By Daniel Wadleigh
Even in today's challenging economic environment, a number of ways exist for you, as ISOs and merchant level salespeople, to effectively generate first-time customers and expand revenue derived from your existing client base.
None of these methods involves relying on discounts; that's why I call my approach profit-controlled marketing.
People want to save more than money. It's value that counts, and you can provide added value without shaving profits. In every downturn, businesses that comprise the fat part of the Bell curve stop spending money on advertising.
Nevertheless, consumers still make purchases even though their priorities may have shifted, and merchants continue to need our products and services. Whoever is prepared to take advantage of opportunities in this type of economy can capture market share.
Here are four steps to help spark profitable, new sales:
Notice that I did not mention a discount. Make the throw-in something that ties to your target market. Pick something that is low cost to you and is of high value to your base. (I once won a free TV because I was among a group who paid their rent on time.)
2. Urgency: This pertains to your throw-in, sometimes called a takeaway. Let your prospects know your supply of gifts is limited through a message like, "We only have three of these __________ left; call today, and we'll even throw in a __________." Once again, the gifts must have perceived value for your target market.
3. Loyalty: Emphasize loyalty by telling recipients of your e-mails that the offer is only going to your loyal customers, and ask them to respond by a specific time to get their free gift.
You can also emphasize loyalty by providing a coupon and asking, "Send us a friend with this coupon, and you'll get a __________ just for making the referral."
4. Time: Saving money isn't all that attracts responses. The normal 25 percent of prospects who only want lower prices may be up to 35 percent now, but that is still not even 50 percent.
If you can save potential customers time and grief, especially if you have a preventive service, a significant number of them will view this as a strong asset. Market it as such.
I sold ground source heat pumps one summer in Washington, D.C. At the time, traditional HVAC systems only lasted about eight years but cost less than ground source heat pumps, which lasted 30 years and had fewer repairs.
So, offering the option of financing, my pitch was, "The savings is greater than the payment, and you reduce noise, improve indoor air quality, get free pool heating and don't have to shell out $7,000 twice over time."
The key was to show in a chart spanning 30 years the estimated annual costs of repairs and the eight-year replacement costs. I sold a lot of those heat pumps, mostly to new construction projects.
If you have any service or add-on product that reduces grief or saves time, play that card; if you can offer prizes for repeat business, do so. While not all people will respond, enough will if you show them the benefits of signing up with you. If possible, lock in regular customers with additional loyalty and frequency benefits.
The point is to never collapse and give away your profits. Look for other added values and promote them, give away "referral cards" and "first-timer cards" and milk your existing clients.
And, as always, do not deceive or exaggerate.
Daniel Wadleigh is a veteran marketing consultant in the payments industry. He offers an educational program that is available on a PowerPoint presentation and designed to help ISOs elevate themselves above the competition. For more information, please call him at 512-803-0956.
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