March 27, 2011

Appreciation Marketing - Is It Only for Potential Customers?


We have all walked through a shopping mall and seen the kiosk for a business signing new customers up for credit with a store or business and giving away something, a discount, a product, or a gift certificate.  That’s great for someone who has never purchased from that business, but what about those of us who have been loyal customers for years?

When you ask that question, they offer to sign you up for another account.  I know someone with multiple accounts at a major department store because of “taking advantage of promotions” like this.  He never uses their credit card after the promotion is finished, but he still has the accounts.

While not addressing what this may do for your credit score, let’s look at how a current customer of the business, who does not want another account, feels about their promotion.  Your loyalty, your continued support for the business, maybe your referrals to the business seem like wasted effort, don’t they?

We have discussed this before.  People do business with those that they know, like, and trust.  People refer others to business that they know, like, and trust.  Referrals flow easily from happy customers who have received quality products or services for their payment and found that the business appreciated them as customers, making it easy to complete current and future transactions.

Why do businesses believe that they can ignore their current customers, instead just trying to attract new customers?  Ignore your customer base and you will never grow your business as it should grow; ignore your customer base and you will constantly have to look for, and woo, new customers.  It costs 10 times as much to attract new customers as to keep the current customers that you have. 

What if you are the business that will never have a repeat customer?  Your widget will never wear out, it will never break, and your customer will never need another one.  How do you know that your customer may never sell or lose whatever the widget is for?  Perhaps they will give another widget to someone as a gift.

Even if they may never buy from you again, who do they know that will need a widget from you?  A satisfied customer is one who will refer others to you as the source of the best widgets money can buy.  In addition to being the best source of widgets, maybe you make the buying experience easy and enjoyable.

A happy customer is an unpaid marketing representative for your business.  A happy customer can reach potential customers for you that you may never knew existed.  A happy customer will tell the real story of how you care for customers, treating them as clients, not numbers.  A happy customer never takes a day off, never quits, and never asks for a raise.

So what do you need to do besides providing a valid product or service for a valid price?  What can you do besides making it easy for the customer to locate you, buy from you, and feel good about the buying experience, and being available for follow up questions from the customer, regarding installation, use, or mistakes on your part?

Those are some of the topics for future discussions.  Maybe we will discuss something that your comments reflect, or call me at 360-314-8691, or email me at Jim@SOC4Now.com.  Some of my best blog postings come from your input.

March 20, 2011

Rewarding Referrals – Show Appreciation with Your Marketing


This past week, I heard something that shocked me, and I am not easily shocked anymore.  One of my networking partners stated in a networking meeting that she had added a major client through a referral from a person within the client’s staff.  She rewarded the referring person by taking him to lunch, but her company’s owner did not see any need for the reward.

Appreciation Marketing is the practice of showing your appreciation for your clients, prospects, and those who assist you in gaining new business or retaining current clients.  Rewarding those who assist you in improving your bottom line is only one aspect of showing that you appreciate their efforts, especially those who give you something that you may not have ever before obtained.

She added that her owner said that none of the vendors with which he does business had ever taken him to lunch.  I wondered if they had ever rewarded him in some other manner, giving him referrals, discounts, free supplies, etc.  I stated that perhaps he should shop his purchases around for someone who might give him a better deal or just make him feel more appreciated.

I do not advocate shopping your business to whoever gives you the better price or rewards your business with lunch or something similar.  I always encourage business owners to use vendors that have a valid product or service for a valid price, vendors that will be around if there is a problem, vendors who fix errors swiftly, and vendors who always “do the right thing”.

Vendors who never thank you or show appreciation for your business will not flourish and will fall by the wayside.  You want to be noticed or thanked for your business and believe that you are not just a number.

Taking a referral source to lunch is not something that you may do for everyone, but this was a very major client who is valuable not only for their business but having them as a client will influence other prospects.  For a lesser new client, you may just send the referral source a thank you card, perhaps with a retail gift card included.

In addition, you should make new clients themselves feel like you care about them when you first sign them.  Also, try showing your appreciation for your prospects before they get to be clients, since they should be your networking partners.

Use you imagination, think outside of the box, and show your appreciation to your clients, prospects, and referral sources.  They will feel special and believe that you care as much about them as you want them to care about you.  That will result in more and more business for you, both new and continued.

Work smarter not harder in your marketing.  Having unpaid marketing representatives telling others what a great business, and business practices, you have is a way to increase your bottom line, at a small price to you.  Think about how you would feel about someone who appreciated you for your referral and apply that philosophy to the way you do business.

Do you think outside the box, and use your imagination?  If so, why not leave a comment about how you do that.  That way you share those ideas with everyone.  If you want, call me at 360-314-8691, or email me at Jim@SOC4Now.com.  I can share some of your ideas in future postings.  Thanks for your support and for your networking partnerships.

March 13, 2011

Marketing Budgets Follow Up – Appreciation Marketing Can Help When Money is Tight


Last week, I advocated increasing, or at least not decreasing, your marketing budget when financial problems are prevalent.  Several of my networking partners called and emailed me regarding this opinion, suggesting some further clarification to my comments.

When I said that we should expand our marketing budgets, I meant that we should expand our marketing efforts.  I also said that we should work smarter not harder.  Place those two statements side by side, and we see that we should look at our marketing plan and see if we can improve on the efficiency of what we are doing.

Eliminate what you were doing that resulted in poor or no business.  If you keep making the same effort, with the same tools, what makes you believe that you will not obtain the same poor results?  Some people call that insanity.  Instead, how do we make the parts that worked well work better?

Whatever you did that brought results may be able to be done more efficiently, with less expense, and easier than before.  Just because we got good results, doesn’t mean that we cannot get better results, or the same results, with less expense or even less effort if we work smarter.

New technology may allow us to complete the same task with which we struggled in the past to be done now with less effort and sometimes less expense.  What took multiple people to accomplish might now be done by one person with better technology.  What was unreasonable to spend on a marketing effort may now be within the reach of more of us.

Perhaps you had a staff of personnel to take the steps to market your business in the past.  Now that you may not be able to afford that staff anymore, you need to see what you can do by yourself, or with a reduced staff.  Maybe you still have a staff, but they need to be performing other tasks.  How can you, and they, work more efficiently and accomplish their other tasks as well as your marketing efforts?

Remember what we said last week about businesses that eliminate their marketing budgets or efforts.  They literally vanish from the view of their customers and prospects.  Their customers move to other businesses that are visible to the public.  If your business loses its public presence, it will lose the public’s support.

On the other hand, businesses that maintain their public presence through increased or better focused marketing maintain their customers and attract prospects.  The public knows that they are still in business, still viable in the marketplace.  Those are the businesses that remain in business and may even grow their market share.

Work smarter not harder.  This should be applied to everything that a business does, including marketing.  Look at everything that you do and examine how it can be accomplished differently.  The two worst beliefs are that anything that has never been tried before cannot be attempted or that you must always do something a certain way.  Think outside the box, and use your imagination.

Like my networking partners who contacted me after last week’s post, I will be glad to hear your thoughts also.  Give me a call at 360-314-8691, or email me at Jim@SOC4Now.com.  You can also leave your comments here for others to read.  That is how we benefit from networking partnerships.

March 6, 2011

Marketing Budgets – Appreciation Marketing Can Help When Money is Tight


Recently I attended a seminar where I was reminded that many businesses decrease, or eliminate, their marketing budgets in slow financial times.  In fact, when financial problems are prevalent, we all need to expand our marketing budgets.

When a business cuts its marketing budget, their public presence diminishes.  The general populace believes that the business is going out of existence.  When a business increases its marketing budget, the public awareness is increased and people believe that the business is viable and stable.  They become, or continue to be, customers of that business.

Maybe deceasing, or increasing, your marketing budget is not the solution.  Maybe you should use your current budget better rather than throwing more money into your efforts.  Work smarter not harder.  This is a rule that should apply to everything that we do in business, including our marketing.  Using the correct tools is working smarter, especially when it may be easier, faster, and make you look better to your clients.

We all need to take an intelligent look at out marketing budgets and how we are applying those budgets to maximize our return on investment.  Just as we should maximize the return on investment on all our expenses, hardware, software, furniture, equipment, every expense that we have, we need to do the same with our marketing budgets.

So how does Appreciation Marketing apply to marketing budgets and maximizing our return on investment?  Sometimes the simpler methods are the most reasonably priced and the easier ones to implement and use.  Tom Hopkins, the author of How to Master the Art of Selling, advocates the art of the thank you.  Simply, he encourages everyone to thank everyone for whatever they may do.

Everyone includes anyone that you do business with, your customers, your suppliers, your contacts, businesses that you patronize each and every day, people that you meet, whether on purpose or by chance.  How does this help improve our customer base?  Maybe these people become customers; maybe they know others that can become customers; maybe they just become our networking partners.

The list of people to thank can be long.  It includes your daily contacts, no matter the subject of any conversation.  It also includes contacts after a marketing call on your or their part.  It includes customers after their initial purchase, and after a repurchase.  Perhaps a customer sends you a referral who might become your new customer; perhaps they introduce you to a new supplier who saves you money on their product or service.  Maybe the recipient of your thank you is just someone who has touched you, or someone you know, in a special way.

Don’t forget to include people who you have not connected with in some time, and don’t forget to include the contacts that fail to become customers.  They will appreciate your efforts and remember you when someone else needs your service or product.  Have we left anyone out of this list?  Everyone includes everyone that you know or that you meet or you remember in a moment of reflection.

Isn’t this expensive; doesn’t this cost money, time, and effort?  Yes and no.  It might replace a marketing effort that costs a lot more and brings you nothing in return.  It might take less time and effort than you believe.  Look at everything in your marketing plans with the return on investment question in your mind.  Then look at the public perception of you and your business.  What people believe you to be will shape their future business with you.
People do business with those that they know, trust, and perhaps like.  Maybe you need to use that philosophy in building your client base, retaining the clients that you have, and obtaining referrals from those people that you know.  It will make a difference in your business life.  In addition it will make a difference in your personal life; the two are more connected than you think.

Do you want to chat with someone about your marketing budget and how it can be improved?  Give me a call at 360-314-8691 so we can connect and help each other.  Email me with you ideas and thoughts at Jim@SOC4Now.com, or leave your comments here for others.  I am always looking to expand my networking partnerships.