Dear Valued Customer: Blah blah blah blah blah

21 12 2011

Personalize it!Let’s get personal…

The holidays are a time when we connect most deeply with our own unique traditions and very precious and personal family moments.

It’s also a time when the outside world most adamantly sticks its nose into our beeswax. And in reality, it has to because, for many companies, this time of year is when their products and services are needed most. They have to blast their message out to out-market their competitors… their long-term survival depends on it!

We expect marketing bombardment from the big guys, and we expect it to be about as personal as a visit to the Secretary of State (i.e. not at all). But as a local business, this actually gives us the edge. We CAN be personal because we KNOW our customers!

The Dreaded Form Letter
We’ve all been subjected to holiday form letters from twice removed cousins and acquaintances-of-lifetimes-past… they usually start with “Dear Friends & Family… Well, it’s been quite a year for us…”

The irony of form letters is that those we cherish most are almost always “in the loop,” especially today with social networking. They already know the important things going on in our lives. And if they don’t, an impersonal form letter is hardly the way to make them feel valued.

Well, businesses are just as guilty of this societal faux pas. At a time of year defined by its intensely personal vibe, “Dear Valued Customer” has about as much impact as ‘nog’-less eggnog. A warm, personalized, handwritten (if possible) holiday wish will always mean more, impress more, inspire more and show true respect for those people who are keeping you in business.

Stamp-n-Send
Quickie photo cards are becoming all the rage these days – drop a few family photos into a seasonal template, print, stamp and send. These might find a temporary home on the fridge of close family, but it requires no consideration for the recipient. Where’s the personalized touch that lets you know that you’re more than just a line item on a holiday mailing list?

Is your business guilty of sending similarly “production line” postcards? A staff photo, or pictures of staff in action/using your product is a definite improvement over smiling stock photo models. And when a personal note just isn’t feasible, try including something you know will benefit your customers or make their lives easier during the holidays (coupons, free in-store chair massages, 1-day turn-around on home deliveries). Let your customers know that they’re more than just a wallet.

The DMT Challenge
This is a sacred time of year. It’s okay to mass market but, if you want to be part of the inner circle, leave the fakery to the box stores. Just be genuine! So here’s my challenge to you:

Brainstorm 5 ways you can personalize your holiday message to your customers. Over the coming year, flesh out your ideas, and test them during annual holidays, like Easter, your business’ anniversary and Halloween. By the time the winter holidays roll around next year, you’ll have a terrific system in place for making your customers feel like family!

As I type, the post office has just delivered a box of homemade cookies, hand-sewn holiday potholders and a handwritten card from one very splendid pair of friends. Thanks for the perfectly timed example, you two!

Dawn M. Tomczyk  |  DMT Artistry, LLC  |  810.923.4582  |  dawn@dmtartistry.com

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Hot Dog Street Vendors: A Marketing Misconception

12 01 2011

Hot Dog MarketingNew York. Chicago. Los Angeles. Pick nearly any big, bustling city, and you’re bound to trip over a hot dog stand or two… or ten. A layperson might understandably assume that these street-side vendors don’t have a single care in the world when it comes to marketing. Business literally walks right up to their window.

But there’s where the misconception is born. Location is marketing, is it not? We already discussed in last week’s post how customer service is marketing, as well. And let’s not forget the signage, fliers, sales pitches and word-of-mouth referrals that those condiment clad businesses-a-la-wheeled-cart generate on a daily basis.

If anything, hot dog vendors are often the most creative marketers out there. They have to be, with their competition just a block away in either direction.

There’s a lesson to be learned here, particularly for “downtown” store owners.

It’s easy, when your business is settled in the “right” location – high visibility, high foot traffic – to think that your marketing work is done.

It’s not. In fact, it’s REALLY not, because you’re surrounded by an entire street or city full of establishments that are competing for that same dollar in your potential customer’s pocket.

You run a bakery? That dollar was just spent on a flashy magazine in the drug store window. Sorry.

You sell handmade scarves? Whoops! That dollar just went toward a steamy cappuccino.

Now stretch your brains even further, and wrap around this concept: Every single one of our businesses is competing in the biggest, most heavily trafficked city of them all… the Worldwide Web. Whether or not you sell “internetically”, or are even internet-savvy, your competition is marketing there. Know that your presence online – or lack thereof – is speaking volumes about your business.

Think like a hot dog street vendor. Your competition is as close as the nearest store – or the nearest computer. So, stay sharp, stay creative and STAY MARKETING!

If the circus is coming to town and you paint a sign saying “Circus Coming to the Fairground Saturday”, that’s advertising.

If you put the sign on the back of an elephant and walk it into town, that’s promotion.

If the elephant walks through the mayor’s flower bed, that’s publicity.

And if you get the mayor to laugh about it, that’s public relations.

If the town’s citizens go the circus, you show them the many entertainment booths, explain how much fun they’ll have spending money at the booths, answer their questions and ultimately, they spend a lot at the circus, that’s sales.

And, if you planned the whole thing, that’s Marketing!

~Unknown

Dawn M. Tomczyk  |  DMT Artistry, LLC  |  810.923.4582  |  dawn@dmtartistry.com





The Most Powerful Tool in Your Marketing Arsenal

5 01 2011

Your Most Important Customer Service ToolToday, let’s talk about the mortar that holds all of your marketing together; this is the foundation that can crack your campaigns into pieces or place them atop a mighty pillar of success. We’re talking about “THE BIG C.S.

Customer. Service.

If you’re wondering what customer service has to do with marketing, allow me to clarify: it doesn’t have anything to do with marketing. It IS marketing.

Every time you smile and greet a customer warmly, you are a living, breathing billboard of good will and great company representation. And every time you handle a client complaint with speed and consideration, you are acting out a commercial of solid company principles.

So let’s look at four crucial points to keep in mind when you’re working your customer service marketing magic:

1)  When people do business with you, they are effectually doing business with a person – you or an employee – not your company as a whole. That’s why a lazy employee or a rude technician can spell the death of repeat business. At the point of sale or service, they ARE the company.

To put it bluntly, if the interpersonal experience is bad, you can kiss the return on investment from the rest of your marketing dollars goodbye.

2)  The “cheesy car salesman” stereotype isn’t limited to used car sales. It’s a stereotype that’s unfortunately applied to just about anyone with a product or service to sell… and that means, as business owners and employees, we’re often “shysters” until proven otherwise. Time, patience and a continual upholding of remarkable customer service standards are your best marketing tools to change this preconceived notion.

3)  Stellar customer service will keep ’em coming back for more. (Read my previous post, How to Build Rabidly Devoted Customers, for ideas on how to make that happen!)

4)  In ticklish situations with a dissatisfied customer, give yourself and the client a moment to reflect whenever possible. In the heat of the moment, I GUARANTEE that both of you will respond very differently upon immediate action (under duress) versus in a calmer moment (after reflection).

Remember, too, your customer is expecting you to say “no”. They’ve already pre-lined their argument with tanks and other heavy artillery. If you disarm them with an unexpected gesture of fairness and empathy, you’ve not only turned your customer service into a marketing boon, but converted that customer into the coolest kind of marketing… a walking testimonial.

Repeat business and referrals will tell you if you’re doing your customer service marketing right. It’s the most important and often-overlooked tool in your marketing arsenal. Set your business apart by using it!

We’re proud of our reputation for first-rate customer service here at…

DMT Artistry, LLC  |  Dawn M. Tomczyk  |  810.923.4582  |  dawn@dmtartistry.com