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23 02, 2016

So You Think You Understand Romance?

By |2017-03-03T12:06:49-05:00February 23rd, 2016|Categories: Advertising, Blog, Marketing, Motivation, Reaching the Consumer|Tags: , , , , , |0 Comments

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What is romantic to one is not to everyone else.

What is romantic to one is not to everyone else.

The only way you know if you’re good at it is the response you get from your target audience. Roses seem to be the flower of choice for Valentine’s Day, but not everyone likes roses.

The key is knowing your audience.

Let’s talk about something we all understand; pricing. Pricing merchandise is more than a system, it’s an art. What makes  the Tag Heuer,  Monaco watch sell for $25,000, on sale ; don’t you wonder what it costs to manufacture the product?

In some ways it looks like many other watches except the face is very unique. More than the look is the romance and history behind the watch. Yes, you can say it’s the name, but  how did they build it?

This is how the watch is explained:

In 1969, TAG Heuer released the first automatic chronograph, and broke with tradition by creating the first square waterproof case to house it. The Monaco became an instant icon on the wrist of legendary actor Steve McQueen in the 1970 film, Le Mans. TAG Heuer continues to break all the rules with the revolutionary Monaco V4, the world’s first timepiece with a belt-driven transmission.

Notice the first line, speaking about an “automatic chronograph with a square waterproof case to house it.” When I first read it I wasn’t sure it was a car or a watch! How about you?

 

Check out this description of a boring black dress:

 

Typical product description:

 

The boring Indie dress.

The boring Indie dress.

Indie Dress

 

The Indie Dress features a cross-over neckline and empire bodice. Made from 18.5 micron New Zealand merino wool. Side slash pockets. Relaxed Hood. Machine washable. By Ibex.

YAWN….

Product description with personality

Indie Dress

Free yourself from fussy when you pull on the Indie. Cross-over neckline and empire bodice move easily from well-dressed to “WOW,” but never compromises on easy care and comfort. Made of the finest blend of merino wool from only the best and happiest New Zealand sheep. 18.5 micron means wool so fine that there’s zero itch. Side slash pockets, relaxed hood. Machine washable. By Ibex.

Tips for ‘romancing your products:

1. Make it personal, ’ how would my life change or be different if I bought your product?

2. Why should I buy it; what makes ‘IT’ different than a similar product?

3. Why can’t I live without it?

“Whisper more sweet nothing in my ear. You may think actions speak louder than words, and a picture is worth a thousand of them, but you’d be amazed at what the right words can accomplish.” Jeff Greenhouse.

Lisbeth has been helping businesses build marketing and sales strategies for over 20 years. To schedule a consultation or have you speak at your business, reach her at 518.495.5380. www.lisbethcalandrino.com.

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30 12, 2011

What’s Going on With Retail?

By |2017-03-03T12:07:07-05:00December 30th, 2011|Categories: Advertising, Blog, Customer Satisfaction, Customer Service, Economy, Entrepreneurs, Reaching the Consumer|Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |2 Comments

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People seem to be out shopping and the retail news seems to be positive. Could it really be true? I decided to call , Rebecca Marion Flach, Vice President of Membership and Communication for the Retail Council of New York State.

As Vice President of Membership and Communication for the Retail Council, exactly what do you do?

I’m in charge of all internal and external communication that supports the Council’s government relations, sales and marketing and membership functions. I’m also in charge of new membership benefit programs and services for the association.

Exactly what is happening in the retail sector, is business looking up?

We had a brisk holiday season and it appears sales grew in the 2-3% range over 2010. Our members gave the season an “A-” letter grade as part of the Council’s Holiday Sales Watch. This is all good news given the state of the economy.

What does this mean for 2012? It’s tough to say although economists are pointing to slow growth next year. Unemployment is down. The stock market is rallying. Gas prices have dropped. All of these factors and many others play a role in retail sales. We’re keeping our fingers crossed for steady improvement next year. 

How do you get your information?

My colleagues and I constantly talk with members to get the pulse of retail. How is business? What trends are members seeing? What new ideas are they implementing in their stores?

The Council also surveys its members during the holiday season. We just wrapped up the 2011 Holiday Sales Watch, which consists of one mail survey and three telephone surveys we conduct between mid-September and the week after Christmas. The mail survey measures our members predictions for the upcoming holiday season, The telephone surveys begin after Black Friday Weekend to gauge what actually happened in member stores at critical points in the season.

Rebecca. I remember when I was in the retail business we always had excuses for why customers did or did not show up. It was either too cold for them to come out,  or  so nice they decided to play golf or work in the garden.

Is there such a thing as  “good” and  “marginal ones retailers?”

The Council only reports what our members tell us is happening in retail and I wouldn’t be so bold as to try to discern the difference between a good and marginal merchant. Our members are the true experts and I’m here to support them. That being said, I’ve learned over the years from members that knowing your customer and treating them like family go a long way toward success in retail.

Successful retailers constantly survey their customers to find out what products and services interest them and what they’re willing to pay for it.  I don’t mean they send mail surveys or call their customers to collect this information (although they could). It’s asking simple questions while customers are in the store or just making observations. You have to know what your customer is thinking and what is influencing their thought process.

I’ve also learned that service makes or breaks the independent merchant. Service is what distinguishes small businesses from their larger competitors and can attract or deter shoppers from coming back. As one of our Hudson Valley member always says, “Treat your customers like family.”

How is technology affecting retailers?                                                                                               

For the last two or three years we have been talking about the use of social media including Twitter, Facebook, and Google Places. Many of our members have started to build Facebook pages and are encouraging their customers to post opinions as well as talk about their products.

Those members that use social media regularly are starting to see a difference in their referrals and customers. It takes time to stay connected but this is the new platform where the consumer is communicating with businesses and other customers. In addition, customers get information about products and reviews from each other so it’s increasingly important to monitor what’s being said about your business online.

In addition to social media, mobile technology is revolutionizing retail. QR Codes are becoming very popular ways to direct customers with smart phones to more information on a product or service. Foursquare and other check-in applications give retailers some fantastic opportunities to communicate with customers. Couponing sites might make a good awareness building tool for some merchants. The options are endless, but the struggle for the small business owner is finding the time to learn about and implement these tools.

 

Are there other events that are influencing retail?

Small Business Saturday, sponsored by American Express the Saturday after Thanksgiving had a major impact this year. This was just the second year for this event, but some of our members reported customer interest and increased foot traffic as a result.

Our independent merchants tell us Black Friday is a Big Box Store event and I think it was ingenious to create a holiday designed to promote small business. It brought attention to the contributions made by small businesses to our communities and encouraged a “buy local and small” mentality that lasted far beyond November 26.

We had members who capitalized on the free publicity Small Business Saturday generated by offering special in-store promotions, featuring “Made in America” products or talking about their business’ role in the community (job creation, history, etc.)

Rebecca I can only think that Small Business Saturday can only get better as we have a few years under our belt. Retailers who took advantage of it these past years will probably have some great ideas how to make it have more impact on their business.

What about the Wall Street protests? Good Morning America noted that this is starting to have an effect on consumers.

The Wall Street Protests also seem to have encouraged many consumers to reexamine how they spend their money and where. The protests against “big banks” and “big corporations” has brought new energy to independent retail much like Small Business Saturday did. Some of our members told us they had the best holiday season they can remember from a resurgence of interest in supporting local businesses.

 

You mentioned community teamwork; how would you define this?

We are hearing from our members that consumers have reawakened to shopping locally, and we’re also learning of retailers’ willingness to work together to promote each other’s businesses in a way I haven’t noticed in the past. Business owners seem more willing to cross promote with neighboring businesses or businesses with a natural tie-in.

I’ve talked to members who are sharing brochures and coupons with neighboring businesses, hosting joint events and co-branding marketing materials. It’s a great way to spread the word about these local businesses, help them develop new customers and foster a sense of community.

It certainly is good to get some other opinions from the world of retail. I hope that this continues and we continue to see growth. Maybe Rebecca will revisit us in a few months with an update.  

 

10 Tips for Revving Up Your Business for the New Year

Based on my conversation with Rebecca, here are some ideas to explore for implementation in your business in 2012.

1.      First, have an open mind. Start thinking, what are others doing that are bringing in customers? Are these good ideas for my business? Should I be joining with other retailers, sharing coupons and inviting them to share in events?

2.      Think community. Who do I know that I could “pair up with” and have an event? Is it a restaurant, caterer, jewelry store or the local candy maker?  What type of event could we hold? Can we swap coupons or give out gift cards advertising each other’s stores? How will “being green” help your community and are you doing your part?

3.      Think about what’s cutting into my customer’s spending. If food purchasing is taking a bite out of their budget how about giving grocery coupons or partnering with a grocery store? I remember when we were in business; food was always a good gift during the holiday season. We used to give out coupons of different values based on how much the customer spent. Giving away turkeys was always a big hit.

4.      Know your customer as well as you know yourself. Many retailers are afraid to ask for email addresses or if the customer is on Facebook, they feel like they’re being intrusive. How will you get know them better if you don’t find a way to keep in touch?

5.      Get involved with local activities and don’t forget Small Business Saturday.  It’s not too early to start thinking about next year, how you can market to your customers and what can you do better? Talk with other business on your block or in your neighborhood, how can you all join forces?

6.      Get moving with social media. If you’re doing social media explore how you can do it better and take advantage of new programs. Don’t forget Four Square and other programs which offer free gifts to customers. I have a friend how used Groupon and had so much success they were overwhelmed. They couldn’t believe the response.

7.      Develop your “small business hat.” Continue to talk about how shopping in small locally owned businesses and how it can help your community.

8.      Review your customer list from past years. Who are your good customers, who is giving you business and how can you keep in touch?

9.      If social media isn’t “your thing,” review the pros and cons. What are your objections, is it helping other businesses, how can you get your salespeople involved in getting your customers to “brag” about you on line. Talk with successful businesses and ask about their on line customers; what are customers talking about?

10.  Look at new ways to communicate with your customers. Are you using video regularly, are you reusing your television and radio commercials by linking them to your social media sites. Don’t forget that YouTube surpassed Yahoo for the first time in total U.S. search queries, making it the 2nd largest search engine in the U.S. next to only its owner, Google.

Have a great New Year; maybe retail is really looking up!

Lisbeth Calandrino is a retail consultant and business coach. She can be reached through her web site or at redhotcustomerservice@nycap.rr.com.

 

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17 01, 2011

Secrets To Driving Customers Away: Closed For The Season

By |2017-03-03T12:07:11-05:00January 17th, 2011|Categories: Blog|Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |8 Comments

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A missed marketing opportunity

How many times have you driven by a farm market and seen the sign,” closed for the season”? Of course their closed, everything is nailed tight.  The place is barren, the plants are gone, why rub it in?

We can’t tell it’s  closed?

The sign just seems silly, uninviting and a turn off. Here’s why.

If every farm market has the same “we’re closed for the season sign” which one will you shop in the spring? Most likely the  one that opens first. Wouldn’t it be great if the market followed you through the winter with inspirational notes and offers! When Spring shows up you  know where to go. You’re going to see your new friends, the ones that kept in touch through the winter. The ones  who sent you an invitation  for a cup of coffee/tea and a special hello.

Why stop being in touch with your customers? Maybe Christmas is not your season, don’t stop your offers. On line is cheap.

There’s never a time when you should stop engaging the customer.

This is a missed marketing opportunity. An opportunity to stay close to your customer and get them “longing” for your opening and your products. Don’t you  love the outdoor  markets and beautiful new  flowers and herbs? When I look at the sign I think, how do they get to be closed for the winter and I don’t? Does your great customer service stop when you’re not open?

Customer service is an attitude, not a department. It’s something that should happen all the time; why close it for the winter? Customer retention is about keeping in touch with the right customers. How will you know who’s right? Send out your messages and see who replies; those are the ones who want to be “the right” customers.

My friend Dan Alcorn, Appreciation Marketing, tells me that a business loses 10% of their customers yearly. My questions are, do we know who they are and where they went? This information can tell you alot about your business and your customers. If you decide to go this route, calling these customers, be prepared for the information. The information may not be pretty but it’s reality. By the way if you’re looking for some simple tips from my book, Red Hot Customer Service, tune into my interview with Dan Alcorn and his new show,”Boosting Profits through Customer Retention” hosted by @DGANewYork on #BlogTalkRadio http://tobtr.com/s/1473950. On page 127 of my book, I talk about developing a customer profile.

Consider this: engaging the customer with the intent of staying “top of mind” instead of “out of sight out of mind!” Why not use any opportunity you have to engage the customer even when you’re closed?

If you’re “closed for the season” check this out. Some of the garden centers have a count down to Christmas, newsletters and gardening tips all year. Of course this would be a good time to sell holiday wreaths and trees.

Okay, here are some marketing thoughts. Instead of “closed for  the season” how about, “wait until you see what color we’re going to paint.”

250 days until the petunias start blooming. Now the  customer thinking, spring is on the way, I can’t wait.

Wait until you see the new colors of day lillies. Is the customer thinking, I better stop here for my new day lillies?

Check out our blog on the Queens Roses.

We’re going to have red basil for the first time. In fact, we have at least 6 different kinds of basil this year.Just a note, red basil is the best.

Don’t forget to pick up an apple pie for Memorial Day.

Register here for some beach towels. The first 20 business cards get free passes to Grafton Lake. (We can add these to our data base.)

The first letter of every sentence will spell a very important word for the summer. First right answer gets a free cherry pie. Answer on Facebook.

Follow us all year on Facebook and Twitter for gardening tips, imported bulbs and bird feeders.

Take photos of our signs and post them on your Facebook page. A winner every week.

The first person who brings in a photo on July 4th of an Elvis sighting gets a free bag of ice. If Elvis shows you might make the  national news.

I think I’ll run over tomorrow and put up a new sign, 61 days until Spring!

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2 10, 2010

Funnier Than Funny, But Does It Sell?

By |2017-03-03T12:07:12-05:00October 2nd, 2010|Categories: Blog, Competitive Advantage, Customer Service, fun, Reaching the Consumer, Sales|Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , |8 Comments

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image of Stanley Steamer commercial with alpaca

This makes me laugh!

I have been intrigued with “Have you ever cleaned an alpaca?” a commercial from Stanley Steamer. The two cleaning guys are in the truck and one is explaining how exciting it is to clean up after an Alpaca. It is cute, funny and definitely different. I went to Youtube to  view the video and look at the comments. The comments are interesting, what they say is ,  “I want and Alpaca, they’re so cute.” So much for Stanley Steamer, the cleaning company  being cute.

It would be interesting for the franchise people to ask their customers how they came into the store. Was it a friend’s recommendation or a past experience with the company.  They may have seen the commercial but  seeing the commercial might not be connected to their coming into the store. How many commercials have you seen, and liked, but didn’t drive you to the store or buy the product?

Maybe it would have been more relevant if they went to the local Humane Society and put their products in the animal cages or used their product to clean the cages. It would mean something to me and thousands of pet owners. As my friend Godzilla said, if you have an Alpaca in your house you have more problems than most of us that won’t be solved by either cleaning or special carpet.  It would have hit home and many of us would have gone to the shelter to adopt some pets. This is another important connection to the customer.

Another commercial similar to this was when Mohawk Carpet went to the Birmingham Zoo and featured Ricko the Black Rhinoceros as the featured mess maker to see if SmartStrand carpet with built-in stain resistance would do its job. Included in this was a Save the Rhino pairing with the Birmingham Zoo. This can be watched at

I love the<