GS Logo
The Green Sheet, Inc

Please Log in

A Thing

Send an Email to:

Bankcard 101: Think 'Marketing' to Grow Your Business

By Lazaros Kalemis

During the past month I noticed a recurring theme in discussions with our new agents and on The Green Sheet Online's MLS Forum. The question that is asked again and again is 'How can I grow my business?'

No matter how great most people are at pounding the pavement, they eventually tire of the constant rejection and fighting tooth and nail just to get people to listen to them. When Dimitri and I started in this business, we pounded the pavement endlessly trying to get some deals going. Then we decided to step back and consider how we could work smarter-not harder.

The first thing we did is come up with a three pronged attack. We developed a plan to create marketing relationships, to do direct marketing and to cultivate our merchant base to get more of our merchant customers to refer us on a consistent basis. In this column, I will explain how we created our plan and how you can create your own plan to grow your business.

We all know that warm leads are so much better than cold leads. So first we wrote down on a piece of paper the different entities that offer services to other businesses on a daily basis. The list included banks, lawyers, accountants, payroll companies, copier dealers, etc.

We opened up the yellow pages and called businesses in these categories to try to get an appointment. We also mailed a letter to the businesses introducing ourselves and explaining what we could offer their clients and how it would benefit them.

Within a three-month period we signed referral agreements with a few community banks and a payroll company. These guys referred about 15 people a month to us and we would close half of the referrals. This is something that we have developed, and we encourage our reps to develop. It feels great to be able to sit back while your contacts call you with referrals.

We were also tired of walking the streets day in and day out, attempting to get people to talk to us. Remembering our newfound philosophy to work smarter not harder, we did two things:

  1. we developed and mailed postcards to both new and established businesses asking them to call us if they were interested in credit card processing;
  2. we hired a telemarketing staff to follow up on the postcards that we mailed.
We received an initial response of 0.5% from the mailings and another 0.75% from the telemarketing follow-ups. From this we received another 200 leads a month.

Although our close rate was not as high as that of our marketing relationships, it was a lot better than our numbers from pounding the pavement.

The final piece of our puzzle involved tapping our current merchant base for referrals. Everybody says they do this and even offer merchants a $50 bonus for referrals, but for some reason this wasn't working for us. We needed to be more proactive about getting our merchants to think about us for referrals.

Our solution was to call our merchant base on a frequent basis. We hired a telemarketer to call our merchants every six to eight weeks. During these quality assurance calls, we also brought them up to date on new products and services we offered, but most importantly we reminded them of our referral bonus plan. We noticed that our referrals increased from nearly zero to 5% of our customer base giving us referrals each time we called.

By approaching our problems differently, coming up with a new plan, and sticking to it, we made the business work for us instead of us working for it. I know from experience that it isn't easy getting started, but it is important to try to see the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.

The best advice I can give you is that you may lose money in the beginning, but no matter how you market yourself or your company in this industry, it eventually pays off through residuals. As Dimitri says, "The streets are paved with gold-you just have to look for it."

Lazaros Kalemis and Dimitrios Tsikoudis founded Alpha Card Services, Inc. as an agent- and merchant-friendly ISO. To learn about partnering with Alpha Card Services, Inc. e-mail Lazaros at or call him directly at 866-253-2227 ext 13.

Notice to readers: These are archived articles. Contact names or information may be out of date. We regret any inconvenience.
Back Next Index © 2004, The Green Sheet, Inc.