Monday, March 15, 2010

Developing a New Kind of Customer Continuity

The face of the customer continuity game has changed. No longer do you need to be associated with large loyalty programs to get a great result, like a lift in sales or attract new customers. For most small business owners, they are operating on a tight budget, they are often the ones running the show, there's usually not a lot left at the end of the day to even think about the additional time and expense of a continuity program. The good news for these business owners is that there are now viable alternatives to create your own version of a customer continuity program, even on a tight budget.

Think of the millions, if not billions, that has gone into creating the loyalty programs we all belong to. What if I told you, that you can have this too, but at a fraction of the cost? Sound like a 'too good to be true' sales pitch? Don't get me wrong, there are costs involved, especially if you want to 'do it right', but these are minimal compared to the big bucks you could be spending.

When I worked for a retailer, one of our focuses, if not our main one, was to retain existing customers and increase their sales and visits. Time and again, studies prove that gaining a new customer, although can prove valuable in the long run, does not compare to what you can accomplish by increasing order sizes and frequency of your loyal customer base, creating the golden customer continuity. Loyal customers tend to be just that, loyal. They keep coming back. They keep buying your products. They keep telling their friends. They keep you in business.

Don't get me wrong, businesses can change, their customer base can change, but ultimately isn't it about increasing sales? And what better way to do that than to create a loyal community, offer that community value, and then keep them coming back. Social media makes this possible, and tools like Google, Facebook, and Ning make it easy (and affordable).

The power that now exists for marketers and business owners through social media avenues, like Twitter and Facebook is immense. Now, more than ever before little businesses have the same tools available that the big brands have. Yes, the big guys might be able to create their own fancy network, take Air MilesTM for example:, but with powerful networks like Ning, or even utilizing features in Facebook, you can create a very similar community building experience, at a much lower price tag.

Keeping your customers coming back is key - loyalty programs aren't going to be a magic fix if your business has other issues, but if you're looking to build on your success, then consider adding an online community to the mix and see how fast your reputation spreads.

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Thursday, March 11, 2010

Speaking at the IMC

On Tuesday next week, I will be speaking at the Internet Marketing Conference in Calgary.

You can find out more about it here.

My presentation is on Alternate Reality Games (ARG) and Immersive Marketing... I've got 30 minutes to provide some e
xamples and explain how to make a successful ARG... if you're at all familiar with ARG's, you'll know that we will be moving fast to cover it all. There will be time for questions after the other two speakers, as we form a discussion panel.

This international conference is in it's 10th year of production and is the largest in dealing with internet marketing... this is the first time it's come through Calgary.

It seems more and more companies are beginning to jump on the social marketing bandwagon and everyone and their dog are calling themselves internet marketers. I wrote a blog a while back that e
xplains that social media is simply a tool, and like any tool it needs to be in the right hands. We recently had Christina Greenway join our team, as our social marketing manager - she has a background in marketing and knows the tools - this is a great mix.

It never ceases to amaze me how even today, large companies put ine
xperienced people in charge of the very thing that will drive their business, their marketing on the web. Having a teenager run your social media or a technical person run your web site is a recipe for failure online. Nothing against teens, there's no question they understand the tools, probably better than most people out there - but they are not brand or marketing experts. And, nothing against technical people, but just because you are the only person in the office that knows what a browser is, does not qualify you to drive the marketing speak of your company on the internet.

So, as a business owner, you should take time out to check out this conference, you need to understand the tools that will drive your marketing over the next few years. But, please bring along your marketing person(s) - for they are the ones who can make these tools work for you in presenting your brand online.

It's important to learn how these tools work, but ensure that the right person is using them - this conference is a great place to start taking your online marketing to the next level.

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Friday, March 5, 2010

What's Going On?

Regular readers of our blog have become despondent and bored. We apologize to both of you, we've just been too busy to update the blog regularly this year... but, this is good news - for us anyways.

The first two months of this year has provided us with the busiest start to a new year that we've ever experienced. And, as you know, our clients come first - publishing free marketing advice through this blog to a bunch of freeloaders, er, I mean captive blog readers comes second, sorry. That's not to say we won't continue this practice of giving away our IP to the no-est bidder - we've just been consumed with paying projects.

Currently, we are working on the re-brand of no fewer than 5 companies - each unique in it's own way and with very different audiences. They range from downstream oil and gas services to custom fly rods (maybe they're downstream too!). In addition, we have dockets open for more than 15 web projects - all in various stages of development. Put that into the mix of all the regular and irregular jobs we do every day and it's a recipe for a very busy little office.

On top of that, I will be speaking at the Internet Marketing Conference in Calgary on March 16th. My topic will be Alternate Reality Games, a genre in on-line marketing that few marketing agencies have ventured into - possibly because of the time and monetary commitment that is required to pull it off. This will pretty much kill my time from now until the curtain closes on my talk. We're planning on making it an interactive experience for the audience... hope it's more than just the two of you reading this.

Some good news fell our way in February - we won the 2010 Marketing Award at the Alberta Business Awards of Distinction, a gala event put on by the Alberta Chambers of Commerce. This was a great honor and validation for the work we did in marketing our own company. Everyone on the Francomedia team went up to the gala dinner in Edmonton and celebrated into the wee hours afterwards - a very much deserved break from the hard work put in the past year.

So, what's in store for the spring... well, we've actually got a few things going into stores for the spring, a national and regional campaign for large food manufacturer as well as a couple of projects that touch on the Alternate Reality Game genre. Stay tuned... they will be good.

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