November 15th, 2008

Improving Customer Loyalty

Here are nine ideas to increase loyalty to your business.  Not all ideas are applicable to every business.

Service Related

  1. Make follow-up calls after service, sales or installation to ensure satisfaction.
  2. Provide home-delivery service to increase convenience.  This is a great time to offer a free demonstration on how to use and/or maintain your product.
  3. Examine your instruction manual  to ensure it’s effective and clear.  Use diagrams and list the steps for programming various features.
  4. Add frequently-asked-questions section to your website.

Price Related

  1. Offer money-back or price guarantees such as matching your competitors’ prices.
  2. Offer renewal or repurchase discounts or maintenance coupons.

Other Ideas

  1. Highlight alternative uses for your product, i.e., think of baking soda and vinegar.
  2. Install kids’ play area if serving families with small children or at least have toys and books available.
  3. Make contribution to charity for every product sold.

Please return to this site in a few days as this article will be expanded!

November 15th, 2008

More info on Trophy Club

 

Growth and quality of life

¨ Average Annual Household Income of $107,734

¨ Average Household Net Worth of $1,010,218

¨ Current Population of 7,500

¨ Median resident age: 37.0 years

¨ Mid-2008  average home sales: price — $265,900, size — 2,600   square feet, age — 16.9 years old

¨ Served by Northwest ISD with 13,040 students

¨ D Magazine named Trophy Club the fourth best suburb in 2008 behind University Park, Southlake and Colleyville.

 

Notable Points

¨ As Texas’ first planned community centering around a country club, construction began in 1973 and incorporation as a town occurred in 1985

¨ Home to the only golf course designed by Ben Hogan.

 

Important websites

City: www.trophyclub.org

Chamber: www.nwmetroportchamber.org

School: www.nisdtx.org

 

Source: numerous sources

 

October 26th, 2008

Another Spotlight on Colleyville

 

Growth and quality of life

¨ Average Annual Household Income of $168,692

¨ Average Household Net Worth of $1,305,976

¨ Current Population of 22,500; Colleyville’s 2025 Master Plan has low and high estimates of future build-out populations of 26,020 and 27,068 respectively

¨ Median resident age: 39.6 years

¨ Mid-2008  average home sales: price — $445,900, size — 3,640   square feet, age — 17 years old

¨ Primarily served by Grapevine-Colleyville ISD with 13,860 students

¨ Some areas served by Birdville ISD, HEB ISD, Keller ISD and Southlake Carroll ISD.

 

Points of Interest

¨ D Magazine considers it a great mix of country, luxury and convenience

¨ The Colleyville Center hosts more than 600 events and 20,000 guests  annually.

 

Important websites

City: www.colleyville.com

Chamber: www.colleyvillechamber.org

School: www.gcisd-k12.org

 

Source: numerous sources

 

October 26th, 2008

Increasing the Visibility of Your Business

Whether brand new or fairly young, generating awareness of your business is one of the initial necessary marketing steps to success.    This article discusses ten ideas for making your business (of any age) more visible in the marketplace, and of course with your targeted prospects.

But before I list these ideas, a business should always begin a marketing campaign by clearly identifying who you are targeting.  At the first step, it’s easy to state whether you’re focusing on existing customers or new customers.  Then, tackle the specific geographic, demographic and psychological characteristics of your target. 
Marketing experts tell us to develop customer profiles which are the detailed descriptions of your desired customers, i.e., target market.  Here are two examples.

  1. Company S, an upscale sporting goods company, targets American male executives between the ages of 30 and 45, with an average household income greater than $100,000.  These men enjoy outdoor sports and purchase sporting goods at least twice per year for recreation and travel.
  2. Company P, a printing company, is targeting firms within a radius of 20 miles, with annual revenues of $10 to $25 million and a need for four-color printing runs of approximately 5,000 pieces.

Assuming you have undertaken the necessary research to develop your customer profiles, here are ideas involving your target market.  Examine the characteristics of your target market to ensure you’re really communicating with those who benefit from your product/service.  By this, I mean that you know who your target market is based on who uses or needs your product/service and how to reach them. 

  1. Can they be reached by newspaper, magazine or the Internet?  Have you obtained their address at time of purchase or inquiry?
  2. Do you have a small base that can be effectively reached by personalized direct mail pieces?
  3. Do you have permission to email them? 
  4. Is it feasible to use local newspapers to geographically target where your customers and prospects live or work? 

Second, if you have a storefront, compare the demographics of your geographic location with your target market.  If you’ve been in the same location for quite some time, have the demographics of the area changed?

  1. Are greater shares of your customers driving greater distances to your store?
  2. Has your community become more of a mature market with empty nesters and fewer families with young children, or is it experiencing change in its ethnic make-up?

The remaining eight suggestions are promotional ideas for improving the visibility of your small business.  One low-cost idea is to publicize (through the media and to your customers and prospects directly, if appropriate) the charitable donations and favorites causes of your business.  Women in particular often take note of the charitable contributions made by the companies they support.

A second low-cost idea is to offer your storefront or office as a deposit center for a charitable drive, such as clothing, food, toys or books, or hosting a blood drive.  Third, write and distribute a story about how your product or service benefited a particular user. Human interest stories are for the most part very positively received.

Never forget that one of the most powerful marketing words is FREE.  By offering a free sample of your product or a free or low-cost demonstration of your service, you’re likely to attract new prospects. A few ideas to spark your imagination are bottomless cups of coffee or free batteries with purchased products requiring them.

By holding a contest or sweepstakes, you can draw people to your storefront or generate a lot of interest based on the type of contest or sweepstakes. 

  • A contest involves some type of ability or skill, such as writing the best story or developing the best recipe.
  • Sweepstakes are promotions in which prizes are awarded on the basis of chance, not skill, and entrants cannot be required to make a purchase in order to enter.

I would be remiss if I didn’t stress the need to carefully plan and research contests and sweepstakes.  Marketing experts advise consulting with an attorney or local authorities to ensure compliance with federal, state and local laws.  In Texas, refer to the Texas Sweepstakes Act that is part of the Business and Commerce Code.  A few specific ideas are asking customers to fill out an entry blank every time they visit your business for the chance to win a valuable prize, and working with a local elementary school in which the classes compete with one another in a window-decorating contest.

Finally, for the last three ideas, let’s focus on your actual promotional messages.  First, always assess or evaluate your messages prior to putting them to use.  Have non-vested parties provide feedback on your business cards, flyers, coupons, brochures, website, etc. 

Second, do you ever find that your eyes are drawn to large print?  When it comes to building awareness, your initial effort may be telling of your existence.  Using large print in ads and coupons is one way to increase the likelihood that your advertisement will get noticed at a faster pace (i.e., less required repetitions).  This can be beneficial if your name easily tells what your business offers and you have a highly visible location.

Third, consider developing co-op advertising with other tenants in your shopping center or office building along with suppliers and other non-competitors whom you’ve met through networking.  Here are a few examples.  Consider manufacturers, such as jewelers or clothing, who develop co-op deals with local retailers.  The manufacturers don’t have the boutiques and stores to sell their products to the public, and the local merchants welcome the partnership opportunity for reducing advertising costs.  On a local level, think how a dry cleaners, video store, card shop and hair salon of the same shopping center could combine forces as they’re all targeting residents within the same geographic area.

If you would like to discuss these ideas or others in greater detail, contact Kate Barlow at 817-488-2761 or kgbmarketing@hotmail.com.  Now is also a good time for small businesses to examine the effectiveness of current marketing efforts and new ideas worth considering.

September 29th, 2008

Another Spotlight on Southlake

 

Growth and quality of life

¨ Average Annual Household Income of $172,526

¨ Average Household Net Worth of $1,392,765

¨ Current Population of 26,100; projected maximum build-out population of 30,160

¨ Median resident age: 36.7 years

¨ 2007 average home sales price: $616,711

¨ Primarily served by Southlake Carroll ISD with 7,900 students

¨ Some areas served by Grapevine-Colleyville ISD, Keller ISD and Northwest ISD

 

Points of Interest

¨ Home to well-known Southlake Town Square

¨ Annually ranked highly by D Magazine as a great DFW suburb

¨ Southlake’s sales rate is 8.25%

¨ Major employers: Sabre Holdings, Southlake Carroll ISD, Tri-Dal Ltd.  and Verizon

 

Important websites

City: www.ci.southlake.tx.us

Chamber: www.southlakechamber.com

School: www.southlakecarroll.edu

 

Source: numerous sources

 

September 29th, 2008

Applying the 80/20 Rule to Marketing

This well known principle holds that 80 percent of your outcomes come from 20 percent of your inputs.  In practice, the concept of focusing on a few options that provide the greatest benefit is applied to management (defects, staff, project management, etc.), economics (wealth distribution), information architecture and marketing. 

Here are questions to ask yourself as a small business owner / operator or marketing professional.

  1. Which key (20 percent) customers and key products or product lines generate 80 percent of your revenue?
  2. Which few sales staff or employees are responsible for the majority of your revenue?
  3. When you’re seeking new customers, do 20 percent of those also generate 80 percent of your new revenue?
  4. Which 20 percent of your customers or products generate 80 percent of your complaints?
  5. When it comes to marketing,  are you focusing roughly 80 percent of your time and energy on the 20 percent of your work that’s really important?
September 3rd, 2008

Another Spotlight on Keller, Texas

 Growth and quality of life

¨ 2007 Money Magazine Top 100 Best Places to Live

¨ Average Household Income of $108,000

¨ Current Population of 38,400;  40 percent growth since 2000

¨ Median resident age: 34.6 years

¨ Primarily served by Keller ISD, Keller’s largest employer serving over 28,000 students 

Points of Interest

¨ Unique mixed use development called Keller ArtHouse within Town Center

¨ Focus on developing extensive hike and bike trail system

¨ Implemented half cent sales tax for park development

¨ Economic Development Board meets monthly

¨ Historic Old Town Keller

¨ Other major employers are Corning Cable Systems and Southstar Logistics 

Important websites

City: www.cityofkeller.com

Chamber: www.kellerchamber.com

School: www.kellerisd.net 

Source: numerous sources

 

September 3rd, 2008

Planning a Marketing Campaign

Essential Steps and Important Questions to Answer

1. Who are you targeting and why?
    Generally your target will be new customers or existing customers.  Furthermore, you’re likely to be driven by a need to introduce new products/services or focus on a new competitor who’s entered the market.

2. What are your specific goals?
    Your goals, whether to increase awareness or to increase sales, must be measurable.  Examples are a gaining a certain number of new customers, enlarging mailing list by a certain percentage, or increasing sales by a certain sales amount during your slowest month.

3. What steps are needed to carry out the campaign?
    Your timetable should focus on activities such as establishing appropriate promotional methods for reaching your target market, testing your message, conducting training, setting a realistic budget, preparing for additional calls and purchasing inventory.

4. Finally, how will you measure if your campaign has been successful? 
    Refer to your goals, use on-going tracking and write down what you’ve learned about customers, costs and competition for the next campaign. 

July 27th, 2008

Another Spotlight on Grapevine

Great place to live

  • Listed among Money Magazine’s  Top 100 Places to Live
  • Average household income of $97,173
  • Average resident age of 34.4
  • Current population of 47,150.

Popular tourist destination

  • Grapevine hosts GrapeFest, the Southwest’s largest wine festival, every September.  GrapeFest voted a 2008 American Business Association (ABA) Top 100 Event in North America
  • Main Street listed on National Register of Historic Places
  • Home to more than 5000 hotel rooms
  • Garners more than 18.75 million total annual visits.

Important websites

Source: Numerous sources

July 27th, 2008

Customer Loyalty or Reward Programs

There are two general reasons for creating a customer reward or loyalty program:

  • Devise incentive  for existing customers to buy additional products/services
  • Strengthen customer relationships with the goal of diminishing the likelihood of customers switching to your competitors.

Here are suggestions for a successful reward program.

  1. Prepare to implement the program by clearly explaining it to customers and fully training employees.
  2. Utilize your customer database by deciding how you will make the offer at the time of their next purchase.
  3. Develop progressive reward system by making rewards easy to obtain and offer the best incentives for  larger ($) purchases, such as your high-end products/services.
  4. Offer meaningful rewards that also benefit your business by striving to increase the sales of your most profitable products and services.
  5. Use your database to customize future offers based on customers’ purchase behavior and gain insight for finding new customers who match the profile of your best customers (target marketing).