Try our new product free for 10 days. If you're not satisfied, return it for a full refund.
Come to our open house. If you don't like what you hear, there's no obligation to stay.
We hear a lot of similar pitches and taglines in the media today. In fact, most of us are trained to ignore these messages. No matter how big and loud an infomercial announces, "But wait, there's more," we still don't swing our heads around to see what the next big offer is going to be.
That's why it's frustrating when local businesses in our small towns imitate the national advertisers. We have a unique infrastructure here - we have a much greater opportunity to influence word-of-mouth advertising, to build a recognizable brand, and to earn the trust of our local consumers. But only a handful of companies in the Twin Tiers appear on Facebook or Twitter, and several don't even have a website.
These days, an online presence is virtually free. Social media pages are a given, but blogs and simple websites are also next-to free. E-Bay lets users set up online stores, chipping off a small percentage of sales in exchange. Yahoo offers web-hosting packages with templates and content management tools for a minimal monthly charge. iContact.com will manage your email list and allow you to send newsletters to hundreds of customers at a time for about $8 / month.
The point is not to suggest that you lock your doors and only do business through the Internet. But you should make it easier for your fans to share their enthusiasm about your company. When a consumer hears of a positive experience from their peers rather than a radio ad, they're more likely to try your product.
When Pepsi issued their "Pepsi Challenge," they beat Coke in national taste-tests, but that doesn't mean everyone who tries Pepsi will be hooked. In fact, Coke is still the leader because they offer a better soft drink experience. Pepsi is sweeter, and will naturally be more appealing after a few sips, but that's not how people drink soda - they drink full cups and go back for refills, and generally prefer Coke.
The same is true for more complex products. A 10-day trial or an open house is not a true customer experience, it's just a taste-test. Try giving your current customers a better experience, and they'll be more likely to talk about it with their friends. Combine that with making it easier to spread the word by building your online presence for free, and see what happens to your future sales.
Sean Lukasik is a Creative Agent / Marketing Professional in the Elmira-Corning region of Upstate New York. He is President of Twin Tiers Young Professionals and a consultant for Pipeline 4 Progress. Visit his website at www.SeanLukasik.com.