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Tip Sheet

Tip Sheet: July 2005

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Ten fresh ideas to better your business

Never forget that everyone cares about their own birthday; more.

[componentheading]LUCK OF THE LOST[/componentheading]

[contentheading]Offer Replacements[/contentheading]

Land’s End has established a “Lost Mitten Club” for its young customers. If your kid loses a Land’s End mitten during the same season you purchased it, the company will sell you one mitten — at half the price of the pair — and ship it free. Jewelers, might you benefit from forming a similar club for earring buyers at your store?

[componentheading]RETAIL SUCKS[/componentheading]

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[contentheading]Surf Here[/contentheading]

We don’t want to start a revolution or anything, but on those days when nothing is going right, visit www.retail-sucks.com and you’ll soon realize you’re not as bad off as you thought.

[componentheading]GOTTA CHANGE[/componentheading]

[contentheading]Name Your Wish[/contentheading]

They’re called “wish lists”, but after such wide usage, the name is rather blah. How about calling your “wish list” a “Gotta Have It” list? (This is what Microsoft calls its gift registry.)

[componentheading]MIDNIGHT SPECIAL[/componentheading]

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[contentheading]Deal A Day[/contentheading]

Online e-tailer Woot (www.woot.com) has used a unique approach to become a regular destination for online shopping addicts — presenting a single item for sale each day at midnight. You can try Woot’s approach. Have a limited supply, or even one item, available at a deeply discounted price. When you run out, or the clock strikes 12, the item is withdrawn, and your customers are out of luck … well, at least till the next day.

[componentheading]PRO PROSE[/componentheading]

[contentheading]Keep It Short[/contentheading]

Regular copywriters know to avoid bogging down their sales messages with overly long sentences. But how long is too long? Exactly 17 words, says author Rudolf Flesh in The Art of Plain Talk. And be sure to mix things up with shorter five- to ten-word sentences.

[componentheading]BIRHTDAY BONUS[/componentheading]

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[contentheading]Get Noticed[/contentheading]

Keith Ferrazzi, author of Never Eat Alone, won’t be sending you a Christmas card this year. He concentrates his energies on birthdays … why? Hundreds of businesses send Christmas cards to their clients. Few send birthday cards. And, says Ferrazzi, “EVERYBODY CARES ABOUT HIS OR HER BIRTHDAY!” If you’ve got a limited marketing budget, consider skipping Christmas this year. Instead, try hand-writing birthday cards to your favorite customers … and including a cash-off coupon. Or call them. Or leave them a voice mail. Your customers will be gratified you remembered the day of the year that’s truly theirs.

[componentheading]GOING SOUTH[/componentheading]

[contentheading]Boast Location[/contentheading]

Outside a major city and want to compete with the big boys? Turn your location into a competitive advantage in your ads, like one suburban used car dealer profiled in Entrepreneur Magazine did … using the phrase “We’re just 16 minutes south of higher prices” in all their advertising.

[componentheading]YES MAN[/componentheading]

[contentheading]Give Better Answers[/contentheading]

There is always a better answer than a mere “yes,” says author Dale Dauten, author of The Gifted Boss. He gives the example of asking a number of auto repair shops if they repair Lotuses. Most say “no”, a few say “yes”, but then one says, “Absolutely, we specialize in imports and the shop’s owner drives a Lotus.” Who do you think got the business? So the next time somebody asks you if you carry David Yurman, find a better answer than a simple “yes.”

[componentheading]NEGATIVE GRAVITY[/componentheading]

[contentheading]Keep Things Positive[/contentheading]

Whenever you answer a customer’s question, frame the answer in a positive light. For example, if they ask “How soon can I receive my repair job?” don’t say, “Well, if you want it tomorrow, you’ll have to pay the rush-job charge.” Instead say, “For a very small additional charge, we can have it finished for you first thing in the morning.” See the difference?

[componentheading]IS THAT SO?[/componentheading]

[contentheading]Ask a Question[/contentheading]

In The Patterson Principles of Selling, Jeffrey Gitomer suggests training yourself to be a better listener by asking a question at the end of your customers’ statements. If you make your own statement, it’s possible you were interrupting. But if you ask a question, you almost have to wait until they’re finished speaking.

[span class=note]This story is from the July 2005 edition of INSTORE[/span]

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