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Marketing Tactics

3 Ways to Turn Holiday Shoppers Into Year-Round Customers

The month between Thanksgiving and Christmas accounts for as much as 40% of annual sales for some retailers.

Lisa Girard

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The challenge is to turn those holiday shoppers into loyal year-round customers.

“You create return customers by creating the most amazing experience – not just a good first impression, but a phenomenal last impression,” says Shep Hyken, a customer-service expert and author of The Cult of the Customer (Wiley, 2009).

Clerks should give customers business cards that include a cell phone number where they can be reached, even on their day off, he recommends. And then there’s the follow-up, which can include a handwritten thank-you note and emails alerting the customer to sales and special events.

“It’s not a transaction; it’s an interaction,” Hyken says. “Anyone can ring up something a customer hands them and let him walk out the door. The goal is to create loyalty, which is about a customer having confidence and a comfort level with you.”

Here are three examples of how small-business owners are turning holiday traffic into higher sales all year long.

1. Create a superior in-store experience.

Griffin Ace Hardware, which has two stores in San Diego and one in Santa Ana, Calif., makes being “helpful” its primary marketing message year-round. During the holidays, this means recognising that people are in a rush and adding extra staff to ensure adequate attention on the floor and minimal waiting time at checkout.

In addition, employees are trained to recognise harried customers and try to get them on their way as quickly as possible. “Mainly it is body language,” says Stacey Griffin Jess, whose family founded the business in 1953. “We are watching to see if the customer is walking fast, talking fast and seems in a hurry.”

The company, whose annual sales are estimated to be in the $7 million range, gets two large deliveries a week during the holidays to ensure that it has enough merchandise on hand and doesn’t disappoint customers. And it hosts a customer appreciation night the first week of December, with 20% discounts on most items, photos with Santa for the kids, and product demonstrations and giveaways.

“This evening allows us to showcase our home décor and seasonal products, but also gives customers a chance to see the other products and services we offer,” says Griffin Jess. “We try to give them the helpful experience that will bring them back.”

Griffin Ace has attracted nearly 70 000 Ace Rewards program members, and it receives nearly twice the usual number of rewards applications during the holidays.

2. Keep in touch throughout the year.

Gem of an Idea, an upscale jewelry retailer based in New Jersey, generates about 40% of its $650 000 annual revenue in the last quarter, and most of that in the last six weeks, says founder Maureen Bay. She takes advantage of the increased traffic, collecting as much customer information as possible, including street address, email address and birth date.

She also asks for a “wish list” and product preferences, so she can follow up with suggestions – or even a phone call – when she gets certain items in stock.

“When the customer comes in to make a purchase or repair,” Bay says, “we ask them, ‘Can we put you on our birthday list?’ Who doesn’t like to get a birthday card on their birthday?”

That card is hand-addressed in gold ink and personalised inside, offering a 20% discount on any item in the store during the birthday month. Bay mails nearly 4 000 cards a year, using high-quality paper and first-class postage. She also mails an elegant holiday postcard by first- class mail highlighting a certain holiday collection.

“People don’t just throw it away if you present them with something well done, and it carries a message worth paying attention to,” she says, noting that about 25% of people use the birthday discount. “It’s necessary to remind customers that you are there.”

3. Exceed customer expectations.

Retaining first-time holiday customers is about exceeding expectations, says Fabian Kaempfer, cofounder and CEO of New York-based Chocomize.com, where customers can create their own chocolate bars. For example, the website shows an estimated delivery time of four business days, yet 80% of orders arrive in one to two business days.

The company also adds a free gift to all orders – anything from sample-size chocolate bars to hot chocolate on a spoon – which costs it about 50 cents per gift but creates customer goodwill and repeat business. On average, Kaempfer says, 32% of first-time customers order again at least once within the next 12 months.

“People are positively surprised and more inclined to share their great experience on social media channels and with their friends through word of mouth,” says Kaempfer, whose company has annual revenues just over $1 million. For example, Chocomize.com has 32 000 likes on Facebook, where it posts specials and contests.

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Writing a marketing plan? Here are 3 apps that can help

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Lisa Girard is a freelance writer who covers topics as diverse as golf fashion, health and beauty, the hardware industry and small business interests. She also has been Senior Apparel Editor for PGA Magazine for more than a decade. Lisa lives in New Jersey with her four children and two dogs.

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Marketing Tactics

Ask These 3 Questions To Determine Where To Spend Your Marketing Budget

Stretching your marketing budget is imperative, especially when there aren’t that many marketing rands to stretch.

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As you grow your business, it’s important to be creative and efficient with your money. When it comes to marketing, there are a number of cost-effective ways to spend and save your money. So, if you’re worried about marketing on a limited budget, here’s some helpful info to know.

First, great marketing is about highlighting wants and needs and attaching them to desired outcomes. It’s possible to do that regardless of budget — and every company’s strategy will be different.

For example, when my consultancy worked with Dollar Shave Club to grow its platform beyond viral videos, we focused on establishing a unique voice, which led to creating an editorial component. When we worked with Arnold Schwarzenegger on his fitness and nutrition products, we focused on creating a core mission and understanding why he was involved in the product. And when we worked with Four Sigmatic to market its coffees and teas, we focused on customer acquisition and retention.

Related: 5 Ways To Market Your Business On A Limited Budget

3 Questions that Cut Through the Clutter

Those projects all started with the same three questions: What is the value and purpose of your product or service? Who is your target audience? And what is the best platform on which to reach them? That’s where you’ll want to invest most of your attention before you determine where to spend your money. (Notice my word choice: Your planning is an investment; where you spend is a cost.)

1. In general, we prefer to use digital campaigns

It’s easier to track what works and what doesn’t. Plus, digital creates multiple opportunities to engage. Think of it this way: 10% of your audience will buy, 10% won’t and 80% will be on the fence. Would you rather have one shot to convince that 80%, or multiple? By retargeting through something like Facebook ads or Google, or even creating a distribution channel like an email list, you can communicate repeatedly.

2. If you don’t have an audience, spend money fishing in small ponds where you know you can get a bite, and then set yourself up to communicate repeatedly

(This is where creating content as a form of acquisition or building an email list can be incredibly valuable.) Depending on your product or service, this could mean a very targeted ad to a small audience on Facebook — rather than attempting to reach millions — or setting up a pop-up shop, or getting a spot at a local farmers’ market.

Related: 4 Unique Marketing Ideas For SMEs On A Budget

3. If you already have an audience, turn them into super-fans who will bring their peers into your universe

Identify previous buyers and give them direct access to you through focus groups or calls. Reward them for their time with product or a gift certificate. When you show your consumer that you care about and appreciate them, it not only increases the likelihood of repurchase but also helps them personally invest in the soul of the business. Not to mention, their insights will help you understand why they bought and how to replicate that process.

Whatever you do — and no matter how big or small your budget — keep finding better answers to the core marketing questions and your success won’t hinge on any one platform.

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Marketing Tactics

Gen Z Is Coming! Are You Ready?

How do you market your company to this generation?

Stuart Scanlon

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According to the CNBC, about 61 000 Gen Zers are on the verge of entering the workforce and consumer market in the US alone.

They are digital natives; they have grown up in a world of vines, txts (yes, we know) and internet. Their attention span is shorter than ever, they are more connected than any other generation, and they are brilliant multitaskers. Gen Z is a more tolerant generation but also more cautious; studies have found less risk-taking amongst this group and an increase in thoughtfulness and questioning authority.

So, on the one side of this coin, how do you market your company to this generation?

1. By being transparent

Be upfront about your business, what you’re doing and how you’re doing it. They have lost faith in corporations. Thus, you must stop relying on and hiding behind small print. Yes, you need terms and conditions to protect your company, but when it looks like a miracle weight-loss advert of the 80s (“Eat anything you want just take this pill. Ts&Cs apply.”), you’ll lose customers.

Related: Investing in Young Entrepreneurs

Gen Z consumers want to see you are real; they don’t want models or celebrities but regular people who can assist them in a manner that speaks to them. And they will hold your business is socially accountable. Instead of producing millions of T-shirts at the cheapest possible price, they want local, equality and free-trade, and they want to know what businesses are doing for the environment and society.

Gen Z won’t accept your claims at your word; they want to see evidence in your company culture.

2. By offering options

A jewellery purchasing study has found that most Gen Zers don’t have a preferred shopping platform. What this means is your messaging, availability and culture need to be spread evenly across all contact points – sales, call centres, website and digital advertising. In fact, many Gen Z consumers rely on mixing their contact points.

That being said, they want immediate action. If they see something they want online, they will go to the shop just to have the item right now. More than immediacy, they also want custom-made or made-to-order products and services. They shy away from traditional made-to-stock methods, which creates plenty of room in the production industry.

3. By being forward thinking

We have to always remember what was mind-blowing inventions to other generations are the norm for Gen Zers. They hold brands and businesses to high expectations, and instead of being loyal to brands, expect brands to be loyal to them. As Gen Z is more focused on individuality, they are also proving to be a generation with a high entrepreneurial output. All this shows that they don’t want the norm; they don’t crave what’s new today, they want tomorrow, sustainability and innovation, and they want it now.

On the other side of the coin, how do you attract this generation to work at your company? In much the same way.

1. By being transparent

As much as you are hiring them based on what they bring to the table, so too are they looking at what you can afford them. But, they don’t just want to hear you tell them about the benefits, they want to see it – and they are not after just money. Gen Zers want to be financially secure, but also one that is fulfilling; one where they find purpose in their jobs and company.

2. By offering options

Gen Z employees don’t want to work eight to five, they don’t want to be chained to a desk, and they don’t want to be micro-managed. Give them flexibility on how they want to conduct their work and how they can communicate with their colleagues. Create an understanding workspace for their needs and help them improve their skills – for instance, it’s been reported that a stumbling block for Gen Zers is communication. Growing up with emojis and text messages make face-to-face conversations, business calls and writing emails difficult for them.

Gen Z employees want to work hard and grow their skills. Even though they’re growing up in a super-paced society, they want to climb the corporate ranks at the given speed. What they crave, with urgency, is gaining value from their jobs.

Related: The Z Generation

3. By being forward thinking

They are lateral thinkers, and their creativity is not just outside the box but has broken the box completely. Gen Z is incredibly tech-savvy, and they will challenge the systems and procedures you have in place if these are not providing the needed speed and data required. Thus, they crave to work in an environment where they can push boundaries and ultimately help the company move forward. Hiring from the Gen Z pool can provide you with innovative insights into your business that can grow it towards tomorrow’s giants.

The only way to be sure you are future-proofing your business is by guaranteeing it caters for future customers and employees, by relying on forward-thinking enterprise resource planning software, for instance. Epicor ERP software ensures that their clients stay agile and innovative through trusting top minds to build and develop intelligent systems that open doors for Gen Zers. It’s Epicor’s innate tech-savviness that allows them to visualise the landscape of tomorrow and develop the software to support it today.

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Marketing Tactics

Free Sample Marketing Plan Template

You don’t need an MBA to write a marketing plan for your business. While no two businesses are alike, all solid marketing plans need to provide specific information. Use this sample marketing plan template to get you started on the right foot and cover all the essential information.

Tracy Lee Nicol

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Your marketing plan should provide a comprehensive blueprint of the business, its market and associated market activity, its position in the market, target and expected customers, offerings, competition, solutions and contingency plans.

Using a sample Marketing Plan Template can save you a lot of time in creating your own marketing plan.

Download a Sample Marketing Plan Template

Use the free templates below to help make sure you’ve covered all the important bits:

Download Our Free Marketing Plan Template Here.

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Recommended Marketing Reads: 


Related: Beginners Guide To Digital Marketing In South Africa

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