Have you thanked your customers lately?

Your most important customers are the ones you already have.  Businesses often spend thousands of dollars per year marketing and advertising to attract new customers while ignoring, or taking for granted their current customers.

Existing customers have already chosen to do business with you, the chances they will do again is high if you look after them.

Sending your current customers something as simple as a thank you card could be the best value marketing you could do.  Of course you could also give them a small gift or make them a VIP offer to encourage them back to see you.

I know one business that sends one handwritten thank you card to a different customer everyday.  It is a habit that pays dividends.

To employ this idea, you need to know who your customers are.  Do you have a list of customer contacts?  If you don’t, you should – start building one today!

9 ways to measure your advertising results

Coupons are a great way to measure response to advertisingAs I have posted before, Measuring the response and income from your advertising campaigns is critical, in order for you to know which ads are working and which are not.

Here are 9 ways to easily track the response to your advertisements:

  1. Coupons – Coupon offers are a great way to measure the response to your ads.  Keep the coupons when they are cashed in and count them up.  Remember to put an expiry date on the coupon.
  2. Ask for Sally – Using a pseudonym is an effective way of measuring phone responses to an ad.   At the bottom of the ad put “call now and ask for Sally or Bob or any name who doesn’t work at your business (so you know it is a response to an ad).  I once worked for a company who ran 3 or 4 different ads in the newspaper, and they always knew which ads were the most effective.
  3. Mention this ad and receive a discount – Another nice simple method that works on the phone or face to face.  Can be used to test media as well (mention this radio station, newspaper, magazine… etc).
  4. Loyalty Cards encourage repeat custom and give your customers a reason to shop with you rather than your competition.  They also provide an opportunity to measure the frequency of repeat business.
  5. Run a Competition – Create a bit of buzz about your business and run a competition.  Tie it in with a business milestone or a local event.  Ensure the entry form asks for any information that you require.
  6. Make a Special offer in your ad – For example offer a free information booklet to compliment the product or service advertised.  Have the audience phone or email to receive the special offer.

  7. Comparing the effectiveness of different ads (or headlines, offers etc).  If you run more than one campaign at once, these strategies can be used to measure the response to each.

  8. Competing offers – Measure and compare the response to different publications or advertisements by offering different packages in each publication or ad.
  9. Measure by area – If you advertise with flyers or mail drops, distribute different flyers (with a call now) into different suburbs and ask all responders where which suburb they live in.
  10. Use different phone numbers on your ads -  The best method is to have one or two numbers dedicated to advertising that can be redirected to your main sales number.  Your phone company should be able to track how many calls you get on this number(s).
  11. Note: People often mis-remember the facts of where or when they see an advertisement.  This is a fact that is best kept in mind while testing your campaigns.  The most accurate statistics will come when you can design a measurement that doesn’t rely on your customer’s memory.

    Bonus point:

  12. Internet advertising – Once you start advertising on the web it is even easier to measure your success rates using online tools.  This makes the Internet a great medium for testing your ad campaigns cheaply before rolling out to more expensive media.

Ever have a Lemonade stand when you were a kid?

Lemonade stand

Lemonade stand

When I was a kid, I used to make a little stall in front of our house during the holidays.  We used to make Lemonade to or go up the back of a farm nearby and pick blackberries or passion fruit to sell.

I always remember getting excited about how much money we would make while picking the berries or lemons.  Followed by the boredom and frustration after hours of sitting waiting for people to buy our produce.  Sometimes we would knock on doors to try and sell some faster.

One holiday when I was a bit older, I spent a whole day writing a leaflet offering my services to do odd jobs washing cars and the like.  When it was finished I had to talk my mum into going to town to make lots of copies on her work photocopier, and then spent a few more hours posting them in letter boxes around the neighbourhood.  I got a few jobs washing cars and cleaning swimming pools for my efforts, giving me a tidy sum of pocket money.  The thing I remember is the making and distributing the leaflets took twice as long as the actual jobs, which only took a few hours to do.

I always think of these experiences when I hear people mentioning celebrities getting paid huge sums of money to front brands.  Back in the early 2000′s Nike reported paid Tiger Woods more to market their products than they paid their workforce in china to make their shoes.  Many people considered that unjust, but I can’t help thinking, that you make money from selling products, not just making them.

photo credit: EvinDC

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Is your Advertising an expense or an investment?

There are two camps in viewing advertising. Some people consider it an expense while others regard their advertising campaigns as an investment. The raw truth is that it can be either. To know which, you need to know how many customers your advertising campaign brings you and how much they spend.

If an advertising campaign brings in more profit than you spend on it, then it is an investment

If an advertising campaign brings in less profit than it costs, then it is purely an expense.

Of course, a loss making advertising campaign is still getting your name and brand out in front of an audience, and there is some long-term benefit in this. BUT wouldn’t you rather get paid while keeping your brand in the public eye?

The secret to successful advertising is to find out what does work and what doesn’t. Measure, measure and re-measure!!! Double the advertising that does work and quit that which doesn’t.

Targeting your brand

First, your brand won’t appeal to everybody.  Don’t worry this is a good thing;  it shouldn’t appeal to everyone, because not everyone will want to buy your products or services.  An 18-year-old boy isn’t going to buy a crotchet kit, and a 65 year old couple are highly unlikely to purchase a new wakeboard.  With this in mind, ANY time, effort or money spent marketing to these groups is completely wasted.

To increase the effectiveness of your brand and all related advertising and marketing, you need to know who your most likely customers are.  Lets be honest, you already know this… it isn’t rocket science.  It is easy to slip into the “I’ll take money from anyone” mindset (and so you should, but you shouldn’t market to them), or consider it too hard to define your core customers; I’ve been there myself.  But it is CRITICAL to the success of your brand.

Think about it.  If I told you, that you could have all the profits from any nappies you could sell to one hundred people, would you ask the first hundred people you meet? or would you do better asking the next hundred people pushing a stroller?

The more knowledge you have of who your customers are, the easier it is to target them with your branding and marketing.  You can draw better conclusions as to what they want to buy, and why.  What their likes and dislikes are, and how they want themselves to be perceived.  It also gives you an insight into what radio stations they listen to, and what newspapers and magazines they read.

Demographic information you need to know about your customers:

·        Age (range)

·        Employment – Are they management, professional, or owner

·        Location – City, town, region

·        Gender

·        Education

·        Occupation

·        Marital status

·        Ethnicity

·        Income – total household income. Can they afford your products or services

·        Family status – do they have children? What age and stage?

 

If you supply products or services to businesses, you can also collate demographic information for the businesses you deal with.  Such as:

·        Industry

·        Size of business (sales, no. employees)

·        Type of business (manufacturer, retailer, primary production)

·        Location

·        Geographic scope of the business (regional, national, international)

 

So how do you get this demographic information for your business?

 

The best way to gather demographic information is through using market research companies.  However, these can be expensive.

It is possible to do your own research: it is relatively inexpensive to run your own phone survey, or observation of your customers.  My favourite method is to ask your customers if they would be willing to complete a quick questionnaire during the purchase transaction.  You could even offer an incentive such as a prize draw, small discount (or better a bonus).

When it comes to advertising

It is helpful if your company has a strategy regarding advertising for the year, which relates to your company’s broader brand framework.

Regardless of whether you’re that organised, booking an ad last minute and giving your designer half a day to ‘come up with something’ is a waste of resources.  Even worse if it’s not your designer but someone else’s! My apologies if you’ve ever been forced to do this, but let me explain…

It goes back to the necessity of writing a brief and treating each ad as an investment which must bring back some ‘bikkies’ in return.  If an ad doesn’t do it’s job then it can be a glorious waste of money.

Last minute advertising opportunities are always out there.  Perhaps you have an ad you can rerun, which can fit the space, and you know gets you results.  Great!  But be wary of making a booking and handing your logo over to a publication which can ‘rustle’ something up.  This can weaken your brand and render the ad ineffective.

When it comes to advertising…  Have a plan.  Have an advertisment or better, an ad campaign ready to take advantage of advertising deals when they come up.