10 04, 2015

Innovative Ways for the Flooring Retailer (or anyone) to Become a “Marketeer”

By |2017-03-03T12:06:53-05:00April 10th, 2015|Categories: Blog, Building a Brand, Customer Satisfaction, Managing the Customer Experience, Web/Tech|Tags: , , , , , , , , , |0 Comments

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The world has changed, have you?

The world has changed, have you?

You know what it’s like; you’re getting plenty of leads, but no one is following up.

At first, just a few go by, but then they start to stack up. You’re also aware that the sales staff isn’t following up on customers who have come into the store and haven’t made a purchase.

Every business needs fresh customers, but what about those who are good leads or have already been in your store?

If you’re working harder at getting new customers than keeping old ones, you’re spending a lot of money on marketing. Think about it this way; every time a customer comes back or sends a referral, the average marketing dollar spent per customer goes down. Furthermore, a good salesperson will be cultivating customers who have bought before or paying attention to “hot leads.” The competent sales associate knows these are easier to sell.

No matter how you’re gathering your leads, they’re valuable if you’re following up and closing them. If you’re not doing either, it’s like throwing money out the window.

If this sounds like your business, the best thing you can do is start capturing customers’ home addresses and email addresses. Stop entering “Cash” on your invoice where it says, “name and address.” After all, if you don’t have customers and good will, what do you have?

The National Retail Federation (NRF) recently said the only way to steer customers to your business is to help them cut down on their buying choices. One way to do this is to send them small bites of information that is both educational and fun so you ultimately become their trusted adviser. An article on “Tips for finding the right flooring retailer” can help influence a fresh lead or referral to walk into your store.

The smart dealers realize that being high tech is not something for the future—it’s here now. I recently spoke with Cary Cass, general manager of Dolphin Carpet and Tile, headquartered in Miami, Fla. With over 30 years in the business and a member of the NFA (National Flooring Alliance), Dolphin is utilizing many online tools to help the customer stay connected.

We realize that once a customer is in our store, we have an opportunity to both sell them and build a customer for life. Our interactive on-line design center makes it easy for the customer to build a profile of her likes and store her choices with us. We’re also testing software that will automatically contact our customers with timely offers and useful tips. It may sound trite, but its not up to the customer to remember us; it’s our job to be memorable. This is not something we have the time or expertise to do by ourselves.

Being consistent with customer communications is the key. “White House, Black Market” a women’s clothing store targeting consumers age 25 and older, does an excellent job of staying in touch with the customer. By receiving their emails, post cards and phone calls, I feel like we’re old friends. I feel guilty not going in to look at their new styles. I know the communications are automated, but they’re still fun, informative and useful.

follow your customersMichael Vernon, president of followyourcustomer.com, gave me this advice:

The goal of any business is to build relationships with customers. In the article, Why the Zero Moments of Truth Matter More than Ever, Google points out there are endless opportunities a business has to ‘touch’ the consumer. The key is to get her to like you because people buy from people they like. To build top-of-mind awareness, these must be sent least 12 to 18 times a year. If they dont, the customer will go to the competitor. Our system will customize your message and automatically keep in touch for you.

Customers have many choices; why not be their first one?

isbeth has been teaching businesses how to improve their customer service and the customer experience for over 20 years. To schedule a consultation or have her speak at your business, reach her at [email protected] If she’s not in her office, she can often be found mornings at the YMCA in East Greenbush.

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1 11, 2010

Is A Complaining Customer A Good Customer?

By |2017-03-03T12:07:12-05:00November 1st, 2010|Categories: Blog, Building a Brand, Change, Competitive Advantage, Customer Service, Reaching the Consumer, Web/Tech|Tags: , , , , , , , |0 Comments

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Are they better with their mouths closed?I know lots of customers that would disagree with this statement. If you’ve ever had a customer complaint on line than you know what I’m talking about. I have seen some mighty disagreeable comments that wouldn’t seem to go away.

How do you counteract these things? The first thing is to have your “great” customers  post loving comments about your service, your staff and your products. This way if you have any negative comments there’s a possibility they will get lost in the good ones or the complaining person looks like a nut job to the rest of the  readers. My experience is that most businesses don’t “stack the deck” with great comments to counteract the possible nasty ones before they occur. When a nasty comment is written, it is glaring.

I found myself the target of one of these feuds. A client of mine got some bad press for posting a photo without giving credit to the photographer. The title of the blog charged the customer with something other than the above which was not only incorrect, but slandering.  I pointed out the error of the title and immediately someone else became annoyed at me. (By the way, I checked with a lawyer first about my concerns which turned out to be correct.)  The title charged the customer with a very serious crime, obviously the writer didn’t understand what he was writing.

Online remarks can get very sticky. One of our local supermarkets received an unflattering comment on Twitter which was responded to by an employee of the market. The employee was so upset he went to the commentator’s boss and suggested the person be fired! The target took his case to the local newspaper and the rest is history.

Last year I was curious about a local luggage store so I went online for testimonials. Much to my dismay, there  was more than one nasty comment. When I went to the store to have my Tumi luggage fixed, I told the manager about the comments. His reply, “I never noticed”. Needless to say they closed the following month; they had been in business for over 20 years.

Some thoughts about what to do before it happens and after:

Manage your own publicity; get your happy customers to post great comments.

Post articles of value for your customers; articles that make them smile, feel special and get valuable information.

Be aware, watch for comments, Google your business to see what’s being written about you and your business. Sign up for Google alerts.

Blog about your great customers. Interview your customers about their families and their businesses. Make your customers your business partners. Great customer service means giving your customers what they want and possible helping them to stay in business.Consider the bank or insurance company  that provides valuable workshops on marketing and sales  for their small business customers.

By the way, I couldn’t find any. But it stands to reason if your customers can’t stay in business neither will you!

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10 12, 2009

Still Attached To Your “Dumb” Phone?

By |2017-03-03T12:07:14-05:00December 10th, 2009|Categories: Web/Tech|Tags: , |0 Comments

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Rotary_270x232I knew it would come to this. Not only has the pay phone gone but so too has the house phone. 

You know, the one attached to the wall.

While helping my friend Mary clean out her mom’s home recently (her mom had recently gone to a nursing home) I noticed an old dial telephone on the shelf.

“Mary," I asked. "Could I have your mom’s phone?" 

Of course she replied "yes," but not until she asked "why?"

I told her it will probably be a collector’s item and besides, I won’t have to worry about losing it.

The longer I looked at the phone, however, the stranger it looked. It really is a relic.

The latest Forrester Research tells us that the number of smart phone users who access the Web daily from their phones is 36%. In addition, 80% of Americans are online which makes you wonder, in addition to Irma, my 94 year old neighbor, who isn’t online?

Another interesting statistic supports that three-quarters of these Americans have broadband, and have not yet added mobile or social network strategies to their marketing mix. I know, many of you that belong to the “I’m not going on Facebook ever” group are gloating. Don’t get too complacent, the latest statistic about Facebook is: if it were a country, it would be the third largest in the world. I never thought I would get myself involved with FarmVille or the Mafia Wars on Facebook, but they really are fun.

I would say it’s just a matter of time until we all move to mobile phones and Facebook. According to Henry Harteveldt, Forrester VP and principal analyst, one in four use their mobile device to research products they will buy either online or offline. For one thing, it’s easier. Forrester predicts that mobile will become the hub of consumer relationships. And it will be all about Apps.

I don’t have an iPhone but I am enamored with their Apps. If you need to know anything, just ask an iPhone user and they have an “App” for it. 

Want to know about the weather? They have an App. 

Want a recipe? They have an App. 

As Yahoo! defines it, an App — or application — is fun or useful software that can enhance your experience on your phone or on the Web.

So how will this affect your business?

  • Communication in your business is important, knowing how your customers communicate is even more important. You don’t have to like where communication is going, but know it will affect your business. And by the way, what’s not to like?
  • Is information about your business constantly being updated or is it forever carved in stone? Think of your web site as if it were a magazine cover. Would you open a magazine if the cover never changed?
  • Embrace new technology; attend workshops on social networking and building your business, determine what do you need to learn and where you start. You may think you’re old school or behind other businesses, but for mainstream it’s fairly new. Don’t get complacent.

One reason to look at online marketing is it’s pretty cheap, and sometimes free. If you know your stuff, you can compete with almost anyone and make a dent in the marketplace.  Do you own a smart phone but still using it as a dumb phone? Take a trip to wherever you bought it and ask for a lesson or two on what it can do. That reminds me; guess I need a trip to Radio Shack for a lesson on my Blackberry.

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22 05, 2009

Is Hulu Giving T.V. a Run for its Money?

By |2009-05-22T02:38:00-04:00May 22nd, 2009|Categories: Web/Tech|3 Comments

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I wrote last week about Hulu, and wanted to provide some recent stats that you might not be familiar with.

  • 55+ age group are most Hulu viewers: 47% in March 2008.
  • 130+ Content providers on Hulu. NBC, Fox, Sesame Street, Comedy Central, Sony, MGM, Lionsgate and content produced specifically for the Web.
  • 1250+ Titles of free shows and movies offered. Examples, Lost in Translation, all Force One, The Office, Family Guy, 30 rock, House, Arrested Development
  • 125 Hulu employees in offices in Los Angeles, New York, Beijing and Chicago.
  • 7.8 million site visitors in February — a 55% jump from January likely due to Alec Baldwin Superbowl commercial.

Pretty incredible! The site is clearly giving T.V. a run for its money.

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20 05, 2009

Still Don’t Want To Twitter? You Might Be Losing Out On Business

By |2017-03-03T12:07:17-05:00May 20th, 2009|Categories: Web/Tech|2 Comments

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Twitter-buttons A new report from Nielsen Online suggests that Twitter hasn't yet reached a level of growth that can sustain the service, according to the research firm's mathematical model. Despite the explosive popularity of the messaging service, Nielsen data indicates more than 60 percent of Twitter users that visit the site in a given month do not return the following month.

So how can Twitter benefit your business? A funny thing happened the other day. A woman in my seminar said she was dying to meet Barry Manilow. So I "tweeted" precisely that — meaning I put a message out on the Twitter wire asking about Barry Manilow. Before I knew it, there was a tweet back telling me where Barry was starring! Okay, so Barry isn’t your thing and you don’t care where he is, but suppose you had a problem and you wanted to get some information, where would you do? I now know I would go to Twitter.

How to use Twitter?

Start thinking of Twitter as an educational resource. Get into the habit of asking people for email addresses, their Facebook page and their Twitter page. Now you have it. So it feels strange because you still don’t know why you’re asking. A store owner of note told me the other day after three months of haphazardly going to Facebook, he knows has a sense of its value. Why, because he is asking all of his customers to "be his friend" — a statement he still finds rather silly, but he has lots of lots of friends. You know, friends and friends of friends. I know for many of you it seems like a secret society, but I guarantee if you think about how it can help your business your thinking will change. Follow people and get them to follow you.

Twitter is a way to network. I received an email from someone I am following and they thanked me for my reply to their Tweet. (A short update of 140 characters or less). How can it be bad? Start following and leaving Tweets. The pluses are:

  • It's a good way to keep in touch with clients and friends. A very quick way.
  • You can get notified of events, deals, specials. Information from companies that might be useful to you.
  • Setting up an account is simple; start by following me, www.twitter.com/Lizzc, leave me comments and ideas.

And now, a little terminology lesson to help you navigate the ins and outs of Twitter:

  • Hashtag: Discloses the topic of your tweet by prefixing a word with a hash symbol, (i.e. #nbaplayoffs or #nfdraft.) Helps users find updates on specific subjects.
  • Nudge: A notification sent to a user’s phone asking them to tweet.
  • RT:Short for re-tweets. Users add RT in a tweet if they are reposting from another’s tweet.
  • Twackle: Websites with sports-related Twitter updates and organizes the tweets by events.
  • Tweetup: When Twitter users meet face-to-face
  • TwitPic: Allows user to post photos to Twitter.
  • Twitterati: Term used by the A-listers on Twitter.

Still not sure what it all means? You’re not the only one. I hope when Microsoft does a spell-check update they put in Twitter terms!


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