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Trans-Promo Marketing: Leveraging Statements and Invoices to Boost Your Business

Have you ever seen ads printed on your bank statement before? What about your 401(k) statement? Surely, you’ve seen ads on the back of a sales receipt before, right? If so, you’ve been exposed to transpromotional marketing. It’s a type of marketing that utilizes invoices or bills, and other non-marketing materials, as avenues to pursue prospects or existing clients. Here’s how to tap into this hidden potential within your organization, and the pitfalls of doing it incorrectly.

Use Invoices For Upsells

Invoices can be used to upsell clients to more expensive products or services, or cross-sell to related products and services. This type of offer doesn’t need to be a hard sell either. You could subtly hint at it.

For example, if you run a bike shop, you could send out your regular invoices to customers who have a credit account with you. You could include some information about keeping the bike well-maintained. So-called “bike tips” could turn into a subtle form of drip marketing, where you constantly “hit” clients with hints that they eventually need to come in to see you again for upgrades or maintenance and repairs.

To make it easy on yourself when designing your invoices, start with templates. Here are some good free samples that can be easily customized for just about any business. Once your templates are built, all you have to do is fill in the dollar amounts every month and possibly change the ads to reflect your market or where clients or prospects are in the sales cycle.

Use Coupons Pinned To Receipts

Use coupons pinned to receipts or printed on the back of them. Big box stores use this tactic all the time, because it works. Don’t discount it. Having coupons printed on your receipts isn’t all that difficult either. You do need a printer that supports duplex printing, possibly a color printer if you want the ads to stand out, and a POS system capable of intelligently targeting customers with relevant coupons based on current and past purchases.

Announce a Promotional Offer or Sale In Your Newsletter

If you send out a traditionally non-sales-y newsletter, consider dropping a flyer or coupon book in there now and then. Don’t do it all of the time, because people who receive a non-marketing material from you don’t expect to get marketing messages. It may turn them off.

But, if you do this every other issue or once every 5 or 6 issues, you can often get away with it and clients and prospects won’t really mind too much.

Sell To Venders When You Pay Your Bills

This is probably one of the most underutilized ways to capture leads. If you’re like every other business on the planet, you have bills. You pay those bills every month. Why not send out advertisements in that mail?

Most businesses don’t do it because they believe the mail ends up in some automated processing house or the person handling the billing doesn’t make financial decisions.

Well, if you craft your message properly, you can capture a lead using this method. All you have to do is use a two-step sales process. First, include a web-based promotional offer in your paid invoice or bill. This promotional offer could be for special content that’s exclusive and tailored to the vendor.

For example, if you pay your utility bill with a local utility company, you could include a special report to the utility that’s relevant to that industry. This won’t always work, but it will in many cases - especially where the vendor is a small business owner.

Let’s say you regularly buy printed materials from a local printer. If you include this same kind of customized content as a promotional offer in the bill paid to the printer, he may just look at it. 

What Can Go Wrong?

While transpromotional offers can work, they can also backfire. A lot of businesses do not use paper billing anymore, opting for paperless options which use less paper (obviously), but bypass this sort of thing implicitly and make paying bills more efficient.

Paper mailings are steadily declining each year by about 2 percent, according to some studies - one most notably by Pitney Bowes. Finally, some vendors may not appreciate receiving advertisements in with invoices. It may make it more difficult to read important information, like how much money is owed to your company. It may also flat-out annoy clients.