Every business wants to get attention. But there are two types of attention: the kind you want, where everybody’s saying how great your company is, and the kind that makes you want to lock your doors, draw the blinds and hope everybody stops noticing you.
Marketing misfires can happen. Sometimes, business owners and marketing teams may just be trying a little too hard to generate buzz. But it’s not necessary. Usually, I find it’s the simple but strategic marketing ideas that are the most effective.
What do I mean? Well, think about some of these types of marketing strategies and how well they’ve worked.
You might think frequent flyer miles have been around so long that Wilbur and Orville Wright launched them, but loyalty programs caught on when American Airlines started what is often cited as one of the first frequent-flyer programs in 1981 as a way to reward loyal customers. Now, it’s unthinkable for airlines and credit card companies not to do loyalty programs.
Today, you can type in your phone number at the register of pharmacies, supermarkets and restaurants every time you make a purchase, and you’ll often receive discounts. We have a loyalty program at the burger franchise where I’m the executive vice president. Any business that depends on customer retention and doesn’t have a loyalty program is missing out.
Sure, you might argue that your business shouldn’t need to reward its most loyal customers. If they like you, they should come back to you no matter what. And that’s true. But if you have a loyalty program, they may come back more often … and bring friends.
Loyalty programs may not be edgy, but they can give you an edge as a marketing tool. In order to create a successful loyalty program, you first must engage with your internal team to get their buy-in and promote the loyalty program to your guests. Secondly, you must have a compelling offer for your guests. In today’s world, it’s a given that your brand has to be up to date with technology because that is what the buying public largely expects. The days of paper punch cards as the norm are gone. I believe your loyalty program has to be technology-driven because your guests are.
It’s especially important to be careful with social media. In 2017, Adidas sort of stepped in it when it sent an email to customers who had completed the Boston Marathon that said, “Congrats, you survived the Boston Marathon!” Immediately, customers weighed in to show the company that in 2013, three people were killed and over 260 people were injured when bombs exploded near the finish line. It was obviously an unintentional gaffe, but it underscores that you must think through what you’re about to put out there in your business’s snaps, tweets and Facebook posts.
If you do it right, you can really improve sales. On my company’s Facebook page, for instance, we’re constantly touting our products, offers and loyalty program. It isn’t anything other businesses aren’t doing, but after a while you can create something of a marketing monument — and a historical record — that anyone can go back and review. And if customers often visit your social media sites, you’ve got some serious built-in marketing momentum.
Just make sure you’re tracking the traffic going to your social media sites and analyzing the data that you’re collecting. There are multiple free social media monitoring tools out there. If you analyze how people are responding to your social media posts, you’ll know what’s working for you and what isn’t.
Everyone knows about coupons and other forms of direct marketing, so I won’t say much here — except that coupons are used as a marketing tool because they work and have for a long time. Asa Candler, the owner of Coca-Cola (my company’s official beverage provider) back in 1887, often gets credit for inventing the coupon, which allowed people to receive a complimentary glass of Coke. And businesses have utilized coupons ever since.
But just like you do when you monitor social media, you’ll want to make sure you track your coupons. While the concept of coupons may work, certain deals may be more of a success with your customers. You need to know which coupons draw them in and which don’t.
Timely ‘Big Sales’
Retailers have been holding big sales for about as long as there have been stores — you could say that “the big sale” dates back to the days of bartering when customers would try to get an item for a lower price than a store owner intended to sell it. Well, businesses are still using the oldest business trick in the book. Think about one of the most successful modern companies — Amazon. The company has its Amazon Prime sale each July and promises drastically reduced prices on an array of products. Because it’s an enormous company, its sale makes the news. News publications actually write about its sales.
But don’t think you have to be Amazon to do this. My company has an annual Free Shake Day. On that day last year, our website received 19,000 views, which is a 60% jump over an average day. Or take the national frozen yogurt chain sweetFrog: When the yogurt industry holds its National Frozen Yogurt Day, the restaurant offers a BOGO gimmick where if you buy a yogurt, your friend gets to eat one for free. And again, journalists often write about these marketing specials.
But make sure you’re doing your part, too, especially in case the media doesn’t bite. You need to be advertising your big sale, whether it’s through radio, TV, print or internet ads or by mentioning it all over your social media channels.
There’s nothing wrong with a little experimentation, of course, but a hundred years from now, companies will probably still be doing big sales, offering coupons and loyalty programs, and — I’m sure — promoting all of it on social media. So, when you’re thinking of your next marketing campaign, don’t think you have to go big and crazy — small, normal and strategetic still works.