The Best Way to Get Customers

My car was embarrassingly dirty. I had been too busy to take it in to be washed, let alone do it myself.

So when I found a business card on my windshield for a car washing service, I was interested. I looked around the parking lot. Only dirty cars had the card.

The card advertised a deal for an introductory wash. Better yet, they would come to the customer’s home or place of business and do the job there. Perfect for me. Couldn’t be more convenient.

I called and set up an appointment.

I used to do something similar with the lawn cutting business I had as a teenager. I would ride around on my bicycle and look for yards with grass that looked like it needed a mowing. When I found one, I’d knock on the door and ask if they would like to hire me.

I had all the work I could handle.

Even in today’s economic environment, you can have a thriving business.

All you need to do is use this “Dirty Car Secret.” You target people who have a strong need for your product or service. If they need it, they won’t be able to do without it. And they will pay you to provide it.

For example, when I was starting my ballroom dance instruction business, I found that couples who were about to be married often needed lessons. After all, that first dance as “Mr. and Mrs.” in front of all of the wedding guests is a tradition. And with all eyes upon them, nobody wants to stumble around the dance floor.

Before I discovered my “dirty cars,” I had been mailing postcards promoting my business to the general public. Using mailing lists based on income and geographical area, I’d get a response rate of about 1 percent. But, when I started mailing to couples about to be married, the average response rate was 12 percent. A 1,200 percent increase!

Years later, I used the Dirty Car Secret when I was in the swimming pool service business. Any time my pool cleaners spotted a pool that was less than sparkling clean, they left a flyer with a discount coupon on the door. More than 10 percent of the recipients called to take advantage of the offer.

Ten percent! Twelve percent! To give you an idea of how impressive those response rates are, one seven-figure mail order company I know considers a 2 percent response rate to be huge. If they were to get 10 percent, they’d be uncorking Champagne.

Smart direct mailers have used the Dirty Car Secret for years. What they do is rent other mailers’ “buyer lists.” These lists are made up of the names of people who have bought a product that’s similar to the one the marketer is selling. The assumption is that if those folks bought that product before, they needed (or wanted) it. And, chances are, they will need (or want) it again.

But there are many other ways to apply the Dirty Car Secret.

For instance, if you wanted to sell cold beverages with vending machines, you would put your machines where many thirsty people would see them. (When I owned a vending machine business, our machines in hot auto garages were our top performers.) And if you wanted to teach English to people who speak Spanish, a good place to post your flyers would be in grocery stores specializing in Latin-American foods.

The idea is to find a way to identify people who are likely to have a strong need or desire for your product or service. You’d be surprised by how many entrepreneurs spend vast amounts of time and money getting their marketing message into the wrong hands.

Here are some tips to help you find the “dirty cars” that could jumpstart your business in as little as a few days:

Identify your ideal prospects.

If you’ve ever gotten a traffic ticket, you’ve probably been barraged with mailings from lawyers who specialize in traffic tickets – because there’s a good chance a lawyer can help you. Likewise, if you have a dirty car, you might need someone to wash it. If you have an overgrown lawn, you might need someone to cut it. If you’re planning to get married, you might need ballroom dance lessons.

So your first step with this marketing strategy is to pick up on the clues that reveal the ideal customers for your product or service.

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Figure out how to reach them.

Once you know who you want to target, you’ve got to determine the best way to get your marketing message to them.

Direct mail is a great way to reach prospects, but it’s only one option. You can pass out business cards or post flyers. You can sell your product or service on the Internet with pay-per-click ads. Use your imagination! One method I used to promote my ballroom dance business was to advertise in the bridal section of the local metropolitan newspaper.

Find a way to separate yourself from the pack.

Reaching your prospects isn’t enough. You have to get their attention and land their business. No matter which advertising method you use, the basics are the same:

1. Grab them with a headline that makes a promise or claim that will interest them.

2. Prove to them that you can deliver on that promise or claim.

3. Ask for the order.

You can use the Dirty Car Secret to pump up the profits of any small business – or start a new one that will deliver enough cash for you to be secure … to pay your bills, put some money away for the future, and have a decent lifestyle for yourself and your family.

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