Real estate consultant George Allen calls it "the most underutilized marketing tool in American enterprise." Is it the Internet? Human billboards? Actually, it's something virtually every business already has.
It's the back of your business card--and it's just waiting to be called into action. Allen, whose Indianapolis-based company, GFA Management, specializes in the development and operation of manufactured home communities, prints a loan amortization chart and a return-on-investment formula on the flip side of his business card. This makes Allen's card so indispensable that recipients rarely throw it away. "A lot of people have told me the only two cards they carry are theirs and mine," Allen says.
Bravo, but what if you're not in real estate? Allen, who plans to write a book on the subject, recommends the following:
- a useful chart, or graph;
- a calendar;
- a map of your location;
- a product photo;
- a memorable quote;
- a coupon;
- your mission statement; or
- a glossary of industry terms.
Gayle Sato Stodder covers entrepreneurship for various publications. She lives and works in Redondo Beach, California.
Follow The Lead
Your marketing efforts have led your clients to water: Sales leads are plentiful. What next? If yours is like many companies, says M.H. "Mac" McIntosh, founder of The Mac McIntosh Co. Inc., a Redondo Beach, California, sales and marketing firm, too many of those leads go to waste.
How? "Salespeople tend to concentrate on the leads most likely to buy now," says McIntosh. "They don't want to spend time on the longer-term [leads]."
According to a study by McIntosh's firm, 72 percent of buyers in the manufacturing sector take more than six months to buy--and 47 percent take more than a year. If your salespeople are neglecting longer-term prospects, they're wasting marketing dollars.
McIntosh urges entrepreneurs to make inquiries to their own companies incognito, then track the results. Do you receive the information you requested? Does your company follow up? Also, make the same request of your competitors and compare. [For more investigation strategies, see "Guerrilla Marketing," December 1997.]
You can improve your company's marketing by examining your procedures to qualify leads, optimizing the flow of leads and establishing better programs to stay in touch with prospects. McIntosh also performs a service called a "sales lead audit," designed to show companies where their programs fall flat--and how to coax prospects into finally taking that drink.
Tricks Of The Trade
Ready And Waiting
What's better than picking up your adoring children after a long day at day care? Try the adoring children plus a steaming hot dinner. This was the premise behind Parents Night Off, a promotion cooked up by three Avon, Ohio-area entrepreneurs--Wayne Jablonski of True Connections concierge service, Jody Samanich of Diamond Child day-care center and Jim DePaul of the Savannah Bar & Grille.
The concept was simple: Parents dropped off their dinner orders with the kids and found their meals--and kids--waiting for them in the evening.
The real benefit of Parents Night Off was its promotional value. "It helped introduce people to Jim's restaurant, and it provided Jody with a way to enhance her day-care service," Jablonski says. "And I was able to pick up leads by talking to [parents] during deliveries." The trio also got a fair amount of press, including stories in Cleveland magazine and the Cleveland newspaper Plain Dealer, as well as local TV coverage.
After several months, Parents Night Off was phased out, but similar future plans are in the works.
"With a service like mine, print ads and conventional marketing aren't very effective," Jablonski says. "But if I talk with people one-on-one, invariably someone says `Hey, I can use that service.' And if I can help my business clients in the process of networking, that's a win for everyone."
GFA Management Inc., P.O. Box 47024, Indianapolis, IN 46247, (317) 888-7156
The Mac McIntosh Co. Inc., (310) 376-1221, http://www.salesleadexperts.com
Savannah Bar & Grille, (440) 892-2266
True Connections, (800) 937-6217