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Q: I attended a general marketing workshop last week. I expected to get a bunch of great ideas to use on my truck and start making more money. Instead, I’ve got a headache. The speaker talked about branding, merchandising, public relations and more stuff I don’t remember, and couldn’t figure out how to use in my business. I just want to do something to bump up sales next month. What do you suggest?
A: Sounds like the workshop leader talked more about textbook marketing than real-world marketing. And, as you and I both know, mobile tool and equipment distribution is anything but textbook. It is very different from any other business — it’s part salesman, part retailer, and part collections agent.
Since you were attending a marketing seminar, I’ll assume you were looking for marketing ideas. Sales promotion sounds like it might fit the bill. Sales promotions are quick, short-term marketing programs intended to create an immediate boost in sales. A consumer marketer loves promotions because the results of a promotion are fairly easy to measure. If a program is successful, you can run it again and again (think McDonald’s annual Monopoly promotion). If it falls flat, you know right away and can avoid it in the future.
Here are a couple creative promotional strategies I think adapt well for mobile distribution.
A price promotion is a discount with a deadline. It’s all about creating a sense of urgency — it’s the old “call before midnight tonight” tactic. Nobody likes to miss out on a good deal, so if they really want that bright shiny tool, they’ll do all they can to buy it before the offer expires.
Coupons are perhaps the most common consumer price promotion. They are a great way to draw sales from both new and existing customers.
Think of your monthly flyer as one big coupon. The key to success is to get them into the hands of both current customers and prospects. And be sure to remind them again and again that those deals end at the end of the month.
Another price promotion tactic is holding a sale. We don’t use the word “sale” in mobile distribution, instead we say “special.” So, imagine you want to move an excess inventory of torque wrenches this month. One way to do it is to put a sign up in your truck that says “Model XYZ Torque Wrench. Special $199.99 — while supplies last.” The good price and the short supply should serve to move product off the truck and cash into your pocket.
The key to many successful promotions is to make them fun. One fun way I heard of to promote your clearance items it to create a “Garage Sale” or “Yard Sale.” It’s a fun, easy, ongoing promotion you can run year-round. Simply get a remnant of carpet (preferably green) and line a section of shelf with it. Put up a “Yard Sale” sign and rotate in your clearance items. You’ll be surprised how many guys will rifle through these items looking for deals.
Be aware that price promotion will mean discounting. That money has to come from somewhere. It’s fine if you’re getting a discount on items from your flag or WD, or if you need to quickly dump overstock to free up cash. But any other discounting means you’re giving away part of your margin — so use it with discretion.
Remember as a kid begging mom for a box of cereal for the prize inside? Or collecting boxtops for a super-duper-decoder-ring? That’s the basic idea behind premiums: people love to get free and/or exclusive stuff.
There are several ways you can use a premium to reward your customers. Maybe you want to sell more creepers and creeper seats. Rather than discount the price, you can throw in a hat, shirt or some other giveaway to stimulate December sales. The shirt with your flag’s logo on it may cost you $9, but to the customer it may seem to be worth much more.
Using the sense of urgency to drive sales
Taking advantage of the value your customers perceive in free giveaways
Promote your clearance items in a creative way.