Tag Archive | "customers"

Ask MarketingSherpa: How to get high-paying customers and clients

How can one fast-food restaurant charge three times more than another fast food restaurant? The answer is – Exclusivity. Read more …
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How to Win Some Local Customers Back from Amazon this Holiday Season

Posted by MiriamEllis

Your local business may not be able to beat Amazon at the volume of their own game of convenient shipping this holiday season, but don’t assume it’s a game you can’t at least get into!

This small revelation took me by surprise last month while I was shopping for a birthday gift for my brother. Like many Americans, I’m feeling growing qualms about the economic and societal impacts of putting my own perceived convenience at the top of a list of larger concerns like ensuring fair business practices, humane working conditions, and sustainable communities.

So, when I found myself on the periphery of an author talk at the local independent bookstore and the book happened to be one I thought my brother would enjoy, I asked myself a new question:

“I wonder if this shop would ship?”

There was no signage indicating such a service, but I asked anyway, and was delighted to discover that they do. Minutes later, the friendly staff was wrapping up a signed copy of the volume in nice paper and popping a card in at no extra charge. Shipping wasn’t free, but I walked away feeling a new kind of happiness in wishing my sibling a “Happy Birthday” this year.

And that single transaction not only opened my eyes to the fact that I don’t have to remain habituated to gift shopping at Amazon or similar online giants for remote loved ones, but it also inspired this article.

Let’s talk about this now, while your local business, large or small, still has time to make plans for the holidays. Let’s examine this opportunity together, with a small study, a checklist, and some inspiration for seasonal success.

What do people buy most at the holidays and who’s shipping?

According to Statista, the categories in the following chart are the most heavily shopped during the holiday season. I selected a large town in California with a population of 60,000+, and phoned every business in these categories that was ranking in the top 10 of Google’s Local Finder view. This comprised both branded chains and independently-owned businesses. I asked each business if I came in and purchased items whether they could ship them to a friend.

Category

% Offer Shipping

Notes

Clothing

80%

Some employees weren’t sure. Outlets of larger store brands couldn’t ship. Some offered shipping only if you were a member of their loyalty program. Small independents consistently offered shipping. Larger brands promoted shopping online.

Electronics

10%

Larger stores all stressed going online. The few smaller stores said they could ship, but made it clear that it was an unusual request.

Games/Toys/Dolls etc.

25%

Large stores promote online shopping. One said they would ship some items but not all. Independents did not ship.

Food/Liquor

20%

USPS prohibits shipping alcohol. I surveyed grocery, gourmet, and candy stores. None of the grocery stores shipped and only two candy stores did.

Books

50%

Only two bookstores in this town, both independent. One gladly ships. The other had never considered it.

Jewelry

60%

Chains require online shopping. Independents more open to shipping but some didn’t offer it.

Health/Beauty

20%

With a few exceptions, cosmetic and fitness-related stores either had no shipping service or had either limited or full online shopping.

Takeaways from the study

  • Most of the chains promote online shopping vs. shopping in their stores, which didn’t surprise me, but which strikes me as opportunity being left on the table.
  • I was pleasantly surprised by the number of independent clothing and jewelry stores that gladly offered to ship gift purchases.
  • I was concerned by how many employees initially didn’t know whether or not their employer offered shipping, indicating a lack of adequate training.
  • Finally, I’ll add that I’ve physically visited at least 85% of these businesses in the past few years and have never been told by any staff member about their shipping services, nor have I seen any in-store signage promoting such an offer.

My overarching takeaway from the experiment is that, though all of us are now steeped in the idea that consumers love the convenience of shipping, a dominant percentage of physical businesses are still operating as though this realization hasn’t fully hit in… or that it can be safely ignored.

To put it another way, if Amazon has taken some of your customers, why not take a page from their playbook and get shipping?

The nitty-gritty of brick-and-mortar shipping

62% of consumers say the reason they’d shop offline is because they want to see, touch, and try out items.RetailDive

There’s no time like the holidays to experiment with a new campaign. I sat down with a staff member at the bookstore where I bought my brother’s gift and asked her some questions about how they manage shipping. From that conversation, and from some additional research, I came away with the following checklist for implementing a shipping offer at your brick-and-mortar locations:

✔ Determine whether your business category is one that lends itself to holiday gift shopping.

✔ Train core or holiday temp staff to package and ship gifts.

✔ Craft compelling messaging surrounding your shipping offer, perhaps promoting pride in the local community vs. pride in Amazon. Don’t leave it to customers to shop online on autopilot — help them realize there’s a choice.

✔ Cover your store and website with messaging highlighting this offering, at least two months in advance of the holidays.

✔ In October, run an in-store campaign in which cashiers verbally communicate your holiday shipping service to every customer.

✔ Sweeten the offer with a dedication of X% of sales to a most popular local cause/organization/institution.

✔ Promote your shipping service via your social accounts.

✔ Make an effort to earn a mention of your shipping service in local print and radio news.

✔ Set clear dates for when the last purchases can be made to reach their destinations in time for the holidays.

✔ Coordinate with the USPS, FedEx, or UPS to have them pick up packages from your location daily.

✔ Determine the finances of your shipping charges. You may need to experiment with whether free shipping would put too big of a hole in your pocket, or whether it’s necessary to compete with online giants at the holidays.

✔ Track the success of this campaign to discover ROI.

Not every business is a holiday shopping destination, and online shopping may simply have become too dominant in some categories to overcome the Amazon habit. But, if you determine you’ve got an opportunity here, designate 2018 as a year to experiment with shipping with a view towards making refinements in the new year.

You may discover that your customers so appreciate the lightbulb moment of being able to support local businesses when they want something mailed that shipping is a service you’ll want to instate year-round. And not just for gifts… consumers are already signaling at full strength that they like having merchandise shipped to themselves!

Adding the lagniappe: Something extra

For the past couple of years, economists have reported that Americans are spending more on restaurants than on groceries. I see a combination of a desire for experiences and convenience in that, don’t you? It has been joked that someone needs to invent food that takes pictures of itself for social sharing! What can you do to capitalize on this desire for ease and experience in your business?

Cards, carols, and customs are wreathed in the “joy” part of the holidays, but how often do customers genuinely feel the enjoyment when they are shopping these days? True, a run to the store for a box of cereal may not require aesthetic satisfaction, but shouldn’t we be able to expect some pleasure in our purchasing experiences, especially when we are buying gifts that are meant to spread goodwill?

When my great-grandmother got tired from shopping at the Emporium in San Francisco, one of the superabundant sales clerks would direct her to the soft surroundings of the ladies’ lounge to refresh her weary feet on an automatic massager. She could lunch at a variety of nicely appointed in-store restaurants at varied prices. Money was often tight, but she could browse happily in the “bargain basement”. There were holiday roof rides for the kiddies, and holiday window displays beckoning passersby to stop and gaze in wonder. Great-grandmother, an immigrant from Ireland, got quite a bit of enjoyment out of the few dollars in her purse.

It may be that those lavish days of yore are long gone, taking the pleasure of shopping with them, and that we’re doomed to meager choosing between impersonal online shopping or impersonal offline warehouses … but I don’t think so.

The old Emporium was huge, with multiple floors and hundreds of employees … but it wasn’t a “big box store”.

There’s still opportunity for larger brands to differentiate themselves from their warehouse-lookalike competitors. Who says retail has to look like a fast food chain or a mobile phone store?

And as for small, independent businesses? I can’t open my Twitter feed nowadays without encountering a new and encouraging story about the rise of localism and local entrepreneurialism.

It’s a good time to revive the ethos of the lagniappe — the Louisiana custom of giving patrons a little something extra with their purchase, something that will make it worth it to get off the computer and head into town for a fun, seasonal experience. Yesterday’s extra cookie that made up the baker’s dozen could be today’s enjoyable atmosphere, truly expert salesperson, chair to sit down in when weary, free cup of spiced cider on a wintry day… or the highly desirable service of free shipping. Chalk up the knowledge of this need as one great thing Amazon has gifted you.

In 2017, our household chose to buy as many holiday presents as possible from Main Street for our nearby family and friends. We actually enjoyed the experience. In 2018, we plan to see how far our town can take us in terms of shipping gifts to loved ones we won’t have a chance to see. Will your business be ready to serve our newfound need?

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Business Intelligence: If only more of our customers were like Larry David

We can’t read customers’ minds, but we can listen attentively to their complaints because they are valuable customer intelligence. It might not matter to us, but if it matters to them it is important. And understanding what customers are thinking is vital to a brand’s success.

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Customers as Value-Creating Partners, Not Just Value-Extraction Targets

How do customers add value? Everything from providing feedback, to word-of-mouth marketing, to being early adopters for new products. However, I would argue that customers must first be satisfied before they are willing to engage in any of these activities.
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Copywriting: Listen to customers so you can speak their language

Words are subtle indicators to tell a potential customer “we understand you specifically” and “this offer is meant for people like you.” To truly speak our customers’ language, we must listen to them because our customers may be very different from us.
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They Won’t Bite: How talking to customers helped Dell EMC turn its content strategy around

Taking the time to pause production and speak with our customers about the kind of content they want to see is one of those “why didn’t we do this sooner?” moments we talk about so much in marketing.
The Dell EMC had just such a moment. It stopped producing content that was seeing absolutely no traction and began not only focusing on content that customers actually wanted but also getting it in front of them.
Watch this Media Center interview with Lindsay Lyons, Director of Global Content Strategy, Dell EMC, to gain insights into how her team was able to transform their internal processes to produce effective, customer-first content.

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Avoid This Rookie Marketing Habit to Get New Customers Faster

A component of my publishing philosophy is: “Wanting to write something does not guarantee that someone will want to read it.” And it comes into play when you write the first marketing materials for your business — many new marketers get excited about a type of writing that doesn’t turn out to be engaging. The
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Using call and SMS data to drive new customers

Voice search now accounts for 20% of queries on Google’s mobile app and Android devices. Inbound call volume is continuing to increase even as messaging apps and chatbots become more popular. Facebook expects 37 billion call conversions by 2019, as social media’s share of mobile calls to…



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8 Calls to Action that Initiate New Relationships with Customers and Collaborators

"Viral content may feed your ego, but it doesn’t necessarily feed your business." – Stefanie Flaxman

I know. I know. I know.

“Viral” is an actual term people use to describe wildly popular content that has spread across a variety of distribution channels, landing in our Twitter feeds, Apple News updates, text messages, and emails from Uncle Sue.

But I still don’t like the word.

When “going viral” is a goal for a piece of content, it puts me a little on edge.

Viral content may feed your ego, but it doesn’t necessarily feed your business.

Business success without “going viral”

I understand it’s frustrating if no one knows about your products or services. That’s why you want a lot of people to see your work.

But sustainable success stems from your dedication to produce one great line at a time and consistently publish your content. One article/podcast episode/video is not going to change everything.

Plus:

Many smart content moves have nothing to do with a piece of content “going viral” and don’t depend on a massive amount of views.

So, stop putting pressure on yourself. “Viral” doesn’t need to be your goal.

Let’s talk about what you can do right now to initiate new relationships with the customers and collaborators who will help build your business.

1. Ask for comments and suggestions

I always talk about crafting a thoughtful presentation, but individual pieces of content are not definitive articles on a topic — nor should they be.

While you want to thoroughly express your message, an exhaustive guide that tries to tackle the subject from every angle is tedious to read. It’s also futile — there’s always going to be some other point of view you didn’t consider.

Instead, publish your useful material and invite your audience to contribute their thoughts.

For example, my article last week about proofreading pointers didn’t explain every possible proofreading technique. I provided the top three tips I frequently use, and then readers added the methods that work for them in the comments.

The content opened up a discussion that encouraged people to participate. Readers, viewers, and listeners who become personally invested in your content are the ones who stick around and want to hear more from you over time.

2. Spark new social media conversations

When you optimize your content for social media sites, you don’t just increase your chances of getting clicks to your website from your existing followers.

Interesting conversations about your content on social media will attract people who have never come across your work before.

This is good, old-fashioned word of mouth that happens organically after you’ve done something remarkable.

And rather than just blatantly promoting a piece of content, see how you can initiate meaningful interactions that draw people back to your website to find out more.

For example, an intriguing photo on Instagram could spark comments, shares, and likes, as well as prompt viewers to read the blog post or listen to the podcast episode that gives the photo context.

3. Pull in audiences from different platforms

I regularly drool over the short and entertaining food-preparation videos on the AnarchistKitchen YouTube channel.

But do you know what the videos don’t provide?

The recipes for the mouth-watering food.

To get the recipes, you have to go to their blog. The videos capture the attention of people who may have not otherwise known about their website (like me).

Next week, Jerod is going to talk more about ways to distribute your best ideas on different platforms.

4. Offer a shareable summary

No one wants to be that person who bores all their friends with their latest obsession — whether it’s a blog, book, or beverage.

But the desire to share something new that you love is understandable.

So, how do we convert our friends in a non-pushy way?

It’s a lot easier if you have a sample of a blog, book, or beverage recipe that others can browse on their own terms rather than hearing all the benefits from you.

Content marketers can create mini packages for their audience members to share with their friends.

For example, you could offer a beautiful PDF as a free download that summarizes who your site is for and how you help them, with some snippets of particularly useful advice. You’d then encourage your visitors to share the PDF rather than just share your website link.

It’s a more direct way to show what you’re all about, rather than hope a first-time visitor immediately clicks on the most engaging parts of your website.

5. Take the first step

Let’s say you meet someone in person, talk about a potential business collaboration, and exchange contact information.

What if you took the first step needed to make that collaboration happen before you contact them?

You could write the guest blog post for their site that you mentioned, outline a podcast interview, or draft the budget for the video series you discussed.

The work that you perform upfront could be the push the project needs to get off the ground faster, so consider initiating it rather than merely sending a follow-up email with pleasantries or questions.

6. Build your email list when you host live events

Live events don’t have to be elaborate, expensive productions.

I’m talking about having a booth at a local fair, giving a seminar at a bookstore, or teaching a workshop at a community center.

Or maybe live events, such as yoga classes, are your business.

People who have terrific experiences will want to know how to keep in contact with you so they don’t miss anything else you offer.

Encourage your guests, visitors, or students to sign up for your email list.

I’m very (very, very) picky about where I share my email address. The only time I have signed up to be on an email list in recent history was after I had such a great time at an event that I wanted to keep in touch with the organizer.

7. Describe your products or services

If you’re not sure when to mention your business in a piece of content, ask yourself:

Would someone who benefits from this free content get even more help with one of my products or services?

Then you can find ways to show how your paid solution would be a good fit for your reader.

For example, a locksmith might write an article about what to do if your key breaks off in your lock.

The content could outline steps to fix the problem, but many people who find it are going to need immediate help. The company should include a call to action so local searchers know how to get in contact with a locksmith who can help them.

You won’t necessarily mention your products or services in every piece of content you create, but you also can’t assume your audience knows you offer something they need. Potential customers need to be absolutely clear how they can move forward with what you have to offer.

8. Provide a special recipe

Content that makes an impact on someone’s life is the type that gets shared.

As Sonia has said:

“Make your advertising too valuable to throw away.”

Use tutorial content to educate your prospects about specific ways to use your product. They’ll be empowered to apply what they learn to get the results they desire.

I was recently reminded of this technique when I bought a package of rosemary that said “Try the recipe inside!”

If I make the rosemary roasted potatoes from the package and share the food with dinner guests, they could potentially ask for the recipe and buy that brand of rosemary as well.

What do you think about viral content?

Let us know how you form individual connections with potential customers or collaborators.

Is “going viral” a major goal (or secret wish) every time you publish content?

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Get Engaged to Your Audience and Customers

Get Engaged to Your Audience and Customers

Roses are Red

Violets are Blue

Valentine’s Day is Tuesday

Why is content marketing so hard?

Welcome to the week before Valentine’s Day! As it happens, it’s connection and engagement week at Copyblogger — and the content this week is all about how you can create a more profound bond with your audience.

On Monday we had a fun day, because we got to finally let you know about something cool we’ve been working on behind the scenes — StudioPress Sites. This new product was conceived and shaped based on our in-depth conversations with customers, and we’re super proud of it. If you’re looking to launch a new site with all the flexibility of WordPress — and without the irritating parts — check it out.

On Tuesday, Brian gave us an in-depth post about how to create content that deeply engages your audience. This is a meaty post, so plan on giving it your full attention and spending some time with it (and your caffeinated beverage of choice, if you choose).

And on Wednesday, Jerod talked about cognitive biases — how your brain is wired to work, whether or not you’re aware of it. He explained ethical ways we can use these biases to shape content to work with our natural tendencies, instead of against them.

Finally, a little earlier today we announced our Content Excellence Challenge prompts for February. These are community challenges we do together every month. This month, I’m giving away five copies of Jonah Sachs’s fascinating book Winning the Story Wars, which is stuffed with ideas about how to connect more closely with your audience … and persuade them to take action.

You can learn more about Winning the Story Wars on the Copyblogger FM podcast this week.

Hope your weekend is an excellent one, and I’ll catch you next week!

— Sonia Simone

Chief Content Officer, Rainmaker Digital


Catch up on this week’s content


not just another wordpress siteIntroducing StudioPress Sites: WordPress Made Easy … Without Sacrificing Power or Flexibility

by Brian Clark


What you say is crucial. But how you say it can make all the difference.How to Create Content that Deeply Engages Your Audience

by Brian Clark


we tend to search for and interpret information in a way that confirms our preconceptions.5 Cognitive Biases You Need to Put to Work … Without Being Evil

by Jerod Morris


2017 Content Excellence Challenge: The February Prompts2017 Content Excellence Challenge: The February Prompts

by Sonia Simone


Copyblogger Book Club: Winning the Story WarsCopyblogger Book Club: Winning the Story Wars

by Sonia Simone


Creating a Productized Service, with Dan NorrisCreating a Productized Service, with Dan Norris

by Brian Clark


How Screenwriter and 'All Our Wrong Todays' Author Elan Mastai Writes: Part TwoHow Screenwriter and ‘All Our Wrong Todays’ Author Elan Mastai Writes: Part Two

by Kelton Reid


[Guest] Expert Tips for Conducting Better Interviews, with Krys Boyd[Guest] Expert Tips for Conducting Better Interviews, with Krys Boyd

by Jerod Morris & Jon Nastor


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