Marketing Strategy Mistakes

Most businesses don’t consider empty tables as marketing strategy mistakes. But with good tracking of your peak hours, a marketing plan can be developed to take advantage of the slow times. For some businesses this lack of marketing strategy can leave them in dust when the unexpected happens.

I used to manage the Stadium View Club Restaurant in Omaha, NE atop Rosenblatt Stadium, home of the College World Series. We had a pretty good business on game nights, and with the game schedule known in advance it was pretty easy to schedule the work.

The only problem that cropped up did so when it rained. Hard driving rain early in the day meant a called off game and likely a double-header the next night. No patrons – No money. And without tips, higher server turnover. If the rain started late in the game, we’d get hundreds of people from the stands coming up to wait out the rain in the restaurant. When that happened we were suddenly under-staffed, out manned and sometimes without enough food. Rain was a problem.  Patrons got angry and again, small tips for the waiters.

Bowling alleys do not fear the rain. For the most part rain doesn’t change the numbers. But rodeos, football games and school events do. When something big is happening in town on a Friday night, bowling alleys are libraries. Office clean-up, shoe shining and carpet cleaning are the only things that get done. Since Friday night is the money maker, empty lanes kill profitability.

And we all know about road widening. There’s a coffee shop in my town that’s about to go out of business because the road widening project has taken a lot longer than expected and has made it frustratingly hard to get in and out of the coffee shop. When you rely on drive-by traffic as your marketing strategy, road widening is a death-knell.

The Cure to Marketing Strategy Mistakes

But rodeos, road widening and rain don’t have to be business killers. We’ve said it many times before “hope is not a marketing plan”. In all three of those examples, the only traffic that comes in is the kind you hope for. And in some cases the traffic pattern becomes so regular that you even stop hoping. You just drone on.

Instead of relying on hope, implement some of the many strategies we talk about here. Collect names and e-mail addresses so you can keep in contact with your customers. Give them reasons to come in. Have contests, specials and promotions on slow nights so you no longer have to settle for low profitability.

With e-mail address bowling alleys can reach customers when they hear school has been called off due to snow. With text messaging, coffee shops can send out special discounts on the days that construction has made it the hardest. And the stadium restaurant should clearly e-mail their clientele to let them know that parking for the restaurant will be really easy since the game was called due to rain.

Your business can be run better if you currently rely on hope. And you don’t have to spend money on marketing to get new customers. Start by thanking and giving to your existing customers. Give them a reason to be happy you’re there for them. Whether it’s entertainment, information or products – you can always be helping to improve the lives of your customers.

Hope is not a marketing plan.

Be proactive. Get my weekly notes and start implementing some new strategies today.

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Local Mobile Marketing

Local Mobile Marketing with text messages isn’t really a fad or a phase. It’s a natural progression of marketing tools. Some people don’t like text message marketing, but for the most part, it’s easy to avoid getting what you don’t want. Your customers won’t give your their phone number or check the box for “text messages” if they don’t want them.

Recently I used a text message coupon to get $1.00 a burrito at the local Mexican restaurant.  When I signed up to be on their marketing list, they asked if I wanted to get text messages or e-mail, I thought I’d try text messages out. Why not? I like eating at the restaurant, and always appreciate a discount.

So how can small businesses start local mobile marketing  without paying an arm and a leg, without hiring some IT person or programmer or an online company to run it? Simply put, how can small businesses do it easily, for next to no money?

[stextbox id="warning"]The answer is simple AND free. [/stextbox]

There are two quick ways to get a text messaging campaign going. (I suppose there are 121 ways, but why wade through the other 119 when these work just fine?)

The first one is Twitter. Imagine that! Twitter is that micro-blogging site millions of people use for social marketing efforts, everyday. Well, it just so happens Twitter has a secret little tool that you can use in your marketing efforts. It works like this:

  1. Set up a Twitter account with a relevant, useful name. If you’re a Tex-mex restaurant, something like TexMexFreebies would be great!
  2. Once that’s complete, you can begin your marketing efforts. Wherever you plan to market your SMS Text service, tell people to text the word “TexMexFreebies” (your Twitter username) to 40404, and let them know they’ll then be subscribed to get discounts, deals, etc. . .
  3. Then when you have a deal to announce to your customer base, log-in to your Twitter account and “tweet” (ie post the message). Once it is posted, all your subscribers will get it on their phone. Don’t send out more than you told them you would, or they’ll begin to dislike you immensely.
  4. You can’t use pictures this way, or html, but do you really need a graphic to say “$1.oo off?”
  5. Rinse and Repeat.

The second way t do local mobile marketing is with e-maill. Mobile phone companies have special e-mail addresses that go directly to the users phone. For example, if you have a Verizon Phone and your number is 515-555-6543, then an e-mail sent to 5155556543@vtext.com will be delivered as a text to that person’s phone. Set that up as a group in your e-mail system and you can send an email/text to your audience whenever you want. Just make sure to get their phone number and their mobile carrier information when they sign up on your list. With a little skill you can use pictures this way.

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Mobile Text Phone Numbers by Carrier

Alltel – @message.alltel.com
AT&T – @mms.att.net
Nextel – @messaging.nextel.net
Spring – @messaging.sprintpcs.com
Suncom – @tms.suncom.com
T-Mobile – @tmomail.net
Voicestream – @voicestream.net
Verizon – @vtext.com or @vzwpix.com (for photos and video)

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That’s not the only way you can reach your customers’ mobile phones. Check out my posts about doing that with Foursquare Marketing, also make sure you’re registered with Google Maps and keep up with Facebook Places to see what they’re rolling out.

If you register for my Free Notes below, I go into a bit more depth and introduce some new ways to market to your customers with their mobile phone. I invite you to sign up and check it out.

Foursquare: the Future of Marketing

As a marketer of small businesses, I started using Foursquare with the sole purpose of learning how others were going to use it and make it successful. I checked-in to every place I was, places I wasn’t, got every badge I could find and every Mayorship.  I really wanted to see how business was going to use Foursquare’s tools.

Guess what? Marketers are now seeing the true power Foursquare has.

Pepsi and Von’s Grocery Stores are really moving the needle. When you register for a Von’s card and sync it with your Foursquare account, they’ll give you a free 2 litre of Pepsi.  So what? That’s nothing new, eh?

How about this then. . . when you swipe your Von’s card at check-out, you’ll automatically be checking in to Foursquare – which means all your online friends will see “Von’s”.  That’s some great advertising for Von’s. And to keep you “checking in” Von’s adds free stuff to your Von’s card based on your Mayorships, Badges and check-ins.

Imagine becoming the Mayor of your local Veterinary Clinic (which means you visit there often) and getting a dog food coupon from Von’s – automatically!  That kind of target marketing based on your social media preferences is surely changing the game.

The consumer gets rewarded over and over and over, Von’s gets publicity, Foursquare gets new users who check-in unconsciously, Pepsi gets word-of-mouth marketing like this and many times everyone gets a  plug on Twitter or Facebook. Win! Win!

Scoot on over to the Bellagio in Vegas.  The Bellagio has a team dedicated to monitoring social media sites like Facebook, Foursquare and Twitter for mentions of their name.  Guests who check-in on Foursquare, tweet their location or rave on Facebook get upgrades and rewards from The Bellagio. Mayorships and badges to them aren’t nearly the value of rewarding the “word-of-mouth” marketing guests do on their own.

Different from those two is Radio Shack and their holiday promotion. Instead of taking advantage of existing customers, Radio Shack and Foursquare created a “badge” that Foursquare users can earn when they go to Radio Shack and check-in.  The incentive of the “badge” wasn’t enough to drive sales, so the badge itself gives users 20% merchandise during the holidays.

For Radio Shack, they not only get new customers into the door using the coupon, but have their name on a badge on all Foursquare user’s phones, the internet, every Foursquare related website, press releases and more. From a driving traffic perspective, Radio Shack’s promotion is much more traffic-centric.

The Pepsi / Von’s promotion is certainly the most cutting edge. Connecting your grocery card to social media as a means of getting the Von’s name out there hundreds of times per day is genius. But then rewarding users based on their Foursquare habits – that’s over the top cool.

Please. . . please tell me if you know of any cool Foursquare promotions. Leave a comment below. I love hearing how business is using these new social media tools.

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Do Fancy Business Names Have a Place?

Companies spend thousands of dollars on consultants in their quest to come up with product, service and company names.  Here in Nashville there are names like Laser Quest, Cheddar’s, Nissan and Maggiano’s that probably were the result of months of talks, tests and money.

But does the name itself create revenue for the company? Does that even make sense?

In a consumer world largely based on what you can find on Google, your name can significantly impact your bottom line. A marketing guy may tell you differently, but he’s likely to give you examples like Pepsi, Blockbuster and Disney. Dare them to give you an example of a start-up or small, local company.

Recently a company in town opened called Nashville Furniture and Interiors. The name isn’t sexy at all, but when you drive by you surely understand what’s inside. On the other hand there’s another new place called Kay’s.  The reflection on the window has prevented me from seeing it is a clothing store for women.

That same thinking applies to the web, but in a much more revenue generating manner. When a consumer chooses to go furniture shopping, the first thing they may search for is “furniture store nashville”.  If your business name happens to have Nashville and Furniture in the title, you’re much more likely to be found on the search engines.

Not only that, but whenever your business name is mentioned elsewhere on the net and people click it to go to your website, Google gives you extra “points” for having your main keywords directly in the link.Technically, a link that contains your keywords is called a “keyword rich anchor text” link.  Those are the sought after kind. That’s much easier to attain when your name is your keywords.

From a branding perspective, fancy names do have a place.  Pepsi, JC Penney, Best Buy and even eBay have excelled with little attention paid to their keyword-empty names. On the local level however, a good plumber is a good plumber. Whether you call Fast Pipe Guy or Nashville Plumber doesn’t matter when the toilet is overflowing.

The difference however, is whether you can find Fast Pipe Guy during those critical moments when you search for “Plumber in Nashville”.

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