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Outwit the Competition: Use Nontraditional Low-Cost Marketing
By Denny Durbin

The competition grows greater every day as new businesses pop up on every corner and online shopping becomes more of a mainstream point of purchase. Business owners across the country strive to come up with new ideas to outwit their competition. The first thing they may consider is slashing prices, but any seasoned business owner knows that prices are only part of the equation.

Whether dealing with first-time customers or repeat buyers, all managers should know that although price is one of the considering factors of a well-researched product, savvy buyers also take into consideration these important facts:
• How they arrived in your store in the first place. You’re doing something right in your marketing strategy for them to consider buying products from you. This is the starting point for tracking successful marketing; find out how they heard about you.
• Brand and Branding of the product is important, but the branding of your store will help in the customer’s decision making of sale or no sale.
• Staff is the most valuable marketing asset you have. Go the extra mile for them, and they’ll put in the extra effort to keep your customers happy. Taking care of your employees means more than a paycheck, each one of them is a key part of a team, a business and the community. Treat them well and praise them every day and you will be paving the road to success. Your managers, employees and staff are the biggest marketing advantage over your competition; here’s some valuable tips to keep your team on top of their game:
• Treat them like you want them to treat your customers
• Make sure they are passionate about their work
• The value of a smile to every customer
• Last impressions are as valuable as first impressions

Once you find out where most of your existing customers are coming from, it makes it easier to target more customers with similar demographics. If they’re coming from a local radio, newspaper, magazine, or trade journal ad, you should consider investing more in that media. If it’s from your Web site or street presence, then that’s the target audience you should focus on. When branding your store or business, it’s rare that all your customers are coming from one form of advertising; that’s where a well-thought-out and widespread marketing campaign makes the difference.

Incentives and motivation are the main ingredients of bringing new customers through your doors. Stop and put yourself in the customers place. The first thing you’ll ask yourself is, who cares, what’s in it for me, what problem does it solve, what’s the benefits. Now, if you can answer any or all of these questions, you have a new customer.

• Incentives – these are becoming more popular every day, yet they all depend on the price of your product. If your sale price is under $50 you need to come up with a nice gift or gift card that cost you around $5. Think about your local restaurant, pastry shop or better yet independent coffee shops that will give you a discount on a bulk purchase of gift cards. If your products sell for hundreds of dollars, one of the most popular gift cards today is a gas card. It’s easy to get creative about free gifts, just think about what your customers might enjoy. Go down to the local nursery and get a discount on 20 beautiful plants, or the music store and pick up multiple current CDs.

• Motivation – if you’re not familiar with the term “street team,” get familiar. This is a team of highly motivated, energetic, good-looking people that represent your business. This can easily be put together through your sons, daughters or a local high school or college. Take four, five or six fun-loving people and put some brand-new bright colored T-shirts on them, with your business logo, and send them all over the neighborhood to promote your business. Send them to other businesses, malls, restaurants, car dealerships, you name it and get creative. Two things to remember: one – always get permission from the business owners; often they will like the idea, because it makes them look like they’re part of it. Two – hand out offers, coupons or other incentives to motivate people to visit your business. One extremely popular gift that will bring people in is a cold bottle of water with your logo and a discount coupon.

The key to a successful marketing campaign is testing and tracking until you find out which method is sending you the most customers, and more important than customers are sales. It’s great to have a store full of customers, but making sales is what will keep you in business.

About the Author:
Denny Durbin is an entrepreneur and author of “Lazy Enchiladas, Redefining Success,” which explains firsthand the values of taking risks, assessing success and adding creativity to a career. Readers are rewarded with a new definition of success that incorporates entrepreneurial values. Denny has created, built and owned more than a dozen diversified and lucrative business. He has more than 30 years of networking experience. www.lazyenchiladas.com

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