General Business News for September, 2009

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Sometimes Pink Spoons Are Better Than Silver

Let's face it, we are experiencing tough times - and that might mean it's harder to make a sale. Survival these days requires you to 1) keep the customers you presently have and 2) attract new customers without overspending on your advertising budget. One solution that allows you to heavily target good prospects is "pink spoon marketing."

The name "pink spoon" comes from those little plastic utensils you find at the ice cream shop that are used to provide customers with a free taste of the storeÂ’s product. The idea is that the sample will be so appealing that the customer will make a purchase. It is a generosity-based marketing model that assumes when you give a customer a gift, he or she will reward you with a sale. Of course, there are always those who will take your free offer and never be seen again. But done correctly, pink spoon marketing returns far more than it costs. How you implement the strategy will be your biggest challenge. Generally, however, you can use a combination of techniques.

Attracting your customer

How do you currently attract your customers? Do you advertise on radio, television or in the newspaper? How are these working for you? While a certain amount of consumer targeting is possible with these mediums, they are designed to reach a mass market. In some cases this might be all you need to get your customer through the door. The auto industry is a perfect example -just imagine the advertising revenue lost by television and radio stations if auto dealerships did not use these mediums.

Mass advertising can also be effective for retail stores, but it often takes more to get the customer in the door. This is where direct mail campaigns and even advertisements on the storefront are valuable. Direct mail campaigns can be very expensive, but they allow you to target specific areas, such as within a particular ZIP code or even specified addresses. Direct marketing companies have highly refined databases that give you demographic information to help pinpoint likely buyers.

Retail stores almost always use their storefront for advertisement. Whether it is in the form of mannequins or banners, there will always be some display to entice likely buyers.

The pink spoon

Getting a customer in is only half the battle. What will you offer them when they arrive?

Each business must determine the contents of the pink spoon on their own. It should be something that is meaningful but not expensive. For an auto dealership, perhaps thatÂ’s a free tire inspection or engine diagnostic. Life insurance agents and financial planners often run free financial plans for prospective customers. None of these involve significant out-of-pocket expenditures while at the same time giving the customer something he/she perceives to be of value. The time spent with the customer also helps build the rapport needed to make a sale.

Even more important to the pink spoon concept is that once you have given to your customer, he/she has an incentive to give something back to you in the form of business. Ideally, your gift will set in motion a process where the receiver is grateful, and the next purchase will be the beginning of a long relationship.

The overriding truth

When business is slow, the last thing you want to do is pull back on advertising. Reducing advertising almost guarantees few people will know your name and even fewer will buy your product. Using a pink spoon approach allows you to make the most of every customer walking in your door and should be carefully considered when developing your marketing plan. Let us know how we can be of assistance to you.


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