Steve Marr Blog

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Category >> Getting and Keeping Customers
Jul 18
2019

Free, A Key Marketing Principle

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I happen to like free goods, partly because I’m of Scottish background and I like to be slow to part with the dollar. For example I like going to Costco and I can almost make a free lunch out of the samples offered.  In some instances people are lined up for the free tasty goodie and I have to admit from time to time I’ve actually purchased a new product based on how yummy the sample. The store continues with these offers week after week because the free samples are effective at generating sales at the time and hopefully long-term.

Frequently in marketing we look at the three-tier approach, the shotgun, the rifle shot followed by the scope shot. Frequently a free product is very effective at the wider net of encouraging customers to try your product, and hopefully then graduating into buying paid products. 

Amazon offers free shipping on a wide variety of transactions, including Prime customers and free shipping to all in some circumstances. Amazon’s sales research indicates customers will buy more often and are more likely to return when the shipping is free. I know I hate to pay $20 for product online only to discover that shipping and handling is another $9.95, and typically cancel the transaction. I need to be careful because when I click on an order with free shipping I do have to be careful that I’m not paying more for the product to absorb the shipping but the word free does grab me. Further, according to research by both Amazon and eBay sellers that include free shipping tend to receive higher reviews. One not sure I understand why this would be the case but the research seems valid and therefore we need to pay attention.

Jul 11
2019

Wording Marketing Materials

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I spend a fair amount of time writing. I understand that words matter, even small words. I tell myself that I should labor over words in an article more carefully, but time does not allow me this luxury. However, when I write ad copy; I choose my words more carefully.  I realize that each word creates an image of the business and can gain or lose business. Whether I market on the Internet or through print media, words are my bridge to potential customers.

Jul 04
2019

Follow Up Leads

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Sometimes when I step in to see a prospective customer or make an initial phone call, the business is closed.  If I don’t follow up, I’ve lost a potential customer. What I have learned over the years about following up leads, I now use in a damage restoration business I have an interest in.  When a customer calls because a pipe break caused their living room ceiling to collapse, they’re usually anxious to sign the work order and have our company immediately mitigate the problem. Unfortunately, it’s not always as simple as that. It requires working with property managers, insurance agents, and sometimes referred businesses.

Jun 26
2019

Analyze Customer Needs

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Most salespeople talk too much. They tend to launch into a sales pitch before understanding what the customer needs. King Solomon understood this when he wrote “To answer before listening-- that is folly and shame.” (Proverbs 18:13, NIV) Making your sales pitch before listening to the customer is the same kind of “folly.”

We need to keep in mind that for almost every product or service there are multiple reasons a customer may buy. When we start with the sales pitch, we may or may not hit the mark. A better tactic is to conduct a needs analysis. This is a process were the salesperson endeavors to understand what is important to the customer.

Jun 17
2019

Cash Not Accepted

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The Associated Press recently ran an article that several retail establishments were no longer accepting cash, only credit and debit cards or Apple Pay.  I realize how some stores may benefit by not taking cash. It requires less time and trouble for the clerk and lowers concern over cash theft.  It also makes accounting easier because transactions fall easily into an automated system. There are no federal laws requiring business to accept cash.  Most state and local municipalities don’t have such regulations in place, either.

In my business career I have adopted a simple rule when somebody wants to put money in your hand: close your hand. For business transactions, I prefer that every customer pay me with a bank transfer. It places the cash immediately into my account with little transaction cost. However, if I insisted customers do business on my terms; I would have fewer customers, which is why I will accept cash, credit and debit cards, checks and any other payment method. Although, I won’t take chickens the way people used to. I want to make payment for services as easy as possible for my customer. I can run a credit card immediately on a mobile device, email an invoice, or text a customer so that they can simply click and pay.  Or they could write a check and stick it in the mail. The important part is making payment as easy as possible for your customer, on their terms.

Many years ago, stores started granting credit cards as a way of increasing sales. A store knew that even though there was a cost to maintaining a credit card system and an occasional bad debt write-off, the increased sales more than offset the cost of offering these cards. Today most businesses pay between 2% and 3% on credit card transactions. I would rather not pay the credit card fee in my business, however; I would rather pay the fee than lose the customer.