December 5, 2011
Now that it is December and snow has fallen in many places across the country, everyone is expecting great specials and deals at their favorite businesses. How you differentiate yourself with deals your competitors might not have thought of could be what sets you apart. Not doing anything outside of the norm, or, in the case of automotive dealerships, not doing anything other than your brand’s national deals, will only get you lost in the crowd. ExtremeJohn.com, a site for small business advice in social media, said:
“I always run a month long promotion in my small business. I have a new feature every single day leading up until Christmas. I really feel like my clients enjoy the surprise factor, not knowing what tomorrow’s special offer will be, and it keeps them coming back for more every time!” READ MORESeveral blog entries on the site lately have been about holiday deals and their importance in making customers feel both appreciated and as if your business is offering something unique and worthy of their attention. Countdowns can create a sense of limited supply, and is a great addition for holiday specials since consumers are counting down the days anyway. PlumberSurplus.com, the ecommerce and entrepreneurship blog, gave these four tips for running a successful holiday promotion: 1. Embrace the Season 2. Give People What They Want 3. Be Original 4. Find Your Advantage Offer discounts on oil changes before consumers start going off on those long family trips. Find your niche and reap the benefits. A few ideas from Under30CEO are to offer contests, gift certificates specifically for the holidays, and consider hosting Santa Claus. Nothing brings in customers like the chance for their children to sit on Santa’s lap, especially if it means avoiding the long line at the mall. And check out the Volkswagen Christmas Card, a true holiday innovation.
September 26, 2011
Keep Them Coming BackThere are many ways to build trust with a potential customer and gain loyalty, especially when working with that customer for the first time. One such bold suggestion was recently posed by Jim Kristoff on dealerELITE. Kristoff suggests going through the process of appraising a customer’s trade-in through Kelley Blue Book together, so that there is agreement on vehicle condition, the customer doesn’t miss certain model specifics about their vehicle, and the price is set and agreed upon without hassle.
“What better way for your management team to build rapport and trust with your customer, than to let the customer be a part of the trade appraisal?” READ MOREAnother often overlooked way to build customer loyalty is availability of accessories. The 2011 Automotive Accessory Market Report found that accessory availability was important in selecting a dealer by 23% of all buyers. Consumers can be frustrated if the accessories they want aren’t there, and, as reported by Insignia Group, being able to select accessories can be a large part of instilling ownership in a customer even before financial paperwork is signed. Insignia Group also suggested offering a complimentary maintenance schedule with the purchase of a vehicle, as customers who regular use the Parts and Service departments at their dealership are more likely to purchase their next vehicle from the same location. Since service retention is so important for overall customer loyalty, adding any ease of use for a customer’s service needs can be helpful, like mobile SMS text messages to remind them of their upcoming oil change. Mobile messaging can also provide specials, news, and even just simple reminders of why the customer is appreciated by the dealership, and in the mode of communication many consumers prefer. Finally, a great way to build and maintain customer loyalty is to provide a Customer Loyalty Program. You can offers customers something they want, such as a free oil change after the first three, or a way to earn points toward so much off their next vehicle purchase, which offers incentive to keep the customer going back to the dealership and build on the program. Read more about Customer Loyalty Program success here.
September 6, 2011
Seth Godin, called “America’s Greatest Marketer” by American Way Magazine, wrote on his blog last year about loyalty, not specific to any one type of industry but brand loyalty in general. He stressed in his article that loyalty isn’t about customers choosing a brand because it was the cheapest at the time, but choosing one they might have to spend more on as long as they have reason to feel loyal, often from something as simple as good customer service. Customer loyalty programs are one way to accomplish this. Discussion on DrivingSales about what customers perceive as the most valuable reward have been centering around value proposition in sales or service through the earning of points. While the punch-card idea is slowly falling away in retail, many customer loyalty programs are still about earning points, and customers often enjoy the routine of, for example, knowing that an oil change here or tire rotation there will earn them points toward their next vehicle purchase. Some customer loyalty programs that work, as reported by The Street in their 5 Best, 5 Worst Customer-Loyalty Programs, include National’s Emerald Club. National, who provides vehicle rental, allows their customers to pick any vehicle on the lot, and being a part of their reward program is free, offering 1 credit per rental. After 7 rentals they get a day free. Simple and valuable for the common rental customer. Harvard Business School’s Working Knowledge, a site for innovation in business practice, observed how customer rewards are changing, going from cards to digital with mobile apps and email offers. They worry, however, that few companies understand how to best use such programs to their benefit.
“The loss of face-to-face interactions between merchant and shopper has left a lot of customers wandering the desert. Well-run loyalty schemes are a way to bring them back into the fold.” READ MOREIn the case note Customer Loyalty Schemes in the Retail Sector, Jose B. Alvarez and Aldo Sesia found that successful retailers connect with their customer loyalty program participants at three levels: the intro with a reward for enrolling, direct contact to offer further rewards that are tailored to the customer, and finally engagement with two-way communication between customer and brand.
"When you combine this with a keen understanding of trends in the marketplace you can pleasantly surprise customers with goods and services that they may not have known existed. A great retailer is the agent for the customer. Loyalty programs and the insight and communication capabilities they provide can help retailers achieve greatness in a crowded and commoditized space." READ MOREDealers can benefit the same way.