Sell More – Spend the Same

Original article written by Stephen Fear for the Urban Times May 2013.

How Do I Increase My Sales without Spending A Fortune on Advertising?

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Keeping your overheads low is very important – without sales you have no business regardless of which sector you are in.

So how do you sell more? Well there are many tactics and techniques which are worth considering and I will outline a few of them here for you.

People come in to see me at The British Library every month or so and always the questions revolve around sales. People frequently ask – how do I increase my sales without spending a fortune on advertising? So let’s look at some answers.

Firstly it is important to focus on explaining your message clearly. Don’t simply expect your customer to understand your product like you do. Explain it as you would to a child but without being condescending. If it comes in multiple colours, list them. This reduces uncertainty in the customer’s mind and anything that does that will increase sales.

Marketing your business is the soundest investment you will ever make. Providing your product is ethical and your approach honest then shout its virtues from the rooftops and don’t be afraid to say how brilliant you are in adverts. How else is your prospective customer to know?

Tip one on advertising: Produce a compelling headline. Test various headlines and monitor your progress by including in the advert a reference for replies such as, “Please ask for Monica when calling”. That way you know that anyone asking for Monica read that particular advert and by counting the calls you will be able to ascertain whether the publication the ad appeared in has outperformed another one; booked in a competing publication with exactly the same advert but asking people to ask for, say, Kevin.

Create a log on your computer of all your advertising and its performance. For example, did Country Life magazine outperform Country Living with the same headline? If so, spend your money there. Focus your advertising where you get response.

Headlines are important because they are what catch the eye of prospective buyers. I despair sometimes when I see cafes where the lights are so dim you can’t be sure they’re open. I couldn’t resist recently going into one and asking to see the owner. I asked her whether she would like to increase her customers and sales by three times at almost no additional cost.  Fortunately she recognised me so after several minutes talking about the red phone box, we got talking and she explained that Costa was taking business away and killing her trade.

I asked her how long her lease was for and she told me she had ten years to run at £22,000 per annum plus rates. Many who have read this column in the past will understand why I always advise never to sign long leases but in this instance it was too late for that.

The only way my new friend would be able to survive and prosper was to increase business so what did I advise? Well here it is virtually verbatim:

Firstly, we put two smart lamps in the windows with 100watt bulbs in so that there was no doubt we were open. Next I advised that a sign was made and placed between the lamps saying,

“OPEN NOW FOR DELICIOUS HOMEMADE FOOD THROUGHOUT THE DAY.”

We made another sign for behind the counter saying,

FRIENDLIEST STAFF IN TOWN, HERE TO SERVE YOU WONDERFUL FOOD

And another for outside saying,

BEST BREAKFAST IN TOWN.

Remember the more you tell the more you sell.

Next we turned the heating up a little which my new friend had been frightened to do because she was worried about the bill. I managed to convince her that the increased trade would more than cover it, both with new customers and those that stayed longer and ordered extra food and drinks.

Students are great customers for coffee and cold drinks but, in my opinion, rarely food! Wifi encourages them to stay too long so we didn’t install it – let Costa have them. We looked at the customer profile and who we wanted to attract so that we could focus on them rather than wasting time, money and effort elsewhere. Knowing your customer is vital. In this instance it was working men and women who wanted value for money, so we offered free top ups on all drinks for people ordering food.

Did any of these tactics work? Well it’s early days, but my new found friend’s turnover was double what it was before we applied these techniques – so judge for yourself.

Original article for the Urban Times May 2013.

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