Gifting as a Marketing Strategy

Gifting marketing business

What do carpet cleaning professionals and distributors have in common? As it turns out, a lot!  

They both focus on cleaning solutions, evaluating which are most effective and cost-effective. They both care about cleaning equipment, looking for durable machines that meet your needs. And one more thing: the competition for both carpet cleaners and distributors has never been greater. Because of that, carpet cleaners and distributors are heavily invested in sales and marketing.  

Now, suppose the economy takes a downturn this year. We have heard it’s coming. What would that mean for carpet cleaners and distributors? Most obviously, carpet cleaners and distributors might find their current customers “shopping around,” looking for new providers that offer comparable products and services at a better price. 

So, what strategies can carpet cleaning professionals use now – especially this time of year when business may be slow – to market their services?  

One strategy that is all too often overlooked is “gifting.”  Here’s an example:

A cooking equipment manufacturer sent me a kitchen magnet that listed liquid and dry measurement equivalents.  

Here’s how it works:  

  • If a recipe calls for one tablespoon of olive oil, the magnet says that’s the equivalent of three teaspoons of olive oil. 
  • A pint is the same as two cups or 16 ounces. 
  • One cup equals eight ounces or 240 milliliters. 
  • At the bottom of this magnet are the manufacturer’s name and a reminder that they manufacture a variety of specialized tools and equipment just for cooking. 

Because of this magnet, which is now attached permanently to my refrigerator, I find that whenever I am looking for a new cooking utensil or tool, I check out their website. In other words, they gave me a gift – the magnet – and I repaid them by always shopping for their products first. 

Carpet cleaners can do the same. 

But let’s dig deeper. Why would gifting be an effective marketing strategy?

gift giving

Here are some of the key reasons: 

1. Buzz

Your customers love getting something for free that they can use. These gifts generate good feelings between you and your customer, creating a positive buzz about your company. 

2. Upsell

If your customer is happy with your services and the freebie mentions other services performed by your company, the gift encourages them to try those other services. Say you cleaned their carpets, but the freebie mentions your floor care services. Why should they look online for a floor care specialist? They already know they can turn to you. 

3. Looking good

Gifting makes your brand look good, professional, and thoughtful. It shows you care about your customers. Most likely, they have not gotten anything similar – if at all – from one of your competitors. Gifting is a guaranteed method for your firm to stand out and please a customer.  

4. Loyalty

Gifting builds customer loyalty along with making you and your firm look good. They see your name and company name every day, why call anyone else? 

5. Service recovery

A March 2022 study found that 40% of consumers in the U.S. will share online a negative experience they have regarding the quality of a service or product. Carpet cleaners are in the service industry, and missteps can happen. Along with correcting the problem, an added step in turning an unfortunate incident around is to send a gift. The goal is for the customer to focus on how the situation was addressed and rectified, with the gift as icing on the cake. 

6. Branding

Gifting shows what your business and your brand are all about – quality service, relationship building, and going the extra mile. 

Appreciated and customized 

As noted earlier, the key to using gifting as a marketing strategy is that your gift must be practical. It should be something your customers can use over and over again. If the gift does not get used or is not appreciated, then it will not have the effect you are hoping for.  

Additionally, gifts must be customized to the types of clients you service. What might fit a residential customer may not be effective with, for instance, a restaurant owner. 

One way to ensure your gift is appreciated and customized is to ask your distributor for input. Discuss the types of customers you have and generate ideas for appropriate gifts. 

Our job as a network of distributors throughout the country is to help our distributors market their products and services. Many of the suggestions we have taught our members can be shared with you.  

gifting example

An example 

Let’s assume we give our residential customers a practical and useful refrigerator magnet. We first need to work with a graphic designer to ensure the colors and fonts match our other marketing materials. Branding means everything must look the same. 

Next, we must make sure the magnet lists our company name, phone number, and website. The magnet should also look professional and focus on the message we want to convey. Remember, the magnet must be something the customer can use over and over again. 

As to content, here are some carpet spotting removal suggestions most homeowners would appreciate: 

1. Blood

Blood stains can be removed with cold water, dish detergent, blotting, and gentle rubbing. Rinse with warm water and pat dry. 

2. Food

Food stains typically can be removed, like blood stains, with cold water and blotting. White vinegar can be used as an added measure, then blow dry. 

3. Red wine

This is the biggie that makes homeowners panic. Yet, red wine typically can be removed with cold water and dish detergent. Blotting, rinsing with warm water, and repeating if necessary usually does the job. 

4. Ink

With more people working at home, ink stains from computer printers have become more of a problem. Blot the stain first, trying to absorb as much ink as possible, then clean with cold water and dish or diluted laundry detergent. Since these may be large stains, use a hair dryer on low heat to dry the area once cleaned. 

Your graphic designer will likely have suggestions for where the magnet can be made.

To make this an effective marketing strategy, carpet cleaners need to get these out at the start of spring, just before the carpet cleaning season begins. What’s most important is to get it done now. Time is of the essence. 

 

 

Michael Wilson

Michael Wilson is AFFLINK’s vice president of marketing and packaging. He has been with the organization since 2005 and provides strategic leadership for the entire supply chain team. In his free time Wilson enjoys working with the Wounded Warrior Project, fishing, and improving his cooking skills. Reach him at www.afflink.com.

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