Tag Archives: customers

Voice Mail – What Do Your Customers Think?

Very annoying when you want to talk to a human and the system is structured to make that impossible … or incredibly difficult to do so. OMG!

Human interaction is where one has the opportunity to develop relationships, build a positive image and the marketer who doesn’t understand the value of that needs to be retired!!! Idiocy is the impression one gives as it relates to understanding the value of customer relationships and how they are impacted by the “endless” voice mail process. Caring about the customer’s interaction with your firm is not an afterthought but should be a major focus and voice mail can be helpful when limited and you provide personal interaction.

Remember it costs 5X as much to get a new customer as it does to retain one and 50X as much to gain back a lost client, Emotions play an important role in establishing a relationship with a customer or with those who are interested in the possibility of becoming one. Thus how do you think a voicemail program that goes beyond being helpful but is seen as an annoyance impacts the emotions of those that call your firm? Matter? How do you feel when you incur the Voicemail “mine-field”? Take a survey not only of customers, but employees as well.

If you like, go to our LinkedIn.com group “Smart Marketing for Small Business” or any business group and ask that question. Attitude is a key factor in the success of any business and, one that focuses on making itself very “User Friendly” will always rise above the crowd. Interaction with your target audience is key to building successful relationships. Eliminating or minimizing irritation in any aspect of your marketing efforts is smart marketing. Love your customer and at worst they’ll like you, especially when you make their effort in reaching out to you pleasant.

“Excellent firms don’t believe in excellence –
only in constant improvement and constant change.” – Tom Peters

Do you agree or disagree? Let’s hear from you.

Les Wolff The Original Marketing Curmudgeon Also listen to our radio show, Smart Marketing for Small Business (Live every Wed @11pm EST) And visit our LinkedIn Group of the same name.


Filed under Free Marketing Tips, Marketing Curmudgeon, small business, Small Business Interactive Advice

Question Your Customer Service Thinking!

Fight the “commoditization” of your business & increase its value to your customer

A Different Perspective
By Leslie R. Wolff, A Marketing Curmudgeon

In an increasingly competitive marketplace it is becoming more difficult to stand out from the competition. What do you do when there exists a 5P’s environment? What are the 5P’s? When a customer’s Perception is that your Product, Price and Performance are on a Parity level with your competition. This is the time to take the step to challenge how you think about your customer. What you learn from this exercise could differentiate your firm from the competition in the eyes of your customer. Pay attention because you need to become an expert in Customer Service. It can be a very profitable situation for you.

Do you know the #1 reason customers leave vendors? Continue reading


Filed under Customer Service, Free Marketing Tips, small business

Thoughts for a Leader – Part II

Smart Thinking … A Different Perspective

By Leslie R. Wolff, A Marketing Curmudgeon

Customer’s Focus

In order to get people to sit-up and take notice of you, you have to sit-up and take notice of what makes people sit-up and take notice” –Frank Roemer

What is the customer or prospect most interested in? Themselves! Understanding this is the basis of the WIIFM Factor, which impacts heavily on purchasing decisions. It stands for the question – “What’s in it for me?” A simple question, but how it is answered can dramatically affect the bottom line. Too often it’s ignored or overlooked in a corporate environment that focuses on features of their products or services rather than the benefits. Viewing your business from the customer’s perspective will always give you a competitive edge in the marketplace.

If you give something worth paying for, they’ll pay.” – Thomas J. Peters

Originality Continue reading

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Marketing is Marketing is Marketing – 4 Common Sense Basics

“There is no such thing as ‘soft sell’ or ‘hard sell’. There is only ‘smart sell’ and ‘stupid sell.'” – Charles Brower

In this era of high technology advances, high technology success stories and high technology hype it is very easy to overlook the fact that the basics of marketing haven’t changed except to become more important in the high stakes game of technology.

Customers and investors have to be gained and retained. Customers, employees and investors need to be communicated to, educated and satisfied. Customers, employees and investors need to be motivated and stimulated. Communications need to be clear and easy-to-understand. The need to create and maintain high awareness among customers, employees and investors is key to business success.

“No living being is held by anything so strongly as its own needs.” – Epictetus

 Common Sense Marketing Basic #1: Where are we located? Are we user friendly?

If the idea is to get more people to communicate their needs or concerns to you as well as to drive them to interact with your website, blog or Internet “whatever”, then an emphasis has to be taken to ensure communicating with you is easy. You have to be sure that electronic addresses (e-mail,/website/blog, etc) are known to the targeted audience and not easily forgotten. You also have to avoid the trap many businesses fall into who are in love with the Internet; they fail to supply mailing addresses and phone contact information on their site. Millions of business people prefer traditional ways to contact you as a primary form of communication.

Exposure of your various contact addresses should be incorporated into every format of communication that reaches out to your target audience be it your advertising, stationary, website or the promotional products your sales force gives away at trade shows.

“You cannot create experience. You must undergo it.” – Albert Camus

Action Step: Review your website, stationary, business cards with the question, “Am I making it easy for potential customers to contact me?”

Common Sense Marketing Basic #2: “Knowledge Is Power” Marketing Continue reading

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Getting a Deal on New Shoes Brings You Back for More – Smart Marketing Move

This Smart Marketing Move goes to Famous Footwear.

In my search for new sneakers, I noticed that Famous Footwear was having an end of year sale.  I went in and found shoes that I needed for running. This was right after the holiday rush and before New Year’s, so they were entering a slower time of year for sales.

After I paid for everything, the sales associate handed me a something that said “Famous 5 Bucks” with my receipt. As he was handing it to me, he explained that I can get another pair of shoes but for $5 off after the New Year. I was pretty excited because I just got a fantastic deal on this pair of shoes, now I have a chance to save more at a later date.

What did they do here? They gave me a reason to come back in, with an expiration date. They are building trust and loyalty, plus it just made me happier. Honestly, I don’t think I ever bought from Famous Footwear before this purchase; so I had no idea about these “Famous Bucks”.

Here’s what part of the back says: “Customers receive $5 in Famous Bucks for every $50 spent.” Then there are directions on how to use them, but the back reveals that this is an ongoing campaign for them. I thought it was just because we were entering a shopping slump in the retail industry, but it wasn’t. They continue this throughout the year, bringing people back into the store and helping them save a few bucks.

Lesson Learned: Once you complete a transaction – online or brick and mortar store, what are you doing to keep the customers you already have? It costs 50% more to get new customers than to keep one. Learn from what others are doing like Famous Footwear, especially during the holiday season since everyone is hustling around in stores. Offer a discount on their next order, give them a referral card so that they can refer their friends and they both get a gift or discount. Just don’t forget an expiration date! Think creatively and you’ll gain something money can’t buy, loyalty.


“Outthink the Competition Rather Than Outspend Them”

Author: Leslie Wolff, CEO of Smart Marketing Group, speaks from experience as an entrepreneur, sales and marketing executive plus advisor and coach. Les has “walked the walk and talked the talk.” The knowledge that he imparts with passion has been learned in the toughest of schools, “Real Life!”, in the trenches, on top of the mountain and everywhere in between.

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Warning: Nickel and Diming Your Customers Hurts You More Than You Think – Dumb Marketing Move

This week’s Dumb Marketing Move goes to Spirit Airlines.

I’m sure as soon as you read that this was about Spirit Airlines, you know exactly what I’m going to be talking about. They are now charging for carry on items! In a climate where everyone is hurting, we understand that prices need to be higher for services but customers were just getting used to the idea that they had to pay for their regular luggage. This has blindsided many people and even if they don’t fly with Spirit they are talking about it and not in a good way.

Spirit Airlines has forgotten that they are in a competitive environment and that they aren’t the only kids on the block. I’ve only flown Spirit once in my life, and that was when they just started charging for luggage. I was utterly shocked I had to pay $15 for luggage. It was an inconvenience and it should have been included in the ticket price. Their carry on fees are now $20 in advanced ranging all the way up to $45 at check in on way!

I’m not sure if it’s just me, but that’s a lot of money and a lot of hassle for a carry on, especially after spending at least $90 on a flight (at the bare minimum). I did receive an email from Spirit April 15th, which was at least a week after they announced this change. They are claiming that there will be lower fares, and lower checked bag fees. It’s hard as a customer to see how they will achieve these benefits.

Spirit has not thought this move through, other than the monetary gains. They are nickel and diming people and no one likes it. This new addition will cause a lot of stir while people are checking in, unhappy customers, and more regulations on an already strict system. In an economy like ours today, customers are not as loyal as past years and they will gladly change which airline they fly with for a cheaper flight.
On the Flip side, Southwest is banking in on their mistake. Read Next Week How SouthWest used their competition to enhance their image.

Lesson Learned: When raising prices, in any business, take into account how your customers will react. Also, get a plan together to soften the blow or include the price in a package deal rather than having everything paid separately like Spirit does with flight, checked baggage, and carry ons.


“Outthink the Competition Rather Than Outspend Them”

Author: Leslie Wolff, CEO of Smart Marketing Group, speaks from experience as an entrepreneur, sales and marketing executive plus advisor and coach. Les has “walked the walk and talked the talk.” The knowledge that he imparts with passion has been learned in the toughest of schools, “Real Life!”, in the trenches, on top of the mountain and everywhere in between.

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VIP Services Means Loyal Customers – Smart Marketing Move

This week’s Smart Marketing Move goes to: BANANA REPUBLIC.


Black Friday is known for its great deals, but also its long lines and mad rushes into stores. I figured I’d try to take advantage of the midnight opening for various stores at my closest mall on Black Friday. As expected, the stores were as packed as a regular business day, with the few exceptions that weren’t participating in the sales rush.

                The first store we went to, Banana Republic was surprisingly neat and still relatively calm. We walked in and right away, one of the employees came up to us and asked if we needed any help and if we wanted a dressing room.  We immediately took her up on the offer for the dressing room and it was a smart choice, because they quickly filled up.

                The employee came back a few times, to ask if we needed her help, but didn’t hassle us, and proceeded to get different sizes and colors of the different pieces we were trying on. We had tailored service even in a chaotic setting. It was nice to feel like more than just a consumer. I’m not sure if the people were getting time and a half or working on a commission, but the fact that the people working took the time to make sure that each person was helped made my willingness to continue to patronage their store a huge plus.

                Lesson Learned: Making your customers feel like VIPs is a crucial part of keeping them coming back for more. Plus, fantastic Black Friday deals don’t hurt the inflow of people. When you offer tailored service and accommodation to customers, people feel seen and like the attention. Good work Banana Republic on making Black Friday a memorable and successful event. 


“Outthink the Competition Rather Than Outspend Them”

Author: Leslie Wolff, CEO of Smart Marketing Group, speaks from experience as an entrepreneur, sales and marketing executive plus advisor and coach. Les has “walked the walk and talked the talk.” The knowledge that he imparts with passion has been learned in the toughest of schools, “Real Life!”, in the trenches, on top of the mountain and everywhere in between.

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Electronic Trash Turns Away Customers – Dumb Marketing Moves

This Dumb Marketing Move goes to Comcast.

Email marketing is a big deal. When a customer gives a company their email, it is quite the step for the customer. It’s a line into their personal life. With that said, I ran across an article about Comcast’s email marketing that seemed….sneaky. It was a new product, never introduced to this customer and they thought it was spam.

Here is the email they received:

Dear Comcast Customer,

Your immediate attention is required. Constant Guard™ identified that one or more of your computers may be infected with “Bot”. We strongly recommend that you visit the Comcast Constant Guard Center at https://constantguard.comcast.net for important information on how to remove malicious software from your computer(s).

A “Bot” is malicious software or malware that is used to gain control of your computer, typically without your knowledge. Online criminals can use Bots to collect your personal and private data, such as Social Security numbers, bank account information, and credit card numbers by monitoring your keystrokes. This can lead to identity theft and fraud.

We appreciate your prompt attention to this important online security notice.


Comcast Customer Security Assurance

Lesson Learned: As a company, small or large, you must respect each and every email. If you don’t, you can easily lose a customer’s trust, they will want off of your email list, which means you lose most of your contact with this customer. Yes, there is social media but more than likely once you cross the line of making a customer feel uncomfortable in their inbox, they’re done. So remember, when introducing a new product, do it with integrity; your customers will see right through it otherwise.


Filed under Marketing Curmudgeon

Gift Certificate Marketing, Don’t Forget the Follow Through – Dumb Marketing Move

This week’s Dumb Marketing Move goes to Mango Moon.

There’s a new craze for half off gift certificates for local companies. As a marketer, I think it is great because these small companies, whether they are a restaurant, a gym, or a retail store, can gain some major exposure by partnering up with websites like Groupon.com, and HalfOffDepot.com.

So why am I awarding Mango Moon Restaurant this award if they used one of these websites to gain exposure? It was in their follow through. Gift certificates are a way to get people in the door, but you can not forget the follow through.

I had friends of mine go to their restaurant and use all of the gift certificate except $4. And they didn’t give them the balance for a return visit, not $4 in cash; it should have been $4 to use at their restaurant for another visit. It could have been in the form of a business card someone fills out, or even just printed on their receipt. Sure, $4 might seem like they shouldn’t honor it, and plus they already ate for ½ price with the purchase of this gift certificate. But the kicker, Mango Moon could have had return customers with that $4, and they would have spent much more than that! As soon as my friends told me this last night, that’s when I realized I needed to tell everyone out there with a business. (Note: Have you had this experience? Tell us about it below!!)

They blew their chance! Since I wasn’t there, I don’t know if it was just a server that made this decision, but it should have been communicated to everyone on the staff to honor anything leftover on these certificates. The first step with Groupon, or Half Off Depot, is to gain a customer. They accomplished this. The second step, get them to come back! Isn’t that what you want with all of your customers? So, now did their ½ off gift certificate work to gain them business? I have to say NO, because they didn’t follow through on something small and seemingly insignificant.

Lesson Learned: The small stuff counts! Even though your customers are getting an amazing deal the first time around, and might be cutting into your costs, you have to think about the future. How much will your customers be worth the next time they visit, and the next time and the next time? Your customers, and potentially loyal customers, are sitting at a table in your restaurant. They are already there, waiting to be reeled in! Don’t let them get away.

And remember, as an owner you need to communicate to your staff what you are doing marketing wise, so that they will be able to follow through for you. Make them feel part of the team, and part of the life of the business.

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Customer Research and Database – Dumb Marketing Move

This week’s dumb marketing move goes to Staples. They do a lot of good marketing but I think this one just isn’t that good.

They are constantly sending me savings coupons, which is a great thing right? Not really! I shop in-store and every single coupon is for online shopping.
Here’s what they sent me:

Hmmmmm….someone isn’t doing their homework. Most of my shopping from Staples is in the Copy and Print Center, so I have to go in and I CAN NOT use anything they send me. Thanks a lot Staples.

Lesson Learned: If you’re centering a campaign on your online sales, make sure your customers buy online. If you want to entice them to buy, make sure you state “for first time buyers” and don’t overkill the mailings, you’re just wasting your time! That also means you need to keep your database updated.

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