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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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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!


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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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“Shop Local” Loyalty Strategies

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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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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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