Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Modernize Your Marketing – FREE WEBINAR

Modernize Your Marketing Today and
Reap the Rewards All Year Long
Thursday March 12, 2009 1- 2 pm EST

Join CBCG founder and President Lynn Switanowski-Barrett as she shares compelling marketing ideas that can propel your store to success all year~

• Discover How Changing Consumer Demographics And Evolving Retail Marketplace Dynamics Are Affecting Your Business; Learn Simple Changes You Can Make Today That Will Have An Effect All Year Long

• Learn Modern Marketing Tactics That Can Improve Sales And Profits At Any Time Of Year; Save Money Using The Internet To Connect With Customers Of Every Age

• Understand What Marketing Activities Will Build A Community Of Loyal Shoppers And Brand Evangelists At Your Store; Create A Community Of Users That Will Rave About Your Brand For You!

This webinar can help small businesses of any size to create a more effective marketing strategy. Learn how Newspaper and Radio were yesterday’s choice, and why today’s choices are so much more compelling to your customers!

Effective Marketing Means Delivering A Message Where Your Customers Can Find It- Sign Up And Learn Some New Marketing Tactics That Will Help You Connect With Your Customers And Drive More Sales For Your Store Today!

Sign up today! Space is limited to 50 people. Join us on March 12 and move your marketing forward this year.

To sign up, Please email us your name and the email address where webinar details can be sent at (Please be advised, you will need an email address an internet connection to view this webinar.)

For more information about CBCG or it’s founder, please visit our website or call us at 617 437 9191

Monday, February 16, 2009

Make a Referral - jump start the economy

"Let's help make small business even better- One referral at a time. "
I'm pledging to make a referral to a business I want to help as part of a national campaign to make 1000 referrals March 9-13. What a great small business stimulus plan.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

60-Second Guide to Managing Upset Customers

Having respect for your customers will ensure their faith in and loyalty to you and your retail business. Studies show that it is nine times more difficult to attract a new customer than it is to retain an existing one, so it is critical to keep your current customers happy. Surveys, focus groups, and questionnaires are helpful ways to measure your customers' perceptions of your business and to determine how to improve.

If a customer is dissatisfied, take action immediately to win back their confidence in the services that you provide. People like to know that their opinion counts and if they feel like you care about what they think, they will think positively of you and your business.

In just 60-seconds, you'll learn how to manage upset customers and turn them into long-term, satisfied customers.

0:60 Stay Calm
Listen carefully and without interruption to your customers' complaints. Acknowledge that there is a problem, and empathize with unhappy customers. Let them know what you can do for them and make them aware of all of their options. Always treat your customers with respect. Customers should feel that you are calm but concerned. Your attitude when dealing with upset customers should be professional, mature, pleasant, and reasonable.

0:46 Work At Gaining Loyal Customers
The number one reason that customers stop buying from a particular business is because someone at that business treated them poorly. Again, it is much more cost effective to retain loyal customers than to gain new ones. In order to create loyalty, you have to calm down upset customers and ensure them that you will work to find a solution that they deem acceptable. Let them know that their business is important. Thank them for their patience and cooperation. In many cases, it pays to reward upset customers in order to keep their business.

0:38 Look And Act Professional
A first impression is a lasting impression. Your appearance should signal that you are professional, mature, and knowledgeable. Nonverbal communication also speaks volumes. Your body language and tone of voice should be polite and tactful. Pay attention to your facial expressions, posture, gestures, and speech.

0:20 Choose Your Patrons
There are some people who will never be happy with your products or services. Repeated complaints from a customer and terminal dissatisfaction are signs that you cannot please him or her. Your business is better off without such customers, and you may want to refer them elsewhere.

0:11 Ensure That Mistakes Aren't Repeated
Once you determine the problem and how it originated, you can take steps to ensure that it does not happen again. Learning about a problem can actually help improve your business so long as you ensure that the problem is avoided in the future. Don't make the same mistake twice. Through dealing with upset customers, you learn about human behavior and become better at resolving similar situations.

0:03 Don't Take Criticism Personally
Many discourteous customers act that way because they made a mistake and want to blame someone else. Don't let these customers get to you by responding emotionally or giving in to outrageous demands. Tears, anger, and sarcasm are highly inappropriate reactions.

Source: SCORE "Counselors to America's Small Business"

What Do The World's Best Retail Loyalty Programs Have In Common?

Innovation and creativity are among the key factors that define a successful customer loyalty program, particularly in the retail sector. The primary objective of the retailer is to keep the high-potential customer from straying by offering a loyalty program that is unique and exciting. That said, some underlying elements set apart the world's most successful retail loyalty programs from the also-rans.

Clear And Specific Objectives
Objectives are to a loyalty program what the destination is to a journey. A successful loyalty program is based on specific measurable targets and objectives. For instance, 'increasing share of wallet by 10% by year-end' is a better objective than 'increasing sales'. Laying down specific objectives has several advantages. It enables the retailer to design appropriate loyalty strategies and target relevant consumer segments. It simplifies the process of communicating the rationale behind the program to all concerned. Once the program is launched, the progress can be monitored against the goals and targets, and strategic changes made if required.

Thorough Research And Analysis
The customer is at the core of all loyalty-building measures. Hence, gaining a deep insight into consumer behaviour, motivation and expectations is crucial to the success of a loyalty program. The research needs to be well balanced and must contain data from various perspectives like demographic profile and socio-economic status of customers, purchase patterns, behavioural drivers, reward expectations, special interests and lifestyle factors.

The Feel-Good Factor
If there is one single factor that can decide the fate of a loyalty program, it is the personal touch. The raison d'etre of a customer loyalty program is to make the customer feel privileged and valued. The best programs do not stop with doling out rewards, cards and discounts. Instead, they constantly work at building a lasting relationship with the customer through various initiatives like customized loyalty cards, newsletters that not only help the firm and the customer stay in touch but also create a sense of belonging; a card or a voucher on birthdays and special occasions and organizing members-only events. For instance, members of Club West, the loyalty club of the Westside chain, receive an exclusive invitation to the bi-annual sale. They have the privilege of starting their shopping 90 minutes before the store's regular opening hour on the first day of the sale. The chain also pampers its loyalty program members with birthday cards, gift vouchers and special discounts. To ensure that the relationship is a two-way affair, Westside regularly seeks feedback from its members and ensures that complaints, if any, are dealt with promptly.

Smart Rewards
No loyalty program can survive on assumptions like 'everyone loves a discount'. A smart reward is one that is valued by the customer and at the same time, meets the program's objectives. Variety, uniqueness and attainability are among the several aspects to be considered while offering rewards. Often, an ongoing privilege scheme such as a discount on every purchase makes more business sense than a one-time gift, since the former encourages more footfalls and repeat purchases. Some of the most popular loyalty programs also involve several retailers and services as partners. This bundling of rewards creates a perception of maximum benefit to the customer, who becomes eligible for gifts and discounts from each of the partners. A prime example is UK's Nectar Card, which is jointly floated by Sainsbury's, BP, Debenhams Stores, Ford and many other partners. Similarly, the BonusLink Card, which is hugely popular in Malaysia, allows members to earn points and rewards at several major retailers.

Thanks to the technology revolution, cutting-edge software and data tracking mechanisms have emerged as a distinctive feature of the best loyalty program. As with any strategic intervention, the operational aspects are as crucial to the effectiveness of a loyalty program as the concept and plans. Loyalty software that combine multiple functions like data tracking and storage, automated transactions, updating membership details, points and churn etc. can ensure that the loyalty initiative is well co-coordinated, efficient and hassle-free.

Data Mining
A major advantage of implementing a loyalty program is that the company gets access to a wealth of customer-related data. Successful retailers realize that the utility of this data is not restricted to the loyalty program. They use the information to foster better relationships with the customer, improve the product or service delivery process, from new product development to the nitty-gritty of the marketing strategy, and enhance the quality of business intelligence. A smart firm realizes that the first step to customer loyalty is through customer satisfaction.

Ongoing Communication
Many firms make the mistake of launching a loyalty program with great fanfare, and then letting it drift. A loyalty program is not a one-time affair, and definitely cannot run on its own steam. It needs a push now and then to enliven it, and to get the customer enthused once again. The best programs maintain an active relationship with the customer by informing them of new developments, offers etc. and seeking their feedback. This last bit is tricky, for customers also expect firms to act on feedback and let them know they are taking the communication seriously.

Organizational Commitment
Customer loyalty programs need complete support and commitment from the top management in order to be successful. The program should also secure buy-in from all employees concerned by involving them in formulating the program strategy and implementation plan. Nothing could be more disastrous than a disgruntled employee lackadaisically administering a loyalty program. A final word - a loyalty program reflects the values and culture of a company's leadership or owners. The truly successful loyalty programs are not just short-term measures to expand the customer base. By aligning with the organization's strategy, mission and vision, they contribute significantly to long-term profitability, growth and competitiveness.


Wednesday, February 11, 2009

10 Tips To Build Customer Loyalty

The key to a successful retail business is a steady customer base. After all, successful businesses typically see 80 percent of their business come from 20 percent of their customers. Too many retailers neglect their loyal customer base in pursuit of new customers. However, since the cost to attract new customers is significantly more than to maintain your relationship with existing ones, your efforts toward building customer loyalty will certainly payoff.

Here are ten ways to build customer loyalty:

1. Communicate. Whether it is an email newsletter, monthly flier, a reminder card for a tune up, or a holiday greeting card, reach out to your steady customers.

2. Customer Service. Go the extra distance and meet customer needs. Train the staff to do the same. Customers remember being treated well.

3. Employee Loyalty. Loyalty works from the top down. If you are loyal to your employees, they will feel positively about their jobs and pass that loyalty along to your customers.

4. Employee Training. Train employees in the manner that you want them to interact with customers. Empower employees to make decisions that benefit the customer.

5. Customer Incentives. Give customers a reason to return to your store. For instance, because children outgrow shoes quickly, the owner of a children's shoe store might offer a card that makes the tenth pair of shoes half price. Likewise, a dentist may give a free cleaning to anyone who has seen him regularly for five years.

6. Product Awareness. Know what your steady patrons purchase and keep these items in stock. Add other products and/or services that accompany or compliment the products that your regular customers buy regularly. And make sure that your staff understands everything they can about your products.

7. Reliability. If you say a purchase will arrive on Wednesday, deliver it on Wednesday. Be reliable. If something goes wrong, let customers know immediately and compensate them for their inconvenience.

8. Be Flexible. Try to solve customer problems or complaints to the best of your ability. Excuses - such as "That's our policy" - will lose more customers then setting the store on fire.

9. People over Technology. The harder it is for a customer to speak to a human being when he or she has a problem, the less likely it is that you will see that customer again.

10. Know Their Names. Remember the theme song to the television show Cheers? Get to know the names of regular customers or at least recognize their faces.