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Community Based Marketing and Loyalty Programs for Small Business


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Customer Engagement – How does it work?

Picture4How does it work, or better yet, how can you make it work for you? The first thing to understand is that this is a Multi-Step Process. A Process that uses different marketing components to interact with your Target Market at each step in the buying cycle.

Step One is to tell potential customers about your Products and Services. Traditional (print, TV) and online channels (website, social media) are great for doing this. The next step is to invite potential customers to learn more about the Products and Services by visiting a website, signing up for a webinar, reading a blog, on social media, or requesting a brochure by mail. Let them get to know your products and brand by posting content that interests them. Show then what you can do for them, give away free trials and samples.

Next, is the Purchase. Make it easy for your Target Market to buy. Find out what is comfortable for them. This could be a Subscription Page on your website, a store-front or a sales representative. Encourage current and potential customers to sign up for your newsletter, follow you on Facebook and other social media sites. This is a great way to confirm the buying decision. Ask them to share their experience with their friends.

Now that you have a customer base. Send them promotions by direct mail, via your website, Facebook or using sales representatives. The greatest compliment is a repeat sale. It is the least expensive and shows that customers like your offering. A trilled customer is the most effective marketing asset a business can have. Word of mouth and organic sharing is the most persuasive form of communication. Keep in touch with customers via eNewsletters, blogs, posting offers on social media and invitations to special events.

Potential customers are in different places in the buying cycle. Repeat the Steps in the Process to give the stimulus and information they need while making the buying decision.

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Simple steps to get past the New Year Doldrums

The ABC's of Loyalty ProgramsSo how do we stay motivated and build momentum for 2014? Simple, see what worked in 2013 and build on it.

Was it a product launch, a Facebook campaign, a new website or a sales promotion? Plan the next one. But, be aware that what worked in the past does not always work in the future, embrace new ideas.

See what the competition is doing. Make a list of their Marketing and Sales activities. Do they do anything that you do not? Maybe some of their Marketing Tactics will work for you.

The most important thing is to keep current. Offer your target market new ways to interact with your business. Increase brand exposure, try a new social media platform, start a blog or create an eBook. Use your Facebook page in different way. Create a contest, distribute coupons or feature new products. Make it more than a picture gallery.

Let 2014 be the year of trying new things!


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Time to Tune-up your Online Presence

Big fireworkNow is the time to get ready for the New Year!

This is a good time to update your online presence, but where do you start? Your first step is to decide on your focus for 2014.

Is it to build brand awareness, increase traffic, increase market share or all the above? Your objectives determine your strategy. Based on that comes the implementation plan.

If your want to build traffic to your website, consider starting a Blog and/or being a guest Blogger. To increase brand awareness, use different social media channels to reach new demographic groups. Use promotions on your website and Facebook to increase market share. Email campaigns are great to get your message directly to your customers and increase customer retention.

Your implementation plan starts with a customer profile. Identify the type of information customers want, how they buy and the social media they frequent. Develop an editorial calendar based on the profile, choose the topics, the authors of each piece, and how often and where to publish. Select topics for content and channels based on the profile of your target market.

Then get started. Working the plan takes away the guess-work. Assign authors and publish. Use data analytics to understand the type of content that works on what platform and repeat it. Remember you can reuse content on other platforms and in different formats.

Always keep in mind your goals. You not only want to entertain but to tell your audience about developments in the business, announce new products and services, and promotions.

Happy New Year! May this one be your best yet!

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A Smart Phone that is a Reward Card!

WomanWhile doing research for a client, I found a whole new way to communicate directly with customers. A software approach that lets businesses send information about the “hot deal” of the day to their customers’ smart phones.

Merchants sign up and set up the system, then input their deals, rewards and coupons. Customers down-load the app and sign up. When they are near the business, the system does the rest. It transmits the deals to their phones.

This new approach does away with Coupon Cutting and Sorting. Change promotions daily, even hourly. There is no points liability to manage and no risk for the merchant.

I immediately signed up and soon my client joined. It is an easy, effective way to communicate directly with current customers and to attract new ones. Just about everyone is interested in trying out a new app, are you?

LoyalBlocks from LocalBizconnex


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Just in Case you were wondering if being online works

To summarize:
  • Email marketing is alive and well
  • Use of smartphones to access content is up
  • Customers use blogs to research products and then make buying decisions
  • Images in posts get more attention
  • Nurturing leads results in more customers……
The marketplace has changed. Customers want to access information when they have a requirement, make a decision and then purchase at the channel that suits them the best. The challenge is to get your message to them when they want it. An effective online strategy incorporates the platforms that are used most often by your target market and delivers the type of content that they find interesting.


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Integrating Social Media into your Online Marketing Strategy

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Every online strategy should include a social media component. Social Media is an effective and inexpensive way to expand your marketing reach. Use it to build credibility, promote products and services, and reward customers.

Your website is great for describing your business, your blog can provide background information on industry trends, products and services. Upload pictures of products and special events onto Pinterest, and distribute information, coupons and promotions on Facebook. There is also Twitter, Foursquare and Instagram, and there will probably be more in the future.

Developing an online strategy and managing the flow of information can be time consuming. There can be a down side to setting up too many accounts on social media platforms. If you have no idea what you are doing, you can actually damage your reputation and your brand. To be effective you need a clear communications strategy and a way to generate and distribute content to the various social media sites. Be sure that you have the time and resources to maintain them. Do not sign up for more than you can support, or get help.

One approach¬†is to start with an editorial calendar. Use it to outline the topics, events and promotions you want to cover and the platforms that you want to distribute them on. Assign the writing duties to various members of your team and manage the distribution. Do not forget to integrate and monitor the data analytics for each platform. This is a great way to measure your audience’s level of interest in your posts.

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Customer Engagement Process

Customer Life Cycle Engagement @kyleplacy

ExactTarget

This slide from a presentation by ExactTarget.com showcasing the “5 Digital Trends Changing Business” is very interesting. It elegantly describes the Customer Engagement Process, and notice that I said process. Not many businesses understand that this is what it is, and that there are many steps involved. They get frustrated after they have implemented one or two promotions with no seeming success.

The Process starts with Building Awareness using online marketing, brochures, print advertising, television, radio, whatever works for your customer demographics. At this point, potential customers start making Comparisons between your products and services and other offerings using online searches, blogs, social media  and old fashion leg work. The next step should be the Purchase decision.

Hopefully, the experience with the business was a good one because consumers often use Social Media to endorse and comment on Products or Services and sign up for company newsletters and future promotions. This is the point where they are engaged, are predisposed to purchase from you again, join your loyalty programs and advocate for you to their network of friends.

As you can see, it is not one single promotion or piece of information. To be successful a Marketing Strategy should include the right kind of content and contact throughout the buying cycle. Once a business understands the steps involved in the transition from Business Getting to Business Keeping, it can better manage the key customer contact points and increase its sales.