- by Lisa Wagner -
Most companies have a time of year when there is a dip in business volume due to weather or other seasonal factors.
For those companies who do not like to discount or offer coupons, the challenge is how to boost the flow of jobs during the slow season without ruining your positioning with clients who are using you based on your level of quality of work instead of because you are the cheapest company in town.
The fact is, many companies are willing to give up some of their profit margin to keep their team busy during the slower times instead of laying them off. So the question is, how to make the right type of offer to keep the cash flow steady during your slowest time until you move into your busier season?
Over the years you have surely seen examples of gift certificate and gift card “thank you” letters. I am giving you one example that has been used by our clients during their slower winter months.
This particular letter I am sharing is to be delivered with a plastic gift card for a determined amount ($25 used in this case) and an offer to double that amount if used within a particular period of time.
This is a personal communication of thanks to a list of past customers (not to a cold list of strangers), and the thank you is a “gift” to them of the gift card. This is a 2-page letter to be mailed out in ideally a handwritten envelope or using a VERY realistic digital handwriting font.
THE MARKETING MECHANISMS:
For a company delivering good work and service in a community there is nothing more valuable an asset than your House List. As that list grows this will become your best place to generate repeat and referral business from.
With this campaign, the goal is to generate overall good will with people who already know you and trust you, and to generate an increase in jobs during your slower season months.
Here are the mechanisms that help to make this campaign work:
• Hand addressed envelopes. The challenge for all marketing pieces is getting the message “opened.” Hand addressed items always get opened. Having a personal name in the return address (instead of the company name) also will help increase your open rate. The goal is to make it a personal looking piece of mail instead of “junk” mail.
• Personalized and sincere message of thanks. Rather than a generic “company speak” letter, this one needs to be personal. It is addressed to them, and the copy is conversational. This makes the letter more apt to be read by the person opening it.
• Gift card instead of a coupon. A paper coupon will go into a trashcan, while a gift card will not. There is a higher perceived value in that plastic card because we have been conditioned to recognize those cards as “real money.” That reality works in our favor, and makes the “gift” in this case truly perceived as cash value.
• Call to action. The doubling of the value during the 60-day period chosen is the call-to-action to generate calls sooner rather than later.*
(* - In the example letter given there was NO expiration date placed on the gift card, as most “real” gift cards do not expire. In this case you are welcome to place an expiration on the card and change the letter to reflect this date. If you are purchasing a large number of cards, then you may set the expiration off into the future so that you are not forced to dispose of them when they expire.)
• Good “reasons why.” Giving solid reasons why it’s a good time to clean, and why you are making them this offer, makes it more believable. Letting them know that this will help you keep your team employed also lets them feel good about booking during this period.
This campaign letter can easily be edited to be used during any time of the year when you need a bump in jobs from your existing customer list.
Download the sample letter and the instructions for the campaign down below.
I hope this helps you get a little busy during your slow season.
P.S. This strategy is a “template” that could be used for any target market that you would like to generate work from. For example, if you have a list of real estate professionals, interior designers, or other professional group of potential referral sources you would like to network with, think about how you could reach them using a gift card. Consider a genuine, personal, invitation with a gift card attached for them to use your services, or to give to their favorite client.
Examples of this type of strategic marketing to build a large active referral source network will be shared in depth as one small part of my presentation at The Experience Atlanta in April. (Click Here to go to Experience sign up page)
Get Your Gift Card Strategy
Get instructions and a sample letter you can use.