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Community Based Marketing and Loyalty Programs for Small Business


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5 social media marketing trends for 2014 | Frederic Gonzalo

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5 social media marketing trends for 2014 | Frederic Gonzalo.

It is that time again. Along with the holiday plans, parties and presents, we need to do a “check-up” on what is working in our online strategies and what is not. The statistics in this article show that there are subtle shifts in how different age groups use social media.

Facebook is still going strong. The average time spent on the site is about 20 minutes per day per user. The interesting thing is that there is a decline in the amount of time 13-17 year olds spend on the platform but 23% of the other age groups still use it.

On the other hand, Twitter usage by the 13-17 year old group has increased by 26%. This number is expected to continue to increase. Twitter devotees like the real-time communication they have with their followers.

The Snapchat platform is another one to watch. This mobile application lets users send out messages that disappear after a defined time. This approach is potentially a response to privacy concerns about content on the internet. The question remains, how does it fit into an online strategy?

Google+ is now the second largest social network behind Facebook. Its search capabilities and ability to evolve make it an important player. The down side is that not many marketers have embraced the platform.

Video continues to grow. Showing, not telling is still the best way to present information. Using Podcasts, YouTube and Vine make it easy to create and distribute video content.

Change is the norm and so as we review what we did last year and prepare for 2014, the important thing is to find the channels that work for your business.

Happy Planning!

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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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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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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.