How to Start a Vendor of the Month Program
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There are so many ways to market, and most small companies have tried a number of them. Have you purchased Facebook, Yelp, or Google advertising? Have you attended vendor fairs? Have you posted flyers around town? Have you… wait for it… started a Vendor of the Month Program?
Whether you are the vendor or the entity running the Vendor of the Month (VoM) program, your company can benefit!
What IS a Vendor of the Month program?
A Vendor of the month program is…
- a very low-to-no cost to market.
- a cross-marketing partnership with pre-agreed-upon conditions.
- a way to expand your marketing reach.
- a way to add value to your products or services.
- a way to create great relationships with other local businesses.
Delving into HOW to implement this program will help you determine whether or not it will work well for your business. Even if you decide that this might not be something you’d like to offer, think of how you would benefit from being on the other side of it, and then seek out a local business who has a similar program that your business can participate in.
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How to Implement a Vendor of the Month Program
1. Draft an outline of what you want your program to look like.
Here are some questions to ask yourself:
- What do you want the vendors to provide to your members?
- Will you require them to give a discount to your members?
- Will you require a giveaway/door prize from them?
- Will you require them to post on social media about your business?
- Will you require them to hand out your flyers to their customers?
- In the same likeness, what do you want to offer them?
- Will you advertise for them X number of times per month on your social media accounts?
- Will you allow them to write a blog post on your website?
- Will you offer something free to their customers?
- Will you allow their owner or employees to receive your services or products for free or at a discount?
2. Have a clear understanding of your goals for the program.
Decide if you want only your customers/members/clients to benefit from the goodies your vendor provides, or if you want the exchange to be available to your entire following, including those who have never purchased from you. To make this decision, you first have to decide if the purpose is to reward your customers and enhance their experience or if it is to simply get the word out about the other company with added benefit to whoever follows you.
If you can’t decide, consider making the giveaway items provided by your VoM only available for your customers to win, but for the general discount to be offered to your entire following. Remember, if you keep your fans engaged, they might just turn into loyal customers one day!
If you don’t have a membership or subscription option, can you see this program drawing attention to your business resulting in new or repeat customers? For instance, if you offered a raffle ticket to every person who purchased a certain product or service throughout the month, do you think that would entice someone who was “on the fence” about purchasing to take action? To know the answer to this, you must know your customer base and their desires.
3. Find businesses to particiapte in your vendor of the month program.
How do you find vendors to participate?
- Join a networking or other business group like BNI or your local Chamber of Commerce.
- Join local Facebook groups that focus on vendors only.
- Literally, do the legwork and walk around to the brick-and-mortar small businesses in the area. Get to know your local businesses and show them how beneficial it would be to have you as a business partner. Avoid big-box stores, as they often have too much red tape to get through before participating in a program like this.
- Attend vendor fairs and make contacts there.
4. Finalize the partnership.
Lastly, finalize important documents! These include 1) a comprehensive informational document with requirements and concessions to share with potential VoMs, and 2) a contract for you and the vendor to sign, indicating the month they will participate in and the details of the exchange.
Implementing a Vendor of the Month program can be as big or as little as you want it to be. It can be as frequent or infrequent as you have time for. Regardless of how you implement it, schedule it at a consistent rate, and it will likely have a positive impact on the tone of your business, as well as a great way to bring in new customers and expand your reach.