I’m you were to ask me:
“Henry — we’re in recession, I need a rapid injection of new clients, am short of cash and stuck. What can I do?”
My knee-jerk reaction would be to shoot straight down my list of 20 odd small business essential marketing principles that stop this happening in the first place, land a slap on the back of the head and tell you to listen to what I say and actually do it. But, that’s not what you’d want to hear. So, I’d help first, fix the problem later.
In truth there are lots of ways to generate new customers/clients fast and for free. And lots of ways that work in recession as well if not better than ‘good times’.
One of the best is what I refer to as the ‘Charity Event’. The concept is simple. You will provide a percentage of a period of times profit to a charity of your choice in return for a number of things:
1. Being allowed to use their name.
2. Getting their help promoting the event.
3. Securing as many future partnership deals as you can.
Now, we don’t have time here to go into as much depth as we could but I’ll give you an example.
A hair salon needs more clients fast. They contact their biggest local charity and tell them they’d like to run a one day sponsored event for them. X percent of the days profits will go to them and they are more than welcome to use their collection buckets on the day.
In return they’d like to use their name for publicity and would appreciate as many of their staff/volunteers as possible coming to the hair salon and pulling people in from outside for the event. Cool eh! Now, here’s how to get the word out for free. Write a press release with a headline along the lines of:
“FREE Hair Cuts for Everyone in Timbucktoo in Aid of the local 3 Eyed, 6 Legged, Dyslexic Farmers Charity”(use a real charity…)
Write a short, good press release and submit it DIRECTLY to all your local newspapers, magazines, directories etc. If you don’t hear, follow up with a phone call.
I helped someone run this exact event (although not for a hair salon) and the newspaper reporters and camera crew were in the premises the next day! Now, please note the press release must be newsworthy and must get attention. And yes, in this instance we are giving away free haircuts.
“Mental” I hear you cry. If you don’t have a world class follow up marketing system to get those people back into the business then yes it would be – although many would still return out of reciprocity.
If however you diligently follow up with all the people that came in, sent them interesting newsletters, emails and offer then that day would pay for itself tens if not hundreds of times over in the future… I hope you get the idea.
There are always opportunities to create a ‘buzz’ and generate recession busting ideas. Take this idea, tweak it and use it. And let me know how you get on.
(c) Copyright Henry Baker 2008