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I need some advice - I’m missing the mark!

rickwestrickwest subscriber Posts: 4
edited September 2006 in Marketing
Hello Everyone.
I am in need of some serious advice.  I have started a new business in the Savannah, GA/Hilton Head Island, SC area.  My business involves documenting the personal property in homes and small businesses for insurance purposes.
My problem is the the business is not doing very well and I know that it has to be something that I am doing or not doing.  The service that I offer in this area is not offered by anyone else (yet) and would seem to be a necessary service.  There are plenty of people in this area with disposible income who would welcome my services for perparedness and peace of mind but I can not seem to get the word out to them.
I have used the direct mailer company ValPak and sent out 50,000 ads targeted at the upper income homes with disposible income.  I have gotten 1 response since the mailers went out 3 weeks ago.  That is a response rate of only 0.00002% when a response rate of 0.25% was expected.  The ads were at a cost of over $1,300.00 and seems to be a total waste of my advertising budget(and yes, my whole budget).
Is there another way to get the word out about my business that I am not thinking of?  I need a way that is very inexpensive or free and is very effective.  I am at my wits end with this.  What can I do?


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    rickwestrickwest subscriber Posts: 4
    I wish it was for 3 mailings, at least then I wouldn`t feel so bad.  I had to contract for 2 mailings at $1,300.00 for each mailing.  Total of $2,600.00.  And not a thing to show for it.
    Thank you for your suggestions, I appreciate your time.
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    tojealcatojealca subscriber Posts: 5
    The idea of the inusrance copmanies is a great one.  Most insurance agents belong to "groups", LuTCF or something of that nature.  Give your agent a call and see what he/she belongs too and try to get invite to a meeting to give a small talk on what you do.  That way you will reach a bigger segment of the market in one shot.  Also, talk to every realestate person that you know.  They see the inside of peoples homes and meet the people that are moving to your community first.  That could be gold mine.
    Also, try to start a "leads group".  You and other business people that you know meet once a month and share information.  It will cost you your breakfast or a cup of coffee.
    Personnaly, I am not a fan of finding things on my car, but that idea dose work some thimes.
    Hope that helps!
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    SnowflakeManSnowflakeMan subscriber Posts: 3
    Hi Rick
    Firstly great posts by Jilly, Tony & Shonika - particularly around Insurance agents as a route in.
    I wouldn`t write off Valpak just yet in terms of the response. I would ensure that you let them know just how terrible the response was. You would be surprised how many people just put it down to a bad experience and then tell everyone how terrible it was - but never actually tell the media company about it.
    I have been at the helm of 2 x Tv networks and particularly experienced in the advertising divisions. One thing I know is that most media owners want to make sure you have success. There is only a limited amount of first time advertisers and as the old saying goes - its easier to work with existing advertisers than find new ones!
    I would talk to Valpak with an open book and tell them just how poor the response was in specific terms. ie 1 sale worth $x. Ask them the question "What are you able to do for me to get me close to where I expected to be?"
    Also ask questions about what they normally would classify as a good result in terms of responses.
    Usually they will be prepared to do a "make good" for free. It may even be worth suggesting (if they aren`t forthcoming with free space) that they can run your ad if someone else drops out/cancels at the last minute.
    Are there any other things they can do for you to make things up? Website, smaller space, sister publications, etc? It is very unlikely they will sell all advertising, all of the time.
    On a different stream - how about realtors? I also have a friend here in the UK who is a property damage photographer who works with a lot of businesses and landlords. Perhaps you have someone similar who you can set up a joint referral system with - You can do "pre-claim, (s)he can do "post claim", etc.
    Hope its of some help
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    DragginbuttDragginbutt subscriber Posts: 0
    I think the biggest mistake you and many people in our position make when trying to find ways to increase sales, is to assume that advertizing is the only/best way to increase visability.  What you should be concentrating on is MARKETING.  They are not the same.  Advertizement costs $, while Marketing costs time.  How many people did you meet on the street today?  Did you give them a business card or brochure?  You spent enough in advertizing to have paid for one heck of a marketing effort, printing cards/brochures etc.  Hand them out.  They are your calling card, AND you have made that FACE TO FACE contact with the person.  It is now a personal thing.  While value-paks are im-personal.  No investment by the receiver.  Look at it this way.  We all know you can save money with coupons... but how many people actually take the time to read/cut them out, and use them?  Very LOW percentage.  Retailers count on that.  They just want you in the store, and will take a loss to get you there.
    Speaking of coupons.  Print some up, offer a discount.  Give them to merchants and insurance salesmen to hand out to their customers.  Everyone likes a deal.  They give their customers a break, the customer thinks they are getting a deal, and you get business.
    When you do a house, knock on the doors of the homes around where you are working, let them know you are in the area today serving their neighbor, and hand them a coupon while you are at it.  Word of mouth bucky, that is the name of this game.  You are selling a service that frankly most people can do without.  So you have to have a gimmick, and you have to put a face on that piece of paper so they can connect the dots.  It is one of those things that everyone says they should do.. but never get around to it... so you have to work harder and smarter.
    Also try and make contact with companies that do restoration cleaning.  You know, the ones you call when your toilet overflows and puts an inch of yuck in your basement... When a person is having to go through all the hassle to document their damaged goods, they will gladly request some help...
    Lastly, don`t forget to make repeat calls to past customers.  I don`t know anyone who stops buying valuable goods.  Every customer should be a repeat customer.  You are not selling a service.. you are establishing long term relationships with your customers. 
    Good luck Dragginbutt2006-9-7 14:12:58
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