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Beat the Competition

High quality and sound marketing work as well as lowering your prices.

Q: I'm having trouble marketing my business. I currently own a small print and copy shop, much like a Mail Boxes Etc. My store is located inside a grocery store that has high-volume traffic. I have a lot of competition in the neighborhood, and they'll slash their prices to make a sale. We offer great service and quality in a medium-price range. How do I market my business to reach the local businesses vs. the general public? I'm also upgrading to digital and need to promote this service.

A: It sounds like you have a wonderful, high-volume location where you provide consumer customers top service and high quality. It's easy to understand why they're willing to pay a bit more rather than shop around for bargain prices thanks to the convenience your location offers.

As you begin your marketing program to build sales from local businesses, it's important to stay with your strengths. Focus on the reason your current customers use your services-convenience not price. When making purchase decisions, buyers generally place value above other considerations. So while your competitors continue to slash their prices to make a sale, why not offer something they don't? You could provide free pickup and delivery for area businesses within a five-mile radius. This would add value to your already high-quality service and allow you to offer your business as well as consumer customers the convenient service you're known for.

To add a personal dimension to the launch of your newly expanded business services, I suggest you make the rounds of select area businesses to introduce yourself, and leave a business card with literature announcing the new pickup and delivery services as well as your digital upgrade. Then rent a list of all targeted businesses within a five-mile radius for an ongoing direct-mail program. Try large, color postcards that stand out in the mail and allow you to showcase your printing capabilities; avoid long, wordy brochures. Use your direct-mail campaign to offer special promotions that induce new business customers to try your services and keep existing ones coming back for more. Mail at least three times to the same list, and track your results in order to fine-tune your campaign as well as offer rewards to your best business customers.

Kim Gordon is the owner of National Marketing Federation and is a multifaceted marketing expert, speaker, author and media spokesperson. Her latest book is Maximum Marketing, Minimum Dollars.
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