By Jeanette McMurtry

Part of Marketing For Dummies Cheat Sheet

Successful marketing produces profitable sales. Here are some ideas for those moments when you decide you really need to concentrate on how to boost sales to a higher level:

  • Sell to super customers. Someone who writes a blog about your industry, gets quoted in an industry magazine, or presents at an industry conference is a super customer (that is, someone who influences many other buyers). Win him or her over, and the rest of the market tends to follow.

  • Make a limited-time, free-trial offer. This tried-and-true formula moves product better than anything else, because people love a chance to try something before they have to commit. (The smartest thing any car dealer can do to make a sale is say, “Would you like a test drive?”) Get your product in potential customers’ hands and grow your market each time someone decides to keep it. But set time limits to help control redemption rates because online offers sometimes get picked up and promoted by bloggers, bumping up redemption above your budgeted level.

  • Hire more salespeople on commission. Old-fashioned face-to-face selling is still effective in business-to-business and wholesale industries (which make up the majority of businesses). Sign up sales representatives who are willing to work for a commission. Double the number of sales calls, and you’re bound to score more business.

  • Create a parallel distribution channel. For example, if you don’t already sell on the web, start your own web store or set up shop as a store and auctioneer on eBay. (eBay is great for businesses with any fairly straightforward consumer product because there’s so much customer traffic to tap into. Amazon is also a good place to market, with greater customer reach than any other.)

  • Bundle your product with one or several complementary products and offer a special package deal. The right bundle may boost sales dramatically, especially if you make it a limited-time offer. For example, combine an art pad, a box of drawing pens, a short booklet on drawing favorite Anime characters, and a watercolor set, and you have a great holiday gift idea. Alone, none of those products would likely jump off the shelf.

  • Send monthly postcards or e-mails with discount codes, special offers, or announcements. A postcard is an inexpensive form of direct mail. If you have a good customer list, use it at least once a month. The more you reach out to your customer base, the more it’ll buy what you’re selling.