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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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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Measures of Success

Each of us measures success in a different way. The Hartford Small Business Success Study identified the most common measures used by small business owners. As might be expected most are financial. For many people, that is the bottom line.

24% – Earn enough to live comfortably
23% – Do something I enjoy
18% – Increase profitability from year to year
9% – Pay employees enough to live comfortably
9% – Other
7% – Have free time to do what I want
6% – Pass the business to a family member
4% – Sell the business for a big profit

Posted by:  Sarah Matista

Many small business owners also enjoy contributing to the local community and providing jobs. These tireless souls that work 60 to 90 hour weeks to make things happen are the reason there is vibrancy and diversity in these communities.

Regardless of your measure. May you continue to be successful and enjoy a prosperous 2014.

MP900440281

All the best at Christmas and in the New Year!


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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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“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 “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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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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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.

Let us know about your plans, please join our Poll.

 


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How to use Lessons from Archery to improve our Marketing Campaigns

MP900404836 In archery, mastering the technique gives the preferred result, hitting the target.

Is this what we are trying to do with our Marketing efforts, hit a target? Is the target a sale? If so, then does technique determine the outcome? Does this mean that continually improving our technique will yield better results. What does this look like?

As a business learns more and more about its target market, it improves the likelihood that it provides the products and services its customers want. This information can also be used to develop better ways to promote the business. It is also vital for developing marketing campaigns that get information to potential customers where and when there is the highest probability of making sales.

Fortunately today results of each campaign can be measured using analytics to track things such as coupon redemption rates, and “click-through” and conversion rates for each post, email campaign and call-to-action. This is way we understand what works and what does not. It is a continuous process, as we identify the type of content that gets the most results, we can then customize the message for the audience.

This type of systematic approach to Marketing gets Sales. Just like the arrow hitting the target, this is the improvement process that yields results.

Reaching your target market is often challenging. Get a copy of our free eBook, ” A Primer on Community Based Marketing”,  to get information about Community Based Marketing Programs. “Like us” on Facebook to access even more resources.