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I need your brilliance please!



I need your brilliance please!

So here we are in the midst of the Holiday Season. For businesses such as my Under the Piano Sound Spa, this is the land of opportunity. There is the potential to sell a lot of gift certificates. Yet every year, I experience having missed that opportunity. I sell a few, but not anything close to what I could.

I’m setting myself a big challenge. To sell 30 certificates. I’m at 4 for 30 right now. I don’t know how I am going to do this. I’m seeking your brilliant or even not so brilliant ideas. This is kind of like brainstorming with Social Media (hey – that’s a new idea for me. Maybe not brilliant but I’m giving it a try). The trick is to shake things up. Doing what I have done in the past is not going to cut it – past actions will likely just produce the same limited results all over again.

So, do share your ideas. This could be valuable for others as well as me. Imagine how wonderful it would be if a bunch of businesses had record profits during the holiday season from sharing a few ideas with Social Media. That would be so cool.

For me, I have some challenging parameters for this game to sell 26 or more certificates

  1. Very limited budget – I’m looking for things I can do or invite others to do that cost very little.
  2. Not a lot of time


What I have done in the past

  1. Attend more networking events and promote special offers for certificates.
  2. Send out  newsletter to my email list
  3. Share on Social media

Those activities have produced only limited results in the past.


I have some new ideas which I am implementing or considering

UtP Retractable Banner.v2
  1.  I won a retractable banner (3 ft wide by 7ft tall). I’ve posted a picture here (It will be printed by Tuesday, Dec 10. I’ll be putting that up a presentations and public performances, but there are only a couple opportunities for that).
  2. I’ve asked 4 past clients to give testimonials at networking meetings after I have given a presentation about my business. They have all said yes. That may have been responsible for 2 of my 4 sales to date although it’s hard to measure. I’ll ask for more of these even though I won’t be at all the meetings.
  3. Wear a badge that says “What is Under the Piano”. Under the Piano has the advantage of being truly unique so most people really have no idea what it is. Wear the badge everywhere 24/7 (well perhaps not in bed) and then get out in front of people. Visit places like Granville Island and South Granville where people go to find unique and higher quality gifts and see if people ask the question. Wear an unusual hat or piece of clothing to draw attention to yourself. Then tell them about it if they do ask. I’m good at inspiring people about Under the Piano if they are open to the idea.
  4. Ask past clients to wear a badge too. Give a commission for any certificates sales they cause by simply sharing about their own experience. They can give people my business card, phone number or website. Have them get the name of anyone who they chat with and send it to me so I can track referrals.
  5. A colleague just told me yesterday that a business that purchases 5 or more certificates to give to clients can write this off (or a portion of it) as an expense. Follow-up on that. How can I get that message out to businesses looking for amazing and unique gift ideas.

Do you have any ideas?



{ 12 comments… add one }
  • Chang December 7, 2013, 7:56 pm

    Hi Craig,

    Your Google+ post linking to this blog is itself a great idea – nice work!

    I have 2 ideas to offer you – both may not seem great at first blush. I urge you to consider the details that may give them more legs than one might realize initially.
    1. Make a physical card
    2. Sell to corporates/groups

    1. You may object, thinking this may be out of reach from a cost perspective. Take a look at some of the options available out there. If you have a sleek credit-card looking gift card, it will imbue your certificate with an immediate appearance of inherent value. And, there ARE affordable options out there.

    2. You’ve already decided that this is a good idea, and may simply need more details or focus. Start with people in your immediate circle – I can think of several you can have conversations with. I don’t want to post any names here, but email me and I’ll send you the names I’m thinking of.

    Thanks for YOUR brilliance!

    • Craig December 8, 2013, 11:54 am

      Hi Chang,

      I don’t think they are bad ideas at all.

      Number 1 – I do have some questions and concerns about the 1st idea. I like the idea AND will it make the difference in the reality of achieving my goal in a short time frame? Will the experience of “higher quality” as created by a beautiful glossy gift card (I can already see the image I would use on it) create a sufficiently stronger desire for people to purchase compared to my traditional card certificate (which is quite attractive by the way). And how long will it take to produce them? I’m thinking perhaps you see an opportunity in this I am not present too. Would love to hear a little more about this.

      Number 2 – Based on feedback I am getting, selling to corporations/groups is emerging as the opportunity that might bear the most fruit with the least time expenditure and also using my network to best effect. I am now planning to send a a very specific to the point newsletter/email out to many of my past clients or perhaps my entire email list with an offer and opportunity for them if they can send me a successful lead for a corporate package purchase.

      I’ll email you as suggested Chang.

      Thanks so much.

  • Laurie Kagan December 8, 2013, 10:38 am

    Craig, it is great to ‘hear from you’ and to be included in your brainstorming. I am sad that I have not had the opportunity to indulge myself in an ‘Under the Piano Spa Treatment’ so as to savor it and better market it. Two ideas that popped up are: a) create several Craigslist for sale items. Use several titles to see which gets the best response such as ‘Novel gift idea’ , “Gift for $100-$200′ (or whatever), “Luxury gift experience’. Ask friends or past clients for ad titles; b) print up some flyers/business cards and ask shops in the Granville (or other upscale shopping or spa locations) if you could leave some flyers. Vistaprint will do cards cheaply. I just googled business cards and things came up. Who is a graphics artist friend who might quickly put together a 1/2 page flyer (smaller size is easier to have on a counter top for give away than a full page) that could be printed at Kinkos. Who do you know that tweets? Tweet something and ask people to retweet it for you.

    That’s what jumps out at me this minute. I will send any further ideas.

    Love you,

    • Craig December 8, 2013, 12:19 pm

      Hi Laurie,

      It’s so great to hear from you and thank you for responding and sharing your ideas. I love the Craig’s List idea, which reminds me of another platform I can promote on as well. I’ll get on that for sure.

      I’m a little jaded about print advertising these days as it “seems” to go largely unnoticed in this new social media and smart phone age and I am also thinking it might require a longer time frame to have impact. That said, I’m actually doing some of that type of promotion. Howard and I are performing at Lynn Valley Centre twice a week until December 24th and I have been putting some materials about Under the Piano out on the seats while doing that.

      So great to chat with you Laurie. Happy to hear more ideas.


  • Sandy December 8, 2013, 2:35 pm

    What about community Xmas fairs or seniors activities or talking to people who put together corporate gift baskets? I know a couple of those. What about personal shoppers?

    • Craig December 10, 2013, 8:52 am

      Thank you Sandy,

      All great ideas -thank you. I’ve thought about Gift Basket companies before but never taken action to explore it carefully. Might a good match for one that does more creative and exclusive baskets (assuming those exist). Had never thought about the personal shopper idea at all.

  • carol Wagner December 9, 2013, 9:22 am

    Hi Craig, get some business cards shaped like a grand piano. It will be an instant conversation starter. Jukebox in Gastown is a good source. Get in front of some Realtors, we are always looking for gift ideas. Contact local performing groups for example Chor Leoni, Pandoras Vox/Espiritu etc. and see if you can advertise in their next concert brochure. You have to source the unusual people as you have an unusual business. Find your people! Hope this helps. Carol. (Singer with Espiritu and realtor with Sutton West Coast).

    • Craig December 9, 2013, 10:56 am

      Hi Carol,

      Thanks for your great ideas. I know Jukebox well. The timeline for a custom diecut business card might be a little tight but I will look into it for sure. In a brainstorming session with a friend, we thought about realtors as well. Any ideas about how to get infront of them. I know a few and can call them of course, but my schedule is crazy full with performances and work, so I have to maximize the results I get out of each action.

      I think you ay be right about sourcing the unusual for the unusual.

      Thanks so much

  • Marilyn Anderson December 10, 2013, 7:16 am

    Hi Craig,
    This is not about just selling gift certificates. This may not be workable in the time you have before Christmas, and it may be applicable throughout the year.
    One of your friends commented on how you offer an unusual experience and therefore must attract people open to that.
    Instead of getting people to come to you, could you see yourself working with a spa in -for example – White Rock or South Surrey, where you were a “Star Feature Luxury Attraction” one or two days a month and they would promote and book for you? In some places, Spa Utopia in North Vancouver comes to mind as an example, that could be the perfect complement to a ‘Day Spa’ package of being spoiled, pumiced and massaged. It also adds to the cachet of an exclusive experience …..and those clients could also turn out to be people who booked you for sessions in their own homes.
    Merry Christmas, my friend!

    • Craig December 10, 2013, 8:55 am

      Hi Marilyn, I’ve always personally thought a connection with a Spa would be a good connection. Interestingly, I was contacted by a Spa owner just yesterday who saw this request on Facebook. She is at Phresh Spa just around the corner on Davie Street in the Sandman Hotel. We ill be talking today or tomorrow.

  • Neil Doyle December 11, 2013, 5:16 pm

    It’s been a few years since I’ve been to one but I remember the Bridgemakers meetup was run by a realtor and had a few realtors in it.

    Have you considered retail? For example asking a local convenience store if you could put your gift certificates by the till? I know that’s valuable real estate so you may need to take a hit on profit but it’s all about getting your name out.

    • Craig December 22, 2013, 6:04 pm

      Hi Neil,

      I have not considered retail. I will ponder this. I think the location and nature of the business might be an important consideration and I have found the Under the Piano does require a little bit of explanation to be understood.

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