Loyalty Marketing… or We HEART You!

Customer loyalty programs are an easy and effective way to keep customers coming back to your business. Here are a few tips to help you create a loyalty program with a simple yet important goal: rewarding repeat customers.

  • Offer custom-printed punch cards or stamp cards for customers who frequent your business. A simple reward (such as “buy five car washes, get the sixth free”) may be enough to keep customers from visiting your competition down the street.
  • Utilize the back side of your loyalty-marketing promotions to advertise upcoming events, highlight exclusive offers, share helpful tips, and more.
  • Celebrate! Be sure to recognize customer birthdays, holidays, and even the date your customer joined your loyalty club.
  • Provide loyalty club members with special coupons for free upgrades, such as “upgrade to a premium deluxe XYZ for the same price as our standard XYZ.”
  • Reward customers who buy ahead. For example, if you own a repair shop, you might offer a year-long package of oil changes for a discounted rate. Not only will the customer be happy to save money, but you can ensure the customer will return to your business all year long.
  • Invite loyal customers to join a review panel group, and offer free products or services in exchange for their valuable feedback and input on how to improve your business.
  • Develop creative ways to show your company’s reciprocal loyalty to customers. Send “thank you” campaigns, for example, with exclusive discounts or promotions.

Give us a call if we can help you create loyalty program marketing materials your customers will love!

We Want Your Vote!

With Election Day fast approaching, why not take advantage of the voting spirit by creating a few fun polls for your business? Here are some clever ways to gather opinions and reward your loyal customers in the process:

  • Ask customers to vote for their favorite products or services. Send a postcard campaign or statement stuffer with a web link to an online ballot. Distribute campaign flyers. Post information on your Facebook page, website, or other social media channels. And have a ballot box at the main desk of your business, where customers can vote by paper ballot if they prefer.
  • Encourage customers to learn more about your products by creating a game-like quest. Provide clues through various communication channels (email, direct mail, social media), and reward those who complete the quest.
  • Inspire participation by offering a grand prize drawing, as well as a guaranteed coupon or smaller thank-you to all who vote.
  • Create an “Election Day” sale to encourage extra traffic, and consider offering an additional discount to any customers who come from the polls wearing an “I voted” sticker.
  • If you’re creating an in-house promotion, remember that food is always a crowd pleaser. Consider offering cookies, cake, donuts, or simply coffee, hot chocolate, or cider.
  • Provide a follow-up marketing campaign to announce the winner, and consider running an exclusive special on that particular product or service following the election.
  • Maximize your promotions by offering combo specials that include your most popular products with lesser-known or newer products.

Our creative experts are here anytime you need help spreading the word about an upcoming sale or promotion. Give us a call today!

Why You Need to Use Pattern Interrupt in Your Marketing

From the time you wake up until the moment you close your eyes, you’re bombarded with marketing messages. You may even have dreams of the ads running in your sleep!

Most of the messages you see during the day just blend together without much notice. Many are of the “me too” variety. Either the owner or the advertiser is practicing the lazy marketing technique of simply copying a competitor’s ad with very little real change. Maybe the original ad had some creativity to it, but now it’s lost in a sea of similarity.

For your ad to have any chance of succeeding, you must use “pattern interrupt marketing” as one component of your message.

What’s pattern interrupt marketing? As the name implies, it’s marketing that stops a prospect in their tracks and engages them. Your message must be able to capture a prospect’s attention if it’s to have any chance of being noticed.

Imagine you’re driving down a street looking for a place to eat lunch. The street is packed with similar looking eateries on both your left and right. The buildings all look the same and have signs with business names on them. The business owners have all copied each other in building design, colors, and layout so much that it’s very difficult to tell them apart. But one smart business owner has hired someone with a colorful costume and given them a professional-looking sign with delicious-looking food photos and a message that clearly states all the benefits of their restaurant; in addition, if you come in today, you’ll receive a great discount. The guy holding the sign interrupts your attention, and the offer lures you in to try the food.

That’s what pattern interrupt marketing is all about.

Now, you could try any number of gimmicks to grab a prospect’s attention, but there are only a few things that will truly capture their interest and hold it long enough for you to make an impression. Here are three steps to get you started:

  1. Make a list of problems your product or service can solve.
  2. Pick just one as the focal point for your marketing message.
  3. Think about the types of language and visual cues your customers would use to best understand this message.

With those elements in place, you can better plan your marketing.

Pattern interrupt marketing can be used in every type of business and in every type of marketing communication. Whether on a billboard, through direct mail, via email marketing, or even at a trade show, pattern interrupt marketing can be very effective. The goal is not only to capture the prospect’s attention by doing something different or unexpected but also to encourage them to take further steps with you once they’re engaged.

Pattern interrupt marketing is only the first step in a process, but in some ways, it’s the most important step. After all, if you can’t capture their attention, the rest won’t matter.

What Declining Sales Really Mean

Many businesses are currently experiencing a decline in sales. Some owners and executives believe this is due to outside economic conditions. Although the economy may have some bearing, perhaps the real reasons for the decline are more fundamental issues that no one in the company wants to face. The economy has only masked the issues and helped sweep them under the rug.

Many in this predicament think, “If only we could increase sales, everything else would take care of itself.” Oftentimes, the declining sales pattern is not the real problem; it’s just a symptom of other underlying issues. Perhaps the issues are in management, staffing, or a lack of effective marketing and sales.

If your company is experiencing a sales slump, it may be time to do a little soul searching to find the real issues. If you decide to take this head on, here’s a four-step plan to help you lick the problems.

Step 1 — Assess your current situation. What strengths do you see? What weaknesses? Are there opportunities you might be missing? And what are your threats? The more honest you can be at this step, the better the foundation for the rest of the process.

Step 2 — Now that you have an outline of the problems, it’s time to make a diagnosis. What are the causes behind the problems and issues you’re facing? Look beyond the surface issues, and try to get to the root causes.

Step 3 — Now that you have the assessment and a diagnosis of the situation, it’s time to make a plan that addresses your diagnosis by taking advantage of the strengths you identified and establishing ways to correct the weaknesses.

Step 4 — This is where the rubber meets the road. All that analysis will lead to no good unless you follow up with action. It’s time to follow through and act on the plan by implementing the changes outlined in the previous step.

By following through on these four simple but powerful steps, you can not only turn around sagging sales but also position your company for long-term growth.

Effective Lead Generation From Your Local Business Chamber

Your local business leads group and Chamber of Commerce can be great sources of leads for you and your company. Why can and not are? Because many business owners join and expect the leads to just fall in their laps without much effort on their part. Then they quit and decide that this type of lead generation simply doesn’t work for them. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Paying the monetary dues is only the first step in joining a chamber or business group. Showing up to the events regularly and showing your face is the next basic step. Being friendly and helpful is another basic prerequisite for success. But none of these are guarantees for bringing you prospects and customers. They are the entry ticket. Sadly, many stop with these steps and drop out before giving it a real chance.

What does work?

Consistency — The long-time members and those you would love to have as clients will quietly decide for themselves through your actions whether you’re someone they can trust. Caring enough to show up and be active will go a long way in building that trust. If you can’t commit to doing these basic steps, save your money and don’t join. If your sole purpose for joining is to find leads and someone to sell to, you’ve missed the main point of joining this type of organization. Sure, those are important reasons and by-products of joining, but they cannot be the sole or even the primary reasons.

Attitude — Go in with a truly helpful and positive attitude if you want to succeed. Proactively seek out opportunities to help other members in every way you can, through referring and introducing them to other members, even if those actions don’t directly benefit you. Do this, and you’ll be on the right track.

Active participation — One of the secrets to being successful with your membership is to join committees. Every group will have sub-committees for various needs and functions of the chamber. These may include groups like education committees or new member committees. Not only will you get to interact with other dedicated members in a smaller setting when you join these committees, but you’ll also get recognition and notoriety for your efforts, which will lead to more chances to get to know other members better. This takes time and is a sacrifice, but it’s extremely important to do.

To have real success from your membership, remember that you must give before you get. The more effort you can put in, the more success you can expect. It’s a long-term strategy that has a proven track record for those who can practice one of life’s golden rules.

What is Your Customer Hiding From You?

In order to sell any kind of product or service, you first need to know the challenges your prospects face, so you can offer the best solution. On the surface, this seems like an easy problem to resolve. You send out a few surveys and questionnaires. You dig and do your research. You think you’ve found the answers. Yet when you build your pitch or presentation around what you think your prospect wants and needs, it falls flat.

Why? Because the prospect is hiding the truth from you.

It’s not done with malicious intent. They’re not even necessarily lying. They simply want to be liked and don’t want to hurt your feelings by telling you things they think you wouldn’t like to hear. Also some prospects don’t really know what they want. Emailed and online surveys aren’t the best at this type of information gathering.

That’s the reason most surveys don’t reveal many helpful answers. The problem isn’t with the surveys themselves, but with the questions and how they’re presented. Most survey questions don’t get to the heart of the matter in order to pull out the answers you’re looking for.

What can you do about this? Pick up the phone!

The best way to get the answers you’re looking for is to call your prospects and engage them in a conversation. But before you do that (and if you don’t want the phone slammed in your ear), do your homework first.

The responses will only be as good as your questions. Your questions need to be open-ended. You must be able to tap into the emotional and/or logical reasons why a prospect would (or wouldn’t) buy your product or service. The more you’re able to get them to open up and give you honest answers, the closer you’ll get to the heart of what you’re looking for. Keep good notes on the data you gather, and review it so you can make the next call even better at intelligence gathering.

Start your call with a very brief description of why you’re calling, then quickly turn your attention to the prospect. Let them know you’re not trying to sell them anything (so it brings down the wall and barriers they automatically put up). State that you respect and value their opinion, which is why you chose them to call. Make them feel respected and special before you dive into your questions.

Once you have your answers, take the time to carefully review all the information. Look for common themes or threads in the answers. If you don’t find any, go back to your questions and reword them to get better answers. Yes, this takes real work. But the end result will be well worth your time. After you analyze the information, it will make your job of creating an irresistible offer that your prospects can’t refuse much easier.

Forget Me Not!

Just because a customer buys from you a few times doesn’t mean they’ll immediately think of or even remember your business again the next time they need the kinds of products you sell. Here are a few ways to increase front-of-mind awareness for your company in the minds of consumers:

  • Educate your audience about the ways your products are better than the competition. Consider creating a comparison chart to make the differences stand out in people’s minds.
  • Send thank yous for past purchases, and offer future discounts or coupons that are too good to ignore. For example, one might read: “Use this coupon anytime during December to receive 50% off any single item!”
  • Encourage customers to reorder supplies before they run out. A reorder form placed near the bottom of each package you ship is one way to accomplish this. Periodic email reminders and promos based on past order history are another.
  • Provide knowledgeable tips, tricks, and other industry-related information in a newsletter or periodic mailer that will leave recipients asking for more.
  • Invite customers to open-house celebrations, hands-on training classes, or exclusive customer appreciation events.
  • Create a customer loyalty program that rewards visitors for repeat purchases.
  • Offer promotions or giveaway contests that spark interest in the products and services you sell.

Let us know if we can help you create direct mail pieces that will help ensure your business isn’t forgotten!

Promote Your Company’s “EST” Factor

In today’s competitive marketplace, it’s important that you determine your company’s “est” — the differentiating factor that gives you a competitive edge. Whether your business strives to be the biggest, fastest, strongest, lowest, or oldest at something, the “est” factor will help you push to be the best and become the go-to business for that area of expertise.

Here are a few ways to find your “est”:

  • Ask your customers. The customer voice is a great way to pinpoint areas where your business truly shines. Encourage customer feedback through comment cards, surveys, testimonials, or simply by asking customers their opinions when you meet with them.
  • Identify and enhance your strengths to add greater value to your business. For example, if your business is known for the fastest delivery services in town, you may consider opening a second location, adding additional delivery drivers, or upgrading your computer system to ensure you continue providing the fastest services possible.
  • Accept your weaknesses, and don’t become discouraged by areas where your business falls a little short. For example, if your prices aren’t the lowest, you might say, “We may not have the lowest prices in town, but we offer the longest warranty in the industry to provide greater value for your dollar.”

If you’d like help spreading the word about your “est” factor, we’d love to help. Our professional team can help create some of the greatEST marketing materials with the fastEST service you’ve ever seen!

Printing Is a Responsible Choice

In lieu of a “Think before you print” email tagline, we encourage you to consider adding something like this to your emails:

“It’s OK to print responsibly. Not using paper in order to save trees is comparable to not eating salad in order to ‘save’ vegetables. Managed timberlands are similar to agricultural crops which provide clean air, clean water, and wildlife habitat, as well as millions of jobs nationwide.”

While there are many misconceptions about the paper and printing industries, we proudly stand behind them both, and we encourage you to check out these resources to learn more about why printing is a responsible choice:

  • www.paperbecause.com — Domtar’s Paper Because campaign highlights the key role paper plays in our lives and the reasons why it’s environmentally friendly.
  • www.chooseprint.org — Choose Print is an educational campaign designed to promote the effectiveness of print as a sustainable choice.
  • www.rediscoverprint.com — Rediscover Print is committed to searching out credible information, case studies, and statistics on how print makes a positive impact in our daily lives.
  • www.twosides.info — Two Sides promotes the responsible production and use of print and paper. The site provides information on why print and paper remain a versatile, sustainable communications medium.