PAUL & SARAH EDWARDS: LIFESTYLES FOR THE MILLENNIUM
Paul & Sarah
Edwards are pioneers
in the home-business
field. They can be
reached on the Web
When “free” is
”FREE!” IS ONE of fhe most attention-grabbing
words in marketing. There’s no more compelling
way to get someone to try your product or service than to give them a free sample of what you
offer. If they like it, they will want more.
Well, that’s the theory. In practice, that’s only
part of the story. Giving away your business can
become a financial trap if you don’t draw the line
on just where “free” ends and service begins.
First, be sure to provide only a sample, a
taste—not the whole thing. Often a “free consultation,” for example, can slip into becoming the
whole meal. A free consultation is an opportunity
to discover a client’s needs and talk about what
you can provide. But if you proceed to provide it,
you’ll have done them a favor—not provided
If you do volunteer to provide your actual
product to establish a track record, get a foot in
the door, generate testimonials and references
or get future referrals, be sure your clients know
you are offering a special arrangement. Let them
know what your regular fee is and how it is a
distinction for you to work with them in this way.
Then mean it. A free sample or a volunteer
project is a one-time offer. Folks can’t come back
for more. But be sure to let them know how they
can get more.
If someone loves your samples at a trade-show booth, for example, ask if they’d like to
take some home with them. If you’ve given away
a free consultation as a door prize at a networking meeting and it goes well, don’t wait for them
to call for an appointment. Tell them you’d like to
keep working with them and ask if they’d like to
make an appointment now.
Also, make it easy to take the step from a
sample to the real thing. Have a range of services or products so people can choose the level
of investment they feel comfortable with. If a
client frowns at signing on for a series of 10 sessions or a 10-pound order, have an alternative to
suggest right away: “How about we schedule
one month of sessions and see how it goes?” or
“I have a 5-pound starter pack you might like.”
And follow up later with those who sampled
but weren’t ready to buy. If you do it right, “free”
can mean money or time well spent. C
for red tape
H up with
requirements is not only
confusing for a small-business owner, it’s expensive.
According to the Small
the average small-business
owner spends $7,600 per
employee to stay in compliance with government regulations.
A revamped Web site,
Business.gov, makes the
task easier. The site serves
as a one-stop place for all
federal compliance information, including regulations
and required forms.
Need information on
overtime regulations? Do
certain environmental laws
pertain to your firm? Is your
office up-to-date on work-place safety requirements?
It’s all on Business.gov. C
Wanted: Tales of
ARE MOM-AND-POP businesses just the stuff of nostalgia, or do they continue
to be relevant today?
That’s the topic that
Costco member Robert
Spector would like to explore
in an upcoming book. And
he would like your stories
of mom-and-pop businesses.
“For every expert who
has declared the demise of
the mom-and-pop, there are
millions of couples who
tonight will be sitting at
their kitchen table figuring
out how to pursue the
American dream,” says
Spector, a business author
and international speaker.
Send your stories to
Spector at momandpopstore
@ robertspector.com. The
stores must be brick-and-mortar operations that have
been in business for several
years. Watch The Connection for a future article based
on Spector’s book. C
Tiny card, huge impact
IT’S ONE OF THE smallest marketing tools, but can make one of
the biggest splashes: the business
card. The difference between one
that gets tossed and one that’s kept
can hinge on a few key elements,
advises Melissa Crowe, vice president of marketing services for
Costco member company based
in Lexington, Massachusetts.
Here are Crowe’s tips for creating business cards that will capture your company’s essence—
and hopefully open doors.
■ Don’t waste space—use the
back of the card for coupons,
product information, customer
■ Use good-quality paper
with the right weight and texture.
The feel of the card is often the
first thing noticed.
■ Include a clear, concise
positioning statement or tag line.
■ Choose a color that fits
your business and the audience
you’d like to attract. For example, colors such as white or blue
work well for the medical field,
while offbeat, nonprimary colors
work for an artist’s card.
■ Including your photo is
effective when fostering a close,
personal business relationship is
important, such as for a real estate
agent or a wedding planner.
BRAND X PICTURES
“Aproperly designed business card can be the difference
between gaining and losing the
interest of a potential customer,”
says Crowe. “Business cards represent the business professional
and his or her organization long
after the meeting has ended.” C