Archive for category The Marketing Dept

Discounting will kill business, you watch.

Lots of people love discounts, they love to get a bargain, unless of course they bought an item for full price last week and this week it’s at a discount rate.

The challenge with discounting from the business perspective is it means you have to sell more to make up for the margin you lost in discounting the price. If your competitors do it you might be tempted to do the same to try and retain customers and keep you r business afloat. It seems like a reasonable strategy until the bottom falls out of the market or things change (online shopping being one.)

Businesses face pressure internally if they can’t compete and most seem to end up following the discount route. Some will already have inflated prices and the discount ‘looks good’ but is no big deal to the business. For those without the ability to start with an inflated price they can soon end up in dire straits.

Then there are the business sectors where the competitiveness gets to be a real killer… “I can get a person to do this job for $10 less per hour than you are quoting.” before long it becomes a bluffing game. “May the person with the detailed written quote please stand up…” and if you are competing you would probably want to get the quote to make sure that what you are offering matches the other quote. “Apples aren’t apples if they’re oranges”

Discounting might seem to work for a while then it gets to a point where those who go down this route feel the pressure of lower income and before long may even go out of business as the margins vanish into thin air.

Manufacturing countries with cheap labour have fallen for the discounting trap, sure they may be able to offer lower labour rate than other countries, but some research on their behalf could have given them a clearer picture of where to pitch their prices. Alas they did not and simply grabbed what they could at the time, our buyers snapped up the bargains and now we have little margins and big turnover of product to try and make up for the slim margins.

A vicious circle ensues and before long the pendulum swings and a cheaper country emerges and pushes the other out. Business becomes cut throat again.

I guess there has to be some form of happy medium, where the price provides a reasonable margin for the business to keep going and thrive as opposed to a business on slim margins who might struggle to survive.

In the end good service and products should be the aim, with the quality is remembered long after the price is forgotten. However this seems to not be the case.  Businesses have to strive to be unique and do battle, hopefully without having to resort to discounting and the challenges this provides.

Dear customer service guy…

So the customer service guy calls me for his six monthly “touch base” chat to see if everything is going OK. Yes it is thanks…

A few quick questions, an apology for calling in case it interrupted me… “No it hasn’t but go on…”

There was little point to the call other than to keep his name in the top of my mind, IF I wanted to buy a car from their dealership.” No I don’t but thanks…”

So where’s the value and how might he enhance the conversation to make it worth our while?

  • The value is that he has kept in touch, but that’s it.
  • The value could be enhanced if he had an offer for me, a test drive in a new model, the chance to go into a draw for some promo gift thingy to the value of… or even just sent a remember me gift (small cost effective thingy) or to tell me they have a new smart phone app or perhaps arrange an event to invite me to in their dealership.

Perhaps he could enhance the value by asking me a set of questions to establish if things have changed for us and our needs. A quick on the phone survey could give them great info (if they bothered to collect it).

It’s all about relationships, so is he managing to keep the relationship going or is he managing to just give me fodder for the blog J I like blog fodder!

Ok I like this guy, don’t get me wrong, but it must get hard for him just making these calls. Rather than being a cost to the company it could be a solid relationship building exercise, a wow factor exercise, an “Oh yeah and next time I want to buy a luxury vehicle, I will drop in and see you for sure…”. But it’s not, not yet.

Using a Facebook Page for Business

Facebook pages for business are about conversations and sharing, so there are some things that need to be considered, avoided etc.

  • Be SQUEAKY clean – No swearing, no denigrating anyone or anything be neutral in what is said, directly or in response to others comments.
  • Keep branding minimal on the page – Keep it so people can like what they see, not lots of logo’s everywhere.
  • Keep in touch with what’s happening – Monitor the page for any issues, bad posts, comments, offensive material etc.
  • Respond fast to any comments – If they are too bad, remove them and /or ban the user
  • Keep cover photos clear of offers or link options – FB Guidelines don’t allow it, mention an offer in a conversation or post
  • Avoid mentioning links and events unrelated to your brand – You can pay a cursory glance to some events etc, but avoid making a heap of posts about an unrelated event.
  • Ask questions to get responses but only if it’s relevant to the brand – Asking about a political issue for instance probably will be ignored or seen as strange and cause people to stay away rather than connect
  • Don’t post adverts as comments – People want a conversation or interesting info, an advert should be more of a sideline they can ignore or check out. It’s their choice you could put that on your webpage but not on FB.
  • Respond to comments, but not with a generic “email us” response – People want to engage there and then in public.
  • Talk about what your fans want to hear – Explore what they want and give it to them, make the points interesting and relevant, ask them what they want as well.
  • Respect the privacy of people – If you post pictures of your team and or customers avoid tagging them unless they clearly say it’s okay to do so. Presume nothing
  • Invite your team to connect with your page, but don’t make it compulsory – Then encourage them to invite people to friend the page, the more connections the wider the reach. Therefore the more potential customers you can reach

More on retailing…

Ages ago I posted an article on Retailing, it was (and still is) a VERY topical area. My focus on this is renewed and I wanted to share some MORE! Ideas…

How did this come about, after visiting a retail ‘shop’ with friends, we spent an hour or two enjoying what they have to offer (yeah it’s a sit down, stand up and enjoy kind of place.) We got chatting to one of the owners, and ran through a few points of discussion. When we went to dinner after that we managed to throw more ideas into the mix.

It got me thinking (not again, just more…) and here is a list to work with.

  • Target market – Know who you are targeting, in their case I figure 26 – 60 yr old professionals looking to ‘unwind’. They don’t mind to spend if they are getting value from that spend – social types.
  • Work the list – They have been in business a few years now and should have a great email list to work, so work it. The list should also include their connections on facebook, google+ Linked in (It’s for professionals!) Twitter.
  • Work on their pain – They want to unwind, drop in and chill out… they want to pick up some great goodies to take home and unwind with, drop in and pick them up. So focus on what hurts, then alleviate that with what you have to offer.
  • Let them know – Use the list and ‘tickle their fancy’ with enticing ideas and options, photo’s of the specials and the offers, give them ideas they might like to try “Bought this, then try this too!” It’s Friday and the good peeps on your various lists should be hit a few times with these enticements. Like a reminder service. And make sure people can find you with great signage etc.
  • Ask them what they want – Yeah the customers, they might not want rickety stools, they might want something a bit shorter with back support. They might not want the cricket on the big screen TV. They might not want big in your face music… then  again they just might.
  • Plan it – All of this stuff, make it happen with a simple plan. who will do what when, then stick to it.
  • Offer incentives – Like, bring three friends next time and we will make them VIPs and we will reward you with a freebie.
That’s just a starting point. Oh these are great ways to build your business, BUT make sure the things are working, like the Facebook page, the website etc. You could be in for a nasty surprise if you are marketing to nowhere.






Smart Phone web stuff

You have a web site for your business, and now people have heaps of smartphones and while they are out and about they are checking out your site from their phone.

Therefore make your site work on a mobile, as MILLIONS are now using their phones to browse, and the figure is building daily.

What you need is a way to test your site, the good people over at Google have come up with a fairly elegant solution…

A simple yet highly effective way to test your webpage/s to see if you can cut through when you need to! Now call your web people and make changes.

You want them to do what?

When it comes to marketing, there are a bunch of questions I believe are important to consider, and I want you to ask these questions about your marketing.

What do you want them to…

  • Think – The message the marketing in front of the person either makes you think or not. The depth and length of that thinking is probably quite important, I figure as long as it leads to the next step then it works…
  • Feel – Does this follow thinking? How do you feel now that I challenged you to contemplate that… 🙂 (deep huh) but the marketing message (image and or text) probably pushed a few internal buttons to get  you to feel a certain way once you thought about the message
  • Do – Action follows feeling as they say… therefore do you want them to sign up – phone – drop in – scan a qr code – read more – follow a link or…
  • Believe – The did what you asked (action) do they now believe even stronger that what they did was the right thing to do, I sure hope so.
  • Value – At some stage (probably after they have received whatever it was they get from taking the initial action) they will make an assessment about what they have received, if it fits to or exceeds their beliefs about it, and feel good about it then they will value it positively, if not bad news for you!

Get the message/s right so people value what you provide. That will then squeeze out the competition and give your business the edge, and what better place to start than with their  initial contact with your marketing message.

Naturally enough it’s one thing to have a starting point, another to be able to make it happen at other customer contact levels within your business.

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Retail therapy…

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles freedigital

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles freedigital

As we come into winter in Australia there are going to be plenty of businesses finding their retail stores are not full of people and hope they can make it through the leaner times with the profits they (hopefully) made during the peak summer months.

On many occasions I have spoken to retailers who say “Oh well what can you do, it gets quieter and you hope for the best, you get on the phone and have a chat to friends, get the juniors to clean up a bit and even open a bit later.”

I have seen many retailers in shopping strips sitting waiting and hoping… some survive some fade away.

How do you get around this issue and ensure your business can make it through tough times and perhaps thrive even though the temperature outside is telling you this really is “the winter of our discontent”.

Add to and ‘milk’ your database – If your business is interesting and has had customers come to your store for those one of a kind items you are known for, then you probably have a database of interested persons. If not then start building one! Make contact and start inviting them in for a fantastic shopping experience. Email and snail mail them AT LEAST 4 times a year (although you can readily do more with Email). Add a subscription service to your website, blog and online store then do everything you can to get people signed up and steadily build your numbers.

Shopping experience – You have a shop… what’s the ‘experience’ like… Do people love your service, your personality, the extras you add on, the items you sell? Or do they just come in because they have to and hate every minute of it. My view… Go for a stunning experience. Figure out how to do that with some brainstorming, internet research and KICK BUTT! – BRILLIANT service should be the first step, great displays, fast transactions, wonderful Staff, acknowledge all people who enter the store with a solid heart felt “Hello!”

Use your time – When it’s quiet in the store, develop your marketing plan and act on it. Devise a HEAP of ways to contact your database, build your database and keep them coming back for as little cost as you can. Email and facebook pages are one way, tweaking your informative and engaging website is another, adding to your web blog is yet another. Oh and here’s a critical one… do not vacuum the floor when people are in the store or anywhere near the store and see you  (or any staff) doing it, I hate it with a vengeance and will avoid the store at all costs (the noise is one thing, the tripping hazard of the cord is another and it’s just plain poor form!)

Get Excited! – If you are running a boring ‘old fart store’ with little life, a gruff disposition and a cold shoulder, prospects will find it hard to want to become customers, let alone repeat shoppers (clients). The more you can add excitement to cause people to want to shop in your store, more the more value you can get from them.

Cause people to take action – Ok so it’s quieter at certain times of the day. Can you run an event (an in-store demonstration or special display) or sponsor a catch up for a small group. Or perhaps you offer great package options you can make happen only at special times, to cause people to come in and stay there for a while. Or what about an in store treasure hunt… each day you could give people clues about where to find the treasure, perhaps online.

Give simple and effective reminders – Promo products can do this, drop a printed pen into their bag of purchases, give then an imprinted gift for purchases over $x. Chat to your friendly branding expert to get more ideas and ways to engage them more often. Add business cards in the bags each time (about 3 each time) people soon keep them for friends if the service is sensational and the experience and products are good.

Create an online shop – People like to buy, so sell to them in a way which fits for them, at home, anywhere in the world! Make it an easy to navigate online shop with Pay Pal as the payment device. And put on those things people can’t really get anywhere else. Avoid discounting the prices, buying is buying! then promote it on your FB page, twit about it, email people overseas and interstate (try to keep your locals shopping LIVE… They will find the online shop soon enough! are there other online or local shops you can connect with? Perhaps they can link to your shop too, you could have a whole community of connected businesses all working together feeding each other leads.

Get out there! – Sitting in your shop will cause  you to go nuts. Get you and your staff out in front and hand out goodies to prospective customers, give business cards,  chocolates “With the compliments of shop X”, a flier, an invitation to an event. (You can have them excited before they even enter the store!)

All of these tips are simply about loving people so they can love you back, and if you love your staff they will love you and the customers, Go on explore ways to give UNCONDITIONAL love to everyone you come into contact with. I think in an ideal world you could get so busy you would have to hire someone to keep this list of innovative connection options happening, as you could be too busy manning the till! Now that would be nice…


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