Yesterday I shared with you a plan to motivate employees that included a incentive for marketing your business. Today I’m going to show you the postcards that I’m giving to my sitters so that they can distribute them and generate referrals.

In the past I have sent out similar postcards via direct mail to selected neighbourhoods. I used a website www.Zillow.com to find addresses to send them to. This was pretty time consuming and of course I had to pay for postage too.

This time around I wanted to give my sitters an opportunity to get more local clients by distributing in their neighborhoods and leaving in local stores.  I have had a lot of success leaving flyers in restaurants, pet supply stores, and vets offices.

Here is the postcard (my scanner would only make the image black and white and the quality is not great – normally the front logo and text is in color and printed on gloss card stock):

Marketing Postcards

I had these done at www.Vistaprint.com. It is very easy to use their design tools and they do a great job at a very reasonable price – I got 1500 of these for around $150 including shipping.

You can see that on the front I have my business logo, a description of what we do (Professional In-Home Pet Sitting Services), a tag line, our phone number and website. Without turning the card over they know enough about us to make a decision to keep the card or to toss it out.

On the back left hand side I give them some detailed information about the service and a mission statement.  It’s also important to let them know if you are insured and bonded as it lets people know that you run a professional service.

It is the right side of the card that I really wanted to discuss.  This is the first time that I’ve put a special place on the card for sitters to write in their name to collect referrals and the first time I have directed people to my website to collect free gifts.

You can see that I’m offering new customers a special discount of 10% on their first group of visits if they can tell me who referred them (ie who wrote their name on the card).  This gives customers an incentive to tell me which gives my pet sitter re-assurance that they will get credit for the referral and recieve their bonus. So really it’s an incentive for both the sitter and new customer.  If you don’t want to discount your service your could offer a special perk such as some extra time, a bath, a small bag of treats – anything you think your potential customer will value. You could even partner with a pet store in your area, or pet service, and offer a free promotional gift from them, or a small discount on their service.

For more information about my sitter incentive plan see my blog post:

How to Use an Incentive Plan to Motivate Your Staff

There is no reason why you couldn’t use the same card in a customer referral bonus program. You could give these cards to your exisiting customers – get them to put their name in the place provided on the right side, and have them give them to friends or leave them a local stores for you.  When a customer gets a referral you could reward them with free visits or a gift card for products from a local pet store.

I have added the free pet services guide and pre-travel checklist as an incentive for people to visit my website. When they get to my site they will need to fill in a short form and give me their name and email address in order to claim the gifts.  You can see the page at www.clawspawsjaws.com/petguide.html.

When potential customers sign up and get their gift they are then automatically subscribed to my monthly newsletter.  This lets me follow up with them and build a relationship with them.

This is important as many people who recieve the post card won’t need pet sitting services right away.  They may lose the card before they ever need me! Getting their name and email and permission to contact them means that I can keep in touch with them, provide them with useful pet information via my newsletter – and hopefully when they do need a pet sitter, I will be the first service that they think of and they will call me.

To use this technique in your advertising all you need is a simple web site with an opt-in form and then a gift to offer people for signing up as an incentive for them to give you their name and email address.  The gift must have enough perceived value for them to part with their personal information.  When someone signs up on your site you send them the information.

You can set this up to run automatically by using an autoresponder service like www.aweber.com.  Aweber lets you set up an email list on their server. When someone signs up for the list you can then have the program automatically send them emails and attach your free gifts. This service is excellent if you plan to deliver a monthly ezine (email newsletter) to your clients as a follow up tool.

Try this out with your business and see what response you get with it! I’ll update you in a couple of months and let you know how it works for me.

If you have any questions about getting the cards, setting up your website, or using an autoresponder service please leave them under this post as a comment.