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21 November, 2011

Sell Yourself This Christmas by Selling Others

Want to give your local business a sales boost during Christmas?

Then offer customers something other than yourself. You heard (or rather read) right.

For local businesses, successful marketing takes more than just “buy 10 coffees get one free” or “lowest price” or “cheapest plumber” to keep and grow your customers.

So how do you add to your relationship if all you have at the moment is a “buy 10 get one free”?

Whatever your product or service, you’re not the only one in the entire world doing it. You may be the only one doing it your way, but there are always related services and products offered by others.

I’m not suggesting you send your Facebook likes or customer list to a competitor. Rather, what could your customers use that you don’t offer? And if you can do it and still get a small amount of income for your efforts, wouldn’t that create a win-win for everyone?

Okay, so how does that tie into Christmas?

Well, how about a gift giving guide!

Use your expertise as a way to recommend products, books or services to your customers.

Let’s say you are a local tradesman. From your experience, you know the best tools for the jobs. So you could put together a list of gifts of what tools do the best jobs for the DIY handyman at home.

Your gift guide could include a guide on what tools are in the “must have” kit for every home. It could include a section on “tools for the ladies”. It could include a section on “must have tools” for putting up Christmas decorations with a blurb on safety.

For each item you suggest, personalise it with a short story or an example of how to use or what to expect.

Your guide could also include certain books that are useful for the home handyman. And best of all, you can add your own section to promote your own services – a discount, a “free quote”, a “refer a friend” rebate, or a “buy two get the second half price”. Adding your own services or products is okay, so long as it’s not the main focus of your gift guide.

So where do you go to recommend tools, books or other such items?

Chance are you already use it yourself – Amazon. It’s not the only player in the space but good for an example.

You can sign up as an amazon affiliate – it costs nothing to join. You can offer products from six countries and sign up as an affiliate for one or all of those country’s product offerings. It only takes a few minutes to sign up.

You can then distribute your gift guide on your website, Facebook, Twitter, email lists or all of the above.

Here’s an example of a gift guide by a builder’s “how-to” website.  In Tim’s Gift Guide, he recommends handy gifts with affiliate links for each product to Amazon or another site. UPDATE: Sorry, the example is no longer available.

Truth be told, you may not get a huge income from Amazon. But you will get tons of good will from customers and contacts. You’ll be showing your audience that you’re not in this relationship just to get sales for yourself, you’re in this to help them. Think creatively – whatever the nature of your local or small business, you can put one of these together.

You are offering good advice for free. That builds trust, strengthens relationships and creates loyalty. And that’s just plain good marketing!