Marketing is getting the right message in front of the right prospect using the right medium. It is also about taking advantage of an opportunity to promote your business.
Let me share a recent experience we can all learn from:
February 9 was National Pizza Day. I learned about it from a friend who was browsing social media. Well, I love pizza, so I decided to double check. Sure enough, it was a ‘real’ event. I looked online at the local pizza restaurants, and some of them were having specials. A moment later, I told my wife we were going out.
Throughout the day, I shared National Pizza Day with a few friends, who told others. Many were planning to go out for pizza to celebrate. I was a little excited, thinking about what kind of pizza I wanted to order. When my wife came home from work, she was excited about going too. Because really, who doesn’t love pizza?
Well, that’s where the fun ended. When we arrived at the restaurant, we were seriously disappointed. No signs, no celebration, nothing to make it a festive, fun event. The restaurant was understaffed, and the wait time was so bad that after 20 minutes, we got up to leave before our order was taken. The owner came over, apologized, and took our orders. The food was good, but the event was not a pleasant one.
The next day, I spoke to several friends about their restaurants, and they all related similar experiences. One in particular was completely overwhelmed by orders, but only had a skeleton crew (February 9 was a Thursday, normally a very slow pizza night). My friend was sitting close to their telephone and overheard one customer after another calling in to cancel their orders due to the wait time.
There were some common threads in each restaurant:
- The restaurant didn’t promote the event.
- The restaurant staff didn’t know about the event. Even the restaurants that ran specials didn’t inform their staff.
- Not enough staff on hand for the event.
- No follow up with customers, especially those who had a poor experience.
So, what can you do for your business to prevent a poor experience for your customers?
1. Look for opportunities to promote your business.
One favorite website for me that really makes it easy to come up with promotions is the National Day Calendar (www.nationaldaycalendar.com). They list over 1500 holidays each year, including daily, weekly, and monthly celebrations. Just a few from March 2017 include:
- National Craft Month
- National Peanut Month
- 1-7 National Cheerleading Week
- 12-18 Girl Scout Week
- 12-18 Termite Awareness Week
- 19-25 National Animal Poison Prevention Week
- 26- April 1 – National Cleaning Week
- 1 National Peanut Butter Lover’s Day (bakeries)
- 3 National Employee Appreciation Day (first Friday in March) (EVERY BUSINESS)
- 9 National Barbie Day (great for hair/nail salons!)
- 17 St. Patrick’s Day
- 19 National Certified Nurses Day (hair/nail salons)
- 29 National Mom and Pop Business Owners Day (EVERYONE)
NOTE: I GUARANTEE if you browse the National Day Calendar listings, you will find an event that ties to your business. (If you can’t find one, call me and I will help you find one!)
2. Get you staff involved
As we learned from National Pizza Day, your staff will be the biggest promoters of your event, but you have to get them involved! Explain the event, what you are expecting (numbers of customers, marketing information collected, products sampled, free or discounted offers, decorations, etc.), and get their ideas.
One lesson I learned was to really listen to input from other generations. Baby Boomers, Gen-X, Millennials, and Gen-Z employees all have very different ideas of how to promote an event. Flyers, social media, direct mail, emails to your customer (and prospect) list. Just listen to your employees, and you will be amazed by their ideas and energy!
3. Promote the event
Take all the input from your employees and put together your promotion plan. Pick out what works, and what is within your budget. Put together a marketing calendar/timeline, and PROMOTE YOUR EVENT! Without action, all your planning is wasted effort.
(Note: if you want to know what kinds of items are deductible for marketing and promotion, just ask your accountant!)
4. Event Day
Focus your efforts on making this an enjoyable event for your customers and staff. As the business owner or manager, your role should be engaging with your customers. If needed, make each employee responsible for specific tasks during the event.
One key task: collect contact information for every customer, client, or prospect who attended or was involved with the event.
5. Lessons Learned / Event Success
One of the most overlooked parts of any event or celebration is doing a ‘lessons learned’ meeting with your staff that was involved with the event.
After the event, get your staff together and go over the event. You want input FROM YOUR STAFF for each of these items. Your staff were the ones directly interacting with your customers/prospects, and may have a very different experience of the event than you did.
- Lessons Learned – What worked well, and what didn’t?
- Were flyers a waste of time, or did you run out of them?
- Not enough / too much staff?
- Did you run out of food / product?
- What were your results from each type of social media?
- Event Success
- Was contact information collected from each customer?
- How many people arrived at what times?
- How many appointments were generated?
- How many ‘free tastes’ were given, and how many sales were generated?
- How many gift baskets / promo items were needed for the event?
After you collect this information, THANK YOUR STAFF, and use it to help plan the next event.
6. Follow up with customers
Here’s another area that is often overlooked. Immediately after your event, follow up with EVERY customer or prospect who attended. Thank them for attending and making your event a success, and invite them to return. Be sure to invite them to your next event!
Hampton Roads Accounting works with small businesses, providing accounting, tax, and consulting services. Contact us today with your small business needs.