SAN FRANCISCO — As owners and managers of a fabricare operation, marketing and customer relations are necessary ongoing projects.
You may see this dual duty as enjoyable and interesting; as a tremendous challenge; a necessary evil; or, in the worst, most disastrous case, to be ignored.
You may spend more time than warranted. You may neglect it despite the need. You may even determine that it is a duty better delegated to someone else, internal or external.
Regardless of approach, there are general plans and budget issues that require executive oversight. You need the right mix of old-school tradition and hot new media.
As always, for effective project oversight, the essentials must be: clearly defined goals and desired outcomes, accompanied by adequate and reasonable resource allocation.
GOALS AND GOALFISH
Here are some goals to consider as part of your marketing plan:
- Retain the maximum number of current customers;
- Maximize the share-of-wallet of each customer (both existing and newly acquired);
- Attract as many new customers as possible;
- Attract a new customer segment;
- Show the benefits of doing business with you;
- Highlight the ease and convenience you offer; and
- Improve the content, timeliness, and variety of channels of communication.
These objectives are not mutually exclusive. They do, however, need to be prioritized and weighted to convey a clear, consistent message to the selected audience you are addressing with any given message. The messages also need to be frequent and interesting enough to attract the mindful attention of the intended audience.
To achieve your desired outcome, the message has to break through the radar screen to the receiver’s conscious awareness.
First, you must grab the attention of your target audience and then keep their attention long enough to absorb your message.
How many times have you noticed a unique ad but can’t remember the product it was pitching?
According to a study from Microsoft Corp., one which has been largely circulated on the Internet this past year, human attention span is now down to 8 seconds (less than a goldfish, at 9 seconds). That is a short window of opportunity!
Let’s examine the various listed intentions and consider proven ways to create attentiveness resulting in the desired responses.
Customer retention is the easiest and least expensive of all approaches to stabilize and grow your business.
Current customers are receptive because they have already chosen you, and they are easy to reach because you know them and have direct access to reach them by phone, by “snail mail,” by e-mail and by text. If this is not true for you, upgrade your point-of-sale (POS) computer system or upgrade your usage of your current system to ensure customer contact information capture.
This is basic to marketing and customer relationship management 101. As they say at Nike – Just do it!
You already know a great deal about your customers and their lifestyles. If you don’t believe this, offer your customer service team 25 cents for every piece of information they can list about a customer.
You will be amazed at the individual data gathered. Just make sure it is captured in the customer file.
Information is critical in communicating with your customers in a personalized, helpful way that is interesting to them.
Example: You may know a customer’s child is graduating from college. Send them an interview suit source and offer a complimentary first cleaning or shirt laundering between interviews.
That will increase loyalty from the parents and attract a newly minted professional who is just joining the workforce.
A simple, efficient and quasi-scientific way to find information about your customers’ aggregate lifestyle is database profiling, discussed at length in previous American Drycleaner articles.
It generates a list of interests, activities and preferences of the majority of your best customers. If you have not yet profiled, it is overdue.
Your POS system will also divulge your customers’ favorite brands and most coveted designers.
Letting them know about a trunk or fashion show or a sale at a store will build loyalty and eagerness to open your messages. It will also gain points with the retailers that are great referral sources.
I can hear your minds rejecting this suggestion as too difficult to implement! Not so!
Run a list of your most commonly cleaned brands, then run the list of customers that bring them, creating a perfect e-mail/SMS target list.
Ask retailer partners the following questions to get message content:
- New line arrival date?
- Planned brand events?
- Available video of runway shows?
- Season design theme?
Designate an articulate, fashion-minded associate to regularly interact with retailers and let your system implement the customer communication automatically.
Auto-generated messages about ready orders, old orders not retrieved, current specials and seasonal promptings can be augmented by truly personalized messages sent periodically by the primary contact.
Yes, your customer service reps have ample time to communicate with individual customers and this should be a regular part of their job description and responsibility.
Personalized one-to-one communication is not as difficult as it appears initially. Make it part of your system.
Remember the TV show Cheers? The regulars keep going back to the bar because “everybody knows your name.” Use that wisdom to retain and grow the business with your current customer base.
Additionally, you have other alternatives that reach current customers as a group, such as in-store advertising like rotating service messages via flat-screen TV, hang tags on orders, and graphics-adorned vans driving through neighborhoods. Remember, it takes multiple impressions to elicit action.
Check back Thursday for the conclusion.