Direct Marketing, Mail Order, and E-commerce News from the National Mail
100+ Marketing Ideas
Marketing is all about satisfying customer needs. The following
represents a comprehensive list of marketing ideas; use it to help better
understand customer needs and ways to satisfy those needs.
- Never let a day pass without engaging in at least one marketing
- Determine a percentage of gross income to spend annually on marketing.
- Set specific marketing goals every year; review and adjust quarterly.
- Maintain a tickler file of ideas for later use.
- Carry business cards with you (all day, every day).
- Create a personal nametag or pin with your company name and logo on it
and wear it at high visibility meetings.
- Stay alert to trends that might impact your target market, product, or
- Read market research studies about your profession, industry, product,
target market groups, etc.
- Collect competitors' ads and literature; study them for information
about strategy, product features, benefits, etc.
- Ask clients why they hired you and solicit suggestions for
- Ask former clients why they left you.
- Identify a new market.
- Join a list-serve (e-mail list) related to your profession.
- Subscribe to an Internet usenet newsgroup or a list-serve that serves
your target market.
- Create a new service, technique, or product.
- Offer a simpler/cheaper/smaller version of your (or existing) product
- Offer a fancier/more expensive/faster/bigger version of your (or
existing) product or service.
- Update your services.
Education, Resources, and Information
- Establish a marketing and public relations advisory and referral team
composed of your colleagues and/or neighboring business owners; share
ideas and referrals and discuss community issues. Meet quarterly for
- Create a suggestion box for employees.
- Attend a marketing seminar.
- Read a marketing book.
- Subscribe to a marketing newsletter or other publication.
- Subscribe to a marketing list-serve on the Internet.
- Subscribe to a marketing usenet newsgroup on the Internet.
- Train your staff, clients, and colleagues to promote referrals.
- Hold a monthly marketing meeting with employees or associates to
discuss strategy and status and solicit marketing ideas.
- Join an association or organization related to your profession.
- Get a marketing intern to take you on as a client; it will give the
intern experience and you some free marketing help.
- Maintain a consultant card file for finding designers, writers, and
other marketing professionals. Hire a marketing consultant to brainstorm
- Take a creative journey to another progressive city or county to
observe and learn from marketing techniques used there.
Pricing and Payment
- Analyze your fee structure; look for areas requiring modifications or
adjustments. Establish a credit card payment option for clients.
- Give regular clients a discount.
- Learn to barter; offer discounts to members of certain
clubs/professional groups/organizations in exchange for promotions in
- Give quick pay or cash discounts.
- Offer financing or installment plans.
- Publish a newsletter for customers and prospects (it doesn't have to
be fancy or expensive). Develop a brochure of services.
- Include a postage-paid survey card with your brochures and other
company literature. Include check-off boxes or other items that will
involve the reader and provide valuable feedback to you.
- Remember, business cards aren't working for you if they're in the box.
Pass them out! Give prospects two business cards and brochures - one to
keep and one to pass along.
- Produce separate business cards/sales literature for each of your
target market segments (e.g. government and commercial and/or business and
- Create a poster or calendar to give away to customers and prospects.
- Print a slogan and/or one-sentence description of your business on
letterhead, fax cover sheets, and invoices. Develop a site on the World
- Create a signature file to be used for all your e-mail messages. It
should contain contact details, including your Web site address and key
information about your company that will make the reader want to contact
- Include testimonials from customers in your literature.
- Test a new mailing list. If it produces results, add it to your
current direct mail lists or consider replacing a list that's not
performing up to expectations.
- Rather than sending direct mail in plain white envelopes, use colored
or oversized envelopes to pique recipients' curiosity.
- Announce free or special offers in your direct response pieces.
(Direct responses may be direct mail, broadcast faxes, or e-mail
messages.) Include the offer in the beginning of the message as well as on
the outside of the envelope for direct mail.
- Update your media list often so that press releases are sent to the
right media outlet and person.
- Write a column for the local newspaper, local business journal, or
- Publish an article and circulate reprints.
- Send timely and newsworthy press releases as often as needed.
- Publicize your 500th client of the year (or other notable milestone).
- Create an annual award and publicize it.
- Get public relations and media training or read up on it.
- Appear on a radio or TV talk show.
- Create your own TV program on your industry or your specialty. Market
the show to your local cable station or public broadcasting station as a
regular program, or see if you can air your show on an open access cable
- Write a letter to the editor of your local newspaper or trade
- Take an editor to lunch.
- Get a publicity photo taken and enclose with press releases.
- Consistently review newspapers and magazines for possible PR
- Submit tip articles to newsletters and newspapers.
- Conduct industry research and develop a press release or article to
announce an important discovery in your field.
- Create a press kit and keep its contents current.
Customer Service and Customer Relations
- Ask your clients to come back again.
- Return phone calls promptly.
- Set up a fax-on-demand or email system to easily respond to customer
- Use an answering machine or voice mail system to catch after-hours
phone calls. Include basic information in your outgoing messages such a
business hours, location, etc.
- Record a memorable message or tip of the day on your outgoing
answering machine or voice mail message.
- Ask clients what you can do the help them.
- Take clients out to a ball game, show, or another special event - just
send them two tickets with a note. Hold a seminar at your office for
clients and prospects.
- Send handwritten thank you notes.
- Send birthday cards and appropriate seasonal greetings.
- Photocopy interesting articles and send them to clients and prospects
with a hand-written FYI note and your business card.
- Send a book of interest or other appropriate business gift to a client
with a handwritten note.
- Create an area on your Web site specifically for your customers.
- Redecorate your office or location where you meet with your clients.
Networking and Word of Mouth
- Join a Chamber of Commerce or other organization.
- Join or organize a breakfast club with other professionals (not in
your field) to discuss business and network referrals.
- Mail a brochure to members of organizations to which you belong.
- Serve on a city board or commission.
- Host a holiday party.
- Hold an open house.
- Send letters to attendees after you attend a conference.
- Join a community list-serve (e-mail list) on the Internet.
- Advertise during peak seasons for your business.
- Get a memorable phone number, such as 1-800-WIDGETS.
- Obtain a memorable URL and email address and include them on all
- Provide Rolodex® cards or phone stickers preprinted with your business
- Promote your business jointly with other professionals via cooperative
- Advertise in a specialty directory or in the Yellow Pages.
- Write an ad in another language to reach the non-English-speaking
market. Place the ad in a publication that market reads, such as a
- Distribute advertising specialty products such as pens, mouse pads, or
- Mail bumps - photos, samples, and other innovative items to your
prospect list. (A bump is simply anything that makes the mailing envelope
bulge and makes the recipient curious about what's in the envelope!)
- Create a direct mail list of hot prospects.
- Consider non-traditional tactics such as bus backs, billboards, and
popular Web sites.
- Project a message on the sidewalk in front of your place of business
using a light directed through words etched in a glass window.
- Consider placing ads in your newspaper's classified section.
- Consider a vanity automobile tag with your company name.
- Create a friendly bumper sticker for your car.
- Code your ads and keep records of results.
- Improve your building signage and directional signs inside and out.
- Invest in a neon sign to make your office or storefront window visible
- Create a new or improved company logo or recolor the traditional logo.
- Sponsor and promote a contest or sweepstakes.
Special Events and Outreach
- Get a booth at a fair/trade show attended by your target market.
- Sponsor or host a special event or open house at your business
location in cooperation with a local non-profit organization, such as a
women's business center. Describe how the organization helped you.
- Give a speech or volunteer for a career day at a high school.
- Teach a class or seminar at a local college or adult education center.
- Sponsor an Adopt-a-Road area in your community to keep roads
litter-free. People that pass by the area will see your name on the sign
announcing your sponsorship.
- Volunteer your time to a charity or non-profit organization.
- Donate your product or service to a charity auction.
- Appear on a panel at a professional seminar.
- Write a How To pamphlet or article for publishing.
- Produce and distribute an educational CD-ROM or audio/video tape.
- Publish a book.
- Start every day with two cold calls.
- Read newspapers, business journals, and trade publications for new
business openings, personnel appointments, and promotion announcements
made by companies. Send your business literature to appropriate
individuals and firms.
- Give your sales literature to your lawyer, accountant, printer,
banker, temp agency, office supply salesperson, advertising agency, etc.
(Expand your sales force for free!)
- Put your fax number on order forms for easy submission.
- Set up a fax-on-demand or e-mail system to easily distribute responses
to company or product inquiries.
- Follow up on your direct mailings, email messages, and broadcast faxes
with a friendly telephone call.
- Try using the broadcast fax or email delivery methods instead of
direct mail. (Broadcast fax and email allows you to send the same message
to many locations at once.)
- Use broadcast faxes or email messages to notify your customers of
product service updates.
- Extend your hours of operation.
- Reduce response/turnaround time. Make reordering easy - use reminders.
Provide preaddressed envelopes.
- Display product and service samples at your office.
- Remind clients of the products and services you provide that they
aren't currently buying.
- Call and/or send mail to former clients to try and reactivate them.
- Take sales orders over the Internet.
(National Women's Business Center, Washington, D.C.,
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