Keep your Business Local

Community Based Marketing and Loyalty Programs for Small Business


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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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Modern Marketing, an Art and a Science

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Is it alchemy or just hard work? Good Marketing Strategies get Sales, grow Businesses, build Market Share and develop your Brand. The “Art and Science” used to get there is the Magic.

If you want to increase visits to a “bricks and mortar” store or views on a website, the process is the same. By understanding the Target Market and creating strategies they respond to, you can get them to choose products and services offered by your Business. 

The “Art ” is in the Packaging and Promotion of the Product or Service. To effectively create or package products or services for a Market, you need to understand the Problems your customers have and offer a Solution. Successfully promoting the Solution, the Business and the Brand means creating and delivering content they want, including the “offer” to the target audience, where and when they want it.

The “Science” is using facts to understand the Target Market. The best way to do this is to create a customer database. One that includes customer demographics, or at the very least email addresses. Collect this information from contests, promotions or loyalty programs. Use customer data to understand how customers think, including their buying habits. Design the company website, develop newsletters and email promotions, online content and Facebook page, around their interests. 

The “Art and Science” go hand in hand. The “Science” provides the information to create the “Art”. Messages created and delivered using channels selected based on information from data analysis have more impact. They are tailored for the specific consumer. This approach works for online marketing, print advertising and brochures, television, radio, blogs, social media and even figuring out what to display in the “brick and mortar” storefront.


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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!


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.

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All the best at Christmas and in the New Year!


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The Challenges of Marketing in Rural Areas

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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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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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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”.