Bowling Industry Online

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 We're all in business to sell something, but sometimes one of the best
ways to do that is to give it away. For some owners, that tactic's anathema
-- "I'm in business to sell, not to give" -- but their attitude is pretty
A Little Gratis Action Now Can Come Back To You Later...often In A Big Way
Especially for small businesses, our own products or services (or a sample
or variation) are usually the easiest things we can give away. Our cost is
a fraction of the value, and this leverage can buy marketing, PR, goodwill,
and more, for perhaps pennies on the dollar, without having to write
painful checks.
It's a simple concept, but it surprises me how many small-business owners
either don't pick up on its value or reject it, preferring just to sell and
get paid. There's nothing wrong with that, but here are some examples of
how taking a longer view of the benefits of building some "write-offs" into
your marketing plans and budgets can pay dividends:
Thank-you's: Gifts of genuine appreciation always hit home. Maybe you have
a customer who's been a regular for years... isn't it about time you sent
him a freebie to recognize (and cement) his loyalty? And it's not only
about customers -- perhaps you have an incredible supplier or employee who
really came through in a pinch. A happily given gift accompanying a
heartfelt thank-you goes a long way, will be remembered, and is likely to
come back around... good karma, if you will. Be a sport.
Make-goods: Even the best of us screw up once in a while -- orders get
mishandled, paperwork is botched, customers get upset for one reason or
another. The priority, of course, is to apologize and fix the problem
immediately. But once that's done, a tangible gesture can go a long way
towards locking in good will and loyalty. It goes something like this:
      "I am so sorry, that's definitely an error on our part, I'll have it
      fixed by the end of the day. And please let me send you  a free
      admission to Cosmic Bowl this weekend as a small way to make up for
      your time and trouble."
Prizes: People love to win stuff, and contests are a great way to engage
customers and prospects; build web or physical traffic; grow a data base;
and -- especially nowadays -- expand your social networking reach. Giving
away some nice "merch" or services regularly is one of the fastest ways to
see your fan base grow. Some people think that "contest junkies" don't
constitute real prospects, but with the very low cost of giving some of
your games away  and of promoting contests, you only have to convert a tiny
percentage of that growing base to make it worthwhile.
Just because: Everyone likes a (good) surprise, and "random acts of
kindness" are a great way to put a smile on someones face and put your
company at the top of her mind. Perhaps today you message 10 random
Facebook fans and tell them you're sending them something because it's
Monday. If you're a distributor, maybe you throw an extra goody into
shipment boxes for a few days (great use for excess inventory). Using the
cost-effective leverage of your products or time to make people happy
builds a personal bond and virtually ensures repeat business.
 Certainly much of this is best suited to consumer products, and not every
example above applies to every type of business. But even a B2B company or
service business usually has something it can offer -- it just might take a
little creativity ("we appreciate your trusting us with your holiday
bowling party this year; we'd like to do your spring party just to say
Chances are your products and services can serve your business beyond their
own individual, intrinsic sales value. As with most things, a little
generosity goes a long way

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