Keep your Business Local

Community Based Marketing and Loyalty Programs for Small Business


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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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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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The “New and Improved” Buggy Whip?

Buggy WhipEver feel as if you are designing and promoting the “new and improved” buggy whip? A product or service that seems obsolete. Or is it? Many companies are using online strategies to re-invent themselves.

For example, the used car magazine that offers its inventory online. Customers can browse and get consumer feed-back on each product. What about the online coupon market and the fact that we can now buy almost everything online?

Take another look at your processes and procedures and how you interact with your customers. There might be a more effective way using online strategies. Today’s customers go to the internet first, do their research and then decide when and where to buy.

Business renewal is the key to maintaining your place in the market. How do your customers like to interact with you? When you can answer that question, you can design a process that works for your business.

It can be as simple as displaying your products on Pinterest, facilitating online ordering or providing customer service on an interactive website. Always remember, make it easy for customers to contact you online and directly. Make the buying process easy. Reinvent the “buggy whip”.


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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.


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The Marketing “Easy Button”

The Marketing "Easy Button"Everyone in the know, says that you need an online strategy. But, how do you develop and sustain one? Sometimes it is impossible to effectively support all the Marketing initiatives required to implement and even more importantly maintain one . You know what you think when you go to a site that has not been updated since…2000. We have all seen them.

There are many estimates as to how often you should post. Once a day, once an hour, once a month – the frequency usually depends on how much time a business can spend on Marketing. The best approach might be to post when there is a new promotion or something interesting is happening in the business.

If this is still not often enough then providing information on customer and industry trends is a good way to keep the dialog going. A good place to start is to develop a publication schedule. Next, recruit writers. If there are enough resources available some should be from within the business. If not, there are many consultants that can help you.

The same approach can be used in other areas.  Newsletters are a great way to contact your customer base. A great newsletter sent to an up to date distribution list is worth its weight in gold. Remember that your Facebook page can be used as a website, you can update it as often as you want to. Add promotions, coupons and anything else that appeals to your Target Market.

Remember that sometimes we all need to use the “Easy Button” and call someone.


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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.