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.
Our annual holiday schedules of events are ready to order! We’ve done things a little differently this year. Instead of choosing a city, you simply choose your county and we’ll put together a list of major events taking place in different areas throughout the county. Have some specific events you want featured? No problem, just send those over and we’ll put them on the card you choose.
These pieces are particularly effective because they are sticky, meaning people are likely to keep them around for a while and reference them more than once. Every time they do, they’ll be reminded of your name, your face and your brand. These pieces have a strong ROI and are a great way to wrap up your 2017 direct mail marketing efforts.
Each design is available as an 8.5×8.5 postcard or 8.5×5.5 postcard. As always, the production fee of $12 is waived when you order 200 or more. Additional bulk discounts apply for orders of 500+ and 1,000+. Download the order form and email it to firstname.lastname@example.org or give us a call if you have questions 949-587-5301.
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.
We have added 5″x7″ foldover greeting cards to our Thanksgiving card collection. These unique designs are perfect for real estate agents, small business owners or nonprofit organizations. Each comes with suggested messaging, but you are free to submit your own if you prefer. Be sure to check out our 2017 Thanksgiving Postcards as well.
This year, consider sending your clients cards and gifts at Thanksgiving instead of Christmas. They’ll love the creativity and thoughtfulness, and you’ll love having extra time to attend to things that have to be done around Christmas (like last minute shopping!) Our full line of Thanksgiving cards are available to order now. We can print and return them to you, OR mail them for you on a future date. Simple download the order forms, fill them out and return them to firstname.lastname@example.org. Have questions? Feel free to call us at 949-587-5301.
These postcards have messaging geared toward real estate or small businesses. However, the messaging can be changed to fit your specific marketing needs.
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 an answer I gave to a print company about setting up a business blog.
How can i start a daily blog related to my business and products? should i just do it on Facebook and use my business page as the “blog” or should i create an actual new site for the blog, then share that link on my Facebook/LinkedIn business page?
Like many others, I would recommend integrating the blog with your actual website. If you don’t have a website, or you are looking to revamp, WordPress and Wix are easy to use, very affordable (sometimes free) and have blog integrations. Our current blog and website are set up on WordPress and I love it. It’s very versatile and if you have a bit of time to learn, or a bit of money to hire a professional, you can do some really stuff.
And yes, you definitely need to be sharing your blog posts on social media. You can set it up so that when you publish a post it automatically goes to social channels, but I also recommend manually posting to increase visibility and engagement.
I blog for a print company and have a few additional insights to share.
1) It takes quite a while to see ROI on a blog. I was blogging regularly for about 3 years before I started to see it make any difference.
2) Most likely you will burn out trying to do a daily blog, especially if you have a lot of other responsibilities in the company. I recommend starting with once a week, or once every other week.
3) Pinterest has been the most effective social media platform for promoting our blog. I always put a picture with every post and then put that picture on Pinterest and often get at least 1-2 clicks to our website.
4) In addition to blogging educational articles, I blog about new products with pictures included. I use a lot of key words in these articles and this has really increased our visibility. Many people who call us from the website do so because they saw one of the product articles.
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 an answer I gave to a childcare center who needed ideas on how to promote a new location opening.
How do you alert others of a new location opening? We are opening a new location of our childcare center – Spectrum Station Barry Road. We are enrolling and hiring new staff. What is the best way you would suggest communicating this with the local community?
Alright readers, 10 points if you can guess what marketing tactic I suggest first. I’ll wait here.
Did you guess direct mail? Of course you did! We are all about direct mail here at One Step Services. But seriously though, direct mail marketing is PERFECT for this sort of thing. A 3 month, 6 month or even year long campaign to residents directly surrounding the new daycare center would be very effective. There are two ways to go about doing this, and you’d have to run the numbers to see what would be most cost effective. The first way is to use the US Postal Services EDDM program. With this program, you don’t address to specific people. You simply pick a carrier route (or multiple routes) in the area you want to target. The pieces are addressed with “postal customer” and every single house on the route gets a piece. The rates for EDDM are lower than first class or standard mail. If most residences in the routes you choose have children, then this is probably the best way to go. However, if there aren’t a lot of residences with kids, the second option may be better.
The second option is to purchase a targeted list. You can set geographic parameters, and also choose to only get addresses of residences with children. The list will have specific names and addresses. With this list, you know that each piece is going to a home with kids. Plus, you can use variable data to personalize the pieces which will give you a better return on investment. You’ll also receive standard mail discounts, which is cheaper than first class, not as cheap as EDDM. But if you are mailing to fewer houses, it might save you money overall.
In addition to direct mail, I highly recommend getting current staff, students and families on board with promoting the new site. I send my kids to daycare and would gladly share about my experience to friends and family on social media. I’d also write a review on Yelp or any other site. But, I’d have to be asked. This is key. Those parents and staff are busy, so you have to ask and then ask again. Send an email, post on the social media channels they follow, put a note in the kids cubbies or folders. And if you really want to amp up the referral game, offer a tuition or registration discount for families that get other families to sign up.
Contests are a great way to engage your audience. Whether you are trying make connections with current clientele, or you are trying to build a list of potentials, a contest is a fun way to get people to notice your brand and take action. Of course, there are hundreds of different types of contests. Below I’ve detailed the four most popular contests you can easily run through direct mail.
Audience: Typically families. Usually kids will want to do the coloring but you need the parents to give permission and fill out the entry form.
Execution: You mail a coloring page with an attached submission form that asks for basic contact information. Participants can make the form back or drop it off at a predetermined location. You pick the winner on a designated date. Typically, there are a few different winners, one for each age group. You can mail the prize or drop it off. Do not make the recipients claim the prize. The idea is to make entering and redeeming as easy as possible.
Your Benefit: You can collect contact information for leads and follow up with emails and/or phone calls.
Execution: This is a very popular one with our real estate clients. They mail out a flyer that details the prize, which is large and relevant to motivate participation. $500 gift cards to theme parks, grocery stores, and home improvement stores are common. The flyer also has a tear off portion that asks for contact information and also asks for a bit more information about the participant (are they interested in selling, do they want a free market update, etc). Participants can mail the tear off portion back, or drop it off at a local office
Your Benefit: You get more information about people on your mailing list, which you can use for follow up emails and phone calls.
Execution: My son subscribes to a children’s magazine. On one edition, he received a postcard with three spaces to scratch off. He did so, and won a small prize which he claimed by mailing the postcard back to the magazine company. This contest works well if you have a lot of small prizes to give away. If you have many winners, you’ll get lots of great response but you have to be sure you’ve got enough prizes and an inexpensive way to get them to the participants.
Your Benefit: You can take the opportunity to gather more information, or keep it simple and just engage your audience in a positive way that builds brand trust and recognition.
Audience: People that live near your brick and mortar business.
Execution: I’ve seen this one done at restaurants a lot, but it could work for any brick and mortar business. Send participants a scratcher or sealed envelope. Assure them that there is a prize voucher inside but that they have to open or scratch it off in the store in order to redeem. Make sure the prize is something they can use while in the store that day, like a discount or free product.
Your Benefit: Brings people into your store and motivates them to purchase that day. You don’t have to pay for return postage.
One Step can help facilitate any of these contests for you by designing, printing and mailing the entry forms. Just give us a call at 949-587-5301 or email email@example.com to get started.
Not every marketing piece has to be a sales pitch. Sometimes its nice to simply connect with your customer base and wish them a happy holiday. This helps build brand recognition and trust. Our 4th of July postcards do just that. Use our greeting or create your own. Choose from a rustic flag postcard or one that celebrates the nostalgia of childhood summers.
Download the order form and email it to firstname.lastname@example.org 4th of July Order Form