Tag Archives: marketing strategy

Customer Experience: It’s Okay to Nurture Family Members Too!

23 Mar

Early last week I received a request from my sister: Could you please send Abby a postcard from California? Abby is my five-year-old niece who lives in Charlottesville, VA. Here are a few pictures of her:

Abby_beach

Abby_shark

 

Abby’s kindergarten class is studying maps. She’s hoping to show her class that she knows someone from California. It will not only help her learn maps but also imagine her surprise when she receives a handwritten piece of mail. I’m in my mid-30s and I still love receiving personalized mail – even if it’s from my dentist! 

I was more than happy to send Abby a postcard. I would do almost anything for her. While her request seemed simple enough, it got me thinking: Why don’t I spend more time nurturing my friends and family? While Facebook and other social media sites keep us connected 24 hours/day, there is still nothing like receiving a handwritten card from someone you love…….or from a product or service you frequently do business. Here’s the postcard I mailed Abby:

Abby Postcard

 

I can’t wait to hear her reaction to receiving the postcard. I might be more excited than her! When’s the last time you sent a handwritten postcard/card/letter/flowers to someone you love? 

When is the last time you sent a “just checking in” or “read this article and thought about you” or “thank you for your business” to your top clients? It’s an easy way to stand out from the competition and ensure your clients think of you when it’s time to make their next purchase. 

And a few more photos of Abby…just because:

abby_lipstick

abby_nails

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Bake Shop’s Customer Experience Leads to Repeat Customers and Tons of Referrals

7 May
The wildly successful Crisp Bakery in Sonoma County

The wildly successful Crisp Bake Shop in Sonoma County

  • Owners completely understand the importance of the customer experience – from design to execution
  • Combination of world class baked goods and well-designed customer experience = big competitive advantage
  • Details: “I envisioned the customer parking, walking in the door, ordering, eating, and getting up to leave.”

As I entered Crisp Bake Shop, my senses were so happy they joined together to start a conga line.

customer experience conga line

Eyes – the interior of the store was extremely clean, with modern art on the walls, fresh pastries in the display case, and a large window where customers could watch the chefs prepare everything from croissants to wedding cakes.

Ears – hip music played at just the right volume – Bob Marley and Jack Johnson were a few of the artists I remember.  The sound of the coffee machine and the friendly, smiling staff members that greeted each guest.

Smell – a combination of freshly brewed coffee and Buttermilk Blueberry Muffins; Strawberry Toaster Pastries; Dried Fig and Walnut Scones

Taste – if you have the opportunity to visit Crisp Bake Shop, you will not be disappointed.  My bacon, egg, and cheese hand pie was perfect, and the portion was just right – obviously management understands a little goes a long way with baked goods.

I was sold before I stepped to the counter to order.  

The Owner and Staff Members Educate and Interact with Customers

“Did you know our iced coffee has double the caffeine of our regular coffee? The iced coffee process does not strip away any caffeine from the beans.  The iced coffee will give you quite a jolt if you’re not used to it.”

Despite the long line behind the customer, the owner took the time to educate and interact with the customer.  He treated the customer as if she was the only person in his shop. The staff did the same, making several recommendations and greeting people by first name. It’s funny: the customers in line had smiles on their faces. It was almost has if they enjoyed standing in line, patiently waiting for their turn at the counter.

Ownership Understands Its Target Market

“Okay, it’s Friday. That means we will get a rush of people from 9:30 to 10:45.  Everyone wants a cup of coffee and a quick bit to eat before heading to the farmers market that’s down the road.  We will get a much needed break from 10:45 to 11:45 to restock and catch our breath for the lunch rush.”

During the morning rush, the chefs brought out freshly baked goods like clockwork.  The customers waiting in line were able to see the goods as they were placed in the display case.  The chef even interacted with the customers and made recommendations.

What Can You Do to Improve Your Customer Experience?

If you want to turn regular customers into raving, repeat, shout-from-the-mountaintops, walking referral customers, then focus on creating a memorable experience.  While price and product/service is a factor in the buying process, customers ultimately buy from the people and places that make them FEEL a certain way.

  • Identify your target market – create buyer personas
  • Map the entire customer experience, including all the touchpoints a customer has with your company. (i.e. what happens when a customer drives past my place of business? Is it clean? Are the lights working on the sign? What happens when a lead or customer lands on my website? Is it updated? Is it easy to navigate? What happens when a lead or customer calls my business?
  • Design a memorable experience at each of the touchpoints.

    Anticipate, create, delight. 

I overheard the owner explain that he’s already sold out of his custom wedding cakes….FOR THE YEAR! It’s nice to have customers knocking down your door. Crisp’s dedication to customer experience is paying huge dividends.  What will you do to improve your customer experience?

Good luck!

Want to Decrease Marketing Expenses and Increase Sales? Stop Neglecting Your Current Customers

23 Apr
Embed from Getty Images

Problem: Neglected Customers

You spent lots of time, effort, and money to craft a marketing strategy and implement marketing campaigns to attract new clients.  The hard work paid off: several new customers decided to purchase your products and/or services. Your initial customer experience convinced the lead/prospect to pay for your products and/or services.  However, you continue to flush money down the toilet because you made the same mistake as other companies: you neglected the customer after the sale.

After the exchange of the customers’ money for your products and/or services, that customer is viewed as old news to you and people within your company.  You shift your focus back to hunting for the sexy new customers. This is a colossal mistake that is both increasing your marketing expenses and decreasing your sales.  It’s infinitely more expensive to secure a new customer than sell to someone who is familiar with your products and services.

What happens to the old news customer?  You paid so much attention to him or her during the new customer acquisition campaign. Will he or she ever hear from you again?  The majority of companies assume the new customer will continue to purchase their products and services.  The customer bought once from me, he or she will be back.  You know the old saying, assume makes an ass out of you and me.

Think about it for a minute: How do you treat customers after the initial sale? Do you have a process and strategy to consistently stay in front of the customer after the first sale?

Create a systematic retention marketing campaign that nurtures your current customers.

Instead of always chasing the sexy new customer, why not focus efforts on creating exceptional experiences and nurturing campaigns for current customers?

Benefits of Nurturing Current & Past Customers

1)      Less expensive – it costs about 4-5 times more money to acquire a new customer vs. retaining a current customer.  A new customer taxes your resources: advertising and marketing expenses for digital and print ads, consumes your social media content, asks your sales team lots of questions, waits several months to make decisions…on and on..

A current customer is already familiar with you and your business.  Your advertising, marketing, and sales team already earned the current customers trust.

2)      Happy Customers Tell Others – when a customer is happy and feels special, he or she will defend and recommend your company.  It’s essentially free advertising for you.  The current customer is not only likely to purchase from you again but also act as a source of new business for you, because he or she will tell friends and family about your wonderful company. You should have a referral campaign to recognize and reward referrers.

3)      Free Feedback – leverage current customers to gain feedback about new products or services you plan to offer.  Use current customers to help improve the customer experience.

How Do You Get Started?

1)      Create systems to collect, segment, and store new customers contact information.  It’s up to you what contact information is important to keep.  You can do a lot with a home address, email address, and phone number.  If you want to personalize (I would): gather anniversary date of first purchase, birthday, or any other piece of information that will help future campaigns.

2)      Brainstorm Ideas to Nurture Customers 

  1. Educational Content
  2. Exclusive Deals
  3. Appreciation Nights
  4. Workshops

Reach out to them with valuable information without asking for anything in return. If you consistently provide content and promotions to current clients, making them feel special, he or she is much more likely to listen when you want to sell.

3)      Add ideas to Content Calendar – create at least three months of information to send to your current clients.  Use various methods to reach the customer – email, direct mail, social media, etc. Add these to a content calendar so its easy for you and your staff to prepare and distribute.

If you are serious about creating a world-class company, you need to decide how you retain customers.  What can you do to offer a consistent, valuable experience for your current customers?  The company that retains customers gains a tremendous competitive advantage over its competition.

Good luck!

Do You Offer a Unique Customer Experience to Your Clients and Prospects?

10 Apr
Embed from Getty Images

While companies continue to spend millions (billions?) of dollars to acquire engineering talent and patents to gain a competitive advantage, one asset proves to be extremely difficult to either acquire or emulate: Customer Experience.

Today, it’s easier than ever for competitors to quickly replicate your products and/or services.  If there is little difference between your products/services and your competitors’ products/services, how will you gain a competitive advantage and secure loyal clients? Please don’t say because you have a cheaper price and a better product. Competing exclusively on price only works  for Amazon and Wal-Mart. 

Let’s use Starbucks as an example. The customer experience at Starbucks is a major reason why people routinely bypass local coffee shops and/or fast food restaurants serving similar quality coffee for a cheaper price, to pay an additional $3.00 at Starbucks.  The founding team at Starbucks realized that people will pay a premium price for an outstanding experience.  Starbucks doesn’t sell coffee, it sells experience. It sells a lifestyle. It’s not by accident – it’s all part of the customer experience strategy.  The great companies, including Amazon and Starbucks START with the customer experience and work backwards.

Do you have a customer experience strategy?  I highly recommend you begin thinking about what your customers and prospects experience at each of the touchpoints at your company.  For example:

1)      What happens when a customer or prospect:

– Lands on your website for the first time?

– Uses the ‘Contact Us’ email address to inquire about your product/service

Does he or she receive a thank you and told how long it will take to receive a response?  Do you have systems and training in place to provide an outstanding experience?

– Calls the phone number listed on the website

Human answer? Is your team trained how to interact with clients and prospects on the phone Who do you trust with the first impression of your business?

Voicemail? What’s the message

– Views your social media channels (Blog, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, etc…)

Asks a question/leaves a comment on your social media site?

  1. Drives to your store and parks his or her car – is the parking lot clean? Are there missing lights in your sign?  What’s the appearance at the store?  How is the person greeted?  What happens at checkout? Is there special packaging?  What can you do to enhance the experience?
  2. Purchases your product or service?  How is it delivered?  How do you follow up? How do you nurture him or her for future business?

There are several things to think about when developing a customer experience strategy.  It’s hard work, but if you want to create a competitive advantage and increase your company’s chances of success in the long run, it’s imperative that you start to think about the overall customer experience at your company.

 

Good Luck!

How Airbnb Created an Amazing Customer Acquisition Marketing Campaign

4 Feb

customer acquisition

This is an excellent new customer acquisition campaign from Airbnb.  Let’s take a look a few of the reasons this is such a great campaign:

A Clear Goal:

The goal of this campaign is obvious: entice new customers to try http://www.airbnb.com, to generate additional revenue for the company. One way to increase revenue is by adding new customers to your existing client database. It’s simple: new customers = additional revenue.  A secondary goal is to convert the new customers (promo/trial customers) to loyal customers  after the promotion ends.

 Defined Target Market

– Consumers who have never used Airbnb

– Consumers who use social media

Because the deal was announced via social media, it’s clear that the company is targeting consumers who frequent social media sites. I’m sure Airbnb has data that shows most customers discover the company via online search. social media, and word-of-mouth. It knows exactly where its target market is hanging out.

Also, because it’s such a great deal, Airbnb benefits from free advertising when people share the deal with family and friends – there is a viral element to the ad because it’s such a great offer. This reduces marketing expenses and increases the ROI for Airbnb.

Clear, Simple Offer

Does the offer make me stop what I’m doing to learn more? Is the offer worth my time?  Definitely.  If you’re going to make an offer, make sure it not only makes sense financially but also gets people excited and gets people talking. I suspect Airbnb allocated part of its marketing budget to pay for the free offers that would be redeemed. It avoided the high costs of advertising the deal via traditional channels (print & TV), and instead relied on its current customers to spread the deal via social media.  

Deadline to Redeem the Offer

You needed to book your trip between January 13th and 17th, travel by March 31st, AND book for at least two nights (first night is on Airbnb). I’m sure the winter months are a slow time for Airbnb. This offer was an attempt to generate revenue during the slow months, while also hoping that some of the new clients will stick around and try Airbnb next time they travel.

Is There a Way to Track Whether the Ad is Successful?

Yes. You must enter promo code: ONENIGHT to redeem the offer. This promo code allows Airbnb to easily track how many people redeemed the offer. Airbnb can also determine  how much revenue was created by not only this offer but also any future business from the customers acquired during this campaign. Armed with this data, Airbnb can adjust future marketing campaigns to maximize return-on-investment (ROI).

How Can You Apply Some of the Lessons from This Airbnb Marketing Campaign?

Before you create advertisements and marketing campaigns, you should always determine the goal of the marketing campaign. Is it to create brand awareness? Is it to acquire new customers? Is it to reward existing customers?

Also, take time to crystallize your target market. So many marketing campaigns fail because companies fail to clearly define the  target market. Who are the people we are targeting with this marketing campaign? Does our ad/message resonate with the target market? Are we marketing our product/service where the target market hangs out?

Is there a clear call-to-action? What do you want the target market to do after they view your advertisement? 

Is the offer irresistible? Is there a deadline to redeem the offer?

What happens AFTER they take advantage of your promotional offer? How do you follow up to ensure the new customer(s) become lifelong customers?

A successful customer acquisition campaign includes: a goal, a defined target market, an irresistible offer, a clear call-to-action, and systems to convert new customers to lifelong customers.

Good luck!

Are You Making the Same Marketing and Sales Mistakes as My Local Gym?

31 Jan

Article highlights (continue reading for the full story):

  • The gym had a solid lead generation campaign – utilized both digital and traditional marketing channels
  • Secured my personal information – full name, email, and physical address
  • Instructed me to visit its out-of-date website (first breakdown)
  • Did not anticipate my buying cycle (I researched the company before I ever made contact)
  • Never followed up with me after I decided to redeem its offer of a 1-day free trial
  • Always anticipate/research what your prospect will do when it becomes aware of your product/service

gym marketing campaigns

I’ve been eating way too many burritos in the Mission District lately.  My friends joke that the first place they look for me is the taqueria down the street from my apartment.

As I munched on a burrito while watching college basketball, I saw a commercial for a free 1-day trial at my neighborhood gym. While many people believe using television as a marketing channel is outdated, it’s worth noting that Google reports that 60% of its search queries are the result of someone seeing an offline (print/television advertisement).  The television ad (call-to-action) instructed me to visit the gym’s website to redeem my free 1-day trial.

So what did I do after watching the commercial?

I ‘Googled’ the gym to find out more about not only the free offer but also learn about the gym – from pricing to reviews to staff.

Keep in mind: the company INSTRUCTED me to visit the website.  The website was outdated.  The blog was last updated about 6 months ago and it lacked dynamic content that would have allowed me to learn more about the gym.  If you’re going to instruct people to visit your website, you should at least keep it updated.  The company did a great job of directing me to the site; however, the website content should have been targeted to new prospects researching the gym. Anticipate what prospects will do when they land on your page.

gym-marketing-campaigns

After I surfed the company website, I bounced over to Yelp to read the reviews.  I was satisfied with the reviews, so I decided to redeem my 1-day free pass.

The online sign up was simple: I entered my first name, last name, and email address.  When I hit submit, the instructions told me to visit the gym to redeem my free pass.  I walked the two blocks to the gym to redeem my free pass.  I was greeted at the door and asked to complete a liability waiver.  Sure, I’m happy to sign my life away if I drop a dumbbell on my head.  As I was working out on the elliptical machine (is that manly?), feeling the burrito grease leave my skins pores, I thought: “The gym spent a lot of effort and money to entice me to try its services.  It even secured my name, email address, and physical address (from the liability form). It’s not easy to secure my contact information. I bet they have a really good sales system to ensure I don’t walk out of here without a fight.” What happened when I finished my workout? I walked out without any fanfare. No sales pitch. Nobody asked me for feedback. Nobody made an offer.

The owner/marketing team should have anticipated and planned a sales process for prospects that redeem the free trial offer.  Instead, they let me walk out of the door without signing up for a monthly plan.  Why not create an incentive to sign up that day.  For example: “If you sign up within 24 hours of redeeming your 1-day trial, you get the first month free and a 1-hour massage.”

But they let me walk away.  Not only did they let me walk away, but also they still haven’t contacted me about my experience and/or whether I want to join the gym.  The company spent lots of money (advertising, marketing plan, store front, salaries) for my trial.  It’s a shame that its follow up strategy is ‘hoping’ I’ll decide to sign up for a membership.  It should have systems in-place to ensure I sign up before I leave and follow up sales systems for 30, 60, 90, 120 days.

  • No incentive to sign up that day.  They could have closed the sale by offering me a one month free deal if I signed up that before the end of the day
  • The company could  follow up with an email/snail mail campaign:
    • Did you enjoy your time at the gym?
    • Thank you for the trial – did we mess up?
    • Last chance to save 30% on a yearly package?
    • Free Massage?

If you’re going to spend lots of money on an integrated digital and traditional marketing campaign, it’s wise to anticipate what the prospect is going to do along the buying decision.  The company paid a lot of money to get me to try the service, why haven’t they followed up with me?

What can you do to increase your chances of  converting your prospects to clients?

Good luck!

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