Our Friend Susan Reynolds has a terrific story of a marketing success you can learn from. It’s so good, I’m including it in our Small Biz 100, so you can develop your compelling offer that gets you more of the right customers.
A Fish Story
First the fish story. Susan taught children’s art lessons, starting with five students. She grew that into a hundred students without spending a dime on advertising. She did it by developing a compelling offer.
Then she looked for something that would have some lasting value, something that would hang around. So she created a 30 minute demo that students and parents both participated in, free, “How to Draw a Fish.”
Kids had fun; parents had fun; kids helped parents draw better fishes; fishes went home to go up on the refrigerator door; better more elaborate fish got drawn at home; and fish got talked about at soccer practice, baseball practice, ballet practice. Fish were a good thing.
Now, how to convert those leads into paying customers? She sent each kid home with two registration forms and a 10% discount for their first series of lessons. Another discount for early sign ups, and maybe more importantly, another discount for referrals. Wisely, she also kept the first paid series short, just 6 weeks, to keep commitments easy for customers.
Your compelling offer
I can’t summarize any better than Susan did:
What’s the magic combination of something that is of value to your audience, stays with them as a reminder, and doesn’t deplete your supply of valuable commodities: time, money, effort.
You also have new tools Susan couldn’t use in 1985. Through your blog, your social networks, memes, and more, you have terrific ways to spread your ideas.
How to Make Your Own
Make it compelling:
- Stays with them
- Starts discussions
- Low cost or free to you and the customer
Make the follow up offer even better:
- Include a discount
- Keep the paid commitment short
- Hook it together with the freebie
1. My liquor store has pretty strict rules to follow. But we still do occasional tasting events. We can’t give out discount coupons, but we do always give free tasting notes and wine lists, and our advice is always free. Anything featured at a tasting is displayed on the counter and on our blog, for easy follow up.
2. Chris Van Patten builds websites in WordPress, and wants to reach more small businesses. He could offer a free 30 minute coaching session on monitoring your online presence with Google Alerts to small businesses in his local area or region. Add a good follow up or referral offer for inexpensive web design, and there’s a compelling offer.
3. Laura Allen helps people build 15 Second Pitches. She offers a free online tool to walk you through the 4 step process. Hooking people into being paying clients is tougher. So she might start offering a short affordable follow up course, like “Now, Polish Your Pitch,” to catch more of those folks. By hooking her existing online training as an immediate follow-up, she might get better results!
What’s your compelling offer? Share it!
Stuck for a great offer? Tell us about it, and we’ll brainstorm in the comments.
This article is part of the Small Biz 100, a series of 100 practical hands-on posts for small business people and solo entrepreneurs, whether in a small town, the big city, or in between. If you have questions you’d like us to address in this series, leave a comment or send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. This is a community project!
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Becky started Small Biz Survival in 2006 to share rural business and community building stories and ideas with other small town business people. She and her husband have a small cattle ranch and are lifelong entrepreneurs. Becky is an international speaker on small business and rural topics.