I frequently participate in forums on Alignable, asking and answering marketing questions. I occasionally bring bits of the forum here to the blog. Today, I’ll be expanding on a conversation I had with a bookstore owner about how to generate referrals.
Bookstore Owner : Looking for advice as to how best to market my audio bookstore to the local neighborhood and online. Here’s my issue. Our business model, that makes us unique to bookstores, is that we offer audio books for Rent. I believe we give a great value to our customers for the price we charge. But I have tried everything including radio ads, print ads, Facebook Ads and writing articles. Yet, most people find the store by accident. After 9 years in the same location, people still walk in and say to me “Wow, I didn’t know this place existed”. Thanks in advance.
Brianna at One Step: Do you have any sort of referral or rewards program? Often the best marketers are those clients who already love your business. Maybe you could offer a free month’s membership or a free book rental if they share your Facebook page, bring a friend to an event, tell a friend about your business, etc.
Bookstore Owner: We have tried several types of referral plans. Giving $5.00 credit for each referral. Offering a 1 Free month to our customers if they get a customer to sign-up to a plan. We usually advertise these referral programs for three months in a row. Out of the 300 customers we sent the offer out to only less than 1% referred anybody. That’s not say that we don’t get referrals from our customers, because we do. They just happen to be given organically. I don’t think our customers which skew in a older demographic care so much about getting a free month or receiving a dollar amount for each referral. Plus our business is so unique, I don’t think most people are thinking about it when they are out with friends.
Brianna at One Step Services: Rather than trying 3 month plans, I recommend thinking of ways that you can consistently and constantly remind your clients to refer you. You may be right that they aren’t interested in rewards and that organic referrals are best for your clientele. However, there is nothing wrong with reminding them to make those organic referrals. Many studies show that the more you remind or ask people to do something…refer you, like your social media post, write a testimony, etc…the more likely they are to do it.
So to increase those organic referrals, consider including a referral card in every book you mail out. Just a little something that a client could pass on to a friend with your info. Keep those same handouts near your cash register so people can grab them on their way out. Every time you send an email, make sure there is an obvious link so they can forward it to a friend. If you’re on social media, about once a week make a post asking for referrals or asking them to share your post/page with their friends. Here at One Step, we send out handwritten welcome notes to new clients and we include referral cards. We also send handwritten notes to our most consistent and loyal clients, people we think would speak highly of us.
It may sound obnoxious, but keep in mind one single person will probably only pay attention to one of these touch points. And it’s critical that you constantly stay top of mind to get those organic referrals. This is not a three month program, but something that is part of your long term marketing strategy. And I do think that you are off base in saying that your service is so unique people don’t think about it when out with friends. Media is a very popular topic amongst friends and movies, music and books are easy conversation starters. Your clients will refer people if you tell them to.
If you are promoting a business, you are a content creator. Whether you write blog posts, send weekly emails, mail postcards, or post to social media, you are having to come up with content to share with your audience. The better the content, the more likely you are to
Step #1 – Make a list of types of content
This list will vary depending on what industry you are in and what type of business you are promoting. However, there are some general types of content that work well across the board. Testimonials and case studies make great content as do the answers to frequently asked questions. (Not sure what your FAQs are? Ask your customer service reps!) Other great content ideas include product promotions, event invitations, how to’s, top ten lists, and employee spotlights.
Step #2 – Create a list of content sources
Not all of your content has to be original. Your audience will appreciate you curated relevant content from trusted sources. Keep a list of sources that routinely publish good information on your industry. The easiest way to do this is with an RSS Reader <—- Go ahead and click that if you don’t know what an RSS Reader is. One of your primary sources should be us, One Step Services! Not only do we provide great content on our blog, monthly newsletter and social sites, but every month we release new content ready postcards that can be used for real estate agents, small businesses and nonprofits. Want to get the scoop when we release new designs? Sign up here
Step #3 – Give each day a theme
At One Step, Mondays are for motivational quotes, Tuesdays are for tips, Fridays are for fun. Giving each day a general theme or category makes it easier to decide what specific content needs to be published that day. I also give the months different themes. For example, in doing my planning for first quarter 2018 (ah, how are we already at the point of planning for 2018?) I decided that the theme for February will be the importance and relevance of Direct Mail. About 75% of the things I post that month will be related to that theme.
Step #4 – Create a content calendar
Once you have your list of content ideas and your themes set, it’s time to map it out. There are literally hundreds of different ways to do this. TBH, although I have been planning content for years, 2018 will be the first time I have to get every single thing down on a calendar to show the bosses. So my typical system of sticky notes and dreams isn’t really going to cut it. The first thing that I’m going to try is a color coordinated Google Spreadsheet. At first I was worried it would be a little to linear for my scattered creative brain, so far it’s working quite nicely. Want to see a sample? Email me email@example.com and I’ll be happy to share.
Step #5 – Write /create / find your content
I know what your thinking…why do I have to do so much work BEFORE I start creating content? The reality is that creating content isn’t that hard, but creating effective, consistent, purposeful content is. And in order to create that kind of content, you definitely need to plan ahead and do steps 1-4. The good news is, that those first steps get easier and easier the more you do them and it becomes quicker to finish them every month. So don’t get discouraged! The hard work at the beginning is worth it.
When you create your content, refer back to the list you made in step one. Find a specific testimonial to post, answer a specific FAQ, write out a case study. Something to keep in mind…don’t be afraid to be a little personal. You don’t need to share your martial issues or what you had for breakfast, but your experiences with other business, your opinions on relevant industry news, and your solutions to problems you’ve experienced in business can be extremely valuable to your recipients. This entire blog post, for example, is based on my personal experience of creating a content calendar for One Step.
Step #6 – Distribute your content
Once you’ve written your content, its time to publish it! Where you publish is an entirely new topic for another day, but whether it’s on social media, through a direct mail campaign, or a post to social media, you need to share that ish! And yes, you absolutely can share the same content over multiple channels. You worked hard to create that content gold, use it and reuse it in different ways to get the most out of it.
Myth: Paper is Made from Fresh-Cut Trees
Reality: Paper is Made Primarily from “Waste” Products
In the United States, the vast majority – a full two-thirds – of the fiber used to make paper comes from sources other than fresh-cut trees. One-third comes from wood chips and sawmill scraps, one-third comes from recycled paper and just one-third comes from “new growth” trees.1
Of course, these statistics are based on industry averages. There are 200 mills in the United States that use recovered fiber exclusively.2
Myth: Print Leads to Deforestation
Reality: Print Promotes Trees
Contrary to commonly-held belief, paper mills are not cutting down old-growth forests in order to make paper. Nearly all the wood used in paper production comes from “tree farms” – acres of trees grown as a renewable crop, like broccoli or wheat. Print actually gives private landowners a financial incentive to grow trees rather than selling off their land for other uses, such as development.3 As Dr. Patrick Moore, Co-Founder of Greenpeace, has stated, “Using wood sends signals to the marketplace to grow more trees.”
Myth: The Tree Population is Shrinking
Reality: More Trees and Forests Exist Today Than 20 Years Ago
With the increased demand for printed goods that we’ve seen over time, many people believe that the forests must be shrinking. This is simply not true. There are 12 million more acres of forest in the U.S. today than there were 20 years ago; between 1953 and 2006 we saw a 49% increase in the number of trees still standing after mortality and harvesting.4
1U.S. EPA, Office of Solid Waste.
2American Forest and Paper Association.
3Edward L. Glaeser, Professor of Economics, Harvard University, “A Road Map for Environmentalism,” Boston Globe, May 21, 2007.
4Down to Earth.
What you need to know about the paper used in print projects:
• About 90% of paper and paperboard consumed in the United States is produced in the United States.
• 33% of the fiber used to make paper comes from recycled paper; 33% comes from wood chips and scrap from sawmills; and only 33% comes from virgin trees.
• Just 11% of the world’s forests are used for paper (53% for fuel; 28% for lumber; and 8% for other uses).
• Trees from tropical forests are not specifically harvested for paper. The direct causes of deforestation are actually agricultural expansion, wood for fuel, and urbanization and roads.
Today’s Low Mail Volume = Opportunity
With the overall economy still down and with so many companies moving their marketing efforts online, mail volume has dropped tremendously. The resulting empty mailboxes present a unique opportunity. While competition to get noticed in email in-boxes just keeps growing, a well-crafted direct mail package is now far more likely to garner attention than before.
The Advantages of Direct Mail
While both “snail mail” and email allow for targeted marketing, direct mail has some distinct advantages:
- High Delivery Rates – If your mailing list is current, nearly all of your direct mail will get delivered. Email, on the other hand, must get past spam filters, service provider issues and more.
- High Readership Rates – While many people review their email inboxes with their fingers on the “delete” button, studies show that 80% of consumers will at least scan the direct mail they receive.
- Nearly Limitless Format Options – Direct mail offers virtually unlimited formatting options, from postcards and envelopes (of all sizes and colors) to mailing tubes and boxes.
- Much More Space – With direct mail you have as much space as necessary to tell your story and deliver a compelling message in one package. You can include letters, brochures, coupons, photos, DVDs, product samples, small promotional items and more.
- Extreme Personalization – It is now possible to personalize every element of a direct mail package, without the expense of multiple print runs. For example, you can create a 4-color brochure in which everything from the text to the photos are personalized based on particular fields in your database.
The bottom line: with so much less competition, now’s an ideal time to consider adding direct mail to your marketing mix.
Yes! Being able to physically touch a piece of marketing helps customers feel more connected to the business and builds loyalty.
Print is a powerful media…and its power is multiplied when used as part of a multi-channel campaign. Print enhances the impact of television, telemarketing and the internet by providing an extra dimension that’s warm, inviting and highly personalizable. Use it to reinforce your brand’s message, introduce new products or services and drive traffic to your website.
From printed ads in magazines and newspapers to postcards, direct mail packages, catalogs, door hangers, newsletters, billboards and more, companies everywhere are using print to effectively increase their sales. They understand that:
- Print Gets Read – 80% of households either read or scan advertising mail sent to their household.1
- Print Gets Response – 2.24% direct order response rate for printed catalogs, compared with just 0.48% from emails. In fact, catalogs have the second highest response as a marketing option, after telemarketing.2
- Print Influences Decisions – 76% of customers have been directly influenced to purchase by direct mail.3
- Print Drives New Business – 70% of customers renewed a business relationship because of a direct mail promotion.4
- Print Leads to Repeat Business – 70% of customers renewed a business relationship because of a direct mail promotion.5
- Print Increases Online Search – 67% of online search is driven by offline messages; 39% ultimately make a purchase.6
- Print Increases Online Sales – 76% of internet users surveyed have been directly influenced to purchase an item or service thanks to a direct mail piece.7
With results like these, it’s no wonder so many successful organizations choose print.
1United States Postal Service (2007). Household Diary Study.
2DMA Response Rate Report (2008).
32009 Channel Preference Study.
42008 DMA /Pitney Bowes Direct Mail Survey.
6iProspect Offline Channel Influence on Online Search Behavior Study (2007).
7Exact Target, 2009 Channel Preference Study.
Don’t waste paper. That’s good advice, but unfortunately it often gets misinterpreted to mean “don’t use paper.” But paper is a renewable resource. Have you ever heard anyone say “don’t eat vegetables because we might run out” ? Of course not. Because when we eat vegetables, farmers grow more, which is good for the earth and good for farmers because it produces an income. The same is true with paper and trees. When we use paper, tree farmers plant more trees to supply more paper. They often plant 3 or 4 times more trees than they use. So yes, wasting paper is bad but using paper is good for the earth and for the economy.
Welcome to Mailbox Monday! In this segment, I pull pieces I receive in the mail and comment on the design, marketing effectiveness, etc. My hope is that these articles inspire you to start your own direct mail campaigns, or give you ideas for ways to improve campaigns you already have in place.
This week’s piece is a postcard dropped on my doorstep by a new restaurant, Rendezvous of Kabob. The postcard is glossy on both sides and made of thin cardstock. It’s standard 4″x6″ in size.
Here’s what stood out to me on this piece of restaurant marketing.
Rounded corners. I understand that rounded corners are very much a matter of taste. But in my opinion, they are an easy way to make a marketing postcard, or business card, stand out. Since most people use squared corners, rounded corners are just different enough to catch the eye without dramatically changing the look of the card or interfering with the brand design.
High Quality Photography. In the food industry, pictures are worth thousands of words and thousands of dollars. When I search for new recipes online, I only pay attention to the ones that have a picture. If I don’t know what to order at a new restaurant, I’ll usually choose an item with a picture in the menu. In many industries, especially food, it’s worth it to invest in high quality photos to use for advertising. The photo on this marketing card is sure to make stomachs rumble and wallets open up.
Effective Logo. The logo is clean, simple and predominantly displayed on both sides of the card to build brand recognition. The letters of the logo reference the name of the business while the chef’s hat reference’s the industry. It says a lot without being confusing.
Confusing offer. The one aspect of this card I don’t like is the offer. First of all, it’s too small. The offer is what is going to get a new customer to walk through the door, so it needs to be easy to see and understand. In addition to being small, there are scribbles all over it and it’s nearly impossible to tell what those scribbles mean. Is it some kind of verification code? If so, it should have been written somewhere else on the card so that the offer is still clearly legible. Is the restaurant trying to block out the offer so they don’t have to honor it? If that’s the case, they should have covered the ENTIRE offer so that the recipient would never know an offer had once existed.
YOUR TURN! What are your thoughts on the card? Do you like the rounded corners? What could be improved?