Marketing programs can certainly get expensive in a hurry and lots of options are out of reach for small businesses. But there’s an enormous range of possibilities that cost little or nothing to implement but go underutilized.
Here are some examples.
A customer loyalty program. Sure you can go hog wild and create a sophisticated internet-based or plastic mag-stripe custom, scan at POS advertising, airline-point-like extravaganza. But don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good. Instead of having nothing, how about a cardstock punch card for the treat-of-the-month club? The Radio Shack free battery card was just this simple. Even if you don’t have a traditional retail business, as yourself how can you get your customers to buy your products or services more often? Only sell big-ticket, periodic purchase stuff? What about selling service check-ups? What about giving away free check-ups to generate add-on or related sales?
Customer identification is the other payoff in a loyalty program. Amazingly, there are still businesses that do not know who their customers are except in general terms. Direct Marketing News ran a cartoon recently of a lemonade stand where the child proprietor was asking a customer to enter her email address on a tablet computer. So I suppose there are legitimate settings where speed of transaction or privacy concerns impede a lot of data collection. But getting more customer information can be as simple as a zip code survey at the time a sale is made.
Customer direct advertising via email collection has admittedly become a difficult proposition and open rates have dropped over recent years. But this form of communication is by no means a dead letter. And speaking of letters, if you do know names and postal addresses of customers, consider the value of a 35 cent postcard for announcing what’s new in your offerings or simply saying “thank you” again to generate more goodwill. How many of your competitors do this? None, huh? Is that because they are marketing management geniuses and somehow have determined that being appreciative is not cost-effective? I’ll bet it’s because they haven’t put in the effort. So when you execute on a simple program like this it will really distinguish you, which is what good marketing is all about.
— Frederick Welk
CEDF Business Advisor