In a small business, one of the best ways to win over new customers is through the use of samples. If it is possible for the owner to let potential future customers try out a product or service first, this can greatly reduce the buyer’s risk, and increase sales.

Here are some guidelines which can help you use samples more effectively:

Keep It Simple You should not overwhelm your customers with too many samples. Try to figure out which one or two products or services would be ideal, and let them choose from among those. Even the simple act of suggesting the most popular (among several options) can improve sales for you. The danger in using too many samples is that customers can become overwhelmed, and may find it easier to make no purchase at all, instead of the targeted choice you suggest. Present Your Offer Soon After Once someone has tried your product or service, and been favorably impressed with the results, it is important to keep the buying process moving forward by allowing the potential customer to buy the larger version of your offering. Getting bogged down in other details, or allowing the customer’s attention to become occupied by distractions, generally will work against you. Presenting your offer when a customer’s emotions are most favorable (after successful performance) increases the likelihood of a sale being made. Move On Quickly When A Sample Fails If a potential customer does not care for a particular offering, then the best alternative is to move on smoothly to a product or service offering which may fit them better. You might also ask a few targeted questions to improve your recommendations. The reasoning here is that if your best offerings do not match what the customer is looking for, it is unlikely that you will have more opportunities to make a sale. Of course, if you have reason to believe that none of the products would be a great fit for a customer, you should disclose this and part as friends. This strategy might cost a few sales in the short-run, but the long-term benefits to reputation usually more than make up for it.

In summary, product and service demonstrations are a powerful way of increasing sales. By limiting the available choices, making an offer soon after the sample, and moving on when a sample is not working, you can improve your sales tremendously.

Copyright 2010, by Marc Mays
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Big companies can spend enormous sums on advertising. However, you can enhance your small business marketing strategy by applying some of the techniques that they use to get great sales conversions.

Copywriting is the art and skill of creating compelling sales text. It introduces your products or services to your customers, in terms of the benefits that will encourage customers to buy. Customers shouldn’t have to do any work to decide how a product or service might benefit them.

With the speed of life these days, you have just a few short seconds to make an impact. This means that any ad or marketing copy will need to get straight to the point of the prospect’s interest, and be very direct.

The four questions that every prospect asks when reading your copy are:

What is this (product or service)? How much is it? What is good about it? Why do I want it?

Study the product or service. Write down the features. Features are facts, i.e. size, color, options etc. Now write down the benefits. Both features and benefits are important to selling, however benefits win the sale. If you know your prospect well, one of the benefits will leap out at you as the most obvious one. Use this in your headline.

Write your headline. Take your list of benefits and write 20 headlines. Put your headlines away for one day, and then come back to them. If you feel stuck for ideas about which headline will make your readers want to learn more – books like Joe Sugarman’s ‘The Adweek Copywriting Handbook’ will walk you through the entire copywriting process. Mr Sugarman says that the headline needs to be written to encourage the reader to read the second line. According to David Ogilvy, the advertising guru, five times more people will read the headline than the copy body.

Write the body. Detail the features and benefits of the product or service. If you need inspiration, find an ad or copy that you feel inspires you. Then study it to discover what it is about it that makes you want to read more.

Use the AIDA sales technique. A = Attention. Demand attention with a powerful headline. I = Interest. Pique curiosity and create interest. D = Detail. Provide details about the product or service. A=Action. Call to action.

Anticipate consumer objections. Anticipate and deal with any potential objections before your reader raises them for you.

Add Testimonials. Testimonials add credibility. They can be very powerful and are often used as headlines.

Calls to Action. At the end of the copy, add your call to action. You need to tell your customer what you want them to do. If you want them to buy from you, then tell them so. If you add an element of urgency or a time pressure, this will most often result in more sales. For example – Order Now at 0-800-555-5555 or Call Us Now To Ask About Our Special Discount. To get ideas, study what the advertising material that big business circulate. They have spent time and money analyzing what works.

The internet (apart from a few images and videos) is made up of words. Learning good copywriting is essential for use in the small business marketing arsenal of tools.

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One of the marketing strategies many businesses use to advertise their new venture often includes some form of roadside marketing. Roadside marketing can include not only a sign by the side of the road, but also billboards, and car wraps or other advertising placed on vehicles. This kind of marketing has an additional challenge when compared with other forms of marketing, namely, that the potential customers are in motion, and they will probably forget the message or not act upon it immediately unless it is particularly compelling. Probably the single most important principle to make roadside marketing stand out is simply this:

Get your essential contact information to the customer, now!

When reaching out to new customers, you only have a few minutes at most to make an impression, and then only when the customer is stuck in traffic. Accordingly, the length of your message should be proportionate to the time a customer has to read it– a longer message if the customer has more time, and a shorter one for when they are going faster. Since the time to create an impression can often be measured in mere seconds, it is a waste of money to do anything other than get the essential information to your prospects so they can contact you later. One of the best ways to do this is by making a website address one of the first things a customer sees.

A company’s website address should be memorable, short (whenever possible), and prominently displayed in large letters for easy readability. A website is much better than a simple phone number, as it is harder to mix up letters in a word, than numbers in a semi-random sequence. Ideally, you want to make it difficult for a customer to make mistakes in contacting you, and easy for them to do business with you. For this reason, homonyms (same-sounding words), and odd spellings of words should also be avoided in your business website and name. A company’s name can also be included, but this is secondary information, and so it does not need to be as large as the website text.

Ultimately, when a customer gets a quick, general idea of a company’s main benefit to them, and finds it easy to get back in touch with them, they are more likely to do business. That makes roadside advertising a good means of getting more business, when used properly.

Copyright 2010, by Marc Mays
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