You seldom accomplish very much by yourself. You must get the assistance of others. — Henry J. Kaiser
Neighborhood Tactical Support
If you want to win customers and keep them, talk to them personally. Let them talk to you. Let them get involved. Give them a piece of the action. Let them get to know you and do things with you. After they’ve become your customers, show them you appreciate them. Make them your friends for life.
Marketing tactics by segment. With the development of effective strategies, your plan will target promotions toward specific types or segments of the businesses and residents in your neighborhood. Your research has already shown you your best sales opportunities. Your analysis has listed the key audiences you wish to target with your message: individuals, families, groups, organizations, businesses or other community targets.
Community events. Community events bring people out of their home area and away from their normal spending habits. You can introduce yourself to a wave of newcomers by staging a special event designed to be attractive to a range of residents, including those who live and work outside your trading zone.
If your business wants to identify itself more directly with a segment of the community on a periodic basis, it can become the headquarters for a yearly event such as Oktoberfest, or for monthly association meetings. Neighborhood marketers benefit when they provide samples of products or services for public events and celebrations. The long-term gains produced by the positive image you build in the community far outweigh the investment. You introduce your product to new customers without them even visiting you. Remember to distribute fliers, brochures, catalogs or menus with each sample, giving customers an added reason to visit your place of business.
Get a calendar of your area’s community activities and events to determine when a community-oriented program might best fit your neighborhood tactical needs.
Group promotions. America is a nation of organizations and affinity groups that are constantly looking for places to meet and dine, hold special events, and develop fundraising projects. There are thousands of civic and fraternal groups that may welcome an invitation to your business with the potential of using your facilities on a regular basis.
Even a big, multinational investment bank and brokerage network like Morgan Stanley understands this. When the company opens a new branch, it offers community groups the use of its conference room for meetings.
Focus on selling benefits, just as you do in marketing your products and services. Gather names and addresses of all individuals who attend group functions. Send these individuals thank-you notes and additional promotional materials, inviting them to patronize your business throughout the year.
Organizations/Associations. Opportunities for gaining new customers are found among those who either work or meet regularly in your trading area. Your research has identified specific groups for targeting neighborhood efforts — senior groups, religious groups, a business club, perhaps even a bowling league.
Consider how best to approach them, and determine the promotions that will appeal to them. One of the following approaches may be useful:
· Contact the group president or council and offer a special incentive to group members directly.
· Offer added value on a regular basis if members present a valid ID or membership card.
· Enter discussions with group officers to determine whether accommodating group events may be in your interest, including special pricing in exchange for free space for monthly meetings or functions.
Fundraising. Many groups offer well-focused promotional opportunities through their fundraising campaigns. Such promotions significantly increase the potential for group business and allow your business to build goodwill. (Use Form H, Fundraiser Opportunities.)
A business can target a new customer trial program in its neighborhood by offering clergy in a nearby church a tie-in program to help raise funds. The business agrees to match a percentage of any customer purchase as a donation. Coupons are printed and given to the church for distribution to parishioners. No sale of coupons is involved.
The promotion is targeted to increase business during a specific period. The program is promoted for about four weeks in church newsletters and through organizational publicity. An employee accepts each coupon and writes on it the amount of the purchase. At program’s end, coupons are totaled and a check is presented to the church. This promotion can be adapted for almost any charitable group. Material costs, mostly the printing of coupons and letters of explanation, are minimal.
Partner promotions. An easy way to build sales is by recruiting new customers from noncompeting businesses and retailers in the community.
First, decide which promotion method you want to use: vendor-allied, joint, or cross-promotion. Once you’ve decided on the type of promotion, carefully consider who might be your best partners.
A partner promotion should not cheapen or in any way detract from your business’s character, reputation, or brand personality. On the contrary, it’s an opportunity to enhance it. Choose among the many businesses and retailers that may fit your profile. Not all will be compatible with the customer base you wish to attract. To find the best partners, refer to your listing of traffic generator partnership opportunities (Form I) to select the best one.
There are four key factors to consider when determining the potential of involving any specific business or group in your activity:
1. Size. How many people can you reach? For any given type of program, the more people reached by your promotional message, the better.
2. Communications. Does the group provide enough resources, such as newsletters, bulletin boards, meeting notices, and membership meetings, to communicate your role in the cooperative effort and spread the promotional message?
3. Work force. Are there enough people affiliated with the traffic generator to help spread the work and implement distribution assignments effectively?
4. Image. Is the image of the traffic generator in the community consistent with that of your business, as well as your customers and employees? Make sure that the image matches the profile you want your business to have in its trading area.
Partner promotions are inexpensive but take a lot of time. You may want to involve a trusted senior employee to manage the event with a counterpart from the partner’s business.
Cross-promotion tactics. Cross-promoting is a joining of hands between your business and a noncompeting retailer, commonly through displays to encourage sales in both businesses, as we did with George’s linen store and a restaurant.
Potential cross-promotion partners include high-customer-count businesses such as gas stations, video stores, department stores, movie houses, and sports arenas. Choose quality operations traditionally respected for their products and service. Businesses should be conveniently located within the same trading zone, preferably no more than a few blocks away.
A cross-promotion partnership will usually involve an equal tradeoff: you distribute a Realtor’s business card or flier while the Realtor gives newcomers to the community your brochure, menu, or offer, along with a special invitation.
Sell gift certificates at discounted prices to high-end retailers (auto dealers, jewelers, etc.). They will, in turn, reward customers purchasing high-ticket items with a free product or service from your business. In exchange, you let the car dealer park his new car, with signs in the windows, near the entrance of your business.
Consider giving partners free certificates to present to their customers as a reward or incentive. For example, a karate student who achieves a new belt level receives a free meal at your restaurant, a free book in your bookstore, a free cap in your sporting goods store, or a free eye exam in your eyeglass store. This free product not only generates goodwill for you and your partner, it also builds immediate sales, because the student will probably bring someone else and will often purchase additional items. In exchange, the certificates bear the name of the business distributing them.
Joint promotions. Co-sponsor a special event, such as a 10-kilometer race for the community. In the case of a large-scale event, there may be up to a dozen participating cosponsors.
A dual relationship is best for keeping the event manageable and maximizing focus on the partners. Thus, a joint promotion between your business and an athletic shoe store would be ideal for the 10K race, with you furnishing juice stations on race day and the store providing any special gear needed to mark and man the raceway course. Both partners contribute for trophies and prizes, which include racing shoes and a free product or service at your business.
A neighborhood newspaper or hometown weekly can be a cosponsor, with its name prominently displayed on race day. This guarantees media coverage before and after the race.
Vendor-allied joint promotions. Splitting advertising costs with a cosponsor, like a major supplier, stretches your promotional budget and creates a friendly image-maker. Beverage companies frequently will share the costs if you agree to display their product prominently enough to increase brand exposure.
Inquire regularly about national cooperative programs in which you can participate with your suppliers and dealers to expand your promotional/advertising budget, with a little help from above.
Caution: Joint promotions may be best suited to independent retailers. This avoids the potential awkwardness of favoring one nationally known supplier over a competitor.
Your customers and staff members can also be a source of promotional opportunities. People you deal with daily may be members of large groups, or employees of organizations that would be interested in mutually beneficial cooperative programs.
As with all types of partnering promotions, make sure your business and your partner’s business are compatible. And don’t forget to monitor, track and evaluate your promotions.