Marketing Basics

By Wes Berry, Business Expert

Wes Berry

If your goal is to sell products, services or develop an audience or constituency, then every point of contact is valuable. There are many types of draws that can be used to attract prospects, but today I’m going to discuss just three of the most basics.

Lost Leaders. This is a very valuable technique that involves taking a product that seems to be, or even is, very desirable or even necessary and reducing its price to at or below cost. The classic example of this is milk. Milk was used by early supermarkets to draw customers and in the process it severely disrupted the independent dairy stores. Today you see offers rotated between various products. Bed Bath & Beyond has taken this to a whole other level by offering a coupon for a flat dollar amount applicable to almost any item.

This past Thanksgiving a supermarket near me employed the classic lost leader strategy with the perfect product. Perfect because everyone needs a turkey for Thanksgiving. They even required a minimum buy and – the sure sign caveat of a Lost Leader – only one to a customer. The obvious purpose of this technique is to draw the prospects into a business and then sell them additional items. The original success recipe for McDonald’s was to lose money on hamburgers and make money on french fries and milkshakes.

Bait and Switch. This was such a successful technique until the government made it illegal. The way this technique worked was to advertise something at an unbelievable low price, the catch being that you really couldn’t buy the product for that price. Either they never had the item in the first place, or the purchase required extra fees or items of practical necessity that would increase the price. Today this same technique is tempered with words like “plus shipping and handling” or the caveat “limited supply, one only”. Most promotional giveaways like this are really designed to attract an audience and gather contact information that can be used to promote a secondary transaction.

Contests. These are really a great way to attract a customer base. If properly and legally employed, this is one of the most effective business growth engagements that can be practiced. During the grand opening of one of my retail locations, we conducted an essay contest; the topic was Michigan’s Best Mom. Being in the flower business, this was very well-timed for Mother’s Day. By working through several school systems we received several thousand essays. This engagement touched the very hearts of so many we received residual benefits for years. And of course that was because of the structure and follow-up of the event. The essays were done on a special letterhead designed for Mother’s Day and of course noted as sponsored by Wesley Berry Flowers. All the participants gave their letters to their moms for Mother’s Day. I suspect that many of these essays have found their way into treasured places.

About 100 finalists and their families were invited to the grand opening of our new store where the winners were announced. All of the participants were elated to have such a treasured Mother’s Day gift. And every participant received flowers – from a card redeemable for one rose up to a huge flower arrangement delivered on Mother’s Day and a dozen roses every week for a year. The media coverage was fantastic and the residual response was almost unbelievable. Creating an event out of a contest was what brought home the winning run.

About Wes Berry:

Wes Berry is a keynote speaker and the Wall Street Journal bestselling author of the book Big Things Have Small Beginnings. His business career took him from a $60-thousand-dollar-a-year failing family flower shop in Detroit, from which he built a $60-million-dollar international company with more than $750 million dollars in sales. Wes can be contacted at wes@wesberrygroup.com or you can learn more at his website www.wesberrygroup.com.