The Art of Retention

A basic business premise is that it’s easier and cheaper to run a business that is based on returning customers rather than constantly having to acquire new ones.

So how best can we ensure that we retain customers?

Firstly there are the basics, such as instilling great customer service skills in your sales team. We all think we offer it but how much time and effort do you put into finding out what your customers really think? Two ways to do this is to ask them to fill in an anonymous survey or even just pick up the phone to gain their feedback which provides a much more personal touch. Honest customer feedback will be the driving force of your business which will move it forward to become a success. These are the basic customer service measures that all businesses should implement, but it’s also essential to think outside the box and explore other ways to create and maintain customer loyalty.

A great example of a business that has got it right is Waitrose with its new scheme designed to encourage consumers to shop there. The supermarket is offering £5 off of a customer’s first order, £10 off the second, £15 off the third, £20 off the fourth and £50 off the fifth. Offering a discount scheme that isn’t a one-off will raise the probability that the customer is then hooked on the Waitrose shopping experience – a well thought out plan! Whilst this is not a full blown loyalty scheme, it is a great way of enticing repeat purchases and hopefully building a relationship with new customers.

Another great way of driving loyalty is using email as a communication tool to inform customers about what is going on with your business. Again, this might not be an obvious tool, but loyalty is partially driven by communication so do use email marketing to keep your customers informed. This will help to keep your business front of mind and when they come to consider their next purchase, you will be their first thought.

Lastly, if you can develop a loyalty scheme it will pay dividends in the long run. It doesn’t have to be a huge Tesco Clubcard style programme but something that rewards customers each time they use your business with a reciprocal gesture. In my opinion, this is how you can really incentivise customers and truly give something back to thank them for choosing you.

For more information about printed.com’s new Reward Programme, visit printed.com

By Nicholas Green, founder of printed.com

How can businesses do more to provide a positive contribution to their communities?

Local elections, boardroom oustings and shareholder revolts have all been dominating the headlines in recent weeks. Now whilst it’s clear that there is a growing force in trying to readdress the balance in the boardroom, we also need to remember that business and successful individuals can, in some cases, do a lot of good!

Take Bill Gates. For years he was the world’s best example of corporate greed; but today he leads the world in giving back through his philanthropic activities. He was the first of the ‘super group’ to publically state he was going to give his wealth to charity.

He subsequently went about using his substantial business skills to ensure his money actually went to the cause, unlike many charitable causes which can be awash with corruption. He then convinced his good friends (and luckily world’s second richest man) Warren Buffett to do exactly the same and the list has subsequently grown.

We all have to accept that the world is a commercial place and that people out there will make money. But what we also need to understand is that many of those in leadership positions and those with high public profiles lead the world in giving back.

It actually always surprised me that Steve Jobs cancelled all of Apple’s charitable work when he returned as CEO all those years ago and despite all of Apple’s suggested values – their commitment to good causes never really seemed to make any headlines considering the size and success of the company.

Today, companies and individuals can do a lot in giving back, but we often think we need to wait until our organisation is of a certain size before we can make a difference.

I accept this plays a role; it’s probably easy to give away a billion if you have fifty three of them but ultimately, and probably more relative to us normal folk, the ability to help others can start at any level and be wide ranging.

At printed.com we have just launched an apprenticeship scheme as well as a job creation initiative for local students. In the end you just have to want to make a difference, regardless of how rich you are or big your organisation is.

It feels like the right thing to do now and the positive response from people within the company and community has been a real boost.
It’s not a bad thing that times are changing; in fact let’s welcome the change but let’s also not forget that strong, successful and profitable businesses can be good for the community as long as someone has their eyes open to the rest of the world.

Challenges of Marketing Your Company to a Targeted Audience

Generally speaking we would all like a bigger business.The question is; how can I grow my company and how much will it cost?

Today there are more marketing choices than ever before. You have the traditional outlets such as television, a medium currently favoured by print companies such as Moonpig and Vistaprint, and then you have the more common methods of promoting your brand such as direct mail and email. Social media in also starting to creep in more and more with sites such as LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Google and Pinterest offering interesting new online opportunities. But, in this increasing media consumptive world, how do we make the right choices and what money should we be spending?

The starting point needs to be setting a marketing budget. Recently I read a terrific book called ‘Rework’ by Jason Fried – I highly recommend it. It talks a lot about trying to take on less, doing more testing and breaking business down in to shorter, more manageable periods.

This approach is paying dividends for me today. Everything is now much more ‘where do I want to be in a month or maximum 3 months’ – rather than looking to where I wanted to be next year. The problem with the yearly outlook is that there are just too many variables that you don’t know about that throw these plans off line.

However, if you think closer to where you are you can adapt to the changes much faster.

Marketing can be viewed the same way. Select a few channels to test and probe for its suitability. With direct marketing, you can buy data online and communicate with a test audience in order to trial a piece of creative marketing. The entry costs are not high and it will give you a great sense of return by providing piece of mind before significantly investing in a marketing project.

Social media channels are huge in terms of their audiences, but working out how to create something engaging is the challenge. Anyone can post a message or even write a blog; the question is how do you write something of value that people want to share with their friends in a way that will grow your business? On that note please feel free to share this blog…

And lastly there is Google, currently accounting for 92% of the UK search market. Here is a platform where the audience already exists and is searching for what you are trying to sell. Therefore I would always recommend that for long term benefits, it is worth investing in this area to ensure you reach those potential customers already in need of your products.

There is no exact science to marketing. The key is testing. For some businesses direct mail will be the winner, for others it might be Facebook. We recently launched a direct email marketing campaign to the print community using a fun cartoon video which soon made us realise how important it is to be creative if you are to be successful. If you are creative and think outside of the box, there are no limits as to what you can achieve, particularly in the digital sphere.

By Nicholas Green, founder of printed.com

Careful with your cash

Drupa is coming
up. That ‘once in a four year lifetime’ event when everyone from the print
industry descends on Dusseldorf
and are presented with the ‘must haves’ for anything and everything to do with
print (otherwise you will never survive etc).

Don’t get me wrong, I am not a
cynic, I think Drupa is a great event but we all need to be careful. The
technology will no doubt be faster and more efficient, the stands larger and
boast more impressive looking devices, but in the end we need to remember that
once the event has finished we will be left with some big holes to fill on our
balance sheets.

Our industry is
not always great at protecting itself and let’s be honest, post the ‘Olympic
boom’ coming this summer, the UK will start feeling the pinch – as predicted
by  the very smart Sir Martin Sorrell in
the WPP results earlier this month. I for one agree here. I think the UK is going to
have a great time in the next few months, especially those exposed to the
marketing services sector. Big football tournaments and massive Olympic Games,
but once these big events are behind us and all the marketing money has gone we
will be back to the current difficult financial times we currently occupy.

We don’t know
what the future holds, and I would advise we should all be careful about
committing those hard earned Euros in May to all the large manufacturers who
have enough resource to ride out the challenging climate (whilst giving us all
that ‘hard sell and – I am sure – amazing finance deals!’).

That said, here at
printed.com we have just spent £9k on flights and hotels and we haven’t even
arrived yet, so what do I know. Just need to make sure I forget the company
cheque book and everything will be OK.

 

Nicholas
Green is founder of printed.com

 

 

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