Posts Tagged ‘consumers’
August 10th, 2010
Over the years, gift cards have become a staple for most retailers. People love giving them, getting them and using them. They have become more and more customized and utilized…as incentives, bonus gifts and marketing tools.
But, is your gift card program working as hard as it can for you? What does it say about your brand? Does it say… “Let me buy you lunch? You’re funny! Or dude…wake up, and get some coffee?” And, what if you give cash, what does that say? Basically, it says you didn’t shop.
So, with this in mind, what can your gift card do to say “I’m better than cash,” at time of purchase, at time of giving and at time of use? As a retailer, you need to focus on these three key transactions to make sure you are getting the most return on your gift card program.
At time of purchase
The gift card marketplace is a crowded environment. A shopper spends an average of 30 seconds there, finding that right card. Those 30 seconds are valuable time for you to make an impression and rise above the clutter. Your gift cards are mini billboards. Not novels. They must make a play on emotion and compete on simplicity.
At time of giving
A simple yet emotional connection comes into play here as well. An effective gift card carries a clear message about its benefits and the relationship between the giver and the receiver. When giving a crisp $20 bill, the receiver gets the message that the giver cares…but only $20 worth. When someone gives a gift card, the receiver should feel, “This is better than cash, because the person who gave this to me actually thought about me and knows what I like.”
At time of use
This is the time to tell your deeper story. To work your brand into the experience of using that gift card. When you do that, you build brand equity, brand loyalty and grow your customer base.
You can stand out from the sea of plastic with a smart yet simple gift card program. Just remember these four essential guidelines:
- Win on Usefulness. Make it better and easier to use than cash.
- Win on Message. Communicate more efficiently and succinctly,
at the right times.
- Win on Design. Make your designs speak to the recipient,
invoking the giver’s thoughtfulness.
- Win on Brand. The best gift card is a gift card that isn’t just a gift,
it’s a brand experience.
January 21st, 2010
When it comes to change, the online world is often the first to adapt.
As a matter of comparison, look at the progression of traditional businesses over the last century. The physical store model still exists, big box retailers are still using the same basic store design, and distribution networks, while significantly more efficient, still run using the same basic principles.
Then look at the online world. In the space of ten years, the entire landscape of online business has changed. In 1999, the most powerful online properties were owned by major software companies and those that had a head start in the online world. Today, Google, a company that is not even fifteen years old, is the biggest brand in the world. As a microcosm of commerce, the online world moves much more rapidly than any offline industry.
With the recent move towards open social media platforms, marketers are left with a new question: where will the next turn be? For years, internet marketing was about banner ads and pop-up commercials. This was a version of the traditional, outbound marketing model. Inbound marketing is the next step in the evolution. It is about connecting with users directly and building communities. Social media is not yet fully developed and the next few years will bring many changes and developments. I feel these four changes could stand apart from the others.
Social media will make marketers more accountable.
There is a certain risk that comes with giving everyone the power to broadcast their thoughts and feelings about you, your business, or your product. For great companies, it’s something to embrace—they have people marketing for them, a dedicated following, and a long-term solution. For marketers that get by on deception, it is certainly not good. If social media changes one thing, it will be accountability. When anyone can publicly post their opinion of your business, priorities change. It is no longer about the short-term profit but about long-term perception and greater customer satisfaction.
Consumers will gain more power, and smart companies will embrace it.
The power dynamic is rapidly shifting between company and customer. Twenty years ago, the only way to get a message out was to invest in direct advertising and mass media. Now, all it takes is a post on a message board and a public message on Twitter by your customer. Smart companies are embracing the low cost of communications and are encouraging their customers to talk about them whenever possible.
The truly remarkable will outlast the big and standard.
Mass media allowed large companies to bully the small into compliance. Without a big advertising budget, it was impossible to communicate, and without that communication, the market leaders set the terms. Now, a more important currency than size is remarkableness. Businesses that attract attention naturally can coast by on free exposure, while large companies lacking innovation are at a permanent cost disadvantage.
Viral will take on a new meaning.
Today, viral means something that spreads throughout a few million people quickly, allowing a company to piggyback on exposure and generate free marketing. 20,000,000 views isn’t viral. Not for long. Social media is spreading wider, and, as more people become connected, the value of a great viral marketing campaign will swell exponentially.
We all know that the oldest form of advertising is word of mouth. What I find most interesting is how we as a society have found a way to come full circle, albeit much faster and on a much larger scale. I say it is time to embrace it, and start getting back to our authentic selves.
September 30th, 2009
We’ve all been there. Standing amidst a sea of choices for something as simple as hand soap. Anti-bacterial or antimicrobial? Foamy or liquid? Lavender or sun-kissed orange? Dermatologist tested or kid friendly? There are so many options, your brain starts to short-circuit a bit.
Customer choice has long been a dependable strategy in business success principles. The theory is that the more choices you give your customers, the more likely they’ll buy. However, recent research shows that too many choices actually hinder instead of help…fatiguing their brains and causing them to freeze and flee—empty-handed.
“Making decisions takes work,” says Barry Schwartz, author of The Paradox of Choice: Why More Is Less. There are over 200 varieties of biscuits, soups and cereals alone at our supermarkets. When consumers were asked to compare chocolate chip cookies from a jar of ten and a jar of two, the jar with two cookies scored higher than the jar with ten. Although the cookies were identical, the choice from the small range was perceived as more valuable, desirable and attractive.
“Clearly there are costs to having too much choice,” says Kathleen Vohs, an associate professor of marketing at the University of Minnesota. In her years of studying the effect of choice on consumers, she says too many choices leads to “decision fatigue,” which makes even pleasant choices mentally draining.
When customers are faced with option overload, they feel paralyzed because it’s harder to make that “informed” decision. This also leads to buyer’s remorse as the variety offered is a reason for consumers to be unhappy with the decision they made. Many people would rather not choose than make a complicated choice.
So what’s a business to do?
Create a “less is more strategy.” Be selective with your offerings and don’t overwhelm with too many choices. In a study on jams, researchers offered either a selection of 6 or 24 flavors. When 24 jam flavors were offered, only 3% of customers walked away with a purchase. When 6 jam flavors were offered, over 30% of customers bought jam. Lesson learned—reducing the amount of choice can be a simple, cost-effective way to increase inventory turnover and up sales.
When working with Schmidty’s, a salon for men, IMAGEHAUS put this strategy to work. We narrowed their five different facials for men down to one and facial sales increased by 42%. They also reduced the cost of inventory they needed to have on hand.
Choice is an effective marketing tool that requires balance and fine-tuning. In today’s economy, companies and consumers are being forced to make “more of less” every day, making this balancing act a very important consideration. A consideration that just might make the difference in your bottom line.
Variety may be the spice of life, but overdoing it can be too much for most to handle.