Keep your Business Local

Community Based Marketing and Loyalty Programs for Small Business


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What do you want to know about Loyalty?

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Here is a “snap shot” of what consumers said about Loyalty Programs in 2013.

  • 36% of Americans participate in loyalty programs (Hotels.com)
  • There are 2.65 billion loyalty program memberships in the US, 21.9 per household, but people are only active in 9.5 (Colloquy)
  • The average consumer is a member in 7.4 programs but only active in 63% of them (Maritz)
  • Overall loyalty program membership is growing at 26.7%, while active memberships are growing at just 21.2% (Colloquy)
  • 39% of adults 35-44 are enrolled in up to five different programs (Hotels.com)
  • 35% of points program members redeem awards (Forrester)
  • Female consumers (68%) are more loyal to brands than males (55%) (Analytic Partners)
  • Just 25% of US consumers consider brand loyalty as something that impacts their buying behavior (Ernst & Young)
  • 57% modify when and where they buy in order to maximize the loyalty benefits (Maritz)
  • 46% modify brands they buy to maximize the loyalty benefits (Maritz)
  • 69% say choice of retailer is influenced by where they can earn customer loyalty/rewards program points (Maritz)
  • 31% of American consumers cite perks as the most important factor for joining loyalty programs (Hotels.com)
  • 51% of U.S. consumers switched service providers in the past year due to poor customer service (Accenture)
  • 85% of consumers say companies could have recognized & rewarded them for doing business with them (Accenture)

Loyalty Programs are now simple to implement and provide benefits to both businesses and their customers. Businesses learn more about the buying habits and create close ties with their target market. Customers get rewards for everyday spending. Many select products and services based on them.

The challenge is to select a Program that meets your needs.

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“Shop Local” Loyalty Strategies

Women Window Shopping

How can smaller centers compete with the big cities? By developing strategies that encourage residents to shop in their local community. The key to making these types of programs successful is making them flexible enough to work for different types of businesses.

Loyalty Programs are a great way to focus the attention on local businesses. A Coalition Loyalty Program made up of local businesses is a good way to start. Residents collect points and redeem them at other local businesses.

Make it Simple. Signing up for the Program should be quick and easy. Consider getting away from the standard Loyalty Card. There are other ways to do it.

Make it Fun. Use a mobile app to delivers deals and rewards directly to your customers’ smartphone.

Make it easy to Save. A Coalition Program makes it easy to collect and redeem points at different businesses for items customers want.

This type of Community Based Marketing targets customers in your area. It leverages marketing dollars and increases exposure of the businesses that join the Program. Large corporations use these types of programs to increase market share, collect information on customer buying trends to develop marketing campaigns and discounting strategies. Now this type of information is available to small businesses.


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The Loyalty “Easy Button”

Ever wonder how to compete with businesses that have deep pockets and large marketing budgets? Here is an approach that builds on your strengths and your relationship with your target market.
Implement programs that give instant rewards and savings on future purchases. Use them to create special campaigns for VIP customers and to promote Holiday Specials. In other words, good reasons to come back to your business.


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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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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.


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A Question of Loyalty

How do weOpen the Door to Loyalty develop loyalty? This question is asked over and over again in businesses around the world. The answer is different in almost all cases. What works for one business does not necessarily work for another business.

One thing is certain, customers want value for money. Value in some cases is the lowest price, in others it is selection and in others it is service. The answer for your business depends on what your target market is looking for. The key to designing a great program is knowing what you want to accomplish and what appeals to your customer base.

There are different approaches to building loyalty. Loyalty Programs range  from simple punch cards to loyalty cards, coupon clubs and gift programs. If you want information about your customers, then you need a Loyalty Program that collects customer demographics and has the required tools to do the analysis. Coupon Clubs are flexible and some allow you to collect data. Punch cards (paper or digital) encourage repeat business. Gift Programs work best in rural communities where businesses want to reach out to a widely distributed customer base.

Loyalty is hard to measure. Customers change their purchasing habits to fit their economic conditions and what they perceive as the best value. So whatever type of Program you choose, it should be flexible enough to meet your customers changing needs.

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