Tips, ideas, information for the wholesaler on the go.

  • Business cards as marketing tools. The best business cards have color photographs; information on both sides or on several pages in a foldout format; and complete contact information, including area codes, fax, e-mail, Web addresses.

  • Web addresses. Don't forget to put your Web site address on business cards, letterheads, trucks, envelopes, facility signage, etc. Surprising how many wholesalers neglect this.

  • On-hold advertising. Get rid of the radio stations or Muzak. Callers on hold should be treated to an advertisement about your products and services. Plenty of companies exist to produce these on-hold ads.

    If you must play music, choose classical selections by the masters such as Mozart, Beethoven, Brahms, etc. It projects a classy image of your firm.

  • Rooftop signage. Put your company name and logo on the top of delivery trucks as well as the sides. Why? Because you'll gain exposure from everyone who lives or works in the upper floors of buildings.

  • Back-up beepers. Every delivery truck ought to be equipped with a back-up beeper. Main reason is safety. Second reason is as a marketing tool. Every time that beeper sounds, everyone in the neighborhood turns his head to see what's up.

  • Jobsite signs. Major construction sites always have the name of the participating contractor, architect and engineer on the construction team. Minor jobsites also should have them. Make up signs with your company's name preprinted on them, with added space for the trade customer to insert his own name. Offer them free to customers.

  • Circulate currency with your stickers. Offer to cash employees' checks for free. Pay them in $20 bills affixed with a small postage-stamp sticker advertising your company. (This is legal, as long as you use removable stickers.)

  • Anniversary specials. Anniversaries offer a great opportunity for special sales promotions. But don't wait for the conventional milestones. Come up with an offbeat promotion celebrating, say, your 14th year in business. Offer every 14th customer a special gift or discount.

  • Accentuate the positive. Imagine two different stores with two different signs.

    One reads: "Absolutely no returns accepted after 7 days."

    The next reads: "We will cheerfully accept any merchandise returned within 7 days."

    They say the same thing, but which company would you rather do business with?

  • Devise a home inspection checklist. Plumbing and HVAC contractors ought to do this for themselves, but almost nobody does. Come up with a list of simple things to inspect on every service call, no matter what the problem. Pass out these lists for free to your trade customers, and encourage them to train their service people to do these quick inspections.

  • Devise a home safety checklist. Same principle, but geared toward homes with toddlers and/or elderly residents. Evaluate bathrooms, kitchens, basements, medicine cabinets, appliances, etc., for any potential hazards.

  • Add-on products. Does your supply house sell surgical booties, rubber gloves, CO detectors, smoke alarms, gas logs, kitchen fire extinguishers, air cleaners, bathroom deodorizer, tile cleanser, Ziploc bags and dust brooms? These are just a few of the products progressive service contractors use to equip their service techs, or for add-on sales or premium giveaways.