Creative Combustion Blog
Marketing and branding tips for the badass small business owner.
Showing all posts from November 2011.
November 29, 2011
Great rock bands have been doing it for decades. They deliver a monster show. They work their audience into a fever pitch. Finally, after a few bows, they make their way off of the stage as the crowd roars. But they know the concert’s not over—not until they come out for an encore. Sure they could head straight for the tour bus, but instead great rock bands always give their fans more.
That was exactly what happened when the Drive-By Truckers (pictured above) made a stop in Pittsburgh. After they finished their set, they came back out for a hand clapping, hard charging southern rock encore. The crowd LOVED it. I LOVED it. And that got me thinking about how much I love it when small businesses give their customers that little something extra.
Although I’m sure we’d all agree it doesn’t happen nearly enough, a few examples immediately came to mind. They are, in no particular order:
A handwritten note. About a week after I purchased my first-ever couch, I received a nice handwritten note in the mail from my salesperson. Just to be clear, I’m talking about a personalized handwritten note, not something that was printed in comic sans font to look as though it was handwritten. I really appreciated the gesture and reading it immediately brought a smile to my face.
A mint. For years, Uncle Sam’s Subs, one of my all-time favorite restaurants, would place a mint under the wax paper in every one of their sandwich baskets. Even though I always knew it would be there, I always got a kick out of finding it. It was something a little extra. A nice little surprise (a surprise that also freshened your breath after downing a delicious chipped steak sub).
A $3.00 refund. This example actually comes from Mark Hayes over at Shopify following an unexpected refund he received when he ordered some 3D Doodle Pads. As you’ll see from his blog post about it, that one small gesture had a huge impact on him.
So what would you add to the list? I’d love to hear what you’re already doing to give your customers a little something extra or, on the flip side, what businesses have done to give you an encore performance. Share your thoughts below.
November 22, 2011
There’s just something about small businesses that you have to love. The unique character and product selection you can’t find at big box retailers. The pride of ownership that permeates through their employees.
When you stop and think about it, small businesses are the one thing that makes each city or town different from all of the others.
Small Business Saturday, now in its second year, is a day dedicated to supporting the awesomeness that is small business. It’s a day for you to go out and shop at all of your favorite stores while also providing a much needed boost to the economy.
If you’re a small business owner, be sure to check out the Small Business Saturday site for a treasure trove of resources and tools that will help you create a Facebook page, increase your followership on Twitter, and generate some buzz.
If you’re a shopper, get out on November 26 and support your local haunts.
And while you’re at it, share what you love about your favorite small businesses by leaving a comment below.
Categories: Marketing Strategy
November 18, 2011
NoWait, creators of a really cool App designed to help eliminate long waits at popular restaurants, are asking their Twitter followers to recommend those they think could use their queue management and mobile marketing solution. As part of their new “Tweet to Eat” sweepstakes, participants also have the chance to win a $50 restaurant gift card for their efforts.
If you’re a small business owner and you’ve been thinking about using social media to help generate leads and drive engagement, there are definitely a few key takeaways from their campaign you should consider.
- Harness the power of the crowd. By asking their followers for leads, they’re not only engaging them in dialogue but they’re also expanding their universe of potential clients.
- Keep your signup as simple as possible. Think about the information you absolutely can’t live without and don’t ask for one thing more. In this case, they require the restaurant name, city and state and your name and email. That’s it.
- Include an incentive. Everybody likes a chance to be rewarded for their efforts. With the NoWait sweepstakes, participants have a chance to win a gift card to a restaurant—bound to appeal to their followership which I’m sure is comprised mainly of passionate foodies.
- Encourage social sharing. Once participants submit their recommendation, their suggestion is then tweeted with the hashtag tweettoeat. Not only are they engaging their followers in dialogue and gaining new leads, they’re using Twitter to help spread the word to others.
NoWait has been able to use Twitter to generate leads and engage with their audience. Their “Tweet to Eat” campaign launched yesterday and so far it looks like they’ve received quite a few suggestions—many of which I’m sure weren’t previously on their radar.
But this is just one example. Who else would you include? Are there any strategies you’d add to the list above?
November 17, 2011
Friendly? Uptight? Hipster? Disheveled? Disinterested? Every small business has a vibe. And it typically plays a HUGE part in defining your small business brand. In fact, I would argue it’s often more important than any product or service you’re selling. Your customers experience it the moment they walk in your front door. It shapes the way they perceive you, your products and your services. It defines their shopping experience.
Right before Halloween, I had a chance to check out The Penn Avenue Fish Company. Their vibe was the first thing that greeted me at the door.
Although I couldn’t pin it down precisely, they had music playing in the background that gave the place an urban hipster vibe. Whatever it was, it immediately told me two things 1) it’s probably not in the regular rotation on Spotify and 2) that’s the way they want it. They understand that music helps to create a mood.
But you don’t have to be a trendy restaurant for music to matter—the same rule applies whether you own a hair salon, bicycle shop, gas station, or consignment shop (actually, I think it also extends to your “hold” music but I’m going to save that one for a future post). Think about the mood you want to create for your customers and choose your music accordingly. If you don’t know where to start, think about what you like to listen to.
The next thing I noticed was the guy standing behind the sushi counter. He was dressed from head to toe in Native American garb. I’m still not sure if that was his Halloween costume (99%) or if it was his “everyday walking around” outfit (1%), but either way it was memorable. It had a way of making you feel like you were part of an “in” crowd even if you didn’t know it existed.
What made it cool wasn’t his outfit, but the fact that he was cool enough to wear it and that The Penn Avenue Fish Company was cool enough to let him—both of which helped to reinforce that same urban hipster vibe you could glean from their music selection. Their employees created a unique personality for their business in much the same way Southwest Airlines was able to do (think “jokester/unconventional airline”).
Of course, to be successful over the long haul you need to have a great vibe and a great product. To that end, I have to say the folks at The Penn Avenue Fish Company didn’t disappoint. The sushi was delicious, the music and lighting were just right, and the guy wearing the Halloween costume was just the icing on the vibe cake.
Think about your vibe—what’s the personality of your business? Fancy costumes notwithstanding, what makes it truly unique and memorable?
[Image: Flickr user atl10trader]
November 15, 2011
This is a Guest Post by Campaigner Product Manager Paul Turnbull
34% of small businesses are implementing their first holiday email marketing campaign this year. That’s according to an internal survey we recently conducted at Campaigner. Since the holidays are the most critical time of the year to attract new customers and boost sales, it’s vital those first timers understand how to effectively create and distribute their email campaigns if they’re going to have a successful and profitable holiday season.
To maximize the success of your holiday email marketing campaigns, consider the following tips:
- Get Social. If you don't already, add a page for your business on Facebook and become active on Twitter. This will allow you to repackage what's already been sent out in your emails on the page and via your tweets. You can share a link to your Facebook page and Twitter handle with your current email subscribers and suggest they share it with their friends.
- Provide interesting content. Both Facebook and Twitter offer a fresh way to republish enewsletter content and promotions. The catch - you only have 140 characters for each tweet you send your Twitter followers. However, there's a major upside: you now have a direct way to interact with customers and shoppers who may not yet be aware of what you're selling.
- Include a strong call to action. On your blog, Facebook and Twitter pages, use hyperlinks to make sure your customers and prospects can find you through your newsletters and drive traffic to your site and dedicated landing pages. This way you can review click feedback, etc.
Above all, you want to make sure your holiday email program has a long-term return on investment for your business. The service provider you choose should offer analytics on open emails, clicks, bounces, and opt-outs that you can use to help drive your content strategy. You should also track your sales based on promotions included in your emails using Google Analytics parameters in your links. That will give you a great head start on next year’s email program.
Paul Turnbull is the Product Manager for Campaigner® and is responsible for product design and providing an easy to use email marketing solution for small-medium businesses.
[Image: Flickr user Doug Wertman]Next Page »
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