I'm so proud!
BuyerZone has just published its list of The 20 Best Business Marketing Blogs of 2012 and Flooring The Consumer is included in postion #7!
Here is the complete list of the BuyerZone Best of the Blogs 2012. I am in amazing company and delighted to be listed alongside several dear marketing blog friends!
1. Lee Odden for TopRank Online Marketing Blog
2. Shawn Collins for Affiliate Tip
3. Ann Handley for MarketingProfs Daily Fix
4. Drew McLellan for Drew's Marketing Minute
5. Tara Jacobsen for Marketing Artfully
6. Christina Kerley for CK's (B2B) Blog
7. Flooring The Consumer
8. Derek Johnson for Tatango SMS Marketing Blog
9. Matt West for The Genius Blog
10. Michael Brenner for B2B Marketing Insider
11. Dan Garfield for Orange Soda Internet Marketing Blog
12. Brian DeKoning for Vital Design Blog
13. Carol Flammer for mRelevance Blog
14. David Fortino for BlogNotions Marketer Blog
Honorary Mentions to:
Congratulations to all of us! Special congratulations to Lee, Ann, Drew, CK, Michael, Valeria, Douglas and Rohit!
Most importantly, thank you, dear readers! I hope you will explore the entire list and discover new marketing blog finds to inspire you for 2012...
The local retail experience fascinates me. As much as customers use online tools for research and even purchase, local resources matter. Particularly if those local retailers recognize and respond to their needs in a relevant way that - ideally - integrates the online experience with the in-store one and generates customer satisfaction.
Ace Hardware's Customer Loyalty and Satisfaction Lessons:
1. Have a clear sense of mission and how that translates to your customers' lives.
2. Develop an intensely local flavor to create connection with your local community. In addition to building relationships, this means that you offer products and services that are customized to meet the needs, desires and preferences of your local market.
3. Speak to customers in a personal manner
- both in terms of tone [i.e., make it sounds like it comes from a human being who cares] and customization. Use your data analytics - perhaps not to the same extent as is described in NYT's How Companies Learn Your Secrets
- to recognize your customer's purchases so you can thank them and create relevant offers to entine them to return.
For organizations wanting to get more customers, I recommend offering visitors and customers the option to opt-in to email and text messages rather than automatically enroll them in communications from you.
Although this seems like a no-brainer to me, let me explain my logic.
Over the holidays, I narrowly escaped getting subscribed to text messages from Sears as I completed a purchase. My only salvation was asking the somewhat surly cashier about a pre-checked box on the digital credit card signature device.
Imagine the damage Sears would have done to its relationship with me had I not realized its stupidity! I am not subscribed to any kind of texting service through my phone carrier. [Many people in this country aren't either.] Which means that for each of Sears' unsolicited text messages, I would have been charged money.
For the privilege of paying for Sears' messages, I would have gotten increasingly angrier since I never asked to receive text messages and the text messages couldn't possibly have any relevance to me.
As it is, I consider Sears' understanding of its customers and appreciation for digital marketing tools to be naive - at best. However, having escaped, I'll simply tread cautiously around them and remember forever what they were willing to do to a customer.
Imagine a different scenario. As I checked out, the cashier invited me to receive either text messages or emails [my choice] about upcoming sales relevant to my purchase. I could opt-in to receive daily, weekly or monthly messages with discounts available only for those customers who opted-in.
I would have willingly signed up for the monthly email communication - to check it out.
In other words, as it relates to interactions with customers, it's critical for retailers and businesses to:
- Ask permission to communicate with them on a regular basis
- Explain what's in it for them
- Offer them the opportunity to easily remove themselves
From a digital perspective, a marvelous solution for getting more customers comes from using website landing pages which invite visitors to learn more about offers such as signing up or opting in to email [or text] communications and provide them with tangible reasons for doing so.
In a real-life retail environment, the same can be accomplished by explaining verbally the benefits associated with the invitation.
Interestingly, in doing so you invite customers and visitors to provide you with feedback and perspective - which in turn might help you fine-tune your offerings.
What's your reaction to being duped into email or text messages? What have you found works best in convincing customers to opt-in to your communications?
I admire retail thoughtfulness
, the kind of careful attention to details that communicates to customers that they matter and that translates into a talk-worthy retail experience. Zipcar
and Nufloors Coquitlam
understand this as do the two retailers featured in this NRF2012 article titled How to make your customers love you more
Thoughtful Retail Experience: Nufloors Coquitlam
During my Surfaces 2012 Marketing and Selling to Flooring and Stone Power Consumers (aka Women!)
presentation, I shared the case study of Nufloors Coquitlam
, a flooring store in BC, which epitomizes a thoughtful retail experience.
Here are a few of the details that General Manager Cynthia Dean pays attention to:
- Creating an inviting store appearance that reinforces: ‘We Sell Fashion’
- Cleaning the carpets on a monthly basis
- Steam cleaning the bathroom grout lines
- Putting away flooring samples consistently
- Ensuring clear sight lines to the back of the store
- Banishing bits of paper stuck to the walls
- Making sure that price tags are neat
- Offering large umbrellas by the front door for customers to stay dry
- Having a bowl of red and green apples and fresh flowers at the reception desk
- Creating a comfortable seating area
- Welcoming store visitors and offering them coffee & water
- Keeping the parking lot tidy
- In the spring and summer, growing flowers in the pots outside the front door
- Selecting giveaway Nufloor pens that don't fall apart
- Offering a chocolate bar for completing an instore survey
It's amazing how much customers appreciate thoughtful touches. Just think about your recent retail experiences...
Thoughtful Retail Experience: Zipcar
My friend Gary Petersen, who lives in New York City, sent me the following email about Zipcar
Zipcar - not sure you know about them being a suburban dweller, but the car less (and small carbon footprint urban dwellers) love it.
Basically the premise is one joins the Zipcar club, $50 year, and you can rent cars on line for specific periods of time - two hours to two days. (Not a long time long distance opportunity, but that is not their niche.)
You get a card with a infra red reader on it, and you order the specific car you want, on line, from many venues which are garages, or parking lots. Within a 5 minute walk from our building are 5 locations. No paper work, no waiting in line, nada. You call up 30 minutes in advance, go to the lot, wand the reader on the car and off you go. They pay for gas and insurance. Now it has its own little things you have to deal with, but for me it's great.
Now the great marketing: this insert [pictured above] on a notice from them describing reserved parking at IKEA for Zipcar. This is a major problem for manhattan dwellers - if you go to Ikeat how do you get the stuff home? Zipcar ties the short term rental with easy parking, genius!!
I agree this is genius! Zipcar thoughtfully considers its customers' or members' pain points and addresses them in a remarkable way that gets them talking about it. It makes me wish I weren't a suburban dweller and had reason to use them regularly.
Which are the little details you focus on that help you deliver a thoughtful retail experience?
Here are the links and resources that caught my attention this week ending 2/3/12 related to the retail experience. I hope you find them as intriguing as I did!
For the record, according to Punxsutawney Phil, 6 more weeks of winter...
Retail Experience Ideas
Retail Experience and the Consumer
Kohl’s: The Best Department Store for Customer Service
Integrating Offline/Online Retail Experiences