Common Sense Will Pay Big DividendsMarketing in today's complicated landscape of retail, direct mail and Internet has grown overly sophisticated. It relies too heavily on technology and too little on common sense to identify the best customers and prospects.
Worse yet, when marketers finally find their loyal followers, they forget how to nurture them. I am beginning to think the basic corner store mentality has finally become extinct.
It is true that all people are created equal. But I will argue that not all customers should be treated equally. The marketing strategies oaf using loyalty clubs and premier status are as common today as vanilla ice cream. Common sense marketing, with the use of data, needs to be dusted off again.
Did you ever wonder why some grocery stores promote the express lane for customers with "10 items or less"? Common sense marketing would scream that this makes no sense and that you need to treat your best customers, who buy many items, with better service! The smartest marketer would have special checkout lanes for customers with "150 items or more." Now, take this thought process and apply it to the traditional retail marketer.
If you are an apparel or sporting goods retailer, query your database to learn the purchase behavior of your best customers. Develop a value metric to determine the best buyers and how many items these high-value customers typically buy when they visit your store. If you find the number of customers who buy an above-normal amount of items to be of extra value, then go the extra mile and create an express lane for these super shoppers. Send these customers a postcard or e-mail with a coupon and invite them to come in and try out your new premier customer service.
The point is to make customers feel good about buying lots of items from you and having them purchase frequently. The new "mega special customer" lane could feature free coffee, cookies or soda. Treat the kids to a free piece of candy or fruit. Try this with the Internet shopping carts and throw in an extra something at no charge. Customers still like nice surprises. This is EZ Pass with a marketing twist.
I have read so many articles about retail companies looking to invest in technology that will help store managers recognize loyal customers. This next idea makes all the concern about privacy a moot point. The next time you are in a shopping mall, count the number of times you see someone wearing Chico's, Eddie Bauer, Limited Too or Dick's Sporting Goods logo apparel.
Does your company sell logo apparel? If someone walked in your store wearing your company logo merchandise, do you need a machine to tell you this is your customer? This is your brand walking around for free. Retail managers and sales clerks should be trained to walk up to these customers quickly, hand them a coupon for 10 percent off any one item and say "thank you for coming in!" Hug these customers because they love you.
Finally, one of the biggest problems I have seen within many customer databases is the overabundance of one-time buyers. This problem can be as high as 60 percent of the customer file. Trying to convert these customers to multi-buyers can be tough, but with a little common sense, your problem can be solved easily.
The simplest way to make a multi-buyer is to make it easy for customers to shop with you again. Retail customers that return items are really multi-buyers in disguise, but most retailers do not realize this. Why? It is because the return customer line is conceived as a place where customers complain. Do not waste this golden opportunity to help these customers know they are appreciated.
Listen closely and you will hear them say they want to buy from you again and that is why they "returned" to your store. Offer them coffee or soda and make them feel relaxed. Give them the choice of cash or store credit. Make it easy for them to buy from your store again, and you will see your profit increase.
It is common sense and the marketing intelligence behind the scenes that help the smartest marketer blend data and technology. This combination creates a formula that invites the multichannel customer to buy from you again and again. Common sense also makes multichannel marketing much more fun. Everyone has common sense, but it is uncommon to see a majority of marketers using it.