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Community Based Marketing and Loyalty Programs for Small Business


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Turn a Researcher into a Customer

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 How to Turn a Curious Researcher Into a Happy Customer.

We invest a tremendous amount of time and money on social media. The question is, how can we make “it” work just as hard for us? There are some great ideas in is article on how to do this. 

Be careful. unless you have staff, it is probably not possible to participate on all the social media platforms. Identify the ones that match up with your Target Market, and that you can support. A consistent online presence will build your Brand and encourage Customer Engagement.

Remember to use the Data Analytics Tools to keep an eye on traffic flow. Track where your visitors come from, their demographics and how interested they are in your content, i.e. how long they stay. This is the best way to know if you are getting your message to your potential customers. Repeat what works and discard the rest.

If you need to, get help with your online marketing, and content creation and distribution. Doing it badly is almost as bad as not doing it at all.


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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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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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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!

Fireworks


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The Challenges of Marketing in Rural Areas

Close up of a small Christmas tree inside a spherical glass

My clients in rural communities use many ways to reach out to their customers. Traditional things like billboards and signage are not very effective when you can count on your fingers the number of cars that pass by. Another client just realized that being ranked Number 1 on a Google Search in her category does not help in her remote area.

So how do you get your message to this target market? Simple, deliver it directly using focused Marketing Programs. Community based marketing programs such as Loyalty Programs that focus on local businesses and customers in the surrounding geographic areas. Use a geo-targeted approach that encourages residents to frequent local businesses. For example, add location information to your posts so they are listed in searches for businesses in your area.

A great way to leverage exposure is to connect and team up with other local businesses. Do this using joint promotions, geographically targeted advertising, Multi-Merchant Loyalty Programs and sponsored events. “Like” other local businesses on Facebook and use Pinterest to promote your business, and local activities and attractions.

The Holiday Season is perfect for getting organized. Increased traffic into the area benefits everyone. Make the shopping experience special to entice shoppers to frequent local businesses. Time limited promotions, hot chocolate stations and gift wrapping tables make the process more enjoyable.

Small businesses need a different approach to successfully market their products and services in rural areas. They need focused programs that appeal to their target market and encourage them to “Shop Local”.


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How can You get What you Want?

3 Ways to Get what you Want

3 Ways to Get What You Want by Giving People What They Want | Copyblogger.

Can it be this simple? Sometimes it is. We all have the same basic needs.

  • Love
  • Financial, political, or psychological independence
  • Status
  • Recognition

Connecting with our audience is the goal of all Marketing. Creating content that meets the most important needs of your target market is the key. It must extol the benefits of the product or service, show how it solves a problem or need, while building trust and overcoming objections.

Providing the right information at the right time is always a challenge. Each part of the buying cycle is different. An overview works when customers want general information but when they are comparing your products and services with the competition, they want detailed specifications.

This is a great article that shows how to create content that relates our fundamental needs with the buying decision.


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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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Grammar Girl : 10 Tips to Banish Typos :: Quick and Dirty Tips ™

Our last post had an interesting and embarrassing typo, so I just reviewed the key steps of proof-reading with members of my staff. No matter how often you create content, there is always the possibility that something can go wrong. Sometimes we rely too much on spell-checker, there are many times when it will not catch the mistake. This article has some other great ideas. Ideas that we are all going to implement.

Grammar Girl

Grammar Girl : 10 Tips to Banish Typos :: Quick and Dirty Tips ™.


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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.