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How local businesses can go from a stack of business cards to a pile of money

small business marketing fishbowlSo the other day I was in line at my favorite sandwich shop trying to decide if I wanted the meatball or the turkey.

Finally I got up to the register and saw a little bowl with a ghetto sign that said ‘Drop in your business card to win a free lunch’

Having just payed $10.50 for a sandwich I was pumped at the possibility of getting one for free so I pulled a fresh card out of my wallet and tossed it in.

And then I. never. heard. anything.

They never emailed me and said “Hey – you didn’t win but here’s a special coupon for 10% off.”

They never even followed up about new hours, or new additions to the menu.

I don’t know what they do with all of the business cards, but I’m imagining a dumpster out back full of them.

Why are these businesses THROWING AWAY the contact information of PAYING customers.  Customers that they could easily be bringing back more often and making more money?

Why do they think having stickers or signs that say “like us on Facebook” is going to accomplish anything?

Every day people come in to their business and walk out, and the owners let them leave without any way to contact them in the future.  And if customers do leave behind a business card, they are using them as toilet paper apparently.

Now imagine: If they could frequently follow up with their customers in an engaging and interesting way.

Imagine: They were able to bring them back to their business more frequently

Imagine: They were able to incentivize them to share their business with their friends and colleagues

How to easily get started with viral giveaways that bring in new customers and bring your current customers back more often

Now – I’m guessing the biggest problem with the system that these local businesses are using is that it’s a pain the ass to convert a stack of jumbled business cards into a manageable contact list.

So why not make things easier for everyone and collect those leads online instead.

local business sign up page business card fishbowl

It took me 10 minutes to make this page

Here’s what I’d do if I owned my own crepe shop… which is one of my life goals :)

1. Set up a web page on launchrock.com or launcheffectapp.com (requires wordpress) (both free)

2. Sign up for an email newsletter service at mailchimp or aweber. (Not sure which email marketing software is best for you?  Fill out this form and I’ll send you a personalized recommendation)

3. Integrate my page and my email service so that information entered on the website is automatically sent to my email list database. (much easier than it sounds)

4. Put a sign up in my business telling people to go to ben’s-epic-crepes.com/signup and enter their contact info to win a free lunch, coffee, prize etc.

and BAM! now as people are waiting in line they will see the sign, go to the page on their phone and enter their info.  Now they are automatically entered into my email system so that I can easily follow up with everyone who didn’t win the drawing and sell more crepes!

crepes

mmmm crepes

How to make your giveaways viral

Remember how earlier I mentioned the possibility of incentivizing customers to share the business with their friends and colleagues.  Here’s where that comes into play.

viral landing page small business

Customers are shown this page in order to incentivize them to share with their friends

Directly after someone enters their information on the personalized page, they’re given a personalized link to share with their friends on their Facebook, twitter, blog or just email.  Launchrock and Launchpress both make this ridicoulously easy.

They’re told on this page that whoever refers the most friends to the page will win the prize, not just dumb luck!  And the system easily tracks it so that all you have to do is pull up an automatically generated spreadsheet that lists who signed up and how many people they referred.

(Incentivizing people to share the service with their friends is one of the reasons Dropbox was able to gain popularity in an extremely competitive market and become a billion dollar company in 4 years.)

What to do once they’re on the list

Now, once you have a bunch of people signing up on your email list and encouraging their friends to do so as well, what do you do?

Here’s what to avoid:

Giant Mistake #1. Only emailing occasionally – Most businesses who have an email list make the mistake of only emailing once in a blue moon, like major holidays.  The point of building a customer list is so that you can regularly communicate with them.  Not just on holidays.

But, but what if I bug and annoy people you say? Well if your emails suck and are boing then yes people are going to be annoyed. BUT if you are interesting and informative in your communication then your messages will be welcomed.

Giant Mistake #2. Only selling – This goes along with not being annoying. DO NOT only send out emails about specials, sales or pitching your services.  Your goal should be to build a BOND with your customers so that they like you more and want to do business with you.

Send them information that is helpful and useful.  Run a restaurant?  Tell them how they can mimic one of your dishes at home.  Or send them a few of your chefs favorite recipes. Run a salon?  Let them know a few tips on hair care.

Give them more then another sales pitch and you’re on your way to earning their loyalty.

If you have a local business try this simple strategy out and let me know how it works for you :)

1 comment… add one

  • Whitney

    I love articles like this! Even though I already know this stuff, it ignites my creativity when you give samples and let me know what tools to use.

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