Your customers are ignoring you.
When your customers got up this morning, not a single one of them thought about you.
They continued not thinking about you over breakfast, ignored you on the way to work, and remained unaware of you throughout their busy day.
Now, your customers have work that you could do. And if all that work were to land on your desk today, it would be a mountain of stuff. But for one reason or another, that mountain isn’t coming your way.
So if the mountain isn’t coming to you, you need to go to the mountain. According to the great adman Fairfax Cone, “Advertising is what you do when you can’t go see somebody.”
You go to the mountain through advertising. But not the kind of advertising you’re thinking about.
You probably think advertising is about buying ads in newspapers or on TV. And it’s expensive.
These best times to advertise are inexpensive and powerful
Advertising doesn’t have to be expensive — here’s how it can be low-cost. With no new software to learn. And nothing to buy. This could be the best advertising return-on-investment you’ll see all year.
Here’s how you can use plain ol’ email to tell your customers things they want to know.
Rather than annoy people, here’s a list of messages to your customers that they will find interesting.
Here are legitimate reasons to contact your customer — excuses to put yourself in their email inbox — with one caveat: You need to keep the emails informational. This is not the time to say “sizzling summer sale”. Find other ways to avoid being a spammer here.
Additionally, you need to send only to people who have agreed to receive email from you.
Now, with those warnings aside, here are 12 excuses to remind customers that you exist:
There’s a computer virus in the news.
If you use a computer to do work for your clients, every time there’s a big story in the news about some virus, you’ve got an opportunity to remind them that their valuable data files are safe with you because you’re using the latest anti-virus software. (You are using the latest anti-virus software, right?)
While you’re talking about those valuable data files, why not remind the client about the project those valuable data files are for? This will cement you as the go-to person for that part of the client’s business.
You started work on a project for that client.
Clients don’t stop shopping for something after they buy it. The second-greatest consumers of advertising for a product are people who have just bought the product. They want to be reassured. So reassure them about what a great deal they made, the quality of your service, and when you expect to have it finished. This is one of the best times to advertise.
You complete a course.
If you’ve just learned a new skill, tell your customers and prospects. And when you tell them, point out how your new knowledge benefits them. People are always interested in how something benefits them.
Some learning sites make this kind of advertising easy. For example, when you finish a course on Lynda.com, a technology-learning site, you can email a certificate to anyone who might care that you now have this expertise. So you can use this feature to woo new business, or remind existing customers that you can deliver even better service with this greater understanding.
You get a new machine.
This is one of the best times to advertise and it comes naturally to business people. It’s closely tied to the question, “How am I going to pay for this new dweezle-bopper?”
Sometimes you’ve got an old machine, but it can do new tricks. If you’ve bought new software, tell how it can make your clients’ dreams come true. Having something new is, well, news.
You’ve recently sent a quote for a project.
This is a flaming-red-pants-on-fire one of the best times to advertise. When you give a quote for a project, put the prospect’s name on a mailing list for promotional postcards about that kind of work. Over the next few weeks, send out the postcards, reminding them about something they have already shown interest in. This is a thoughtful act that can benefit both of you as a result.
Your proposal is about to expire.
When you send a proposal to a prospect, putting an expiry date on your offer is good business. It spurs people to take action. But don’t think that people remember when your proposal expires; remind them a week before the deadline. Three days before the deadline. The morning of the deadline. This is especially powerful if your prices are about to go up — nobody wants to pay more for something.
You’ve done a project for someone in the same industry.
People love to know what their competitors are doing. This is one of the best times to advertise to your clients and prospects. Your prospects don’t want to feel left behind and seeing their competitors moving ahead spurs them to keep up. Hence the winner is: You.
You can take this to a new level: If you see one of your client’s competitors moving ahead with a new strategic plan, or ad campaign, or redesigned store — or whatever service or product you sell — tell your client about it! Clients will wonder that if you know about this new initiative, how many other thousands know about it too? And that will consequently spur them to order more work. From you.
You get a new logo.
Your logo is the face of your business. And if your business has a new face — or you’ve refreshed your logo — that’s news. A logo exhibited conspicuously on your building helps people find you quickly. Make it easier by showing them what to look for. Furthermore, it’s probably a good idea to keep the message less sales-y by including some other hard news about your business.
A lot has been happening on your website.
If the changes on your site reflect a new emphasis in your business that your customers can get excited about, let them know.
A year has passed since you completed a project for them.
It’s not just people who have birthdays. Projects have birthdays too. Take this annual occasion to remind your customer that you did the work and to inquire about how well your work is holding up. For all you know, they’ve forgotten who did it! Don’t let that happen.
And if five years has passed since you’ve delivered the project, it’s probably time for a refresh. Contact them about how you can do the project better now.
You’re going on vacation.
If you’ve got a one-person shop and you’re going on vacation, let the folks who have done business with you over the past year know your office will be closed for that period. Send out an “I’ll be away” email notice two weeks before leaving. Your helpful announcement gives people a deadline to act and might put more vacation dollars into your purse. The same idea applies for when you return from vacation.
You’ve changed your location.
This comes most easily to retail businesses. Not telling people you’ve moved is jarring to customers when they come by your old location and find you’re not there! They’ll think you’ve gone out of business. Not telling your clients that you’ve moved is like going back to Square One. Don’t miss one of these best times to advertise.
Instead, take this opportunity to tell your audience the great things about your new location: More parking. A nicer-looking, redecorated store. Easier-to-find items.
P.T. Barnum, the circus impresario, supposedly said, “A terrible thing happens when you don’t promote: Nothing.”
Don’t let “nothing” happen to your business. These opportunities to promote will move your business towards happier things and deepen your relationship with your customers — all because you knew about the best times to advertise.