Since starting The Investment Network in 2013 I have had a large number of conversations with start up businesses that are looking for additional assistance with their business or who are looking for funding. This is an interesting part of my work. I am always especially interested to hear of the marketing ideas for these businesses. Or am I? I am beginning to get very irked by business owners who suggest giving away iPad’s, iPhone’s, games consoles and the such like. These devices are ten-a-penny and everyone has them. If you need to give away an iPad then in my opinion you have two problems with your business model. Firstly in my opinion you do not have a product or service that will sell well enough without an incentive that probably costs more than the sale price to the customer. Why would I want an iPad in return for buying what you have to sell when I have three already!? Secondly on the basis of my first point you are probably attracting customers who cannot afford an iPad in the first place, so how are you going to reach your target market if your targets already own three iPad’s and the only people who are interested in your product cannot afford one! If they need to buy your product or service to gain an iPad, how on earth can they afford to become a repeat customer? I have been in and out of the mobile phone business since 2004. In the early years, consumer electronics along with cash back were a massive lure in the sale of mobile phone contracts. PlayStation’s, Laptops, iPods and flat screen televisions as an incentive to sign a contract were all the rage, until Christmas 2007. This is where it all went wrong. You see parents were signing up to mobile contracts in order to get the expensive toys and games consoles for their kids to give to them as presents. That Christmas I saw some of the largest number of rejections for mobile contracts ever in a one month period. Its clear they wanted an expensive gadget but could not afford it. My mobile phone business was without its knowledge or desire becoming a sub-prime games console and iPod shop! My advice to the small businesses I speak to now is to not bother with consumer electronics as a gimmick but to think of your target market and think of something unique that your competitors will have difficulty copying and that your target market will enjoy and appreciate. Remember your target customer already owns three iPads, a flat screen TV, a games console and an iPhone! Dial in a relevant product or service with a good ongoing sales and marketing plan and for God’s sake do not forget magnificent customer service and the mathematics says you have a good, viable business on your hands. However if I hear another business wanting give away consumer electronics as a gimmick I will probably scream so loudly that the residents of Munich will probably hear me 🙂 Anyway that’s all for now folks, please enjoy the rest of the festive season!