I love visiting other towns and cities. Especially ones that are still small with more mom and pop businesses than corporate entities. The people who run these small businesses generally have more flexibility in their marketing, menus, and services, so you’ll see some experiments from time to time.
For example, I once visited a small town that had an independent frozen yogurt place. It was a nice layout, clean and the service was great. What really struck me though was what they did after I paid.
They said that for any order over five dollars, they would give the customer a gum ball. You could place the gum ball into one of three bins, each of which represented a different local charity. Whichever charity had the most gum balls at the end of the month would receive a donation from the yogurt place.
I absolutely loved the idea. It lets the customers know that this business really cares about he community. It makes the customer feel good knowing they are supporting a charity. It also helps promote the charities to the public. It’s a win for everyone.
I stored this idea away for a while but recently brought it out for a trial run. I modified the idea slightly to better fit our business model and called it MyGeeks for Charity. We picked two local charities and let the community decide which one would receive a percentage of our residential sales. The public would vote for their choice on our website, once per day for a period of three months. When the voting was over, we’d review the votes to ensure integrity and we’d award the winner a check.
We ran this from April to June and I have to say we got a great response from it. We have over 1500 votes, an article in the newspaper, and most importantly new business. I continue to have people comment on the contest and what a great idea it was.
What’s even better is that all parties involved gained visibility during the contest and potentially new business or donors.
From our initial trial run I do believe we will do this again, but with some modifications to the contest. Primarily a shorter period of time – likely a month rather than three. In addition to the time, I will likely give a set amount rather than a percentage. The reason being we have no idea how much revenue we will have during the time and I want it to be worth everyones time since they are promoting it as well.
There’s always ideas out there for an opportunity to market your business. You have to keep an eye open and watch the small guys rather the large corporations. We small guys have much smaller budgets to work with so we are generally more creative. Go visit your favorite mom and pop restaurant, and see what they are doing differently.