Make Noise--Even Shout--To Win Sales

Stay on your customers'--and media's--radar with newsletters, press releases, and contests.

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In my last column, I talked about the counter-productivity of overdoing it. But many of us lose our initial enthusiasm for our business and we "under do" it. You, your company or your product should be on customers' minds regularly. People aren't likely to think about buying from you if they're not thinking about you at all. So how do you keep your name on the tip of their tongues?

To start, regular e-newsletters are a must; just keep your language precise and interesting so your newsletter is less likely to get deleted. Press releases are another must. Every few weeks I send one, using one of the big release services. Press releases keep you on the media's mind (they have a short attention span and need to be reminded regularly of your existence).

I used to think that appearing on TV once or landing a large radio show would solve all of my problems, and my only concern in life would be how to spend all of my money. Well, I've appeared on TV and solid radio shows more times than I can count. And no one appearance has led to a windfall--this is a Hollywood delusion, because that concept is the stuff of movies.

Keep priming the pump; don't stop communicating with customers. If a business suddenly goes silent, that can be unnerving to customers and to media contacts. You want to be seen as consistent. When sending your press releases and communicating with customers, remember this: It's better to be a bit too loud than not to be heard at all.

One e-commerce site I have been falling in love with lately uses a number of "loud" ways to keep me hooked. Not only does it offer regular deep discounts on a few of its products (which is calls "time bombs"), but it also runs a weekly contest that gives away a high-quality watch to one lucky person. There's no ulterior motive--the site doesn't send you a thousand annoying e-mails after you submit your entry. As a result, I keep coming back to enter my name, and while I'm there I see products that interest me.

Regardless of your business type, contests are another great way to make lots of noise. Almost everyone loves competition, and everyone loves the possibility of a freebie. Launch contests through your newsletters and announce them in your press releases. This gives local media something to cover and encourages customers to read those newsletters.

To sum up: Keep your customers on their toes, and occasionally scream at the top of your lungs. Try daring promotions like the "time bomb," where a product is listed at a deep discount for a short amount of time. A bored customer is not a repeat customer.

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