inding great vending locations is one thing but to have any hope of being a success in this business you have to become good at convincing location managers to let you place your machines on their premises. What you need is a marketing strategy to help you to get in touch with prospective clients and successfully sell your service to them. This article looks at how you can put together a vending business marketing plan.
Who will do your Marketing?
Ideally, you should approach clients yourself so that you can learn as you go and keep costs to a minimum. Hiring someone to handle your marketing for you is also an option. You could even consider using the services of a professional ‘locator’ and many businesses have sprung up that offer this service to vendors.
What are you Marketing?
The first step is to define exactly what you are trying to sell. This is not as easy as it sounds as the needs and opportunities at every location will be different. Most business models in other industries require you to choose a product or service and then go out and find a market for it. In vending you would be foolish to buy machines and then go on the lookout for suitable locations. Instead you should be aware of a variety of vending machines and then consider the needs and opportunities of each location on a case by case basis. Win the account first and then acquire the machines to service the location.
Who are you Marketing to?
Think about who your clients are and how you can design a marketing campaign that will appeal to them specifically. You may have to adjust your strategies if you target a variety of different businesses and organizations.
If you are approaching schools for instance you should let them know that you can stock your machines with healthy snacks if they require. Take along some samples for them to try and let them know that you strongly agree with their decision to limit their student’s intake of junk food.
Make your Vending Machine Business more Marketable
Try to be different with your machines, your service and how you approach your business. Managers at most of the top locations will have already been approached by your competitors and if they want machines then they will have them by now.
Try to offer something different or think of a concept that will really appeal to the location in question and add value for their customers. Get inside a business owner’s head and think about what they need to improve about their business. Really listen to each client and offer them a customized solution that is tailor made to suit their needs.
One good way to strengthen your marketing is to form an association with a vending machine charity and carry an official letter from them to your meetings. Let prospects know that for every month your vending machine is located on their premises you will donate a certain amount of money to your charity partner. This usually ends up cheaper than giving them a commission and you can feel good about doing some good in the community.
If the ‘decision maker’ seems determined to get a commission then you should come out with a set percentage of the machines takings. Be prepared to go a little higher if they want to negotiate. Let them know that you will pay them every time you come to collect money from the machine. You can even offer to let them watch you empty the machine and count the money so that they can be sure that they are getting their share.
You will also stand a much better chance of winning large accounts if you carry liability insurance of at least a million dollars, which only costs around $40 to $80 a month depending on certain variables. Vending machines are pretty safe these days but accidents have been known to happen.
Get Started by Networking
Many people get started locating vending machines through friends, family members and associates. You are bound to know business owners or people in management positions so this is a great way to kick off your marketing efforts. If you let them know that you are going into vending they may consider your services or introduce you to other ‘decision makers’. The more networking you do and the more you let people know about your business the more likely you are to get referrals. Consider joining your local Chamber of Commerce or other local business associations.
Contacting ‘Decision Makers’ Directly
After you have exhausted your personal connections you will have to look elsewhere for opportunities. Once you have some locations in mind you can then try to contact the ‘decision makers’ there directly.
Door-to-door cold calling is the most common approach that is used in the vending industry. Phoning businesses directly can also work well but you will probably be able to make the best impression if you visit locations in person.
To be successful, someone should be pounding the pavements at least one or two days a week representing your business and looking for new locations.
The first step is to drop off your business card, introduce yourself, identify the ‘decision maker’ and find out if they currently have any machines in place. The next step is to push for an appointment with the ‘decision maker’ to go over what you have to offer them or to explain how your solution is better than the one their current operator is providing.
While vending is a business where you usually have to go out and get the customer you can also expect some customers to come to you if you advertise effectively. A Yellow Pages advertisement and advertising on your vehicle can go along way toward bringing in new leads. You should also have a website set up that is optimized for keywords that people might enter if they are looking for vendors in your area.
Closing the Deal
Once you have an appointment lined up you then need to look at how you plan on winning the account. Set out to impress with your machines by taking along a machine sample (only suitable for smaller machines) or a folder with photographs. Also take along samples of some of the products that you will be vending through your machines and hand them out to management to try.
Let prospects know what’s in it for them by highlighting some of the advantages that your machine can offer such as how it can offer their employees more convenience or act as a feature that enhances the experience of their patrons. Understand common concerns that they may have and address them one by one