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Increase Sales Without Spending a Dime

Aug 17, 2007
As a long time business owner, businesses ranging from restaurants to mail order, I have come across hundreds of other owners who all seem to have the same complaint. We can't use any heavy marketing methods to increase business because it is simply too expensive. How do you do it?. They never seem to like my answer. Why? Because it always starts with, first try washing your windows and cleaning your front entrance and see what happens.

The immediate response is always one of laughter quickly followed by confusion. The reality is, most of us look for solutions to most problems in complex service offerings and thick books that use words like aggregation, amortization and multifarious (yes it is a word). But, in practice, most business solutions stare at us right in the face every day and we simply look past. Here is a prime example. My friend who asked the above question owned a medium sized restaurant who benefited from a great deal of foot traffic, yet his volume has half of what his direct competitor was across the street.

The problem was simple, his competitor simply presented a better product right from the beginning with a clean, organized look and a whole bunch of service options once inside. So, I broke down a simple list for my friend to use and here it is.

1. Say Come on In Without Say a Word: Everyone is busy and always in a hurry. But, even the busiest person appreciates (and more importantly will stop to get) a free cookie. Are cookies expensive? No, they are not. Who doesn't like a cookie and a smile at the front door? This is cheap to do and will immediately bring in business.

2. Macy's Doesn't Have a Patent on Window Displays: Have you ever thought of putting in a scene or colorful decoration in your window? People love creativity and usually reward it with consistent patronage. We are always looking for something new or someone interesting to follow. It is simply our nature. Get creative; put something cool in the front window and watch people talk.

3. Let the Children Play: How many businesses are children friendly? And the ones that are usually do a good business if done right. So give the kids something to do. As a father of three, I'll be the first to tell you I will be a loyal customer if you can keep my kids from screaming at each other for more than 30 seconds. Ahh, thirty seconds of peace and quiet.

4. Keep Your Store Organized and Clean: Get all of the little things that need to get done, DONE! Organize your store and keep it neat and tidy. Be anal about it as all good businesses look like good businesses. If it looks shabbily run, then it probably is and the consumer is not likely to go in.

5. Sell Something at a Loss: The auto sales industry is built on the concept of the loss leader. In short, you lose money on a product (an insane deal) in hopes to upsell or sell other items that are not on sale. This has proven to be one of the simplest and most effective approaches to increase volume and subsequent revenue. Now, it does take some thought on what to sell and how to position to insure you do get other items sold, but it isn't that complicated.

Believe it or not, these simple five steps work wonders. There are also many articles on entrepreneur.com that also touch on similar methods. Any new ideas, even bad ones, can spark positive action. Remember, always be creative and don't be afraid to try new things.
About the Author
B. Charles Smith is a 15 year Fortune 50 Company veteran specializing in organizational development and technology application. He is the chief editor of Mynaukri.net , one of India's leading publications on market trends and India jobs. Additionally, he has interests in many large entertainment site including Slubber.com (video aggregator) and Mybuzzcut.com (leading Myspace resource site).
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