Five Ways to Use in your Mother’s Day Promo

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Mother’s Day commercials suggest that sending a generic bouquet is sufficient for the mama bear in your life.  But does something you can blindly order online really reflect the gratitude and appreciation you have for your leading lady?APR4_shutterstock_134343251

As a business, how do you attract Mother’s Day shoppers who want to do something a little different?  You extend a little nod and say, “We appreciate what you’re trying to do in order to make your Mother’s Day extra special and would like to reward your efforts in the process!”

Here are five ways can help your business stand out this Mother’s Day!

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The Final Four of March (Marketing) Madness

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Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you know that March Madness is upon us. It’s that time of year: everyone puts on their favorite collegiate gear and tests their sports predication skills with tournament brackets. Basketball becomes the national conversation, leaving uninterested parties feeling a bit left out.

Even if you’re not into basketball, March Madness is a great time to watch companies flex their marketing muscles. Special events like March Madness are great opportunities to connect with new audiences while maintaining strong relationships with current customers. In my opinion, the following companies made the “Final Four” this year thanks to their creative and effective strategies for capitalizing on the March Madness tournament:

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Capitalize on Tax Refund Season – Get Customers to Spend that Extra Money with You!

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Get excited, retailers, because an estimated $230 billion in federal tax refunds will be issued this year to the nation’s taxpayers. That’s a lot of extra disposable income!

According to “The Impact of Tax Refunds on Average U.S. Families” (an online report based on recent IRS data) the average federal tax refund was $2,700 in 2012.  For two-thirds of taxpayers, this means receiving more than a month’s worth of income (or more than three months worth of groceries) for the average family of four.


So the big question is: how can you encourage customers to spend their tax refund with YOU?

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5 Easy Ways to Increase Holiday Sales by Offering Incentives and Rewards

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1. Offer a Free Gift

Many of the women reading this post have been “wooed” by the “free gift” technique offered by many department store cosmetic lines and other women’s brands.  The “free gift” technique gives shoppers a valuable and desirable free gift if they spend a certain dollar amount – perhaps something that can even be used as holiday gift for someone else on their list. [Read More…]

Building Buzz

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Nothing increases traffic or accelerates customer acquisition efforts more than effective PR, especially when your message gets into the hands of key influencers who have the potential to help you spread the word. But, capturing the interest of “movers and shakers” can be tricky. Unless you have something to share that is time-sensitive or incredibly unique compared to what others offer, getting on people’s radar can be challenging. Here are some tips to help increase the odds your PR efforts will be successful:

1.  Be sure you’ve clearly defined your target audience.

Nothing is more important than having a good handle on who it is you’re trying to reach. Are you trying to attract more of the same kind of customers you have or is expanding to a new audience your goal? What do your customers care about or value? Are there other businesses who may be trying to reach the same audience that would be interested in partnering? Many make the mistake of sending their information far and wide, like throwing wet spaghetti against the wall in the hopes that at least some will stick. If you use this kind of shotgun approach, chances are you won’t get results and, even if you do, it won’t reach the people you truly care about reaching.

2.  Be sure to include Influencers when you promote your business. 

“Word-of-mouth” advertising is one of the more powerful, not to mention affordable tactics, you have available. But, to get influencers attention, you have to make sure your offer is unique and noteworthy. As Malcolm Gladwell in Tipping Point wisely suggests, “Make sure that “connectors”, people who influence many others, like writers, leaders, or even celebrities get your message so it can be spread quickly”

3.  Keep your message short, simple, and easy to understand. 

In this time-starved world, people find it difficult to read anything longer than a few sentences or more complex than what a kindergartner can understand. At some level, we understand this and want to be brief but when you’re promoting your business, and talking about your “baby”, it can be hard to keep it short. But take heed: “Messaging must be short and sweet, as you have less than 10 seconds to make an impression,” and ten seconds isn’t very long. The fewer words you can use to express the information you’re sharing, the better.

4.  Incorporate a call to action.

In other words, give people a reason to pay attention to your press release and recognize them for doing what you ask. For example, if you are trying to get people to “like” your new Facebook page, give the first 100 people who respond a gift card or other valuable reward. Embed a promotional offer in your announcement, provide an incentive award to attract readers’ interest, and make sure you’re giving reporters and consumers a reason to care about what you have to say.

It’s not rocket science. Simply offer information that is timely, tailored and relevant, add in a valuable incentive to motivate people to take action, and you’ve got all the right ingredients to get media coverage and create valuable buzz for your business.

Putting an End to Cart Abandonment

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Ever find yourself standing in line at the grocery store, only to realize you’ve left your wallet in car? After investing a considerable amount of time shopping, gathering exactly what you want, there are a limited few that would make the decision to leave empty handed. More likely, you’d ask someone to watch your cart, run to the car, return to complete your transaction, and leave feeling incredibly relieved that all that time wasn’t wasted.

Online it’s a different story, right? Often, we willingly invest hours of time surfing. Page after page, site after site, shopping for the things we need or want and yet, at the end of our journey, when it’s time to check out, we get distracted or realize that the total is a lot bigger than we thought, and flee without even a backward glance.

Somehow when we are shopping in the privacy of our office, home, or even on our phone, it just seems easier to leave. In fact, the latest statistics show that 59% of the time a customer places an item into an online shopping cart, that customer fails to check out and complete their transaction.

There are lots of reasons people give for abandoning their carts but multiple studies show that online shipping costs are the number one reason people walk away from their online cart. A close second is that the cost of the items you’ve put in your cart, add up to more money than you’ve got to spend.

To combat this abandonment issue, many e-tailers have found that launching a follow-up e-mail campaign to entice a customer back can be an effective strategy for closing the deal. They understand that shoppers may have left their cart in a hurry because of circumstances beyond their control. Perhaps a boss walked by, a child fell, or the phone rang. By sending a reminder e-mail to that shopper a few hours later when they’re in the comfort of their own home or things have calmed again, it’s possible their interest in making a purchase can be rekindled.

If a simple reminder isn’t enough, often adding in an incentive award like a gift card or discount on a future or larger purchase, can increase conversion and turn a browser into a long-term and loyal customer. As Dealnews Features Director, Lindsay Sakraida, recently put it, by offering a promotional deal or additional discount to sweeten the pot, e-tailers are more likely to “convince on-the-fence shoppers to pull the trigger on a purchase”.

Prioritizing Your Customer Pipeline

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No matter what size your business is today, finding new customers and replenishing your pipeline should always be a top priority.  You may have the best product on the market but if you don’t invest time and energy in drawing new customers in your direction, it’s quite possible the next register to ring, may be your competitors.

So what are the best ways to fill your pipeline and ensure continued success? 

First, clearly define who you want to attract.

Understanding who is most likely to want your product can go a long way when deciding which investments of time and money will have the greatest potential return. Once you have defined who your target consumer is, learn everything you can about them.  Consider how they spend their time, what they care about, and what they value. By putting yourself in their shoes and seeing the world through their eyes, you can easily discover new ways to break through the clutter and attract their business and loyalty.

It’s also critically important to tailor your messages, products, and services to meet the needs you’ve identified.  This level of attention and care is something customers both value and remember. A positive experience also often prompts new customers to tell others which can lead to referrals and a stronger reputation within your community and industry.

You can also enhance your pipeline by attracting customers’ attention and generating interest by featuring special incentives or promotional programs with every purchase.  In other words, give them a reason to return.  Make sure they know how your product or service can benefit them or meet a need they have today or will have in the near future.  By helping your customers connect the dots and clearly understand the value you offer, chances are they’ll buy from you.  And, the better and faster you satisfy their needs, the easier it will be for you to stand out from your competition.

Last but not least, make working with you as easy as possible.

Do your part to make your customers’ lives easier.  As the phenomenal success of Zappos illustrates, by offering a perk such as free shipping, Day One they succeeded in attracting a large and growing customer base.  By covering the cost of shipping whether buying or returning an item, they forever differentiated themselves from other shoe retailers and e-commerce entities and filled their pipeline with loyal patrons for the foreseeable future.

In the end, if you provide a well-designed product or service, have a clear vision of who it appeals to and why, and then use this information to do everything you can to simplify the purchase process and make working with you as easy as possible; you can feel confident your reputation and your customer pipeline will be full for years to come.

The Power Of Referrals

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I was at an event last week where one of my friends was talking about an upcoming cross country move. She was dreading the hassle that’s associated with uprooting her family from their east coast home of 10 years and relocating to the Midwest.  The move was prompted by a new employment opportunity for her husband, one that won’t require her to change jobs.  She’s fortunate enough to be able to manage her work from any location.


Instantly, I wanted to help alleviate any burden I could, but how could I help her? Through our conversation I discovered they still haven’t started the housing search, and that’s when it hit me. “Do you need a realtor? If so, just let me know because I know a great one that knows a lot about the neighborhoods you’re looking to check out.”


After I said it, I thought to myself “Everyone says this.”  She must have heard this “great realtor” story a thousand times.  To my surprise, she took me up on it, and ended up calling my contact the next day.


That’s when it hit me. Realtors, among other professions, must live or die by referrals.  The quality of their interaction with clients must be of the highest caliber. Think about it. We trust these individuals to help us manage some of the largest personal investments of our lives. We count on them being the best and brightest people working on our behalf.  And when they serve us well, we want them to be everyone’s realtor.  We praise them up and down and drop their name to friends far and wide.  Of course, counter to this positive experience is the poor one where we’d never miss an opportunity to warn our family and friends to “stay away.”


Whether its realtors, financial advisors or freelancers, the power that is handed off with a referral is quite mighty. And our word can go a long way to make a potential customer a current one.  Smart professionals requiring this flow of referrals take steps to ensure that they remain front and center with people who keep spreading their good name.

Frequent referral programs that offer points for great prizes or trips can get some folks advocating constantly on your behalf.  But smaller businesses don’t need that type of system to thank people who refer business to them. Incentive & Loyalty Solutions can offer businesses of any size a set of gift cards to acknowledge those people that keep business flowing.  It lets people know, “I appreciate you and how highly you spoke about my company.”


Consider a way to send your gratitude to those who encourage interaction with your business.  It will be time and energy well spent.

Getting Repeat Business and Keeping It

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I’m not surprised when I drive by a fast food franchise and I see a sign for a new food item plastered on their building.  They usually are illustrated with the additional phrase “For a limited time only” or “While supplies last.”  These delectable additions to the menu seem to draw customers in by the droves, too.

Recently, McDonald’s brought back the McRib Sandwich to the hoots and howls of thousands around the country.  At work, it was hailed as a notable holiday and about a dozen staffers (albeit mostly men) flocked out of our office for a McRib-a-thon.

So, if these mini-campaigns get folks coming into establishments with great frequency and urgency, why don’t they just keep these items on the menu to begin with?

It all comes down to attracting new customers and increasing visits from your current ones. Customer retention programs are nothing new, but you’ll need some fresh thinking.

By altering your product line with a limited-time item, you’re offering an opportunity for current (and perhaps lapsed) customers to renew their interest in your business. Marketing and public relations campaigns can be easily built around these events which profile the flexibility of your offerings. These presentations get etched in a consumer’s mind, prompting them to be more alert to everything else you have to offer.

But wait, if you don’t run a restaurant, what does this mean to you? How do you offer a special burger if you’re selling widgets? Well discounts and sales are the cornerstone activity that can attract attention, but there are a lot of different ways to accomplish business life beyond value.

Think about an approach in terms of a limited-time opportunity.  Bundle your items, implement a BOGO campaign, create a sweepstakes, or take on a sought-after item that’s related to but out of your company’s realm. For instance, last Christmas a swimming pool distributor in suburban Chicago was giving away a remote controlled “air shark” with the purchase of any pool. While it might be a small item in your mind, the dealer moved more than 100 pools in that period before he ran out of “sharks.” That’s three times what he anticipated.

Sure, the economy is the biggest culprit in all of this. But it you can think creatively about repackaging the products you’re selling, even just for a short period, you’ll be getting new folks in the door and bringing your old friends back to the register.

While I passed on the McRib, they got me with that darn Shamrock Shake!

Setting Your Company Apart From the Competition

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One of the most skilled athletes of our time (perhaps all-time) is Lance Armstrong.  While I’m not a cyclist myself, I marvel at his physical prowess, strength and stamina.  And when you think about the number of Tours de France he has won and the personal obstacle he overcame – stage three testicular cancer – you can’t help but view the man as superhuman.

Armstrong is in a completely different category of “athlete.” I considered whether there are characteristics that set him apart from other competitors that could be applied to business, and I came away with a few observations.


He’s got quality: With a record number of international championships under his belt, Armstrong has got unmatched quality.  Does your business history or placement in the industry give you credit for your commitment to quality?  What’s standing in your way to improve it? While the answer is often cash flow, sometimes it can often be based on your staff and their personal work ethic.


He’s got the brand: Today “Livestrong” is synonymous with success over adversity. Even under the harshest of conditions, you can overcome anything. What does your brand say? Ask some of your key customers to give you their impressions.  Does it match what you think?  How can you bridge the two options?

He’s “accessible:” Well, maybe not directly. But anyone can own a piece of the Armstrong “legacy” through the purchase of athletic training merchandise.  From shirts to shoes to bracelets, people can attach themselves with his persona .  And our on-the-go society needs portable options to connect with. Incentive & Loyalty Solutions gives you that option to brand your own gift card as a way to recognize employees and incent your best customers. 


It won’t be anytime soon that we see another athlete quite like Lance Armstrong.  Even with his departure from competitive racing, he’s still an icon of the sport.  With some attention to quality service, leveraging of your positive image, and portability of your brand, your company can finish well ahead of those with whom you compete. You’ll have your yellow jersey to show it, too.