While the current recession may be easing, or so we are told, many small businesses are still reacting the way they have always reacted in difficult times; they cut price on their product and/or services.
Some are more creative than others. Some will package products together for a one price special. Others will discount certain products only if you buy another product at full price and still others will create specials for certain “holidays, day parts or time periods” as is applicable to their specific business.
Is this dancing in the rain? Is this the only way we MUST deal with difficult times? I don’t think so. I think its the same old same old that we have always done; only we are more creative now…or so we think.
The real dance in the rain takes place with your existing customers, the people who brought you to the dance in the first place. They are the people to whom your marketing should be directed; the ones who know you and like you. Get them to visit your business more frequently and to spend more on each visit. Chasing new customers is far more expensive and less “long term” than insuring that your existing customers will continue to “prefer” your business rather than a competitor’s business.
Have you given them an incentive to refer a friend, bring a friend or sign up a friend to buy your service or product? Have you marketed to these people about NEW programs you have and how you want to invite them in for a FREE screening or VIP guest night (everybody wants to feel special!)? Have you treated them to remarkable experiences?
As good marketers we must be able to precisely define our best customers ; how frequently they come to our business, what they typically spend and when they are most likely to come to our establishment. Then, if we market our product to them, we can essentially ask them to be our ambassadors; to spread the word to their friends and create new customers without necessarily cutting our price.
Why will they do that for us? Simply because they like their experience at our facility. They like the product and think they get good value for their dollar. And all they need is a little reminder and a little incentive to spread some serious Word of or Mouth advertising for you.
If you are relying on email “coupon”blasts to do this for you, you might be wasting lots of time. Broad brush couponing is not nearly as effective as “targeted direct incentives” that are relevant to specific segments. In fact recent studies suggest that less than 15% of these “email blasts” even get opened.
The 21 year old cosmic bowler is far different than the 25 to 44 year old Mom with 2 kids, especially when it comes to choosing an entertainment option. Recognizing their differences is the first step in creating relevant incentives to get them to come back more frequently.
So just because you have a bunch of emails doesn’t mean you have a data based marketing system. if you cannot segment your market by usage and again by demographic data, your data base isn’t a data base at all. Its an electronic mailing list
And just because a business has survived other hard times by cutting prices to hold onto market share doesn’t‘ mean that the business really knows how to dance in the rain. Look at how many small businesses have folded in the past year. Do you not think they too cut prices, before they went out of business?
If only they knew how to dance in the rain, maybe they would have been around when the sun finally comes out.