Here are 55 promotional tools that you can use to market your deer/elk products and services. Many are low-cost or free. Remember, the more of these tools that you use, the more effective your marketing will be!
1. Name - Pick a good one. Be sure people can pronounce it, spell it, that it does not confuse them and it is uniquely yours. Register a trademark for the name.
2. Domain name - Register an Internet domain name for your farm or business. Try and get the same name as your farm/business name.
3. Logo - It is smart to have one. Use it. Spend a few "bucks" and get a professional-looking one. Be sure to get an electronic version so you can plop it down everywhere.
4. Colour - Associate colours with your business and use them consistently.
5. Identity - Conveys your company's personality throughout your marketing. Pick a niche and position, and stick with it.
6. Theme - This is a set of words that summarizes your company and its prime benefits. Pick a theme you can live with for a long time.
7. Packaging - Packaging is your boxes, your truck, your deer trailer, your sales people and you. Packaging will attract or repel customers and prospects.
8. Business card - Put ALL relevant information on it. Use both sides and turn it into a mini-brochure. Always have some on-hand.
9. Internet presence - At least get an e-mail address; it makes it easier for people to get a hold of you. Consider a web site, even a small one just to get started.
10. Toll-free telephone numbers - These are a bargain and make it easier for people to contact you. Try and get one starting with 800 if possible.
11. Size - Size influences some people to buy or not to buy. Can you offer benefits of a large and small-size company?
12. Attire - You and your employees represent your business. People will develop attitudes about your business based on what you and your employees are wearing. Dress appropriately to your clientele and customers. Consider shirts with your farm name/logo that you can wear at conventions and other events.
13. Decor - Prospects and customers will form opinions about your offering based on the decor of your store, office or farm. It should reflect your honest identity.
14. Stationery - The look and feel make it a powerful marketing tool. Consider using the back side of envelopes to tell people about your farm and what you have to offer.
15. Order forms/invoices/cheques - Opportunity to gain more business, increase referrals, and solidify relationships with customers. Again, put all information such as 800 numbers, e-mail and web site addresses.
16. Hours/days of operation - Can provide you an advantage over your competitors. Provide alternatives for people to buy from you e.g., taking telephone orders, providing catalogues, accepting orders by e-mail and having an Internet web site with your products and an order form. Make some of these alternatives available 24 hours a day.
17. Phone manners - This is the first contact many customers have with your company. It can be positive or negative. Get an answering machine or voice mail to take messages. Return these promptly.
18. Neatness - Messiness causes lost sales because people believe the sloppiness will carry over to other parts of your business. Keep your farm neat and tidy - grass cut, buildings painted, fences fixed, etc.
19. Location - An important component in the success of many businesses.
20. Customer follow-up - Follow-up is the key to a loyal customer base. It is very important to establish a database of your customers so you can use it for follow-up and repeated marketing. When you sell them deer or elk, follow up to see whether they need advice or help. This will turn them into repeat customers.
21. Customer recourse - Know what you'll do if the customer is not satisfied. Have a clear policy and be sure all your staff know and follow it. Remember, the customer is always right!
22. Guarantees/warranties - Help the customer feel safer in doing business with you. Make them generous and be flexible. Satisfied customers are one of the best marketing tools you have.
23. Community involvement - The more you're involved with your community, the higher your profits will be. This involves more time and energy than money. It could include involvement with community associations.
24. Tie-in with others - Display signs or brochures of other businesses if they will do the same for you.
25. Reprints of ads or articles - Make inexpensive reprints for mailings and signs.
26. Special events - Staging unusual activities around your business is a good way to attract free publicity. Have a contest and award a trophy, throw a party for prospects, have an open house at your farm, arrange for school visits or take a fawn to schools.
27. Testimonials - These are free, easy to obtain, and very impressive to new prospects. Use them as signs, in your brochures, ads, and in direct mailings.
28. Smiles/greetings - They make customers feel special. Employees should smile in person and on the phone.
29. Sales training - Customers like dealing with people who know the products and business. Be sure your sales people know the way you do business and reflect your identity. Consider taking a sales training course yourself.
30. Audio-visual aids - These can be very effective tools. Use them.
31. Videotapes and CD-ROMS - These can be used as electronic brochures. They are not that expensive and can have impact.
32. Refreshments - Little things such as offering coffee and doughnuts in the morning can have a dramatic impact in sales.
33. Credit cards - The easier you make it for someone to buy, the more they will buy. The discounts and paperwork are worth the effort. Belonging to some organizations such as the Chamber of Commerce may entitle you to lower discount rates.
34. Financing - Many customers will want what you are selling, but won't have the money now. Financing can win sales.
35. Club and association memberships - Join these to become part of the community and gain credibility. The Better Business Bureau and the Chamber of Commerce are a good place to start. Also be a member of the major deer/elk associations.
36. Team sponsorships - A good way to get involved in the community.
37. Circulars - These are inexpensive, flexible and easy to distribute at sales, conventions, under windshield wipers, as bag stuffers, as signs, on counters, at homes and more.
38. Brochures - These are more detailed and less time-bound. Their purpose is to provide overall information. Professionally-designed and produced brochures make a better impression.
39. Samples - Good quality free samples are one of the most effective marketing tools ever devised, e.g., elk velvet antler capsules, venison, etc.
40. Consultations - These are like free samples and work very well for the service business, e.g., farm design and layout, handling facilities, etc.
41. Demonstrations - These let customers see what it would be like to own what you sell. Hold a field day on your farm for new deer farmers and others considering entering the industry.
42. Column in publications - Many local and business publications will publish a column on your field of expertise. Don't ask for money, only for the mention of your farm name, e-mail and/or web site. National and regional deer/elk publications (including this Digest) are always looking for good articles.
43. Books and articles - Publishing will establish your credibility. Even self-publishing will help.
44. Contests and sweepstakes - These will call attention to your business and obtain precious names for your customer mailing list. If possible, have entrants come to your place of business. Offer one of your products as a prize to better target your audience.
45. Phone-hold marketing - When customers are on-hold, impart useful information about your company.
46. Roadside stands - Suitable for certain products. However, check your state or county regulations first.
47. Co-op funds - Many manufacturers make funds available if you give them a plug in your ads. Perhaps other businesses will help you pay for advertising if you mention them.
48. Research studies - The more you know, the better you will be able to market.
49. Posters - These can be anything you want but should add pizzazz and visibility to your identity. They can be used everywhere.
50. Take-one boxes - Place one of these in any location frequented by your prospects and fill it with your brochures. The brochures can be informational or promotional.
51. Gift certificates - Consider offering then if your product can be given as a gift.
52. Reputation - One of the most important components to marketing. Be sure to establish and maintain a good reputation.
53. Customer mailing lists - Keep them from the day you go into business. The lists are worth their weight in gold because of repeat business and referrals.
54. Enthusiasm - Gets passed on by you to your employees, from them to customers, and from customers to potential customers.
55. Satisfied customers - These can single-handedly create your word-of-mouth campaign, whereas unhappy customers can put you out of business!