s a thoughtful action that’s too rare today.  It’s power is in it’s rarity.  You will stand out.  You will be noticed.
8. Cloverleaf Door Hangers
I’m not sure why it’s so hard to get service personnel to distribute door hangers to homes surrounding a service call.  It only takes a few minutes to place a “we were in your neighborhood” doorhanger with a magnet and possibly a coupon.  Done consistently, this simple action will generate thousands of impressions.
If your technicians average four service calls per day, placing one doorhanger on each side of a customer and three across the street will result in 5,000 impressions per year per technician.  Placing two on each side and five across will generate 9,000 impressions.
9. Create Ego Brochures For Employees
An ego brochure is a brochure about the employee making the sale or delivering the service.  It’s turning the employee into a company or company division of one. 
The ego brochure outlines a person’s background, credentials, philosophy of service, and presents reasons why a customer would want to do business with the person.  It can also humanize someone by sharing a little about the employee personally, indicating hobbies, clubs, and other organizations.  This presents customers with connection points, where the customer might find a common interest that would otherwise remain undiscovered.  The common interest strengthens the relationship between the employee and company.
Of course, the brochure should also position and promote the company.  For a three panel brochure (six panels total), at least one panel should be devoted to the company.
Ego brochures help employees feel better about themselves, their jobs, and the company.  The brochure follows the classic sales approach of selling the employee first, company second, and solution third.  It further personalizes the relationship between the customer and employee, enhancing the potential for identifying connection points.
10. Double Dollars Off With Savings Bonds
When I worked as a marketing consultant, I once slipped a question into a survey about the attraction of savings bonds.  I asked whether people would rather receive a $50.00 savings bond or $37.50 cash.  The savings bond was preferred two to one.  Amazing.  The cash value of a $50.00 savings bond is $25.00.
Savings bonds are money at half price.  Offering savings bonds in lieu of dollars off allows you to double your money.  Plus, savings bonds hold special appeal to older homeowners, who can pass them along to their grandchildren.

Source: Comanche Marketing. Reprinted by permission.
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Copyright © 2008 Matt Michel

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