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!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Marketing Goes Mobile

I was talking to a new LIFT customer this morning and our conversation inspired this blog topic.  This particular merchant owns an off airport parking lot in Arizona and is looking to revolutionize his business by really partaking in real-time customer engagement.  What does customer engagement mean to you? 

In order to keep your business relevant, it is essential to keep up-to-date with the latest marketing tools available. Instead of sending out the same old direct-mail piece that advertises your business or even offers an incentive, think of a message that will stand out.  For example, the airport parking lot's new message will say, "Text PARKING to 59925 and Receive 20% off."  Why is this new way of communicating your offer so important? 

Here are 5 reasons why Mobile Marketing should be used by your business today:

# 1: Mobile Marketing offers a forum for immediate engagement between a potential customer and/or existing customer and your business. 

# 2: The business owner receives the customer's mobile phone number through an opt-in marketing platform.

# 3: 98% of consumers will read a text message within 30 minutes!!! 

# 4: Offer last-minute incentives to get your opted-in customers to your door! (ie, stop by at 4pm to receive double bonus points / buy one get one offer / 20% off)

#5: Really engage with your customers with "TEXT to WIN" offers!  (ie, text PRIZE to 59925 to win a $1000 shopping spree!)

The Bottom Line: 

Mobile Marketing is not just important, it is essential.  How can your business use mobile marketing to increase sales and create customer engagement?

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Merchant of the Month: Baby Boot Camp

At LIFT, we love featuring business owners and their success stories.  Baby Boot Camp, an "innovative stroller fitness program, helps moms regain or enhance pre-pregnancy fitness levels and meet the physical challenges of parenting by emphasizing strength training in a supportive environment."  Baby Boot Camp was created out of necessity after the owner had her first child and couldn't find the right group exercise class to help her shed those baby L-B's and get back in shape.  Her business is now franchised and in three countries!  One of the things that Baby Boot Camp cannot live without is email marketing.  Check out the video below to see how this Mom-turned-entrepreneur used email marketing to help stay connected with her clients and partners as well as market her business.


Are you ready to start your email marketing campaign?  Click Here for a FREE 60-Day Trial. 

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Starbucks Gives Loyalty an "Extra Shot"

If you're going to look at any company to model after in product satisfaction, target marketing and customer loyalty, look no further than coffee giant that practically covers every block.  Starbucks announced late Tuesday its release of two iPhone apps, which should ensure continued customer engagement and customer loyalty.

The first app called MyStarbucks, is basically their website on an app.  You can search for locations, beverages, nutritional information, build drinks etc.  The second app, Starbucks Card Mobile, allows you to check your balance, reload your card, view your transaction history, and in select cities you can even pay using your iPhone or iPod Touch.  And if that wasn't good enough, for a limited time on this app, Starbucks will give you $5 when you load your Mobile Card with $25.00.  That's a 20 percent incentive, which is exactly where they should be in a new program roll-out. 

"We're really venturing into new waters in terms of mobile payment," Stephen Gillett, senior vice president of digital ventures at Starbucks, said regarding the Starbucks Card Mobile app.

"The mobile app is really the powering of some of our most frequently used functions on (the Starbucks card's Web site) and our in-store activity in terms of balance and payment and favorite orders," Gillett said.  Estimates vary on just how big the U.S. gift card industry is, but according to the Federal Reserve, it's certainly well into the billions and continues to grow.  As for Starbucks, already one  in seven transactions at the coffee chain involves its array of gift and loyalty cards, Gillett says.  "We see a significant amount of our traffic represented by loyalty cards of some sort," he said.

What is your business doing to continue to be at the cutting edge of what consumers need and want?  Are you one of hundreds of thousands still using paper punch cards to promote loyalty?  Or do you simply believe that providing quality products and customer service will maximize sales and foot traffic?  Think about it:  Why would one of the largest companies in the World continue to be on the forefront of consumer technology and engagement if they did not see the value of the profits it can return? 

What are YOU doing to set your business apart from the competition and truly engage with your customer's needs and wants?

Friday, September 11, 2009

CAUTION When Cutting: Marketing is Muscle, not Fat.

At LIFT, we talk with our customers (small to medium sized businesses) on a daily basis about the economy, engaging with customers and employees, and most importantly, how to ride this recession-like wave and keep customers coming back.  We are always providing our clients with new and innovative ways to stay at "top of mind" with their customers by offering more than just your run-of-the-mill loyalty club card.  Cutting your marketing budget is the fastest way to lose customers, lose market share and drive yourself out of business.  No doubt that the economy has made an impact on your company.  The most important thing to do is stop panicking and know that this too, shall pass. wrote an interesting article titled, "Five Dont's for Marketing in Tough Times."  Here is what they had to say about cutting marketing dollars during an economic crisis:

Just as the savviest investors view down markets as a time to buy when everybody else is selling, the savviest marketers know recessions are a great time to pick up market share. They understand that by maintaining their budgets (or even increasing them) they may not come out ahead during the down times, but they can pick up market share that will pay off in the long run. Marketing dollars in a recession are like oxygen on Mt. Everest—the less there is in the surrounding environment, the more valuable the amount you possess becomes. Cutting your marketing spending is a sure way to give ground to competitors who may be more aggressive during the downturn. 

For more information on how to get the edge on your competition and give your business a LIFT, visit our website at

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Are Your Customers Cheating on You?

The likely answer would be, YES they are!  Unless you are the ONLY restaurant, dry cleaners, clothing store, liquor store, pet supply shop, barber, or grocery store in town, then your customers are cheating.  In fact, there may be many similar stores in your city who carry the same products as you do, provide the same services as you do and even provide the same customer satisfaction as you.

At LIFT, we know that 80 percent of your business will come from 20 percent of your customers.  Are you one of the thousands of business owners that neglect this loyal customer base?  Are you so focused on spending money to bring new customers in that you have missed out on hundreds or even thousands of dollars each month by simply not engaging with your existing customers?

What are you doing to get consumers to stay loyal to your store?

Here are just a few tips to help build customer loyalty:

1.  Communicate.  Engaging with your customers is the single most important factor in staying at "top of mind."  Collect email addresses and start an e-club where you can send out a monthly newsletter with free information.  Send out a survey and ask your customers what they would like to see at your store.  Use the holidays as a way to offer promotions and specials to your enrolled customers.

2.  Love Your Employees.  If your employees feel well taken care of, they will share the same enthusiasm for your products or services with your customers.  Think about the last time you went shopping at one of your favorite stores and received horrible service.  Did you think twice about returning?

3.  Rewards & Incentives.  In today's economy, it is more critical than ever to offer something special in order to separate your business from the competition.  For instance, a restaurant might offer a VIP Card that instantly credits back 5 percent of the total bill for a future visit.  A car wash could offer a free basic wash after the first 5 paid ones.  Offer your customers a really great reason to come back and they will!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Merchant of the Month: COMING SOON!!



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