Catch me if you can

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The multichannel world has given the consumer more power than ever before. Power to educate one self, to compare, to choose, to interact, to participate ... power to shop the competition like never before. So how are the great brands able to capture the hearts of consumers and create loyalty? Smart marketers have learned to create passion via marketing experiences that allow consumers to participate.

Consider Pottery Barn, which has become a home design resource for customers. In its catalog, the firm now offers design tips and suggestions. It can even give consumers paint chips if they are trying to achieve the same look found in its catalog spreads. And it's not just within the catalog that it offers design help. Consumers can purchase a coffee-table book compiled by Pottery Barn that demonstrates different ways to achieve the "Pottery Barn look."

This holiday, Pottery Barn even offered e-mail invitations to its stores for a class on holiday decorating. Pottery Barn understands the art of capturing the heart and pocketbook of the customer.

The Home Depot has long understood the value of offering workshops for both adults and children within its bricks-and-mortar stores to teach customers how to "do-it-yourself." With its recently launched catalog, it now offers customers an alternative way to shop.

But it doesn't stop there. Online, customers can find a wealth of information beyond just a shopping cart. They can find instructional videos, design inspiration and project ideas. The company also allows cosnumers to have a voice in product reviews (similar to Amazon book reviews).

What does it take to engage customers? The first and most important step is to "know thy customer." Before you can engage them you must first understand what they care about. Many successful multichannel marketers have engaged marquee customers to help them create marketing programs, choose products and provide other valuable feedback. The good news is that this does not have to cost a lot of money with the ease of online research.

What are you doing to "catch" the hearts of your customers? Understand that the only path to loyalty is through passion and the only path to passion is to allow customers to participate. In his book Blueprint to a Billion, David Thomson writes, "Customer passion is the sweet smell of exponential growth. No matter how big your business is, this fact of nature applies to all." So, how will you catch your customer's heart? First, get to know them. Then, allow them to participate. n

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