11/23/2012

Weekend Excitement: It’s Small Business Saturday!

Small Business Saturday



If you’re going to consider Black Friday as the biggest day for large retailer shopping, then Small Business Saturday would likely be it for the start-ups and local businesses all over. It’s an occasion wherein shoppers can actually take to the streets and into small shops and businesses, most likely after duking it out on the big stores coming from the mega sales of Black Friday. For a business owner, this is the perfect opportunity to take advantage of the spending rush of the week, and if you think that consumers would be thriftier the weekend after Thanksgiving, you would be way off.  In fact, over a hundred million consumers whip out their wallets for Small Business Saturday.


Email away. Marketing for Black Friday and Small Business Saturday does not start only on the days themselves and can even begin as early as a few weeks to a few months before the occasions. For this kind of long term promotion, email is a good way to go especially because your customer base can easily flag your message for reference later on. This is also the reason why social media can be more suited to shorter, real-time updates; with the number of posts and updates in social media sites, you’d have to repost your Small Business Saturday ad a number of times in order to keep it from being pushed down by other news and forgotten. Forbes.com shares some tips on emailing past customers for a successful occasion.  

Don’t underestimate word-of-mouth marketing. 

Word of Mouth can spread the good news



Many people forget just how powerful even a few connections can be and just how fast the word can spread when you tell the right people. Small business, after all, is usually built on strong local relationships with the people, and word-of-mouth can spread the good news just as effectively as tweeting or posting on Facebook. A digital smile is way off from the actual banter and smiles that you would share with customers, friends, and family, and asking people in person gives them more incentive in order to visit you and avail of your offers. You can even augment your word-of-mouth marketing by handing out flyers and coupons which you could print out with commercial printers such as PrintPlace.com if you don’t have the time to do it yourself.

On the day, engage customers both online and in person.

A good interaction is usually what convinces a customer to choose one business over another. If two shops selling the same products were set up right next to each other, people would enter the one which they think would give them the a better experience. And sometimes a welcome stall with smiling staff (or owner) is all it takes to seal the deal. Don’t forget to be active online, too, and keep real time updates for customers who are yet to get there. Brand yourself through your actions and disposition just as much as you brand through your logos and posters. Keep the conversations going!

Small Saturday is far from being the end of a week of spending and celebration, but it is the special time for start-ups and small retailers to get their own share of shoppers and the action. Be excited; be prepared; it’s Small Business Saturday soon!


11/10/2012

Positioning a Winning Brand

If you take three identical products and try to sell them to different customers, each of them has just as much chance as the others of attracting customers and being bought. The tie-breaker would lie in how you market and position each of the products because when it comes down to it, half of the selling factor is really just what you can make customers believe. That is what you call brand positioning.

Brand Positioning


Set your business apart.

One thing about brand positioning is that rather than having you “fit in” to any preconceptions or standards, the aim is to set you as far apart from the competition as possible—in a good way, that is. Whether your product is as simple as a shaving razor or as grand as a sports utility vehicle, the major factor which will determine the eventual fate of your products and brand name is how well you have positioned yourself within your intended niche.

Gleam Toothpaste, to give an example, got its tubes flying off the shelves by pitching a “miracle ingredient GL70” that fights bad breath, something which is more commonly known as just plain old chlorophyll. The kicker? Almost all the other brands had chlorophyll too, but no one else bothered to do some research and go with that angle. By taking a common denominator from all the brands and making it look unique to Gleam, the marketers have set apart their own toothpaste and made it very special. Funny how marketing works.

Asking the right questions.

Figuring out just where your brand should be positioned is sort of like putting together a jigsaw puzzle because you have to get things just in the right places. And to do this, part of the process is asking yourself the questions that would not only give you insight on where your brand currently is but also on where you want to go with it. The most striking would be “How am I different?” because in this case it’s not only yourself that you have to convince but more importantly the customers.

If you’re looking to readjust where your brand name lies, there are numerous paths you can take and many different tips and tricks to try out. Social media, for example, is a powerful tool for talking with your customers and spreading the word about your brands. Brand positioning in Pinterest is one of the options to give an example. Here are a few tips on how to position your brand.

  • Define your purpose.
  • Know your competition.
  • Be creative; there are no limits to imagination.
  • Ask for help when you need it.
  • Be flexible and open to suggestions.
  • Find the way to make yourself unique.

Final words.

Brand positioning is all about how customers perceive you. Be bold, be fearless, and don’t be afraid to break off from the trends when you know you can make your own.


10/04/2012

The Inner Workings of Brand Loyalty


Anyone who has ever had a heated argument on cars, cell phones, appliances, and most other products know that brand is always the point of contention. People choose which side they think is best, and that is usually whatever they are using right now and have used ever since. What’s interesting is that even logic and hard facts won’t make a person back down, often just because it’s the brand that he first bought; he’s very content with its performance; and he wouldn’t ever consider looking at another brand even if it’s better on paper. This is what you call brand loyalty, and you’d be amazed at how this particular trait can impact business performance.  



Brand loyalty defined.



Brand Loyalty
Image from http://donnygamble.com/5-ways-social-media-can-help-boost-brand-loyalty/

From the words themselves, brand loyalty is pretty self-explanatory; it’s when a customer repeatedly buys products from a single company or brand as opposed to buying any from the competition. While the concept sounds simple, though, it is a good deal more complicated and difficult than offering quality products and services (although that helps). 


When it comes to brand loyalty, you have to take into account the different mentalities and personalities of people so that you can convince many of them. For example, some people are naturally loyal, and they stick to the very first brand they buy as long as they get decent results. On the other hand, other people are more open and flighty, testing out different products and usually going with the ones who have the best reviews at the time. It’s a rather tricky process, and you’d find soon enough that holding onto customers is a bit harder than enticing them in the first place.
Building brand loyalty.


So how does one go about building brand loyalty? Ultimately, this is a long term undertaking, and there are a few tips you can follow. 


It starts with a good product experience. Before you get loyal customers, you must first entice first-time customers, and if they aren’t pleased with your products the first time, you take the risk of never having their business ever again. No business lasts selling a bad product.
 
Be transparent, and make sure to interact with customers. Make it a point to keep customers updated on your most recent developments and releases. Reciprocally, you should also make sure to be updated on your customers—what they think, how they feel, what they expect, and so on. Social media is perfect for this.


polite customer service staff
Image from http://www.openforum.com/idea-hub/topics/managing/article/10-examples-of-shockingly-excellent-customer-service-1
Have an expert, polite customer service staff. This is a definite truth: no matter how good your product is, customers will always have something to ask you. And if your customer service team is slow, clueless, and let’s not forget rude, people will jump to your competition so quickly that you’ll get whiplash.  

Build your niche and be the best. Don’t try to do it all. Settle yourself firmly in one thing, and focus on becoming the best in it. Otherwise, you’d be trying to accomplish too many things and end up being sloppy in all of them. 

Maintain high standards of quality overall. Consistent high quality is something customers look for in a brand. Pit a brand that produces the occasional breakthrough against the brand that produces consistent quality, and you can guess which will win. 


Mistakes in loyalty building.


Just as there are things you should get right in building brand loyalty, there are also those things that you should avoid getting wrong. These brand loyalty mistakes can stop you in your tracks, so it is best to be able to recognize and avoid them. 


Cheating off other companies. Never try to copy another company’s strategies. Just because it worked for them, it doesn’t mean that it would work for you. Do your own research and develop your own strategies. 

Avoid Cheating Off Other Companies
Image from http://enhancedhospitalsystems.com/blog/bid/139427/How-Do-You-Increase-the-Value-of-a-Hospitals-Brand
Discriminating against other customers. Remember that your customers aren’t just the rich people, Americans, Catholics, or whatever kind of division you can think of. Treat everyone fairly and never make anyone feel that they are being blown off in favour of another, more important customer. 

Relying on one strategy to keep customers. This is pretty simple to understand. If only one thing is keeping your customers from switching brands, what will stop them from doing so when that one thing fails? 

Poorly executed programs. Have a rewards program, loyalty discounts, promos, and the like, but don’t rush it and do a sub-par job. If you’re going to do something, do it well. 

Falling behind in product development. The occasional mistakes and mess-ups can be forgiven by loyal customers, but if people see that you are falling way behind your competition, that is a pretty good reason for them to leave your company. Keep up and stay competitive!! 
 
Brand loyalty is something that takes a lot of time, patience, and effort. However, if you do it right, you will see that everything is worth it in the end.
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