Monday, December 7, 2009

Merchant of the Month: Caribou Coffee

This month, LIFT Network features the second-largest, company-owned gourmet coffee house, Caribou Coffee.  In the third quarter of 2009, the coffee company launched their new mobile marketing campaign in order to better specifically target market to the 18-34 age demographic.  Caribou consumers can currently receive $1 off any large drink or a free drink with the purchase of a pound of coffee.

“This is our first foray into mobile marketing,” said Jake Miller, brand marketing manager for Caribou Coffee, Minneapolis. “We look at mobile couponing as a new way for us to drive store traffic, increase trial of our coffee and convert new guests to loyal customers." 

“By offering our [new and existing customers] mobile coupons, we are hopefully introducing [them] to our premium craft-roasted coffee,” he said. “If we can get trial, we know there is a very good chance that customer will come back again. We also know that, generally speaking, the mobile coupon subscriber is slightly younger than the average Caribou Coffee guest, so this a great way to introduce our brand to a new group of potential future brand advocates.”

Caribou launched mobile coupons in all of its 443 retail locations across 18 states in the United States. Caribou sells coffee to its customers via several channels, including grocery locations, online and via its coffeehouses.  Consumers show the coupon offer code on their mobile phone to the person at the register to receive the discount.

Click Here to learn how Mobile Marketing can benefit your business!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Happy Customers? Think Again...

According to the LA Times Business section this morning, "retailers say they want shoppers to be satisfied, but few have the resources to deliver the goods."  Does that hit home with any of you?  Do you feel like no matter what you do, you will never be able to compete with the big big retailers, like Best Buy?  Or do you have a loyalty niche that you'd like to share with the rest of us? "Customer satisfaction has become such a scarce commodity in the business world, it's now a selling point at a time when companies are increasingly desperate for shoppers' dollars," says the Times.

The [Big] Difference Between YOU and Best Buy
This week, Best Buy launched a nationwide marketing campaign under the banner "They'll be happy, you'll be happy, we'll be happy."  Besides the obvious HAPPY connotation, Best Buy wants the customer to spend more and therefore, will do whatever it takes to ensure that gift recipients are pleased with what they get.  That's the idea anyway.  However, after reflecting on my own experiences and reading the LA Times article, I realized that implementation will be a huge challenge. 

Why?  How many times have you strolled down the aisles with the intention of buying something, but having to hunt to find someone to help you?  Or, even worse, when you actually find someone to help you, they really don't know anything about what they are selling.  Look, I don't mean to pick on Best Buy, but I am trying to prove a point that customer satisfaction is even a struggle for the biggest competitors; and they are practically daring consumers to come in and see for themselves!  Sometimes it feels like companies are determined to chase us away, rather than do everything in their power-- especially at times like these-- to build customer loyalty.

So here's where you come in.  Here is where you can compete with the Best Buys, the Targets, and the Wall-Marts of the world.  As long as customers continue to demand low low low prices, then the constant employee turnover will remain.  At some level, consumers want some level of service and will pay more (often) to get it.  Instead of comparing prices, compare service.  Instead of ambivalent employees caring less whether or not "we" return, train your employees to treat every customer like an owner.  Isn't that who "owns" your business anyway?

Monday, November 2, 2009

Social Media: Are You Being Left Out?

This is one of the most up-to-date videos I have seen on Social Media... Enjoy!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Top 5 Email Tips for the Holidays

Sending excessive holiday emails isn't just bad behavior -- it shows a lack of strategy, and it's ineffective.  Nonstop discount emails teach consumers that they should wait to buy, and more importantly, they diminish brand loyalty.  That's not an effective way to drive holiday business. Too much holiday email erodes customers' trust, disrespects their inboxes, and drives them to either ignore the emails or click "unsubscribe."

How can you avoid the temptation to over-communicate? Here are five ideas for planning a successful holiday email marketing strategy:

1. Keep it short 'n' sweet. Recognize that when the holiday volume of email goes up, your communications need to be brief, carefully timed, and relevant. Speaking of which...

2. Create relevant content. Address your customers' needs and concerns heading into the holidays. Ask them what's on their minds, what challenges they're facing, and how you can help. Share your findings in a future email newsletter and your content will pop. That will build trust and earns customer loyalty, in good times and tough times too.

3. Get creative with promotions. Don't fall prey to the rapid discounting that the big-box businesses did last year. You can offer seasonal promotions that set your brand apart in a sustainable way, while supporting other local businesses and charitable organizations.

For example, Rothman's, a men's clothing store in New York, offered its own version of "cash for clunkers" to get the attention of its readers. The email promotion invited customers to turn in their old suits, which would be donated to charity, and the customer would get $100 toward a new suit. A similar concept can be used for many other businesses.

4. Offer "holiday special" cross-promotions with other businesses that complement yours, such as a bookstore that offers a package where the purchase of a certain cookbook includes an invitation to a special event dinner at a local restaurant.

5. Support your local economy. The Kitchen Outfitter, a store near my home, ran a great promotion last holiday season: The owner brought together other businesses in the strip mall where it's located and they all threw a party for customers. The owner also got the local music school involved for entertainment, adding to the holiday cheer. The businesses work together to drive a big audience, increase their holiday sales, and make it a memorable event. Email marketing is a central piece of the promotion: Each participant promotes the event in their communication, thus broadening each business' exposure.

As a small business owner, you have an advantage over big businesses because you can share your knowledge and passion for your business, and communicate with your customers on a more intimate level. Email marketing is your best tool to foster that communication and earn your customers' trust and loyalty -- now and through the holidays.

No one can say for sure how this holiday season will pan out. But if you plan a thoughtful holiday email marketing strategy now, you will set yourself up for success in the coming months and into the new year. Customers will appreciate you for handling the holidays with class, while respecting their inboxes.

Again, this valuable information was brought to you by our trusted partner, Constant Contact.  Click here to sign up for your Free 60 day trial today!


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