Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Grow Your Business By Marketing To Existing Customers

Do your marketing efforts focus on new customers—or those loyal to your brand?

The answer should be: both. When you consider that acquiring a new customer is “five to 25 times more expensive than retaining an existing one” (Harvard Business Review), it makes sense to focus on keeping the customers you have, happy.

According to an article in Marketing Land, marketing to existing customers drives business growth: In addition to recommending you to others, satisfied customers positively impact your bottom line in many ways:

  • They are more open to upsell and cross-sell opportunities, increasing their lifetime customer value.
  • They’re less price-sensitive because they know you’re worth it.
  • source:
  • They are more resistant to outreach efforts by competitors.

Given these bottom-line benefits, it’s smart to develop concentrated marketing campaigns that connect with and engage existing customers. But where do you start? Consider these four questions:

Are we delivering on our brand promise?
A brand promise is a contract between you and your customers. It sets the stage for the experience they should expect to have. By evaluating your business objectives and comparing them against the customer experience, you’ll get a clear picture of what your customers are experiencing. Is your internal and external messaging consistent? Are you over-delivering in some areas and lacking in others?

By gathering feedback from these prompts, you can fine-tune your messaging and delivery, bringing what you do and what you say you’ll do into closer alignment, which equates to a better customer experience.

Who are our most satisfied customers?
It’s likely that you have a system in place to gather customer feedback. So, use that to you advantage in strengthening your brand story. Consider using customer testimonials, case studies, guest speakers, etc. to build your brand reputation and help you stand out among competitors.

Do we have a strategy for growing ancillary revenue from happy customers?
Are you meeting your customers’ needs? How can you provide greater value? At Shamrock we use Business Reviews: We crunch the data on orders/products/categories, etc. that provide meaningful views for our clients. Then, we ask for feedback and use the opportunity to share our other products/services to cross sell and upsell. Always, you want those suggestions to be relevant to your customers.

What are our competitors doing?
Understanding the reasons why you win or lose business is an important to keeping customers happy and your company primed for growth.

How does your product or service stack up against the competition? What are they doing that you aren’t? What are your salespeople hearing from customers? Answering these questions will help to shape your view of where you stand in the marketplace and can help identify areas that require greater attention.

To read the entire article, click here.

Focusing creative efforts on customer retention benefits your bottom line. Are there other questions that you use to identify ways to provide a better customer experience? I’d like to hear from you.

All the Best,
Tim Connor

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Three Ways to Boost Customer Engagement

It used to be that the quality of goods or services is what created a happy customer. But that was then. And this is the age of customer engagement: Today, customers want to feel appreciated, engaged and connected with their chosen brands. Consider these new statistics:

  • 86% of buyers will pay more for a better customer experience
  • By 2020, customer experience will overtake price and product as the key brand differentiator (source: Walker)   
Research is also finding that, even in today’s digital era, customers are seeking more authentic, human-centered interaction—but without constant interruption. This is the challenge that we face as marketers: To connect with our customers in ways that are real and relevant, while providing transparency, in a frequency that keeps them engaged at every touchpoint.

Source: Walker

A recent article from Inc. magazine offers three tips for creating happy customers through customer engagement:

Behavioral Marketing  

One way to increase customer interaction is to understand where your customers have been—and where they’re going—based on their behavior. Behavioral marketing is one of the best ways to find engaged brand users. By basing your marketing strategies on behavior (Where are how are consumers interacting with your brand?), you can improve the quality of your leads and identify previously inaccessible customers.   

Influencers and Thought Leaders

Inc. magazine says, “One of the biggest ways to boost credibility for a brand is by developing partnerships with people who already have the trust and confidence of your audience.” Influencer marketing is gaining popularity. Consider the Nationwide campaign with Peyton Manning and Brad Paisley. Together, these celebrities appeal to a broad audience.

If your company doesn’t have the budget to book high-dollar celebrities, you might consider using thought leaders to push your brand. Gaining endorsements from industry experts or existing clients that are thought leaders in their industry is one option.  The other is to create your own content and market your company as the industry thought leader.

Frequency Illusions

Another way to connect with qualified customers is to engage in frequency illusions. According to Inc. magazine, “The basic principle is that after someone encounters a name or brand, they suddenly begin to see it everywhere. For example, after seeing a commercial for the newest Prius, you start to see them more often when you are on the road. In reality, they were around before, which is why it's an illusion.”

Through tools like retargeting, social media, and influencer marketing, companies can intentionally increase the frequency someone encounters their brand.

To read the entire Inc. magazine article about creating greater customer engagement, click here.

I found this article very insightful. It’s a reminder that any successful marketing effort requires a balanced and integrated approach. What tips do you have for creating engaging connections with your customers? I’m interested in hearing from you.

Ellen Moriarty

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Your Guide To Volunteering

It feels good to do good. Most of us who donate our time to causes or organizations that are meaningful to us would likely agree: Volunteering allows us to give back, while rewarding ourselves in the process. 

There’s research that supports those feel-good benefits: It’s been found that volunteering improves your health. According to a report by Corporation for National & Community Service: “Research demonstrates that volunteering leads to better health… those who volunteer have lower mortality rates, greater functional ability, and lower rates of depression later in life than those who do not volunteer.”

It’s also good for your career: Volunteering can broaden your base of experience and offers an excellent opportunity for networking. The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal have published articles about how volunteering can help you earn your next job.

At Shamrock, we are fortunate to have a group of very committed people who research and organize volunteer opportunities for our team. As often as possible, we try to volunteer as a group which also allows us to enjoy the camaraderie-building benefits.

If you’re looking for opportunities to plug into your community and respond to a need, we’ve compiled some great resources. Starting with national organizations: These websites offer nationwide campaigns/programming as well as connections to local chapters that offer additional volunteer opportunities.

This user-friendly site allows you to search and sign up for nonprofit volunteer opportunities based on your interests, format (group or individual), location and more. Currently, there are 102,554 active opportunities listed on the site.

The American Red Cross
Whether you’d like to help with disaster relief efforts or be a part of a local campaign like Sound the Alarm, which involves volunteers installing smoke detectors in high-risk neighborhoods, there are many ways to get involved.

Habitat for Humanity
A wonderful opportunity for a team of people to work together to build a new home for a family in need or provide disaster relief building services in communities worldwide.

Humane Society of the United States
Providing administrative assistance, fostering pets, working at shelters or as part of wildlife rescue efforts: There are lots of ways to help with essential animal protection programming.

Below is a sampling of local volunteer resources, based in metropolitan areas where Shamrock has a presence:

Cleveland: Greater Cleveland Food Bank. Provides nutritious meals for those in need throughout the NE Ohio community; outreach for underserved; food pantries.

Walnut Creek/Bay Area: Tony La Russa’s Animal Rescue Foundation saves dogs and cats who have run out of time at public shelters.

Boston: Rosie’s Place. Safe, dignified temporary housing for women; food pantry, classes.

Chicago: Chicago Cares. Inspires positive change through 200 volunteer events every month

Detroit: Arts & Scraps. Recycles 28 tons of material annually to help 275,000 children in low-income neighborhoods think, create and learn.

Dallas: Promise House. Dedicated to ending youth homelessness; emergency shelter, counseling, education.

Pittsburgh: East End Cooperative Ministry. An interfaith coalition of 46 congregations, parishes, and institutions; minister to the frail, elderly, youth, homeless.

I’m hoping these organizations inspire you to check into an opportunity in your area. If you have a volunteer resource you’d like to share with us that’s not listed, please share on our Facebook page.

All the best,
Tim Connor

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

5 DIY Gifts You Can Make in a Blender

With gift-giving season upon us, we’re passing along some great ideas from our customer’s playbook: The following DIY gift blog is from Vitamix. While Shamrock has been working with Vitamix for years, we’re also product devotees (we have a Vitamix in our breakroom), so you can bet we’ll be testing some of these creative recipes soon.

By: Shanna Mallon | 06/03/2016

Why not treat the ones you love to do-it-yourself (DIY) gifts they'll be sure to treasure? You can use your blender to whip up thoughtful, creative presents that cater to the recipient's specific tastes. To help get you inspired, here are five great examples of DIY gifts you can make in your blender:

1. Signature Spice Blends
For the cooks in your life, there are few gifts more thoughtful—or useful—than homemade spice blends. There are endless possibilities, ranging from curry mixes to Italian herb blends, so you can customize them as you like. Gather ingredients, place them in your blender, and pulse them together. When you're happy with the texture of your mixture, pour it into attractive three-ounce glass jars, and consider adding decorative details. Attractive labels are the perfect finishing touch and will help you further personalize your gift.

2. Customized Condiments
Nut butters, ketchup, and other DIY condiments offer all the flavor and enjoyment of your favorite foods—without any of the weird preservatives. Even better, homemade condiments open the door to all kinds of personalized touches. Have a friend who loves cardamom? Make her a cardamom-spiked almond butter. Know that your family member can't get enough heat? Blend up a barbecue sauce with a cayenne kick. Custom condiments make great gifts for people who love to barbecue or entertain. You could even take them to the next party as a host/hostess gift.

3. Spa-Treatment Beauty Products
Give the gift of luxury by creating a custom body scrub, body butter, face mask, or even healing hair mask for someone you love. Your DIY beauty product will show that you took the time to make a homemade gift, and it will provide the recipient with a four-star spa treatment. Enhance each gift by using fragrances and oils that your loved one might enjoy, such as lavender for a busy mom.

4. Homemade Playdough
Natural, simple, and endlessly entertaining, homemade playdough is a wonderful gift. It provides hours of fun, and it's safe to play with because it's totally toxin-free when you use natural dyes. Whether you're making playdough for your kids, grandkids, neighbors, or kids' school friends, you can't go wrong with this entertaining gift.

5. Delectable Desserts
Who can resist a freshly baked treat? When you need gifts for your kids' teachers or your favorite coworkers, you can easily use your blender to make baked goods. Try whipping up gluten-free macaroons or cranberry coconut squares for an upcoming birthday celebration or holiday. Desserts are a crowd-pleasing DIY gift, so consider putting your own creative twist on whatever you make.

The next time you're looking for a thoughtful gift, let your creativity flow and put your blender to work. Consider making one of these five DIY gift ideas to show your loved ones you care. They'll end up with a personal gift that's just as unique as it is useful.

Do you have any gift-worthy treats that you whip up in your blender, or mixer, or crockpot? Please share your ideas with us on Facebook.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Make Print Part of Your Marketing Strategy In 2017

With so much emphasis today on digital marketing, businesses might write off print as a viable channel for making solid brand connections with customers—but new statistics suggest otherwise: According to recent data, the tangible power of print still resonates:

• 92% of 18 to 23-year-olds find it easier to read printed content than digital. (Oxford University Press, 2015)
• The response rate to direct-mail marketing was 37% higher than for email.
(Direct Marketing Association, 2015)
• Consumers trust print ads 34% more than search engine ads for making purchasing decisions.
(Marketing Sherpa, 2016)

Times have changed—and so has our connection with print media: Technology has changed the way that print marketing is consumed. To be effective, print must be used as part of a broader, more inclusive integrated marketing effort. People will have a stronger connection to printed media when a campaign is layered with other channels, including social media, mobile marketing, video and others.

The rule of thumb is that marketing content must be relevant and brand-centered. But it also must be trackable. As marketers we need to collect and track the data that helps us define our message and our delivery so that we can redeploy and create connections—and ongoing dialogue—with our audience. Consider using print ads or direct mail to funnel people back to your digital sites using coupon codes or special offers.

There’s also something to be said for changing things up: With all the clamor surrounding the next big digital innovation, print offers a refreshing changeup. According to “The Household Diary” from the United States Postal Service, the USPS saw a 2% decrease in direct mail in 2016. Yet, there is a 3.9% year-to-year increase in the number if postcards read by consumers. Why not consider seizing the opportunity to stand out from the competition by including direct mail in your next campaign?
click to view

Click below to link to an infographic that shows how print can re-energize your marketing strategy.

As with anything, it’s all about balance: Print will continue to be both essential and relevant—but as part of a comprehensive and measurable marketing program. What are your thoughts? Do you use print as part of your marketing effort? We’re always interested in feedback.

All the best,
Tim Connor

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Kill It on Social Media with Video Marketing

The engaging power of video is captivating the social media stage. Live video (Facebook Live) and ephemeral (disappearing) content via Instagram Stories are two trends that are pushing video as an essential element of social media marketing. And with good reason—video makes powerful connections and starts a brand-centered conversation with your customers.

When it comes to quickly and effectively delivering a brand message, there is power in video marketing. According to data from Brightcove, social video generates 1,200% more shares than text and images combined; and video drives 157% increase in organic traffic from search engines.

Why is video important?
At Shamrock, we see video as an absolute essential for helping our clients tell their stories: Video provides instant brand gratification. And regardless of industry or budget, it’s a channel easily incorporated into your marketing program.

Above all, video is the trend in marketing: It is estimated that 80% of all internet traffic will be video by 2019. (Cisco)

How can you put video to work for your brand?
Creating original, compelling, relevant content that makes a brand connection with your audience—that’s the goal of video marketing. For a great example, click on the link below to watch the short video we posted on our Shamrock YouTube channel about the difference between Vector vs Raster files:

 Click to view
Click to view

There’s a lot of great ideas for videos: Roundup The Team—take a camera around the office and have people briefly speak about the latest product introduction or community service activity; focus on Live Customer Service—create a montage that captures customer service and support in action; develop a simple How-To video that shows a process or innovation; or answer customers’ FAQs.

If you’re at a loss for creative direction, click below to access a list of Video Marketing Ideas from MarketingProfs: 21 Video Marketing Ideas for Small-Business Budgets.

A recent study from Ascend2 found that the most effective video for converting sales leads include these topics:

  • customer testimonials 
  • demo videos
  • explainer/tutorial videos 

What’s great about these video themes is that the scripts practically write themselves: Capturing a testimonial or demonstrating a product or service are stories that authentically speak to your brand and its benefit to your customers. In other words: You know your brand best, so use that information to tell your story through video.

And then share your best videos with us on Facebook—we’ll help continue the brand conversation.

All the best,
Tim Connor

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Make Tangible Brand Connections

Harnessing the power of promotional products

We just got our hands on the Promotional Products Association International (PPAI) 2017 Consumer Study. The results speak to the pervasive power of promotional products: The study found that 89% of consumers had received a promotional product within the past six months—and 8 in 10 of them researched the brand; with 83% of those consumers noting they are more likely to do business with the brand. Those statistics reinforce the messages in this Shamrock blog post from 2015. So, we’re bringing it back in its entirety, with an updated graphic that summarizes the 2017 PPAI study.

In this digital age, so much of our everyday business is managed online. But as with any other aspect of our lives, balance is essential to success. Promotional products are the ideal source for equilibrium in your marketing program because they make a brand impression offline. Think about it: How many logoed t-shirts do you have in your closet? I’ve got a stack of them—and I’m not alone: The latest statistics show that, on average, Americans keep t-shirts for 6.3 months, tallying 2,450 impressions. It’s a great example of how a promotional item makes a tangible, lasting brand statement.

click to view
At Shamrock, we provide the transactional piece (quality product at a good price) as one component of a strategic approach (integrated marketing) to using promotional products to protect and promote your brand: We see the big picture. Our value is that we understand how online and offline channels can complement each other and work together to perpetuate the message in the most powerful and effective way. The result of that integrated and balanced marketing effort is a memorable brand impression.

With so many new, innovative products on the market and the phenomenal reach that we are seeing with brand awareness, it’s an exciting time to be a part of this industry. 

Are you using promotional products as part of your marketing program? Which premium items will provide you the best return on your investment? Chime in on our Facebook page. Check out the graphic below to see some the latest statistics.

All the best,
Tim Connor