Sometimes it is the little things we say or do which bring us the most satisfaction. In marketing, it is often the same. Big changes or major restructuring can be taken for what they represent, response to business peaks and valleys, following target group trends, or introducing a new product or service. These are the more complex business decisions dictated by marketing plans. The little things, however, may hold the key to more customer interaction and buyer loyalty.
Little things include gifts, small tokens of appreciation, buyer loyalty incentives, or the more intangible, but essential marketing tools such as employee attitudes, attention to physical surrounding details and how you respond to customer input.
Marketing incentives have always been a part of attracting customers and transacting sales. Coupons, special programs and seasonal promotions are used by the smallest business owners as well as the big box stores. These incentives may be useful in getting a customer into a store or retail outlet, but keeping them there and bringing them back again and again demands a more subtle approach – those little things that mean a lot. Acknowledging a customer with a smile or kind word of greeting, training employees to be helpful and tactful, and presenting a positive environment demonstrate your overall interest in serving the customer with respect and attention to detail. These little things build customer loyalty and good word-of-mouth (or social media) advertising.
Even the youngest visitors to your business recognize and respond to excellent customer service. Pre-school groups asked what they liked about farm tours often responded by noting the little things – they got a popsicle at the end of the tractor ride or they were able to hand-feed a farm animal. Senior citizens appreciated help getting purchases to their cars and employees who could answer questions or give directions.
It is interesting to note how often physical incentives such as tote bags, t-shirts, or hats are brought back or worn again at your business. Even informal tracking of these programs make you aware of how successful the promotion was.
The downside to incentives, however, is to use them to the exclusion of good business practices in general. A truckload of coupons will not improve poor customer service or a facility in disrepair. And, no type of incentive will overcome inadequate business planning or an inferior product.
Customers are grateful and loyal to businesses, which keep up with the dynamic changes in today’s marketplace as well as offering excellent customer service and attention to details. Building customer loyalty is one of the most important factors in any operation’s success, large or small. Little things truly do mean a lot.
The above information is provided for educational purposes and should not be substituted for professional business and legal counseling.