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Street Marketing for Small Businesses

By: David Frey

David Frey is the senior editor of the Marketing Best Practices Newsletter, a weekly epublication devoted to small business marketing. MarketingBestPractices.com

It's 2:00pm on a Saturday afternoon and you're watching the Dallas Cowboys beat up on the San Francisco Forty-Niners. You faintly hear a knocking at your door but you ignore it because the Cowboys are in the "red zone" and are about to score again.

Again, you hear a knocking at your door and you grudgingly get up to go answer it. Before you open the door you look through your trusty peep hole that allows you to see who is bothering you on a relaxing Saturday afternoon. There he is, an energetic-looking young man with a big smile on his face.

You know what's coming next…the sales pitch for something you don't want. But the young man catches your eye because he looks so clean cut. He has a nice shirt on with a tie and looks really happy. Finally, you decide to open the door.

As you do, the young man promptly extends his hand and says, "Hello, my name is Alex Gordon. I am trying to raise money for my college education and to do that I have teamed up with, Dezingers, the best local restaurant in the area. Dezingers is offering you over $500 worth of meals for free. It's really an incredible offer. Can I take a moment of your time to explain it to you?

You think to yourself, "I've seen Dezingers. They're giving away $500 of free meals…wow! This clean cut young guy is working to raise money for his education…that's impressive." You say to the young lad, "Sure, come on in."


Welcome to One-to-One Community-Based Street Marketing.

You have just witnessed (in your mind's eye) the power of one-to-one community-based street marketing. How many radio or newspaper advertisements can pull a football fanatic out of his chair, during an exciting football game, to see or hear your advertisement. The answer is none.

One-to-one community-based street marketing is powerful and effective because it searches and finds your prospect and delivers your marketing message face-to face. No other marketing medium has that power. Not even direct mail or the Internet.

It is said that consumers receive over 3,500 advertisements a day in one way or another. It is difficult for even the best marketer to cut through that much advertisement clutter. With thousands of advertisements being read, heard, or seen, your prospect can become dazed and confused. Those businesses that take their customers by the hand and demonstrate their value proposition will be the winners.


Most Any Product is a Good Candidate for Street Marketing

Most any common consumable product is a good candidate for street marketing as long as the offer is right. However, products and services that work the best are ones that the consumer already purchases such as oil changes, haircuts, or pest control.

The following are several popular items that do very well in the street marketing environment:
  • Restaurants
  • Golfing
  • Auto Services
  • Video Rental
  • Sport Events
  • Dry Cleaning
  • Children's Recreation Centers
  • Movie Theatre
  • Fast Food Restaurant (especially pizza takeout)
  • Car Wash
  • Hair or Nail Salon
  • Liquid Cleaners
…and many more

Not long ago I purchased a coupon package for a local car wash. The car wash offered me several free washes, carpet cleaning, upholstery cleaning, and even an engine cleaning for only $25. I knew that I needed to get my car cleaned and I figured I could make my money back in only two visits to the car wash. I bought it.


What are the Benefits of One-on-One Community-Based Street Marketing?

We've already mentioned how effective street marketing is because it cuts through the marketing clutter. But perhaps the biggest advantage is that it is extremely effective at driving customers to the local establishment sponsoring the campaign.

Think about it. Once you purchase a $25 set of coupons for a service, you're going to use that service to get a return on your dollar. So in essence, it's more effective to sell your coupons than it is to give them away as free gifts.

Another benefit is that when a new customer carries the coupon into the establishment and presents it to the service person, it acts as a flag to the business to give that new customer(s) the red carpet treatment. When your new customer has a great experience, they will come back again.


Who Walks the Street and Sells your Offer Door-to-Door?

A good college student that needs extra cash is a great candidate for street marketing. Depending on how you arrange the deal with your marketers, the person doing the door knocking can keep up to 100% of the profit! How good is that?

For instance, let's assume you were selling a dry cleaner coupon pack to residents for $20 and your closing ratio was 30% (not unreasonable for street marketers). It takes your street marketer one hour to hit ten houses in which people are home. As the street marketer, you close three of the ten houses and pocket $60. I don't know of one single college student that wouldn't knock doors for $60 an hour.

Strategies for Making Community-Based Street Marketing Work

It's not difficult to make community-based street marketing pay off big if you follow a few important strategies.

Strategy # 1 - Present an Irresistible Offer

The most important element of success for street marketing is the offer. If you can present an offer that is nearly irresistible you will have a high probability of success. If you understand your "total customer value" and your "customer acquisition cost," creating a great offer isn't hard.

If you know these figures you'll know how much products or services you can afford to freely offer and still make a handsome profit on backend sales (repeat visits, larger follow-on purchases, referrals etc.)

To develop your offer, sit down and write out a list of all your products and services. Now separate the basic products and services from the add-ons. Then start bundling your basic products and services with several add-ons using different combinations.

Strategy # 2 - Maximize Upsells

Structure the offer for maximum upsells. For example, offering a free rug shampoo and engine cleaning with a paid car wash forces the customer to pay for a car wash to get their free rug shampoo and engine cleaning.

Hint: When developing your offer (coupon sheet) you need to give away several basic offerings before you start bundling. For instance, if you are an oil and lube service consider giving away three oil changes free of charge, then bundle a paid oil change with other free add-ons. This allows the purchaser to clearly see that there is value even if they just cash in on a few coupons.

Strategy # 3 - Make It a Fundraiser

Consider using your offer as a fundraiser for a local high school. Local fast food restaurants use this tactic often. They allow the student to keep a portion of the proceeds, which shows support for the high school and at the same time giving the fast food restaurant a great reputation in the community.

But the most powerful part of using it as a fundraiser is that it gives residents a different, more powerful reason to buy your services. Who can resist a local high school student pounding the pavement to raise some money so they can have a uniform to play softball?

Another spin on this tactic if you don't want the fuss of setting up a joint venture with the local high school is to use a young college student. In their door approach script have them say, "Hi, my name is David Frey and I'm trying to raise money for my college education." Again, you've now turned a selling situation into a cause-related charitable donation, which dramatically lowers the barrier to purchase.

Strategy # 4 - Team Selling

Form your sales team into small groups of young people that attack a small neighborhood. Just knowing that your partner is on the other side of the street also knocking doors, will motivate your sales force. It's fun when the two street marketers get to the end of the street and compare notes (and sales!)

Strategy # 5 - Set Goals

Setting goals is another excellent way to keep your street marketers motivated. Because street marketing is a very results oriented marketing tactic that can be measure on a daily basis, it's easy to set, not only monthly or weekly goals, but also even daily and hourly goals.

For instance, you might set a goal for your marketer to contact 15 homes every hour. Another goal would be a "closing goal" that encouraged marketers to close four out of every five presentations for a 40% closing ratio.

Once you've developed a set of simple goals that are easy to understand and measure, stack rank your marketers and post results. The low performers will either be motivated to do better or quit. Both are acceptable results because you don't want low performers who aren't motivated to improve.

Don't forget to recognize your street marketers who are your top performers with rewards that they consider valuable whether it be money, a vacation, picture on the wall, dinner for two, or even a one week sports car rental.

Strategy # 6 - Have a Great Product and Give Great Service

Getting the coupon in the hands of your prospect is only the start. Once they redeem the coupon you must demonstrate high value. If you don't, you've just wasted a lot of money. You see your coupon is just a lead generator, nothing more.

Don't be confused; they are not customers just because they bought your coupon pack. They become customers when they've had a great experience with your product or service so when they come in to redeem their coupon, give them 110%. Make it a real "Wow" experience.


Make a Big Splash In a Small Pond

Many small businesses make the mistake of marketing too big. By this I mean, they take out ads in papers, on the radio, even on T.V that reach large areas, even outside of their market area. Before they know it, their marketing budget is blown and they have nothing to show for it.

Take a lesson from the real estate industry, choose a neighborhood and DOMINATE that neighborhood. Then move to the next neighborhood. Too many small businesses jump up and down in an ocean and expect to make a wave while they should be jumping up and down in a small puddle where they can make a huge splash. Street marketing is neighborhood and community based. It attacks the small puddles. But after dominating about five or six puddles, you'll start seeing big results.


Conclusion

Door-to-door, community based marketing is more effective at cutting through the marketing clutter than any other marketing tactic in existence. The offer presented at the door by your marketer is the biggest determinant of success. Consider using young adults who are trying to raise funds for college or a worthy cause. Send your marketers out in groups and set personal and team goals for them to achieve. Be ready to give you're your new customers the red carpet treatment so that they'll stay customers for life.

© Copyright 2002, David Frey

Other Articles by David Frey

The author assumes full responsibility for the contents of this article and retains all of its property rights. MarcommWise publishes it here with the permission of the author. MarcomWise assumes no responsibility for the article's contents.

 

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