The Importance of an Introductory Offer
In my day-to-day experience running marketing campaigns for small businesses I run into a phenomenon frequently where small business owners want to offer all their products and services upfront – sort of large net to get all possible new business. This strategy seldom works and I thought I would take this opportunity to discuss the subject of using introductory offers to attract new customers.
Let me give an example to illustrate. HVAC Contractors would most like to obtain work to install new systems. However, new systems are expensive and its hard to locate potential homeowners who need a new system and reach them with an offer. Many of the successful HVAC Contractors we work with will make an inexpensive offer to service furnace and air conditioning systems. This marketing strategy gets them loads of new leads and work to keep their technicians busy. But here’s the trick. They now go out and visit homes of new customers and service their systems. In the course of doing this they can now see which new customers need to replace their systems. The company is still making sales with the service work but they now also have larger potential sales for their sales team to pursue.
The other side of the coin would be promoting, at great cost for a small number of system replacements work, missing out on the service work and potentially never reaching the homeowners who need a new furnace. Can you see how the first approach gives the business cash flow and work, as well as access to larger sales and the other approach results in a quieter and more desperate sales scene?
Making the Right Offer
The key is making the right introductory offer – an offer that will be popular with new customers. One of the best methods to create your introductory offer is simply to talk to the staff who are the first point of contact in your business and find out what new enquiries ask about the most frequently. For example, a Chiropractic office may find that most new callers call about back pain or shoulder pain. In this case simply create a new patient consultation and call it something like Pain Relief Treatment Evaluation and price it attractively.
Another example of this one of our clients that distributes truck parts. We tested several postcards which offered a list of available parts to prospective buyers (truckers and trucking companies). This did not pull much response. He then tested a simpler direct mail piece with a specific part on sale. Suddenly, he started getting real leads. As a result he has buyers who have now tried his company, found how fast he ships out in an industry that is traditionally slow, and has follow-up sales he can make.
You can, of course, find you need more than one offer for different types of buyers. At RESPONSE! we have a number of introductory offers. If we are using print or direct mail to promote we will offer a Free Sample Kit and then postcard or print packages.
However, when we deliver Social Media Seminars (which are free), we then offer a Rent-A-Social-Media-Brain for just $99. See how the offer is more appropriate to the business owners attending a online marketing seminar?
Both of these above services usually lead to much larger sales of websites, direct mail campaigns, etc. Without the introductory offers, however, our sales team would spend all their time desperately searching for leads. Instead they have steady influx of interested new clients accepting our introductory offers and we build a large, warm client base for them to contact. This strategy results in more leads than any member of the sales team can comfortably handle and a healthy sales pipeline.
Tips to figure out your introductory offer
1. Look through your past invoices and find which products or services are the most popular. If possible, special attention to which items new customers most frequently purchased.
2. Talk to you staff who handle enquiries and find out what they are most frequently asked about or what need the new enquiry most frequently brings up. Incidentally, when we did this at RESPONSE! we discovered that a reasonable number of the business owners we spoke to said they would like to learn how to social media or online marketing themselves. This led to us creating an entire new line of training services to facilitate this type of client and our revenue from the training is growing daily and, incidentally, resulted in many of these training clients deciding to hire us to do their marketing. We only needed to hire one person to open up an entirely new line of revenue!
3. Once you know what the offer should be, price it competitively and start promoting it on appropriate promotion channels. This could be on your website, on your Facebook, on postcard or direct mail campaigns. Don’t forget to make the offer on handouts at seminars, events or workshops you deliver and, what the heck, sign up new customers on the spot!
4. Work out what you will do with new customers who come in and take you up the offer. What is the follow-up sale you want to make based on the customers interest that brought them in? For instance, we deliver web evaluations as an introductory offer which usually results in selling a website makeover package or new website package.
5. Once you have the above introductory offer worked out, the follow-up services or products you plan to sell at the completion of the introductory offer, work out an aggressive promotion campaign to get your introductory offer into circulation in order to begin obtaining new customers. Really pour on the coals and drive in loads of new customers into your sales pipeline.
I hope these tips assist you. I would love to hear feedback you may have on the subject! What has worked for you in your industry in regards to introductory offers?