By Saul McGoveran
Everybody knows small business owners are busy people who must wear multiple hats, including that of the marketing director, however, since word of mouth is still one of the best ways to get new customers, entrepreneurs should spend the time and focus on how to retain customers. Experts tell small business owners that a customer loyalty or appreciation event is a great tool to attract customers and make current customers feel valued- a great combination, but definitely a lot of work.
However, in an article recently included in The New York Times Small Business Roundup, former-museum-curator-turned-art-marketer Alyson Stanfield gives businesses a pretty simple timeline for planning those aforementioned customer appreciation events without going crazy in the process. They key, according to Stanfield, is take small steps over a six-month period, and insanity is not likely to ensue.
Well, when you put it that way, a customer appreciation event might actually benefit the business and go hand-in-hand with an existing marketing campaign. Not so bad, right?
6 Months from event
This is the time for the behind-the-scenes work, which includes initial brainstorming and sending marketing teasers to loyal customers. Will this be a bring-a-friend event, and will other local businesses be invited to join? Now is the time to consider the options and set the date.
3-6 Months from event
You’ve heard about all the benefits an impending event has on a marketing campaign, right? Not only will it give a business owner content to blog, Facebook, tweet and email about – complete with catchy subject lines and attractive event details – but it can work as a way to gain followers and customers. They won’t want to be left out and may choose to visit the website to learn more about products and, of course, the event. To prepare for a possible influx in traffic, make sure your email marketing format, blog and ecommerce website are all up to scratch.
1-2 Months from event
Continue pushing the event via all marketing efforts, and prepare for possible promotions. Will attendees be offered a special coupon code? How will the business be affected if every single recipient utilizes the code? What if no one does? If event feedback has been poor, brainstorm ways to attract more customers, although exclusive invite-style is quite appealing in itself.
Leading up to the event
Finalize the details. Keep in mind that the event does not have to be a huge party or bash – maybe it’s an after-hours shopping time for loyal customers, and everything is 10 percent off? If the business is online-only, how about giving loyal customers a coupon code or promotion they can only use for a certain amount of time?
Regardless of the event, the little details can not be overlooked. Continue making email and web marketing a priority, and don’t forget that Halloween – a great promotional and marketing opportunity – is just around the corner.
How do you say “thank you” to your customers?