Original post from Forbes.com
by Contributor, Wendy Keller.
Chances are, the number one reason more people aren’t doing business with you boils down to this: they don’t know you exist.
They may not know you have the perfect solution to their problem. Although you may know your product or service is fantastic, unless they know it too, you won’t get their money.
There are hundreds of genius ways to start attracting customers faster. Grouped together, they are called “Platform Building.” Here are three of them that will get you more attention, traffic, customers and money in the next three weeks or less.
1. Create a contest.
Come up with something people can win and the rules for winning. It may be a week at your time share in Florida, it may be a month of your services, the prize itself doesn’t matter so much as long as people see it as valuable enough to motivate their participation.
Then market and promote the heck out of the contest. The real benefit to you is not that someone wins, although you should publicize that heavily. It isn’t even how many people who might enter.It is the marketing attention you can get because you’re even doing it!
Ideas for how people can win the contest:
- Submit a video of them using your product or service and allow others to vote on the best video.
- Have them post on your social media page some kind of testimonial.
- Have them guess how many jelly beans are in a jar in your store.
- Name as winner the customer who refers the most new customers.
- Create a treasure hunt for adults or kids around your town (could be done with photos, as in “Where is this?”).
- Online only? “Hide” clues on your website or require participants to acquire obscure research related to your business, e.g., a tire store might invite customers to create a mini-documentary film or essay on the history of rubber or when tires became made out of rubber, etc.
Remember: it is the attention you get by hosting the contest itself that matters to you, not the specific details. But do make a fanfare when you finally award the prize.
2. Create a mailer.
If you have a mailing list (and I sure as heck hope you do!) that features your past customers’ physical emails, send a unique and interesting mail piece. If you only have their emails, adapt accordingly.
Inside, you can offer:
- A customer appreciation discount if they buy before the end of the month.
- A special gift they can get (something small but relevant) if they stop by your shop before the end of the month.
- Just a simple, sincere, maybe hand-written thank you note.
- A Starbucks $5 gift card.
- A hyperlink to some special video you put on your website just for them.
- A penny taped to the inside that says, “A penny for your thoughts? Comment on Yelp about the service we provided and you can keep the penny AND earn a 10 percent discount on your next order.
- An invitation to VIP customers only party.
Here are some tricks you can apply to your direct mail campaign:
- Consider using brightly colored envelopes.
- Put some compelling phrase on the outside of the envelope so they will open it up.
- Have someone hand write their addresses.
- Use non-standard size envelopes.
- Put something bulky or hard (like a taped penny) inside the envelope.
- Consider using modified wedding invitations.
If you’re doing this via email, the way you get them to open the email is with the subject line. Probably half will never be seen by the intended recipients anyway, but try subject lines that are refreshingly different or focused on them:
- “What I like best about you, ”
- “The Most Surprising Thing I Know About You,”
- “Why I Don’t Believe and You Shouldn’t Either”
- “3 Tips to Help You Get More from ”
- “I Stubbed My Toe On ”
- “I’m really sorry, ”(That I haven’t checked in to see how you like our …in so long)
3. Build an email blast.
Stand in front of a video camera (even an iPhone will work) and teach customers something they don’t know but that will help them get more benefit from your product or service. It might be the thing you keep shaking your head over, “Why don’t they ever learn?”
If you don’t want to be on camera, maybe one of your employees can do it? Your goal is to record three to six mini-videos, four to five minutes long, that have real, tangible, practical value to your customers. The production quality isn’t as important as the speaker’s smile, commitment to truly serve and valuable content.
Ultimate Guide to Platform Building
Email all your customers and prospects saying, “We’ve got a brand new series coming out to help YOU. To watch the first one…”
Then, four to six days later, release the next one. Repeat. Each time you release the next video, write ALL the people on your list that you’ve done so and enthusiastically describe the benefits they’ll get from watching it. “In this video, you’ll discover how to…”
It’s like a micro-course, for free, compliments of you. Of course, at the end of each one, invite them to your website or offer a discount/promo code just for watching or give them the chance to sign up for a free eBook or whatever in return for their name and email address. (This works because some of those who watch it will not be on your list; and because when those who are choose to re-enroll, you’ll know who your active, interested customers are.)