April 17, 2010

The Single Best Word in Advertising

By Paul Bieber

Free installation on this window. Buy one get one free. Free energy audit. You are going to get you some free advice.

You guessed it. In studies of advertising, the word ‘FREE’ draws more recognition than any other word. Free in a headline means the ad will be scanned by the reader. Free in a lead off sentence means the next sentence will be read. Free in a radio spot draws more listening recognition than any other word.

Sure, you pride yourself on great customer service and technical expertise. But if no one knows about your strengths, do they exist? The purpose of advertising is to get people to come through your door or call you for more details. That is when you point out the other important aspects of your business.

A sign in your window that says ‘come in for a free, no-purchase- required drawing’ will draw people in. Give away a 19″ flat screen TV, which costs under $200, and you develop foot traffic and a mailing list. When customers fill out their name, address, phone, and email address, also ask them what they anticipate as their next glass purchase. Also ask “Do you have any broken windows?” or, “Do your windows leak cold air?”. Near the box where they leave their entries, have signs reminding people of the energy tax credit, or that low-e saves lots of money.

What can you give away for free? Well, a small picture frame with every purchase of $100 or more…a pocket mirror with every windshield replaced…a screen repaired with every energy-savings window replaced. One rule of thumb says that you should be able to give away two to three percent of a sale on promotional costs. You can also give services…you don’t do estimates, you do free estimates…every windshield replaced or repaired earns a free car wash the week after the windshield work is done…every commercial door that is replaced gets a free can of professional grade glass cleaner.

Give a free calculator with every estimate showing how much you can save with low e glass. Give a free thermometer with every new energy savings window installation. Give a free pair of earmuffs for buildings that upgrade windows with noise reducing laminated glass. Give tickets to a a local minor league ball team with every quote. All of these free things should go in your advertising, or get promoted in mailing list or email blast; they will get people to read what you send, and they will get people to come to your shop.

Look up ‘advertising specialties’ in the yellow pages or on-line to find companies that will help you with imprinted items for your giveaways. Have a rainbow week–everyone wearing a certain color gets a free discount on a specific item—Monday is red, Tuesday is orange, Wednesday is yellow, an so forth.

It doesn’t do any good to give something away for free after you already have a sale confirmed. You want the free item to draw people to you when they are shopping during the quote phase of the purchase. During a hot summer, advertise giving away free ice cream sandwiches to customers, or free hot chocolate during the winter.

The price point of the free item is not significant. Giving away a $1 calendar is better than selling a $20 shirt for $5. The key is to highlight the word free in your advertising and promotion.

If you give away a gift certificate to a local fast food place, you can advertise ‘there is such a thing as a free lunch.’

And as promised above, this is FREE advice.