Social media is, quite frankly, social! Understanding your customer is a great beginning to developing a marketing plan to meet the needs of your clients. Listen, talk to customers and interact together on Facebook and Twitter. Social networking areas allow you to gather research on your clients. Knowing how they think is important to your company. Your marketing is meaningless if you are just doing things because “well, that’s what we did last year and it worked OK” – or “the guy down the street is doing well with it, maybe I should have a coupon out there too”. Me too marketing is just – second. Let’s be first! On to our second installment of Solutions to New Year’s Resolutions. (See Part I here)
So you’ve listened to your customer discuss their New Year’s Resolutions and you have a pretty good idea of what common elements appear in your customer’s list of “needs”. If we break down Lisa’s List for her resolutions what solutions can you possibly provide for her? If you can’t provide a total solution, how can you assist her in meeting the goal? Being helpful is important! Let’s take a look….
Gym workouts – Calling her parents once a week – Buying from Local Farmer’s Markets – Eat Healthy: Fruits,Vegetables – Listen to something inspiring – Help Neighbors – More Theater – Compliment people – Kid activities (bowling, camping, etc.) – Save $$ for a vacation! – Laugh more! – Enjoy Life.
Ok! This is a great list of fresh ideas, interesting goals – she has some personal, some family and a few community goals in the mix.
As a business owner how do you help Lisa? Encouragement to achieve her goals is key to having her frequent your business.
Use the Power of an Email Newsletter
If you are sending out an eNewsletter to your clients (by using a service like AWeber) you stay in touch with them maybe twice or once a month. The newsletter format is wonderful because you have their permission to be in touch with them and you can write interesting articles, announce new staff members, talk about a new product in your store or on your website and you can add some fun things like jokes, Farmer’s Market information and inspiration quotes to brighten someone’s day. I once found a deliciously simple recipe for pumpkin bread and added that recipe with the link to the food site and it received a lot of click-throughs! Many clients thanked me the next time they came in. For some reason the recipe was so easy even the most challenging cook tried it! lol. That made me smile.
Of course you can announce a sale in the newsletter – but the newsletter should not be all about the sale. This is a time to write something fun and let your personality shine through. Tell a story. Maybe a story about how the business started and how it has changed over the years and thank your loyal customers for making your business a success. Talk about a family member that inspired you like a Grandfather, or Cousin – someone who encouraged you to take a risk and start a business. Ask your clients if they have someone that they can mentor – a young person or someone changing careers. Maybe you will inspire them to pick up the phone and offer encouragement to someone in need. It’s these types of connections that will leave an impression on your clients. Inspire someone. Make a heartfelt post in your Newsletter and see what happens.
Offer Apples for your Customers Instead of Candy
A simple change of apples instead of candy is a great way to encourage people to stay on their New Year’s Resolution. Many people include weight lose and eating healthy on their list each year. You can even put up a sign that says – “Helping You – Healthy You in 2011!” Awesome. A case of apples is inexpensive – think of it as marketing – because I am sure that customer will tell someone about the delicious apple and great customer service they received in your store. By eating healthy you indirectly might stop them from grabbing a “drive-thru” soda with tons of sodium and sugar. I loved offering apples in my store and seeing the smiles of my clients and their children made my day!
Help Thy Neighbor
I know this has been done so many times, but the simple act of a can food donation to the Food Bank is a wonderful thing. You could offer 5% off their total purchase with just one can brought into the store. If someone needs direct assistance with one of their neighbors and you have the materials, perhaps sending an idle employee over with the good samaritan to assist for an hour or two would make the difference in a simple fence fixing operation or donating an open box of nails, or – ?? just think of ways to meet the needs of your customers and their neighbors. They will recommend you over and over – your good deed will be known in the entire neighborhood and that type of word of mouth endorsement is simply priceless. If there is a neighborhood party, you could donate something or offer to cover the permit. There are so many creative ways to be involved with customers.
Part of being a good neighbor is helping support causes that are important to your customers. I have purchased so many Girl Scout cookies over the years! I offered tea and cookies to clients and everyone said the same thing, “oh I shouldn’t really – but I have to support the Girl Scouts!” – yes, we all love the cookies too. There are women’s shelters, fund-raisers for families are in peril, Boy Scout Christmas Wreath activites and Popcorn – etc. Donate a Gift Certificate when you can and be actively involved in the same causes that your clients are passionate bout and they will remember your generosity.
Don’t forget that having fun is always an option! Each quarter you can offer a prize to someone who guesses the classic “how many beans are in this jar?” set-up. (Be creative and change it to coffee beans, washers, hair bands, licorice, pretzels, etc!) They must provide their email address and add them to your email list.(Always gather information!).
What about buying something fun and unique that your client’s might like and just give it away? For every $50 spent – the customer adds their name in the bowl one more time. I gave away two items that were slightly related to my business, but I did not sell those items in my store. They were unique looking and had a zebra print. I put the two items in two areas of my store. When pointing out the items one of my customers evidently looked at my shelves for the first time and said, “oh! I didn’t know you sold that item!” What? I had no idea that I was forcing people to actually look in a certain area. And she learned something about my business in the process. Interesting huh? I announced the winners in the next newsletter and it was a fun thing to do. (Sales increased too!)
Engage your Clients with Social Media
Don’t forget to announce all these fun happenings on your social media platforms. People feel more connected when they hear that activities are busy, busy at your store – they will want to come in and participate and perhaps buy something as well.
These are just a few examples of ways to reach out to your clients. Be a thoughtful business owner who provides solutions to New Year’s Resolutions. A marketing plan that is conscious of these needs is a plan that will work. Having a focused effort each quarter to help drive business growth is key to growing your business. Listen to your customers – every age – and see how you can be an MVP in their life.