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Teen Looking for Help W/ Business

Hi, I'm a fifteen year old from Illinois. I'm planning on starting a business selling restaurant placemat advertising spots, and I'd like your help on getting sales.

Basically, I print about 5000 paper restaurant placemats. In the center of the placemat is either the restaurant's menu or logo. This is by far the largest image on the placemat. There is a one inch margin. Inside the margin, I have 20 advertisements from local businesses near the restaurant, who pay $120/month for the advertisment.

How should I approach the restaurant? Just walk in near closing time, or should I call/mail them? What books would you suggest on how to call or mail them?

How should I approach the advertisers? Walk in, or call/mail them? Is the price I've stated alright?

Thanks for your help. - by ticktockclok
Hi, I'm a fifteen year old from Illinois. I'm planning on starting a business selling restaurant placemat advertising spots, and I'd like your help on getting sales.

Basically, I print about 5000 paper restaurant placemats. In the center of the placemat is either the restaurant's menu or logo. This is by far the largest image on the placemat. There is a one inch margin. Inside the margin, I have 20 advertisements from local businesses near the restaurant, who pay $120/month for the advertisment.

How should I approach the restaurant? Just walk in near closing time, or should I call/mail them? What books would you suggest on how to call or mail them?

How should I approach the advertisers? Walk in, or call/mail them? Is the price I've stated alright?

Thanks for your help.
For restaurants I would cold canvass before they open not after. What are the costs for the restaurant and why should they use this type of advertisement? - by Houston
Sorry, I think I confused you. The restaurant isn't advertising anywhere. I'm handing them 5000 free paper placemats, with various advertisements from local businesses around the border, and their own logo or menu as the dominant image in the middle. The advertisements from the local businesses pay for the placemats.

When I try to find businesses that may want to advertise on the placemats, I'm looking for small businesses- cleaners, family-owned shops, small stores, etc. No chain stores. With the restaurant, I'm looking for a place which is frequented by families and is nearby possible advertisers.

I don't know much about advertising rates, but do you think one twenty a month is good for 5000 placemats? I could cite that as a benefit.

I could also say that the place is often visited by families or that the place is nearby, if either of those is important to the advertiser.

Thanks for your help. - by ticktockclok
The restaurant gets free placemats and the advertisers get exposure to patrons of the restaurant. I've seen placemats like that in restaurants before. You might be able to shop your competition for ad rates. - by Houston
Sounds like a great project for a fifteen year old.

I have no idea about what you want to charge but I suspect the advertisers will help you with that.

How did you come up with this idea?

Chuck - by Sales Pro 1000
I was visiting relatives in Boston, and when we went out to eat once I saw one of these placemats. It looked pretty simple to do, so I figured I could do it myself. When I got home, I found out there's a little information on the net on the subject. Its feasible for me, and would be a nice side business. - by ticktockclok
It really pleases me to see someone like you get an idea and strike out on your own.

Not enough of this is happening, and after all, activity like this is what made America strong in the first place.

You're helping to strengthen your local economy and that's not to be sneezed at as the taxes paid locally are how the community provides parks, fire and police protection, roads, schools, and programs for the needy.

Keep up the good work!

Chuuck - by Sales Pro 1000
Thanks Chuck.

I checked prices, and I think mine are too high. I'm now thinking 7500 copies for $100/month.

I've never sold anything before, so I would be very grateful on some direction on how to approach the possible advertisers.

Thanks for your help. - by ticktockclok
I'm assuming that you have some computer graphics skills, or you have someone in your family who does.

I'd suggest that you make up a dummy placemat that looks close to what you want your advertisers to subscribe to.

Put it in a plastic cover, and in a nice protective cover you can buy at your local office supply store.

This is the substance of your sales efforts.

Make one-on-one calls to the businesses you want to subscribe.

Make sure your clothes are clean, neatly pressed and your shoes are shined.

Make sure you have a fresh haircut.

Walk in the door of these businesses with your portfolio in hand. Tell the first person you meet that you are selling placemat advertising. Ask if they want to buy some.

At your station in life I wouldn't spend a whole lot of time trying to learn sophisticated selling techniques. Show and tell and you will sell.

Good luck,

Chuck - by Sales Pro 1000
Greetings Ticktockclok:

You know, if you walked into my restaurant and attempted to sell me these table ad placements I would buy them just because of your age and your desire. I am amazed to find a 15 year old person with the entreprenuership and attitude you possess.

Most 15 year olds are delivering newspapers, or wanting to work at McDonald's, or bag groceries. It is so refreshing to find someone your age thinking BIG! I wish my grandkids had your mindset.

Your story of how you saw these placemats in a restaurant and decided this was something you wanted to pursue as a business tells me you have a 'opportunistic mindset' that allows you to 'see' opportunities that others at your age never see. I see a bright future for you.

As far as helping you determine how you can make this business work I would advise you to research your competition first. Find some restaurants in your area who are using these placemats and contact the advertisers and ask what it is costing them. This will help you set your 'ad rate.' If you can provide this service for a little less money go directly to all these companies and offer them the same service they are now paying for at a discount.

Research this service on the Internet. There are many HUGE national companies offering this service and most restaurants are familiar with it. See what these big companies charge. This is a tough market, but your age will help you if this is want you truly want to do.

Most of all, if this is your first foray into starting your own business, perhaps you should you research a business that would tie into what you are passionate about. What are your hobbies and interests? What would you absolutely love to be offering to other people? What subjects make you happy?

With your attitude and drive at 15 years old, I would advise you to become an 'expert' in something you love doing and offer your knowledge/service to other people for a price. No matter what it is, there are companies out there who will pay you to help them sell their products/services. - by Dougd55
Hiya Doug. Thanks for the kind words.

I was researching this some more on the net, and found some bad news. There was topic on a Lawn Care forum about this kind of advertising. The general consensus was that it was a huge waste of money. While I'd like to make money, I don't want to be ripping people off. Besides, when I was reading on this forum, I saw that the first key of sales was to believe in your product. I'm not too sure about whether I should go ahead with this anyway, or forget it.

I've just started a small business selling books on ebay. My plan was to put about 50% back in the business, and save the other 50% for some electronics supplies and a welder. I took electronics in school and enjoyed it immensely, so I guess I'll take your advice Doug, and try to get really good at that.

Ah, time to sleep. Thank you very much for your help Doug. - by ticktockclok
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