Marketing is something many people don't like to do, but it can be as creative and as much fun as actually making the baskets. And no matter how clever and attractive your baskets are, they won't sell themselves--you need to market them.
According to Gift Basket Review magazine, the preferred types of advertising among established gift basket businesses are networking/word-of-mouth; telephone directory (Yellow Pages listing); direct mail; brochures; and newspaper advertising.
There's probably no business where customer service works better as a marketing tool than in gift baskets. You'll have a lot of opportunity to interact with your customers; take advantage of each contact to demonstrate your superior service. Then take it a step further. For example, one business owner we know sends handwritten thank-you notes to new customers, customers she hasn't heard from in a while, and customers who place special orders.
Here are other ways you can market your business:
- Carry a handful of brochures and business cards to hand to people in elevators, hallways and even on the street who will stop and comment on the basket you're carrying.
- When you meet someone with the potential to become a good customer, send them a complimentary basket with your brochure and several business cards.
- Rewarding customer referrals with a discount or small gift can be a smart investment--one that builds client relations and encourages future referrals.
- Christine M. periodically schedules a day to make cold calls in industrial parks or office buildings. She takes a brochure, her business card and any pertinent seasonal information, and visits as many businesses as she can.
- Be sure gift basket recipients know how to reach you when they need to send a gift by including your company name and telephone number in or on every basket you prepare at least three times.
- Help your customers find reasons to send gift baskets by promoting lesser-known holidays. Just about every occupation has a "day" to honor it.
- Direct-mail advertising is an excellent tool for gift basket businesses. One business owner sends a postcard to her entire database at the beginning of every month. If there's a holiday during that month, the card focuses on gift ideas for that holiday. If it's a no-holiday month, the card might focus on birthdays or an area of her business that's been slow.