Shhh … private sales can propel profits

Most businesses gear their marketing toward getting new customers, but the smartest see existing customers as the real gold mine. They invite their best customers to private events that send sales soaring, build loyalty and, done correctly, attract lots of new customers too.

Very few execute effectively, however. Consider the high-end clothing store that brought in $50,000 in 12 hours, and got MORE THAN 100 percent response from the 195 people invited – they brought friends!

Here’s how you get results like that…

1. Pull 250 to 500 of your best customers from your database. It’s even better if you can segment the list based on buying tendencies (i.e. boats, service work, accessories, etc.)

2. Develop a formal invitation. This should look like a party invitation - NOT a standard envelope. Address it by hand, including your return address - no logo, P.O. box, or suite numbers - with at least first class stamps. (The clothing store invites were sent certified, and all but two were opened!)

Now, the next step is a biggie…

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3. Write a sales letter to go with the invitation, and personalize it using the customer’s first name. Use Courier (typewriter) font and no reverse type (white letters on a dark background). Write in first person (I, instead of we), like you’re talking to a dear friend. Justify your event. (i.e. “Because you’ve been loyal to us, I think you deserve first look at these dazzling new models.”) Identify special offers, if you’re going to make them.

Sincerely express your personal desire to see each customer individually. Be sure you include a “P.S.” on the letter that re-states the key benefit to the customer of being there.
Now, here’s a special trick: Add a hand-written “P.P.S.” saying, “Please keep this private sale our little secret. If you have a special friend you’d like to bring along, however, just let me know when you RSVP.”

(These two sentences can turn your event into a sensational new customer generator!)

4. Hold your sale after regular hours or close to the public during the event. Serve refreshments, and mention both in your letter.

5. Ask for an RSVP. (Have staff make RSVP calls during slow times.)

6. Arrange for and promise some demonstrations/instruction and attractive specials, “just for them.”
You should hold a private sale at least annually and, remember, they’re not just for retailers. Suppliers and manufacturers can use them too.

For a free, 8-page report, “Private Sales” and How To Use Them In Your Business, send an e-mail request to mail@ascendmarketing.com. Jim Ackerman is president of Ascend Marketing, Inc. of Salt Lake City and developer of the Principle-Centered Marketing Coaching Program.

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