Are you comfortable saying what your product does?
If it's something anyone who buys office supplies could use and it has a low price point, it couldn't hurt to try the bookmarks. I don't know if you can get chains like Staples or Office Depot to hand them out, but a local chain probably would. And the larger chains might.
Also offer bookmarks to bookstores and coffee houses, and anywhere else office workers hang out.
Are you doing anything web-related, like Google ads? Those are pretty easy to set up and very inexpensive.
If you have a compelling story to tell, you should also contact the business editor at your local newspaper. A good article will generate far more business than the bookmarks. (Or even better, do both.)
Greetings again all!!
I am currently the Director of Sales for a startup software company with no salespeople (ergo -- I am the salesperson). It also means I am the only object of all ridicule (product flops) and praise (product succeeds). The company has currently done the majority of it's marketing via cold calling local business myself. I feel however, we could utilize a second outlet by recruiting office supply vendors to help sell our product locally in addition to running press releases, cold calling, etc.
Here is what I propose-- vendors will be issued "bookmarks" they can include in all their sales bags containing product information and benefits.
Here is the advantage-- Minimal investment with a fair chance for exposure.
Here is the disad-- It's kind of a sit and wait method of advertising.
Being as I am a recent college Information Systems grad with only a few marketing electives, I need your informed and expert opinions.
As always, greatest thanks.
You're right about the Google ads - you need a website before you can start running ads.
On the bookmarks... Are you going to be able to simplify your message to something that will fit on a bookmark? You're only going to get a glance. You need to have one striking benefit and an easy, powerful offer.
Most of the companies I know use Outlook or Salesforce.com for scheduling. Why would it make sense to use your software rather than Outlook?
Also, what's your price point? If it's over $100 the bookmarks may not be your best choice.
Have you thought about going vertical? If you want a higher price point, that might make more sense.
How about doing something with networking groups?
To add to Judy's comment on going vertical, here is an example of a company that provides something similar (tracking vs. scheduling) targeted at "creative companies" e.g. advertising, PR and communication agencies. It is a hosted solution. Would this type of sales model work for you?
They sell strongly via their website in additon to using telesales to support targeted email campaigns. Emulating something that has been proven to work for someone else is often the less risky option.
Are you getting responses? The partnership with the City Clerk was a great move! See if you can find more opportunities like that. There's something about getting someone "in the group" to represent you.
I have been trying postcards mixed with letters for direct mailing and I definitely get more response from the letters.
So, now I use the postcards as a precursor when I'm going to be at a conference in the area to let the attendees know that I'm coming and to get the name recognition solidified.
When I want to get a solid response from a geographical area I use hand signed letters. Last time I sent 50 letters, I had 20 responses.
I'm in the same boat as you, building name recognition, etc. Once you get your clients telling their contacts about you, it really rolls. It's getting it to that point that is the hard work.
I believe you are an asset to your company because you know what you don't know and you sought out information to help you improve. I know I would find you to be an asset.
It is a lot of hard work to get to the place where the prospects are calling you, but the truth is that even when you get to that place, if you don't maintain the marketing momentum, it too will pass.
I worked for a software company that was at the top of its game, ads in all the big trade journals for our markets, sales offices around the company, 100+ lead calls a day. I was one of two people that took the incoming lead calls in that company and I'll tell you, our days went fast, it was exhilarating, out of this world. Even with the success of my other ventures, I've never experienced that since. I moved from that position into sales and about two years into that gig, the company decided they were hot stuff and didn't need to do the ads anymore or the direct mailing, that magically the name would get out there and it changed the company.
That company is still in business, maintenance maintains the company income on an annual basis and the family owners don't mind not having the growth of those golden days, but a lot of high quality people left because the leads slowed and the excitement dropped and it's hard to sell in that environment.
My only point in this long story is that it's great when you get there, just make it in your plan to maintain it.
Side note: Check out www.marketingprofs.com. I may have already told you about that site, but if you add that to one of the places you visit in addition to here, you will benefit. As a veteran, I still find good things in both places, regularly.
For a web based solution, I think you are going to have a tough time selling your product if you don't have a website. It just doesn't seem to make sense. How will the prospect demo your solution?
Can I ask, is it similar to something like BaseCamp
Once you have a website, the marking and sales doors will swing open. Judy mentioned Google's Adwords - which is absolutely wonderful for web-based solutions. There are literally hundreds of other marketing avenues you can take on the web. If you are having trouble finding a web designer, shoot my a PM, I have many professional friends in the business.
As far as the bookmarks are concerned, I'm not sure I really see what you're trying to do there. What do bookmarks have to do with an web-based scheduling solution? Most people who go to Staples or Office Max type places are consumers. Yes, you do get your small business owners in there, but anything beyond a 5-man company, and they'll most likely mail order their supplies. And if not, then the person going in there to buy paper clips isn't going to likely be the person who makes the decisions about buying new company wide software.
I'm not saying it's a horrible idea, but I definitely think your time could be better spent elsewhere. For a web-based solution like yours, I would start with online marketing efforts.
Hope that helps a little.