No one is more apt to buy something from you than someone who has already made a purchase.

 

Every small (or large) business owner knows that it’s mission critical to communicate with existing customers at every logical opportunity.  The fastest way to a new sale is with an existing customer.  They trust you, they have proven they will give you their hard earned money.

Effective consumer engagement is more than discounts or coupons.

Consumers will always say they want discounts and savings, but more consumers will react to convenience, personalization and customization than are triggered by discounts alone.

Once a merchant starts down the deep discounts road, there is no way back.

Ask every car dealer or furniture store that ever ran a single “No, no, no!” promotion.  They will know EXACTLY what you are talking about, and will probably start to weep tears of frustration before you can finish the question.

Personalization and customization is a different beast entirely.  Ask any bartender or restaurant server – they’ll tell you that remembering what regular customers usually order and asking them if they’d like to order that ________  (drink, sandwich, dessert, etc) before being asked for it should result in a nice tip.

Treating customers like they are important and special to your business is a win-win situation for merchant and customer.  

Acquiring a new customer is expensive, selling additional goods to an existing customer is much easier;

it also greatly increases the LTV (life time value) of the customer and boosts bottom line ROI and profits by a healthy margin.

Most business owners would rather give good customer experience in lieu of a discount, and most (not all) customers would be satisfied with that.  Extensive studies have been done that indicate consumers are becoming more expectant when it comes to being recognized and offered something personal along with recognition.  Creating an extensive loyalty or customer database that contains entries for things like birthdays or past purchases takes a considerable amount of time, effort and investment to develop and maintain; many merchants opt for a “lite” version of a full-blown loyalty and rewards program, while waiting to determine what new technology needs to be addressed with a long term solution.

Personalization and customization can be created in other ways besides a user specific database.

Leveraging new, modern technology made popular by companies like Apple (iBeacon, ApplePay, Passbook) and Google (Wallet) enables the small business owner to compete with the overwhelming field of big businesses who are spending a LOT of money to create and distribute apps.

Southwest Airlines (LUV) recently announced that they are extending their app to utilize the drop-in functionality and access recall from the lock screen (available in Passbook because it is Apple’s native app) by adding Passbook functionality to their existing app.  This enables them to more effectively give the boarding pass holder an easier way to quickly access their boarding pass at the right time – always a model of efficiency, SWA – without having to unlock their device, did for the correct app and spend valuable time holding up the boarding line or getting frustrated because it’s too many steps and they should have just gotten a paper boarding pass, and now this baby won’t stop crying…  you get the idea.

Stepping outside the traditional discounts mindset offers you, the merchant, the ability to craft and control your message, while leveraging technology developed by much larger, well-funded companies who understand the best methods of converting customer communications into additional interactions that lead to more revenue.