As a locally owned retailer, chances are you’ll be tapped to provide promotional “free” items, gift baskets, or coupons for benefits or other causes. Think carefully about each proposal. If the proposal fits precisely with your target market, agree to it. If the proposal targets a different target market, politely decline the offer. It is not being mean to say no. It’s spending your marketing funds wisely.
Let’s say a civic group approaches you to provide an offer for a coupon book they’re selling to raise money for their cause. If the group is in your target market, the next thing to consider is the size of the audience that will see your offer and the likelihood that they’re already a customer. If the group is large and primarily comprised of non-customers, provide a rich offer to entice customers to make their initial purchase with you. If the group probably contains many current customers, provide an offer to reward larger-than-normal purchases. For example, a rich new offer would be “buy one, get one free,” while a rich larger-than-normal offer would be $100 off your $200 purchase. Both offers reduce your margins by the same amount, but one has a much higher threshold (a $200 purchase versus a single unit purchase.)
Being a good neighbor means being adept at using the power of obligation with people. When someone asks you to do anything extra for them, you have an opportunity to graciously remind them that you are happy to comply…knowing they’re a good customer who’s loyal to you. . . even if they’re not. Saying that provides a kind of psychological obligation on their part to live up to your expectation. Work to create a relationship of trust and mutual reliance with your best customers. That means that if they’re business owners, you should go out of your way to be a good client for them. Set up a mutual discount at both businesses for employees. Businesspeople recognize that companies aren’t altruistic, and mutual obligation creates a net of consistent business for both concerns.
Below is a chart created from a survey of our readers.
The January 2018 issue featured a lengthy article by Jennifer Raines entitled “Successfully Navigate a Flood of Charitable Donation Requests.”