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Using a Sales Trojan Horse

For smaller financial clients, which are competing against behemoths with more money and bigger name recognition, the most-effective promotional campaigns are often those that focus on trust and service. That was made especially clear to one promotional products distributor who helped his client, a local investment bank, develop an effort to reach out to corporate clients.

In targeting a number of “million-dollar clients,” as the distributor calls them, the bank hoped not only to get the business of the organizations, but also of their employees – or at least be on their radar. Of course, getting past the company gatekeeper is always a challenge to those dropping in on a new prospect, and jumping right in to a sales pitch might put the client on the defensive.

“They were looking for some way that they could stand out when up against the name-brand banks, and at least get their foot in the door to market to these employees,” the distributor says.

So they came up with something of a sales Trojan horse. The distributor worked with a supplier to create a box covered with a laminate so it looked like a small bank, complete with the phone number and information about the community bank. They then filled each box with a dozen donuts and brought them to the prospects, with little explanation beyond the fact that this was just a little something from the local bank. This continued for three weeks, dropping off the box of donuts every Tuesday, until the fourth week, when the delivery inexplicably stopped.

“More often than not, they would get a call from the office manager asking, ‘What happened to the donuts?’ ” the distributor says. “If they did not get a call, they would call the prospect the next day and usually found themselves welcomed to the office to make their pitch. They got substantial business out of it.”

Since the bank saw not just the company, but also its employees, as potential clients, the donut box, which would get a lot of attention in the break room, was a particularly potent tool. It created interest in the brand for those coming in and grabbing the donuts, and many would assume their company was already doing business with the bank, thus creating a level of trust and name recognition.

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