Whether you are located inside a shopping mall, strip center, downtown or off the beaten path, there is one vitally important aspect of your business that should never be forgotten...your store front. As a business owner, you wear quite a few hats each and every day and one of them should be to create a regularly-scheduled walk through with the perspective of your highly-valued customers you work so hard to reach.
If you're like most brick and mortar businesses, the ability to attract your target customer involves a great deal of time and in many cases, financial support. As we travel throughout our region, we observe quite a few best practices executed extremely well, while we also see a number of instances where just a little more attention to detail could convert that passerby into another tick on the traffic counter. Here are a few questions to ask that should always be top of mind when it comes to making that first impression:
We're all guilty of walking right by those little projects that gradually worsen over time or just need a little attention, but from a potential or loyal customer's perspective, these are all variables that factor into whether they will give you their business. We vividly remember driving by a restaurant that opened pre-holiday, but their store front was set back from the sidewalk and their only sign was blocked by the landlord's holiday icicle lights that still adorned the building in late January. This is a simple fix, but it's one of those areas that needs to be reviewed regularly from the customer's point of view...in this case, those month-long holiday tourists scanning the restaurant landscape may have just passed right by.
Here in Santa Cruz County, 41st Avenue serves as a hurdle for many business owners who are eager to expand their customer base. While many locals on either side of town make quarterly or semi-annual journeys beyond this invisible barrier, there are strategic ways in which to increase the geographic radius of your target audience. For many businesses, it’s a matter of cracking the code of reaching tight knit communities, combating traffic patterns or possibly debunking the popular myths that accompany a popular tourism area. All of these can be a tough challenge to overcome. Chipping away at changing shoppers’ habits can be very fruitful for your business. Here are some suggestions to get you started!
Bottom Line: If you’re going to begin thinking about any of these tactics, be sure to go big, thinking small just won’t convince folks to get in their car.
It’s unfortunately become a reality, but many shoppers are now very accustomed to terrible customer service. Being placed on hold, waiting for employees to finish their text, and having to ask for help are just some of the frustrations that many consumers are faced with. Not only do these types of practices make your shoppers think of other alternatives, but it also places your reputation you’ve worked so hard to create in peril as customers are now accustomed to voicing their frustrations both offline and online.
We’ve learned over the years that the key to great word of mouth is placing a little positive “shock” into the customer experience.
Here are three ways to make your customers say “WOW!”
Random Acts of Kindness – Whether it’s a completely happy customer or one that is beginning to get a little hot under the collar, a “RAK” can do wonders to make their day. We’ve surprised our customers with gift cards, tickets, food and much more. It’s that huge smile that comes about when you surprise your customers that provides that little piece of winning something that gets them talking. So if your customers need to wait for 10 unexpected minutes or you want to promote an upcoming product launch or event, the “RAK” is guaranteed to get them talking, sharing and spreading the word that your business treats their customers like royalty.
Live Help – When someone is in need of immediate assistance, do you think being transferred, being placed on hold or forcing them to leave a message is the best way to treat them? If you’re a local business, the customer is potentially going to physically arrive at your doorstep and you’ll now hear from them in person as fellow shoppers listen in. Make sure that your team is well-versed in helping phone calls under pressure. The other day, I called a prominent accounting software company and after three rings, a live person answered and I started laughing as this just doesn’t happen anymore. That right there and the fact that they were informed and found answers to all my questions went a very long way.
Chat It Up! – We’re big fans of answering online inquiries ASAP. In fact, on Facebook, you’re rated as a business page with how long it takes you to respond to comments and messages you receive. Your first step should be to make sure your social media app settings are set to notify you with sounds, alerts and push notifications as soon as they occur…it can mean the difference between making an immediate sale and possibly losing that sale. You also need to keep in mind that as customers search online for solutions to their problems, they typically want quick answers. And many times, they have questions that a phone call or email would take too much effort to perform, so adding a chat function to your website is a very good best practice. Using a free service like purechat.com and their mobile app can give you the ability to answer questions while on the go.
[3 Minute Read]
If you’re like most business owners, you’ve been burned by marketing tactics like direct mail, Facebook ads, and producing your own events. Here are 20 tips in areas ranging from advertising to PR and social media to help make your life easier and your business more successful.
Customer Experience Audit
Go BIG: If you'd like to dive deeper into the opportunity to develop your own customized, marketing strategy, we have a variety of options to help you develop what you need to make it all happen. We're here to help you go BIG, click here to learn how!
Whether you’re a start up or a seasoned business, marketing is typically the first thing that’s cut when trying to trim the fat on spending. We highly recommend that you shy away from this practice, but if you need to slash your marketing budget, it is possible to promote your business for as low as one dollar per day. You may not believe it, but just like anything in life, you typically pay for convenience so you don’t have to work harder, which in this instance means that with just a little extra effort you can make a huge impression without spending very much at all.
Here’s how to do it in five steps:
If you'd like to dive deeper into the opportunity to develop your own customized, marketing strategy, we have a variety of options to help you develop what you need to make it all happen. We're here to help you go BIG, click here to learn how!
If you’re like most business owners, marketing can be quite overwhelming because there’s so much to wrap your head around and keep up with. And then when you throw in the fact that you have HR, accounting and a variety of other daily duties to take care of, marketing can easily be placed on the back burner. We’re here to lay out the essentials so from this point on, you’ll have a resource to help guide you and keep you on track.
Facts to Remember
[5 minute read]
For most business owners, the words “social media” makes them cringe since it takes so much time to manage and it’s just too tough to keep up with the latest trends, but you never want to get left behind either. I want to simplify social media for you today and put your mind at ease. Here’s the skinny on how to make social media work for your business, all in 5 easy steps.
1. Change Your Mindset
2. Get Back to Basics
3. Map It Out
4. Automation on the Cheap
5. Quality over Quantity, Use Your Phone & Don’t Be Salesy
[5 Minute Read]
If you’re a business owner of one with no one to delegate your marketing task list to, you’re probably finding it extremely difficult to even get to your social media. Sound about right? This week’s write up is all about how to implement a strategic marketing program when you don’t have anyone to assist you.
We see it each and every day when working with business owners. If there are at least two people that are taking the reins of day-to-day operations, it frees up the ability to squeeze in some marketing, but if you’re solo, it’s a bit more challenging so we’re here to help you develop a way to get it all done.
Here are the 5 steps to make you a marketing rock star:
1. Determine How Much Time You Can Carve Out: In order to get things done that really matter, you need to pencil in the time needed to make it happen. If for example, you visit the doctor and you’re told you have a health issue that requires exercising or else your health will exponentially deteriorate, you find that time to hit the gym. The same goes for the health of your business. If you run your profit and loss statement and your sales are repeatedly tracking down, you will need to do something about it. There are a lot of variables, but ultimately, you most likely need to get more people walking through your door, visiting your website or calling to make a reservation. In most cases, this involves marketing, so you’ll need to find the time to make it happen. Before you do anything, determine which days and how many hours each week that you can devote to implementing your marketing. Even if it’s two hours per week, that adds up to 104 hours per year more than if you stood back and just crossed your fingers.
2. Map Out a Realistic Plan: Now it’s time to get your thinking cap on. Most businesses think of a marketing plan as something that corporate teams create or what’s required to finish up your business plan when getting a loan, but it’s just as important to have in place no matter how small your operation is. Every September, you should be updating your business goals and objectives for the following year, which then allows you to map out your marketing plan for January 2nd to help you achieve those goals. Even if you’re a super small operation, this step is vital because it’s what will keep you super organized and on budget. Devote a weekend or large block of time of at least a couple hours to map out the first round of your marketing.
3. Schedule Your Marketing Action Calendar: If you’ve selected Thursdays from 8am to 10am as your designated time to work on marketing, it’s now time to determine what needs to happen each week at that time. For example, if your business goal is successfully kicking off your Back to School shopping season, then in the months leading up to that particular campaign week or weekend, you’ll want to map out the various things needed to make that happen. If it’s a special e-blast and social media campaign, you can work on small, manageable sections of these two tasks in the two months leading up to your launch. Getting the content together and working on the pages of your website that correlate with this initiative take time, so break them into easy chunks that feel like it’s quick and easy each week and before you know it, you’ll have everything in place ready to launch.
4. Work Towards Getting 2-3 Months Ahead: Nobody likes fire drills as you typically have to pay extra rush fees, vendors may be booked up, and your quality usually goes down with your execution and your customers can many times see that you’ve cut corners. For many industries, the ultimate goal is to be working on the marketing for a particular month or season when you’re purchasing inventory. By getting 2-3 months ahead of the game, you’re now giving yourself a little more cushion that many times can be vital for maintaining your sanity.
5. Track All Your Marketing: Be sure to integrate tracking of some sort into every aspect of your marketing. Use promo codes or if you have employees on the front lines, you’ll need to hammer in the habit of always inquiring what brought customers into your business. Implementing an old school piece of paper that they can simply check off the customer’s response is all you need, but this needs to be done religiously. And always be as specific as can be, so if you’re running a Facebook ad campaign, direct mail, or influencer marketing initiative be sure to document precisely what brought that person in. And at the end of each week or month, take your tallies and insert them into the far right column of the marketing budget in your marketing tracker where you document the number of customers gained and the amount of time it took to implement that marketing tactic. By doing this consistently, you’ll be able to evaluate if and how you should continue each tactic in the future.
The bottom line is that there isn’t an easy and quick way to implement marketing, but once you get the program outlined above into place you can be super organized and efficient, especially if you repurpose the content that you’re generating. Once great video from an event can be featured on your website, used to promote next year’s event, show to sponsors or partners as to the success of the event, showcased in your next email newsletter and featured in your social media feed to just name a few.
We’re here to help, so if you’d like an objectively, strategic view on how to orchestrate your marketing program, just let us know. Be sure to check out services page to see how we can make your marketing easier and effective.
We hope to see you soon!
[4 Minute Read]
Many business owners open their doors, send out direct mail, run an ad and cross their fingers. This works for very few because one critical element is typically missing. The mistake we see each and every day is that assumptions are being made as to what will convince customers to jump in their car, find & pay for parking and walk into your store or simply call you. All of those actions require a lot of effort for most of your customers and if your marketing isn’t motivating them to do so, then your time and money is being wasted.
Here are 4 steps to make your customers want to spend money with you:
If you don’t mind a little excel, just download our “marketing tracker,” which allows you to be on top of all your marketing efforts, spending and resources, just download it below.
And if you need some assistance in getting your marketing program organized so more people walk through your door, check out our services page so you can gain access to a secret weapon for your business.
[4.5 MINUTE READ]
I’ve noticed over the last year that a lot of different industries are experiencing what might be a real-life game of capture the flag. Real estate, insurance, coffee, orthodontics and many more local categories are seeing a surge of young 30-40 somethings who are extremely energetic and tech-savvy enter their competitive landscape and for the seasoned business owner, this can be a bit worrisome. The idea of a challenger to their target customer base can be frightening for those who have relied on handshakes and face-to-face meetings for the length of their career.
On the flip side, those young bucks who are masters at social media and online sales funnels may be finding it challenging to seal the deal since they don’t have a respectable number of years under their belt and find in-person networking a bit intimidating. If you haven’t “seen it all,” it could be a chink in your armor and if we’re talking about services or products that are on the higher end of the investment spectrum then that can be a definite problem when trying to meet monthly projections.
So what is the solution if you’re sitting in either of these camps? Optimally, you’ll want to explore how you can hire, collaborate or create a strategic partnership with the opposing team. If you’re able to do that, you’ve essentially assembled the A-team.
Whether you join forces or not, you’ll want to be sure that your marketing game is diversified and continually expanding, but before you do anything, there’s one thing both sides need to do. It’s simple, talk with your target customer(s) and if your target customer is gradually getting younger, it’s even more crucial to have those conversations.
Unless you do this, you’ll continue to be operating on assumptions and guesses. While these might be well-educated guesses, you’ll be experimenting with your hard-earned money, time and resources to see if you’re right, so find some time to hear it straight from your customers’ mouths. Invite your optimal customers to lunch, coffee or just a chat with you. In exchange, offer them a gift card, special VIP bonus, or something special that demonstrates your appreciation for their time.
As a local marketing strategist, I force my clients to hold these conversations as the smallest details that a client shares can mean the difference between them and similar customers walking through your door or shopping with your competitor. The beauty of this tactic is that 95% of local businesses DO NOT do this. So by now, you’re probably curious what to ask. Essentially, you’ll want to get to the point where you know your customers inside and out, from what frustrates them in life and with your industry to where they buy their groceries. All of this intel will be invaluable to you, some of it will be immediate and other information will be assist you 6 months down the line as you implement your marketing plan.
Here is a beginning list of questions to get the conversation started:
You get the picture, but as you walk through some of these questions, you’ll begin to pick up on the fact that the lifestyle they are living and breathing may very well dictate how you can infiltrate the marketing they’re already being bombarded with so you can get their attention to let them know you exist.
Now that you have an idea of what they’re all about, it’s time to dive a little deeper to determine what their essential needs and wants are, as well as what will ultimately make them happier and basically make their lives easier for them. Here are a few questions you should be able to answer so you can fine tune your brand messaging and overall marketing communications.
Once you have all this information in your hands, you will have been given the road map to reaching your target customer. And if you’re battling those who you feel have a leg up on you, you now have the secret weapon to race across the competitive landscape and grab that market share that you need to get your business back in the game. You may be feeling like you’re in a Spartan race right now, but with this new intel, the ability to now craft your brand communications so they resonate with your customers, and a marketing plan that’s rock solid, your competition is going to be shaking in their boots.
If you're looking for the secret weapon to adapt to your changing competitive landscape and ever-changing target customer, be sure to review our services as we're fired up to help you go BIG with your business.
As founder of The Root Group, Bryce Root has a sincere passion for helping small business owners via his 20+ years of diverse marketing experience.
The Santa Cruz Business Insurance Experts
"I own a fitness studio in San Francisco, which requires constant marketing. We used to market on an as-needed basis, not strategically, and our business wasn't as profitable as we knew it could be. I was looking for someone to help us establish a brand image/strategy that excited people to join. Bryce encouraged us get to know our clients more than on a surface-level before our first meeting, which has turned out to be the foundation for every business decision we've made since then.
Bryce is methodical in his work -- giving us spreadsheets, handouts and homework. He's a great teacher in that he asked us questions (instead of lecturing) so we could arrive to the best marketing decisions on our own. Our sales are more than DOUBLE what they were this time last year, thanks to Bryce!! I could go on and on about everything I've learned from this invaluable experience. If you love working on your business and watching it grow, your time with Bryce will be worth every minute. It's exciting, thought-provoking and most importantly he helped us make a lot more money than we thought possible in such a short amount time!!!"
Shala M., Co-Owner - YuBalance Fitness Studio
View more reviews