How to use Place, Time and Offer to get more customers

Anyone in business online is always looking for the most effective way to bring more qualified customers in the digital door. Some simple rules to understand the online version of the best place, time and offer can make a huge difference. 

The Research Aqueduct trail

I live near a running track that runs besides an old aqueduct from the early part of the 20th century. It’s purpose was to run water from the Sugarloaf reservoir nearby, through to Melbourne’s city folk.

Nowadays the aqueduct isn’t in use. It’s overgrown with vegetation and the trail that runs beside it is shaded with trees, with glimpses of interesting vistas of homes and fields that surround the aqueduct. It’s a wonderful trail.

Just after New Year, Lola, my hound and I were out walking the track and about midway from start to finish was a sidewalk chalkboard. The local gym was promoting a special offer for people to trial the gym for free for seven days.

Nothing very special you might say. But it was. They’d really thought about who their ideal customer was and got the location, timing and offer right.

What’s in a Location ?

This wasn’t just a sign put out on the sidewalk outside of the gym waiting for people to walk by and notice it. It was smack bang in the middle of a running track, where everyone in the neighbourhood walks, runs and exercises their dog. They were targeting people who had exercise on their mind already - their target market.

Think about your own business online. If you don’t have signs out in the right location, how will the right people interested in your product or service find you?

This gym is located in an industrial estate, in a dead end cul-de-sac, well off the main road. No one is finding this gym without being told it’s there. Your online business is just like the gym at the end of the cul-de-sac, you need to tell people where you are.

The right place is everything - imagine how successful the gym would be if they put their sign up outside the local pub?

In the online space, the possibilities are endless. Facebook and groups within Facebook, LinkedIn is the same - with groups and followings, specialist blogs or media sites, directory sites, Pinterest, Snapchat, Twitter. This list goes on. 

The best way to find the right place to promote your business is to do a heap of online research to work out where your target audience is:

  • already hanging out
  • receptive to hearing about what you offer - making sure you’re being relevant to them instead of interruptive and intrusive which will just make people tune you out.

There’s a number of tools to help you research this online, including Moz for search related information, Tagboard for hashtag use across different channels, your own web stats to see where the majority of your traffic is coming from, Buzzsumo to get an overview of conversations across multiple social channels. Even checking out your successful competitors will help inform you on where they’re interacting with their customers.

Proper Timing can increase awareness

Straight after Christmas and New Year, just about everyone tries to make good on some resolutions. Even if it’s just for a day or two. Or if you didn’t fall into the New Year resolution black-hole, at the very least, dialling back the excesses of Christmas and New Year always seems to be on everyone’s agenda. A survey in the UK by Bupa found that 66% of people that had made a new year resolution had broken it within one month. This gym sign was out on New Years day. No delay, no waiting and stayed there for at least a week into the New Year.

This may not be relevant to all businesses, but for others it will be a no brainer.

Think about any seasons or times that apply to you. For example if you're in the health industry winter blues and sniffles make sense, spring time fever to get fit and post Christmas/New Year indulgence detox.

Accountants and bookkeepers have tax time and deadlines that make it easy to open a dialogue with potential customers.

The point is that your service or product is on your target audience’s mind - so they’re receptive to hearing from you. 

Imagine how effective a message from an accountant to their target audience on Christmas eve would be.

Think about your target audience and when they are in the market for your goods and services - make sure you're on their clock - not yours.  

To get a handle on this make a comprehensive list of points in time or seasonal times that relate to your business eg. conferences, International/National days (these are good as you can piggyback on external promotional activities), celebrations like Mother’s day or Valentines days, seasons and activities that go with the season like the lead-up to football season getting fit.

Then plan out your promotions, activities and key messages based on these times. Make yourself completely relevant so that they want to listen.

The right offer to seal the deal

As an offer or enticement to nudge people to give them a go, the gym owners hung a pad of tear-off vouchers for 7 free days at the gym from the chalkboard. Although low-tech, it was the right offer to go with the timing. Something free to get potential and well qualified customers in the door.

Another way was to get people to text a code to an auto-respond tool. Many people have their mobile phones with them when they’re out running and walking for both music and just in case something happens (certainly I know I do and my friends do as well - so on my survey of about 10 people or so, I can say this is a true). The text is received and they’re automatically sent the free voucher to their phone. The gym owners also have the added bonus of a mobile number to follow up with, to try and win the potential customer over if they don’t take up the offer. Did I mention it’s all trackable as well?

So what’s the equivalent for your business? What offer is going to be enticing enough to get them to give you their email or phone or even follow up with an enquiry or trial? This is no time to be stingy. You’ve got their attention, they’ve got some interest, so follow through and seal the deal by making sure that you offer something that they will value and nudge them to take the next step in getting to know you as a business.

For the gym, a week’s free trial is perfect, but you see other examples of these ‘lead magnets’ all over the place. Free trials for software/services, free downloads or ebooks, free 15 minute consultation.

I won’t re-invent the wheel - Leadpages wrote a blog with 47 different examples. Read through it to get some inspiration for your own killer ‘lead magnet’ or offer that will be difficult to refuse.

Online success as a business can be challenging if you don’t have the right traffic coming through to your website. Take a step back and put yourself in the shoes of your customers. Work out where they will be online as well as receptive to your message and make them an offer that they can’t refuse.