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Our ConnectionS sales and marketing consulting group develops business plans, marketing plans and sales strategies. Our client centered approach has made companies attractive, improved sales, and made budgets more efficient for 105 people and corporations since 1972.
99 IDEAS for Business and Life
Welcome to 99 IDEAS. Since 1972, we've worked to keep clients' businesses effective with methods that are creative and cost-efficient.
We keep this list fresh to inspire your new ideas for building your business whether you're a service, distribution or retail company. You'll discover new ways to keep your business mission fresh and growing as you read....
Whatever you do for fun, put your business name on it - bicycle, jogging clothes, car, RV, motorcycle, whatever!
Talk to people (at least 10 per day, every day, according to direct marketing experts).
Weave networks. Invite friends from one area of your life to share in others: fellow joggers to Toastmasters, business colleagues to go rock climbing.
Do the same to nurture business referrals.
"...the customer economy is by no means about the Net, the Web, or IT in general; rather, it's about a sense of commitment and vision to delivering what customers want and need instead of what your company has happened to make or sell in the past."--Bob Evans, in the Jan. 8, 2001 issue of Information Week. www.informationweek.com3>
Have a local organization do something at your business location to promote a good cause.
Promote an event–-even something inexpensive but well-publicized-—for charity.
Get your customers' kids involved—a contest, a tour, sponsor a miniature golf tournament.
Treat your employees, suppliers and customers with respect. Recognize and support their interests, their contributions, and their needs. Abraham Maslow said it. Chip Conley used the concept to build a great
San Francisco hotel.
Do something newsworthy—and tell the press about it!
Teach a seminar or workshop through your local school, college, or chamber of commerce.
Be a guest on local radio, television or community-access TV.
"You don't always have to hold your head higher than your heart."
--Jack Johnson, Hope, 20073>
"We're in the business of engineering time."--FedEx CIO Rob Carter, quoted in the Jan. 12, 2004 issue of Information Week. www.informationweek.com3>
Visibility is important. Even if you are not a retail store, good relationships are good for business.
Promote periodic Green or Red Tag sales—special items throughout your web site, store, or even your warehouse.
Location. Location. Location. Consider moving to gain a better location.
Make sure that you truly are convenient to your customers. Can you deliver? Set up a satellite location?
Show your customers that you understand them when they ask for service...or when they have a problem with your service.
Plan your use of couponing, you can make money on every coupon redeemed for an offer too good for customers to resist!
Advertise "no coupon needed for these great prices" sales...just to be different!
Absolutely: Keep a mailing list.
Joint promotions with allied businesses and services will save you time and money, as well as attract a wider customer base!
Co-op mail can stretch your direct mail budget and reach new people.
Inserts in local papers still work for big, motivating promotions when you want to add excitement to your campaign.
Work with your pricing to create attractive and intriguing deals. "Buy one, get a half-price certificate for your next purchase."
Give flowers to customers...especially on delivery of an expensive product or service.
Set up a Kids' Corner in your store or office lobby. You can just entertain, or you can teach customers' children about the business you're in—shoes, computers, electricity.
"...And the one poor child who saved the world + There's 10 million more who probably could + If we all just stopped and said a prayer for them..."
--John Rzeznik, Better Days, 2005, from The Goo Goo Dolls, "Let Love In", 20063>
Partner with a nearby travel agency, grocery store, cleaning service—nearly any kind of business—to help them add customers by offering special incentives to your customers.
Offer valet service, or package carry-out service.
Participate in your community. Support what you like.
A reputation is easier to keep than to repair.
Telemarketing can be as simple as calling your good customers to announce a new service or product.
Database marketing means focusing on individuals rather than groups of buyers.
Remember to SMILE.
Don't overlook the "second language" market. It's a large and rapidly growing segment of population—advertising in their "home" language is 5 to 10 times more effective than English even though they may speak and read English adequately.
Every customer is a brand new event. Don't let the previous one affect your attitude toward new ones.
"You never get a second opportunity to make a good first impression."—Cavett Robert
Collect customers' business cards for a monthly drawing and build your database!
Be sure you and your employees are generous with business cards. They are inexpensive "billboards."
Make sure your business card says what you do.
Referrals! They're the reward of every business that has matured into an expansion phase. But don't wait for customers and associates to think of it themselves. Tell them you want their friends as customers, too.
Train employees completely. The GAP stores accentuate customer service and product knowledge, suggesting added purchases, and asking for the sale. Think of stores you've walked out of because you weren't served.
"Time is a thief when you're undecided."--Rod Stewart, Young Turks
INVEST in a BANNER...for your promotions or product news.
Make every ad promote something. Even institutional ads can make selling points about your business.
In print ads, always include a map of how to get to your place. In broadcast, when you give an address, also give a locator: "across from the Big Bank," "Between First and Second streets."
Create calendar-synchronized events—trees for Arbor Day, flowers or jewelry for Mother's Day, framed photos for Grandparents Day, etc. Don't overlook the obscure occasions—people'll remember your timely and HELPFUL promotions.
Redo windows often—make things NEW! So customers will TAKE A LOOK!
Always have a promotional item (doesn't have to be a loss).
Cross-sell more products and services to existing customers.
Make your location a recycling drop, or a post office, a Western Union or UPS or copy center, notary—anything that generates foot traffic—if it pays for itself, so much the better!
Be consistent and reliable.
Adjust your hours to suit the community you serve.
"...And when you get the choice to sit it out or dance, I hope you dance."
--Lee Ann Womack, I Hope You Dance, 20003>
Be as eager to succeed with somebody else's ideas as you are with your own.
Promote a solid guarantee. Make it no-risk, "money-back-plus," or parts and labor. Make it longer than usual—45 days, a full year, or forever! Write it out in enough detail to show your customer what they're getting.
Every employee works in your customer service department. Develop business-building customer service by keeping employees well informed about your company goals, services and abilities; by focusing on problem-solving; and by encouraging your staff to contribute new customer service ideas.
Take a break from stress by imagining how your favorite cartoon character might handle the same situation.
Meet with your staff for five minutes each day for a month. Ask what they did yesterday and what they have planned for today. This way, they'll develop the habit of planning their work.
Collect a customer base. Build a customer loyalty program. Promote sales with variations on the "frequent flier" idea—increased discounts for higher purchase levels, special incentives for good customers.
Improve retail sales in your store. Always say "Hi" to customers as soon as you see them. Ask if you can help them find what they're looking for. Try to suggest additional merchandise that will help them. Use signs and displays to do the same things.
Use basic telemarketing to improve sales and service.
Get business back from former customers.
A satisfied customer will tell five people about you. A dissatisfied customer will tell ten. Think about it.
It takes $10 of new business to replace $1 of lost business, according to Tom Peters.
"The future is no better place to place your better days."
--Dave Matthews, Cry Freedom, 1993, 19963>
Buy a van or even some other inexpensive vehicle. Custom paint it with your logo or store sign and bright (but appropriate) colors. Use this free billboard for errands and keep it parked where potential new customers will see it.
Never say "Never" to customers. If you don't give refunds, offer a replacement or a gift certificate; maybe even double it.
Don't say you don't know. Check on the answer and call back promptly.
Turn demands into directions. Instead of "You will have to...," try "Next time this happens, do this...."
Don't accept compromises in performance. Your job is to enforce company standards.
Build a "team" of loyal customers. It's as important as a team of employees.
"Thousands of details...go into the making of a film.
It is the sum total of these things that either makes a great picture or destroys it."
--David O. Selznick
We say that's just as true for everything that your company does.
Actively communicate with customers via mail, telephone, package or statement inserts, signs and displays as well as through conventional advertising.
Use a Web site (.com, .net and .mobi) to create an instant catalog-on-demand so that customers can buy the same day they need your product.
Plan campaigns to sell product. Schedule paid advertising, news publicity and other promotional tactics so that they're timed to reinforce the work of your sales or telemarketing force.
Plan campaigns to synergize your budget the same way.
Test. Test. Test. Even your best won't be the best forever.
Make your competition work for you. Find out from existing and prospective customers which other stores and services they frequent and what they buy. What do they like about them? Dislike? You can learn ways to serve customers better.
Use publicity in your community—local or international—to show off your image or identity.
A company brochure ought to explain what you do and why it is important to your customers.
"It's time for Expensive to get reacquainted with Valuable."--Ad for Mercury Interactive's Business Technology Optimization software, 2003.3>
Quality + Dependability + Caring = Loyalty.
Re-draw your organizational chart with the customer on top.
Write a company policy letter that concisely defines your purpose, goals and standards.
Consider creating strategic partnerships with selected suppliers in which you work together toward mutual goals.
Differentiate yourself from similar businesses.
Emphasize your business philosophy so that customers can clearly see the benefits of remaining loyal customers.
"Award" customers at random...just for being there—a free accessory with purchase, tickets to an event, a gift certificate. But, make it an unexpected surprise and they will become high-energy promoters for you.
"It isn't creative unless it sells."—David Ogilvy
Customers are willing to pay more for better service.
Tell potential customers why they'll benefit by giving you their business. Customers won't understand your value unless it's explained and shown to them in a way that means something to them.
Personality. Every business has one. Your building, your merchandise displays, your desk, your front counter, and your service attitude all add up to your business personality.
Maintain your business plan like any other asset. Keep track of your mission and regularly review your customer base. Who are your customers now? What do they need? Why will they buy it from you? Be sure your marketing strategy is still working to accomplish your business mission.
Make your business image a sales tool that underscores reliability, value, speed, entertainment, or whatever your biggest customer benefit may be.
Remember that there are connections among all the parts of your business. Your promotional stance affects your pricing. Promotion affects your sales volume. Appearance affects your customer appeal. Sales training affects your customers. Customer attitudes affect your profit.
99 IDEAS will keep your business mission fresh and growing. See all of our services at 99 IDEAS.net.
E-mail us at service@99IDEAS.net or call us at 800-99 IDEAS.
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