03 March 2007

Use food to build your business


One of the best ways that I have found to be remembered and to generate business is to deliver food. I used to have a job that required me to call on travel agents in large cities around the world. I would always take some really good chocolates or some freshly baked cakes or biscuits with me to thank the agency for taking the time to meet with me. I have yet to turned away from a sales call when I came bearing mouthwatering treats.

I would really go out of my way to buy fantastic food that my customers would be very impressed with. Most sales representatives make the mistake of buying cakes around the corner from the business they are visiting. The problem with this is that every other sales representative buys their cakes from the same shop so the people receiving the cakes eventually get sick of them. I used to purchase my cakes from one bakery in each city. I would pre order the day ahead and get them to deliver the cakes packed as requested to my hotel. Then I would load up the car and go for it. This ensured that wherever I went the cakes were different to the ones they normally received and this made me memorable. In fact I built quite a reputation for it.

If cakes were too hard I would take boxes of chocolates or party packs of lollies. In summer I would buy a tub of ice cream and some fruit to make up banana splits. For one presentation I took in a blender with tropical fruit and cocktail glasses. I made everyone a tropical cocktail. All of these ideas worked well and the more I got to know the individual customers the more radical my idea could become. I had a lot of fun and whenever I rang up to say I was coming to town I was welcomed with open arms and every one of my customers said that they loved it when I visited. As a pleasant side effect the business that our company received from each of the travel agents that I visited steadily grew.

Another idea that I implemented was to send our major clients a box of mangoes for Christmas. The area where I live is well known for producing the best mangoes in the world. They are at their best at Christmas time so it seemed logical to send a case to our important customers. A box of mangoes costs about $10 and the airfreight to send them nationally is about $20. So for about $30 you have the perfect corporate gift that can be shared by about 15 people for very little cost. Plus it shows that you have put some thought into your gift not just made the standard purchase of a hamper or a bottle of cheap booze.

A friend of mine used to own a small dive boat. Most of the business they he received was from tour booking desks and hotel concierge. Every Christmas his wife would bake about fifty fabulous Christmas cakes and they would spend a few days delivering them to the booking agents as a way to say thank for their support during the year.

I believe that this is a very important point. It is better to do something special such as make your own cakes or go out of the way to buy special pastries and cakes rather than go the cheap and nasty way. Every Christmas we are given bottles of booze from media representatives and printers that our businesses deals with. Of the fifteen bottles received last year thirteen were the cheapest plonk you could buy. This has a negative effect and I believe that these companies would have been better off not bothering with such tacky gifts.

One company gave us a cheap bottle of plonk but they made it a great gift by relabelling it. They had taken a photo of all the staff at their recent Christmas party, which happened to be fancy dress and had it made into labels. They renamed the bottle as “Rot Gut” and put a very humorous “how to use” instruction list on the back. They had turned a cheap, tacky bottle of booze into a great gift. The other bottles we were given ended up being given away to the Salvation Army (only one bottle was well worth drinking).

Why not pop in with morning tea for a prospective client? Put your letter or promotional material in with your treats to make sure that you get acknowledged for what you have done. I have heard of people sending pizzas to prospective clients with their promotional material attached.

As a lover of fine foods this marketing ideas has worked very well for me. Perhaps you can incorporate it into your marketing strategy. Target one business every week with a special treat of some sort. You might just be surprised at how much business you can generate with a few doughnuts.

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