28 Low Cost Ways To Get Customers, Part 3

June 25, 2009

By Matt Michel

21. Pay Referral Bounties To Independent Retailers
Joe Girard was listed in the Guinness Book of World Records as the “World’s Greatest Salesperson.”  Girard sold an average of more than 850 cars per year for 15 consecutive years.  He personally sold more cars than 90% of U.S. dealerships sold at the time he retired from sales.  That was some serious closing.
Girard didn’t sell three cars a day by waiting for people to stroll into the dealership.  Girard had to go get them.  Rather, Girard had to get others to go get them.  And that’s just what he did.  He created a referral network among local retailers, whom he called his “birddogs.” 
He gave local retailers and service companies small signs to display in their businesses.  The signs suggested people ask the owner where they could get a good deal on a new car.  When the retailer’s customer asked, the customer would be given one of Joe Girard’s business cards with the retailer’s name written on the back. 

The retailer would then call Joe with the customer present and tell Girard he was sending so-and-so over.  Joe enforced this step to close the loop so that he would be sure the give proper credit for the referral.  It also practically obligated the customer to come see him.

Girard took care of the people referred to him.  He also took care of the retailers making the referrals.  He paid them a cash bounty for the referrals. 

You can do the same thing.  Pay people for referrals.  Make it lucrative to give them sufficient incentive.  Give them small display signs and lots of business cards.  Tell them to call you with the customer present.  It’s a far stronger referral.

22.  Print Pocket Schedules For Performing Groups
My wife has performed with the local community theater.  A fair number of people support the theater.  They support the non-profit.  They volunteer.  They perform.  They attend performances.  They bring their friends.  Whenever there is a performance, a network of people tell their friends. 

Word of mouth marketing and blurbs in the local paper appear to be the sum total of the theater’s marketing efforts.  Yet, they sell out.
Give them marketing material.  Get the performance schedule and print it on business cards or other pocket calendars.  At the bottom, note that your company is sponsoring the pocket schedule.  Include you logo, USP, phone number, and website. 
The community theater will take anything anyone wants to provide for free.  So will the community chamber orchestra, the high school choir, the band, and secondary sports teams. 
If you would like a tracking loop, run a line offering a discount if the patron brings a copy of the playbill or event ticket.  “Save your playbill!  You can save $25 off a service call when you present your theater playbill.  It’s our way of supporting the people who support the theater.”

23. Spiff Large Company Maintenance Department Personnel
One of your Joe Girard type birddogs should be the maintenance department personnel for large companies or buildings.  People in the company assume that a mechanic in the building knows who the good mechanical contractors are in the town. 

He deals with commercial companies, so there’s no logical reason to believe he has any special knowledge or insight about residential companies.  Since people are illogical, the assumption is there.

Visit maintenance personnel.  Give them a stack of cards and add them to your referral network.

24. Sponsor 5K Races
In most parts of the country, 5K and bike races are held nearly every week.  Where I live, it’s a choice of which race.  Usually there are several each Saturday and each Sunday. 
Register for a race and you will be presented with a “race packet.”  Typically, the race packet is a plastic bag that includes your race t-shirt, your bib (i.e., you number), safety pins for attaching the bib, a few coupons, and maybe even some sample PowerBars. 
The race organizers like stuffing material into the race packets.  The more things they can give away or offer, the more attractive the race appears to entrants.  Give them coupons or gift certificates with your company and they are likely to include them in the race packet. 
They won’t charge you.  You’re helping.  In fact, some second tier races might even make you a sponsor if you donate gift certificates (which are really just coupons under another name).  Sponsors get their names on the back of the shirts.
I’ve sponsored races for as little as $250.  It got my company listed on a race brochure, at the race, and printed on the back of t-shirts.  I wasn’t doing it for exposure, but to support the race.  However, it’s not bad exposure, especially for $250.
25. Sponsor Community Email Lists
Spam has made group email communication difficult.  At the Service Roundtable, we spend a healthy five figure chuck of change to ensure our email is white hatted, certified spam free, and delivered.  It also takes management time to constantly clean the lists.  We’re set up to do it.  Most companies are not.  Certainly, many community groups are not.
So sponsor a third party service for a community group.  There are a number of third party email services (Constant Contact is one that comes immediately to mind) who follow somewhat similar procedures to ours.  Sponsor an email newsletter using one of these services and include a header or footer note about your sponsorship, including a Link to your website.
26. Take Out Classified Ads That Direct People To Your Website
Newspaper advertising can be expensive.  Depending upon your product, one way around the expense is to advertise in the classified section.  Make a statement related to the section and give people a website Link.  The Link should go to a special promotion page on your site. 
Typically, classified ad promotions are savings related.  For example, you might promote “Home Water Purification Systems Installed For $X – Learn more at www.website.com/ropromo.htm
27. Use Yard Signs
Yard signs are one of those obvious things everyone knows they should do, but often fail to do.  Yard signs work to help create a neighborhood presence.  You are communicating to the neighbors of your customer that you have neighborhood expertise, that others use you, and that you can be trusted.  It reinforces a neighborhood marketing campaign (e.g., mail to the neighbors surrounding each sale).
While yard signs are rarely than they should be, neighborhood marketing campaigns are even rarer.  Usually, the yard sign stands alone.  And usually the yard sign is little more than a company’s name and logo.  Ho hum.  Yaaaaawwn.
If you want people to notice it, to give the yard sign a second thought, ask a question that pertains to prospects.  “Asthma?  Allergies?  We can help!”
Make a bold statement related to the product you’re installing.  “We’re getting a water purification system…  We’ll get bottled water so cheap we can give it to your dog!”
As long as you’re going to go to the effort to place yard signs, make sure you spend sufficiently to communicate the right message.  A worn out or cheap yard sign is like driving a beat up truck.  Keep your logo off it so people don’t associate the sign or heap with your company and business practices.

28. Add Brochure Boxes To Yard Signs 
Long ago, realtors figured out that yard signs can be used to distribute literature.  People don’t have to remember or write down the information.  It’s in a sales sheet.
You can use a brochure box as well.  Attach a brochure box or tube to your yard sign and stuff it with literature you want the neighbors of your customer to see.  Tell people what you sell.  Run a special offer or promotion.  Give people a reason to buy from your company.

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

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