Anne Alexander

Since 2002, Anne Alexander has provided coaching and consulting services to small business owners with five to fifty employees to help them move forward with substantial, profitable business growth, personal satisfaction, and bottom-line control. She is their confidential, strategic partner in managing and growing their business.

How can incentives help your business not only survive these bad economic times, but thrive? Consider free gas certificates. Millions of Americans are feeling the effects of the highest gas prices we’ve ever seen. And they will only go up from here.

You have probably started to notice that some savvy business owners are helping customers and prospects compensate for this situation by offering free gas as an incentive to come into their stores or as a bonus when they make certain purchases.

In the past few weeks in my local paper I have seen a hearing aid that offered buyers a $100 gas card and a bank that offered new account holders a $50 gas card. A client of mine who does auto window tinting is offering customers a $100 gas card when they buy a $249 tint job. This promotion is bringing a lot of customers into his store where he sells 90% of them!

What these business people are doing is converting this reality of skyrocketing gas prices into an opportunity for their business by offering their customers free gas certificates.

Virtually every business in our community is offering some type of incentive — you see it every day. They’re used to promote business and lead generation. You have to have something that really gets people excited. Free gas is obviously something that most customers or potential customers can really use.

Using incentives like free gas certificates can accomplish a lot of things:
• Make your customers very loyal
• Increase your profit margins with no additional advertising
• Dramatically increase sales
• Promote higher margin sales
• Increase the length of service agreements
• Increase new customer traffic
• Offer promotions that tower above the competition
• Gain valuable information on potential customers
• Retain current customers
• Re-energize old customers
• Express appreciation
• Generate local media “buzz”
• Provide high-value, low-cost gifts

Whatever your business, you can offer an incentive. You can offer an incentive to test drive a car, to purchase a sofa, to spend X amount on golf clubs, to get your carpets cleaned, to upgrade a computer, to rent a car, to come in for a review of your tax, financial or estate situation, to try out a new health club for a month, etc.

As it turns out, oil companies are fiercely competitive. They are paying for loyalty. That is why business owners are not paying dollar for dollar for these certificates. These gas certificates cost pennies on the dollar. For example a $100 certificate costs as low as $10 and a $500 certificate as low as $14.

Banks, auto warranty companies, resorts, and many other kinds of companies pay anywhere from $10 to over $200 for a lead. Why? Because they know their conversion rates and the lifetime value of their customers!

Do you?

Whether you offer something like free gas cards or some other incentive, as long as you know your numbers, if you are making a satisfactory return on investment, you can afford to offer that type of incentive. Not only can you afford it, you’d be crazy not to do as much of it as you can!

It’s the same with the oil companies. They know people are habitual. And they want you to habitually choose their brand of gas, which is what the gas cards do.

So know your numbers: what you can afford to pay to bring in a prospect? You’ll need to know what percentage of them you can convert them to a paying customer. Then use a powerful incentive like free gas cards to bring them in and grow your business, even during a recession.

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