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Promotional ideas for a service company?

I've been reading about the ideas of promotions, but I'm at a loss on how to apply promotions to my company, or if it's appropriate. I am a 1-person engineering support company. I don't sell a physical product, and I don't sell a standard service, like an oil change or tax preparation. My "products" depend on the customer (generally small businesses who lack specific in-house expertise). I do things like technical writing (user manuals, reports, presentations), test development (data acquisition, sensors, data analysis) and product development (conceptual design, market analysis).

I am paid based on time and materials. I am considering two tiers of promotions....one tier for people who sign up for my newsletter (business/engineering articles, or other informational items of value to the specific client), and another tier for people who actually set up a consulting agreement.

I'd appreciate any ideas, and will be happy to clarify any part of my business. I am not a salesman, advertising exec or marketing genius, but I am learning, and hope to keep learning to make my business succeed.

-Sue Kristoff - by skristoff
I am paid based on time and materials. I am considering two tiers of promotions....one tier for people who sign up for my newsletter (business/engineering articles, or other informational items of value to the specific client), and another tier for people who actually set up a consulting agreement.
What would you give away? - by Thomas
What would you give away?
That's what I'm looking for insight on. Some ideas could be X hours of free service, a discount on the service rate, or some sort of free assessment of, say, a current testing program they may have. - by skristoff
That's what I'm looking for insight on. Some ideas could be X hours of free service, a discount on the service rate, or some sort of free assessment of, say, a current testing program they may have.
Some people in our office will give away a free market analysis to home sellers to get into the house hoping to give a listing presentation. I don't think this is a good idea because the sellers who do call only want the free analysis or turn out to be listings you don't want. - by Thomas
Some people in our office will give away a free market analysis to home sellers to get into the house hoping to give a listing presentation. I don't think this is a good idea because the sellers who do call only want the free analysis or turn out to be listings you don't want.
Always get the money on the front end and give the incentive on the back end. msnwnk; - by Jolly Roger
Always get the money on the front end and give the incentive on the back end. msnwnk;

Exactly. That's why I was thinking along the lines of a discounted rate, or X free hours with a new project. I was just wondering if there was anything more creative or interesting I could do. - by skristoff
Hi Sue,

If I were you, I would create a special report on and around the biggest problems your market has. In terms of lead generation, free special reports and white papers have the highest response rate (79% - Marketing Sherpa research).

This is a cross-breed between a brochure and a sales letter. The credibility comes from the fact that your statements are referenced to research materials.

Some ideas could be X hours of free service, a discount on the service rate, or some sort of free assessment of, say, a current testing program they may have.
I wouldn't offer personal service for free. You can convert this service into a email course and automate it.

I would also stay away from discounts. It can screw up your market positioning big time. Instead of "premium" you become a "low budget alternative"... main for low quality buyers who can give you only headaches and stomach ulcers.

Thoughts? - by Bald Dog
I'm new to this site but have been in the sales profession for many years.

First, my suggestion is to NEVER discount the price of your services to gain market share.

Second, identify your best customers. Focus your marketing efforts to build that into an additional 10 best customers.

Chuck - by Sales Pro 1000
First, my suggestion is to NEVER discount the price of your services to gain market share.

Second, identify your best customers. Focus your marketing efforts to build that into an additional 10 best customers.
Priceless advice Chuck. thmbp2; - by Jolly Roger
I would try to address your potential clients concerns. Offer them a consultation within which you'd provide a rough idea of scope and total project cost.

This would give them a rough order of magnitude from which to understand how feasible it may be for them to undertake a project with your services.

Make these by appointment only and dedicate a day, afternoon, hour to do them in so that they do not consume your day.

Lance Best - by Lance_Best
How about some type of value added bonus that could help with