Posts tagged marketing
The following article, Bookstore strives to meet student needs, written by The Pioneer, is a great example of how college stores can communicate their many benefits to their customers. Many students harbor a negative perception towards their on campus bookstores, believing they are out to rip them off. By dispelling these myths, your store has a chance to change that assumption. Consider writing a news release to your local newspaper or contacting a local news station to spread the word about the many ways you work to lower costs for students, much like this article does.
The Whitman College Bookstore sees a rush of students buying textbooks at the beginning of each semester, and while those transactions are not representative of shopping habits throughout the year, textbook costs remain a major point of concern for students.
“On a daily basis, most of the transactions are pretty small,” said senior Heather Smith, one of the student managers.
Even with these smaller purchases, the bookstore strives to keep prices low. A recent pricing change on a popular item, sweatshirts, has had a noticeable effect on sales, according to senior Wing Lam, another student manager.
“People used to always just buy, like, the traditional ‘Whitman College’ ones, but now people are buying more of the other ones because of greater variety and better cost,” Lam said.
However, students are most concerned with the price of textbooks. Bookstore employee and junior Lesli Meekins says it can be difficult for the bookstore to keep prices low.
“There’s not really that many strategies out there when you’re stuck with a high price tag from publishers,” Meekins said.
Even so, Acquisitions Specialist Janice King does not consider that price tag fixed.
“Janice, our textbook buyer, is always talking to the publishers, trying to get a lower rate,” Meekins said.
If she finds out that some publisher doesn’t end up giving the bookstore the lower rate they had previously agreed upon, “she calls them up and she’s ‘mama bear;’ she’s trying to keep prices low,” Meekins said.
Despite King’s efforts, the price of textbooks can be expensive for students; this is one of the reasons why the “buyback” policy exists.
“Buyback is a good way for students to recover some of the expense of textbooks. If a book is going to be used by a professor for the next semester, the bookstore will pay the student half of the initial cost, and we give cash,” King wrote in an email.
Meekins doesn’t thins students realize how much work goes into lowering prices.
“I think one of the most frustrating things about it is when everybody is coming in to buy textbooks and people mutter, ‘oh my gosh, they’re ripping us off,’” said Meekins.
Although junior Cassandra Smith buys most of her books online, she doesn’t think the bookstore is ripping anyone off.
“I feel like [there would be higher prices] in any store setting because they do have to make a profit, whereas if I buy them online it’s from people who just want to get rid of the books most of the time,” Smith said.
The bookstore is self-sustaining, meaning its income funds the staff wages and benefits, student wages, services and the purchase of supplies and inventory.
“Any profits earned by the bookstore are allocated to Whitman College’s general fund and used to support employee salaries/benefits, faculty research, student scholarships, financial aid awards, etc.,” said King.
Even if students don’t always realize it, the bookstore staff constantly tries to meet their needs.
The bookstore offers a 20 percent discount on non-textbooks to the Whitman community and has been featuring products made by students, faculty and community members sold on consignment.
“We are proud to be one of the last independent college bookstores in the Pacific Northwest and to contribute to a sustainable local economy,” said King. “We are the students’ bookstore and that is always foremost in our decisions.”
The following excerpt, from the article, 4 Tips for Terrific Twitter Offers, was written by Andrew Pitre for HubSpot Blog. Check out these tips for suggestions on how to use Twitter to promote discounts, sales, and special events:
1. The offer has to be nice. By “nice,” we mean something of actual value. This sounds obvious, but this can be a tricky thing to master because you need to understand what you’re audience actually wants. Here are some general tips: People like things that are free, that are educational, that help them make purchasing decisions, and that make their lives easier. For example, if you sell swimming pools, a “First Time Pool Buyer’s Guide,” would probably be appealing to your target audience.
2. The offer has to be novel. A great Twitter offer needs to be something that you can’t get anywhere else. It needs to be exclusive. For example, if you are a Yoga Studio and you tweet “come take a Yoga class,” you’re not offering anything or adding real value. Likewise, if you’re currently offering a 20% discount on your homepage, then offering the same discount in a tweet isn’t something new. On the other hand, if you say something like, “The next 10 people who retweet this will receive a free Yoga class,” you’re heading in the right direction.
3. The offer has to be time sensitive. The idea of “creating urgency” is necessary for any offer, but it’s especially important on Twitter, since Twitter is such a fast-paced medium. If you want to get people clicking, you need to give them a reason to click now. On Twitter, where content in Twitter streams flies by fast, if followers don’t click now, they probably never will.
Comments are now open on Foreword Online and we want your feedback! What kind of promotions have you offered on Twitter? What strategies have you found to be most successful? Share your input!
Did you know Foursquare grew 3,400% last year? The location-based social tool is incredibly popular, and despite fierce competition, it continues to expand. It’s so widely used that even if you don’t participate, customers are probably already using it to check in to your location, leave tips and reviews, and connect with friends.
Like any tool, you should make sure your fans are actually using Foursquare before you invest time with it. But, if they are, there are many ways you can use it to create word of mouth.
A few things to try:
- Encourage people to check in. When people check in to your location, it’s a good thing. Their Foursquare friends are notified, and many users also share check-ins across Facebook and Twitter. Try testing a few incentives to get people to check in: a sign to remind visitors, discounts, specials or charitable donations.
Once you’ve verified your location on Foursquare, you’ll also receive a window cling so customers know you are a Foursquare-friendly establishment. After you’ve clearly posted this decal to your main window, add the icon to all of your marketing materials such as your email signature and webpage, and promote it on your other social media sites.
- Bring in groups of talkers. A variation of encouraging individual customers to check in is to encourage groups of friends to do it. Try a promotion that gives a group discount if friends check in together. Not only will you get an online word-of-mouth boost, but getting groups into your business means more offline conversations, too.
- Promote your biggest fans. It’s not always easy to identify your biggest talkers. But if you see a Foursquare user regularly checking in and leaving useful tips, that’s a talker you want to support. There are tons of experiments to try, but some to explore are offering special deals to your Foursquare mayor, incorporating user tips into marketing materials and having a reserved parking spot for big Foursquare talkers.
Comments are now open on Foreword Online and we want your feedback! How do you use Foursquare? Share your strategies by commenting below!
The following excerpt, from the article Location-Based Services Can Put Businesses on the Map, was written by MP Mueller for The New York Times. Check out how other small businesses are using these applications to generate traffic and how your store can do the same!
Although Starkville, Miss., is home to Mississippi State University and the fighting Bulldogs, it’s not a large city with a dense urban epicenter — the typical playground for those who use location-based marketing services such as Gowalla and Foursquare.
But one small-business owner there, Shane Reed of Strange Brew Coffee House, says sales of The Albino Squirrel Latte — a signature coffee drink with white chocolate and hazelnut syrup — and other drinks have increased 34 percent this September over the previous September, which he attributes to his use of Gowalla, a location-based check in service, and other social media sites.
When customers check in with Gowalla at the coffee house, they are greeted with a 10-percent-discount off of any drink. They show the counter crew the discount on their smartphones and proceed to sip happily.
Mr. Reed is an enthusiastic user of social media, but he says that in terms of generating walk-in traffic, the location-based services trump Facebook and Twitter. “You can have a great Twitter account and Facebook page,” Mr. Reed said, “but if people don’t know where you are located and can’t find you, it’s really not doing you much good.”
On average, he said, he gets four or five check-ins a day, but that number can jump to as many as 30 or 40 a day when Mississippi State’s Bulldogs are playing. And it doesn’t cost Mr. Reed anything, save the value of the discount.
There can be other advantages as well. When the users of location-based services see friends checking in on Gowalla, Foursquare or Yelp and making a comment about the business they are visiting, it can have an impact. The location services reward the businesses with the most check-ins by ranking them higher in their search results.
Someone who types “hair salon” into a location-based app on a smartphone, for instance, will get a list of the most popular places to get coiffed in the vicinity and the salon with the most check-ins will be at the top of the list with its logo, a link to its Web site and a map to take customers right to the door.
If you rely on local and foot traffic and you haven’t already claimed your page on these services, sign up. Once you’ve claimed your listing, cross-promote by adding links to your location-based pages to your Web and social media pages. Gowalla’s chief executive, Josh Williams, says small businesses can benefit from editing their listings.
“Fans have contributed their impressions of a business on Gowalla,” he said, “so small businesses need to go to Gowalla and make sure your business information is represented correctly and add topical, timely info, like the type of coffee that’s roasting right now. The second thing is to encourage your fans or customers to come by and check in — if your business is a hot spot, it will rise to the top of the list of businesses in your area, and that’s a great way to stand out.”
Foursquare’s manager for business development, Jake Furst, said the service offered a number of user-friendly apps to help merchants get the word out. “You can put a Foursquare Specials message in at 3 p.m., during a slow time,” he said, “and it will show up on a user’s phone within minutes. We’ve got a product called the Swarm Special. Merchants set up promo criteria for groups, like if we get 24 Foursquare users here at a set time, everyone at the bar gets a free drink.”
All the services offer businesses free window clings and stickers to encourage check-ins to get specials and find friends. They also provide merchants with check-in data, giving businesses valuable insights about their customers.
Foursquare’s merchant dashboard summarizes total daily check-ins, recent and most frequent visitors, visitors’ gender and most popular time of day for check-ins. You can also see how many of your customers who check in are broadcasting their whereabouts on Twitter and Facebook.
To determine which promotions will drive the most traffic, try scanning your Facebook and Twitter pages and those of your competitors to see what product or service people are talking about. Determine what you can afford to promote with discounts or freebies and target those for promoting. And when you sign up for these platforms, really commit to supporting them. Be sure you make time to work them, frequently pushing out updates and engaging with your audience.
Incoming students are an all-important demographic for collegiate retailers to capture for future sales. That’s why University Book Store at University of Wisconsin – Madison created a fun way to connect with them during their first weeks on campus.
“The beginning of the semester is a very overwhelming time for both freshmen and transfer students,” said Erin Lambert, marketing manager. “We wanted to find a way to welcome them to our school in a relaxed environment.”
So, for nearly ten years, the staff at University Book Store has hosted a New Student Night to do just that!
“The goal of the event is to introduce new students to the many products and services we offer,” explained Lambert. “They can get help finding textbooks without the crowds, learn how and when to sell back books or pick up spiritwear for their first Badger Game without feeling pressured.”
In order to make the event appealing to students, the store pulls out all the stops, creating a fun and interactive atmosphere. Campus organizations set up small booths within the store, passing out information to interested students, and mascots including the store’s own Booky Madison, the University’s Bucky Badger and even the Milwaukee Brewers’ Bernie Brewer make appearances.
“We market the event as a kind of after-hours party,” she said. “The line is usually out the door so we even have the local radio station set up outside to entertain students as they wait!”
It doesn’t stop there, though. New Student Night is also a great place to win prizes. By partnering with their many vendors, the store is able to gain great products at little to no cost! This year, for example, Jansport set up a booth in the store where students could play Plinko for a chance to win branded merchandise.
Other vendors, who couldn’t attend the event, donated items for a giveaway. Using a new strategy this year, the store raffled them off in a text messaging contest!
“We had students text NEWSTUDENT to a designated number,” added Lambert. “Every 20th person was allowed to pick a prize off of our table. All together, there were about 80 prizes, so they were really excited to participate!”
But, because everyone is a winner at the University Store, all students received something for attending.
“To show our appreciation, those that didn’t win by texting received a 20% off coupon that they could use in the store,” she said. “It’s a great way to help build loyalty and also benefits the store! Because it’s good for only that night, we have a pretty high redemption rate and it really helps to boost sales.”
The store also partnered with local restaurants to provide refreshments for students.
“Pizza Hut donated pizza and soda, which was a big hit. In exchange, we advertised for them by putting their information in our email blast and handing out their coupons,” she explained. “Qdoba also agreed to give away free samples of chips and salsa outside the store to students waiting in line. Providing free food always helps to make an event more popular!”
With over 1600 students in attendance this year, New Student Night was certainly a success for University Store. For Lambert, that number means offering added value to her customers.
“It’s one way we can really put ourselves ahead of our competition,” she said. “They can’t offer students the dedicated service that we can, and this is one way to show them that we’re here, we’re friendly, and we’re willing to help!”
With a fan base of over 20,000 on Facebook and nearly 2,500 followers on Twitter, The University Co-Op at University of Texas is definitely doing something right! But, how have they generated such a response from students and alumni alike? Put simply: they asked!
“Social media is all about creating conversations,” explained promotions manager William Kelleher, who monitors the store’s pages. “You have to maintain two-way communication; talk with people instead of just to them. So, before posting anything, I take a step back and consider how it will be received by our fans and then make sure that I include a question or call to action in each update.”
Always asking for input, the store’s strategy has truly transformed their pages into interactive outlets where fans come to share stories, pictures and feedback on a variety of topics. One prime example of this approach is their newest initiative: Burnt Orange Tailgating.
Exploring the excitement behind UT football, this YouTube series is created by Texas fans for Texas fans, in every way. Using social media as a springboard, the store asks their fans to generate questions for the opposing team before each week’s game via Facebook or Twitter.
Hosted by former student athlete, Dustin Wise, the show then poses these often amusing questions to the rival team’s fans on game day, capturing their answers through video. Wise also interacts with Longhorn supporters, sharing their pre-game rituals.
“Football is huge here and our fans are as passionate as they come,” said Kelleher. “Through this series, we’re letting them broadcast that spirit. It’s been really successful so far!”
One reason for that success is undoubtedly the fans direct influence on the series. From creation to implementation, they have had a part in it all.
“When we came up with the idea, we knew it would be a great way to crowdsource,” he said. “For instance, we first created three potential logos and had fans vote for their favorite on Facebook. After narrowing it down to one option, they made suggestions through comments about how we could improve it, and we listened. The feedback was outstanding.”
After making the proposed changes, the store created a t-shirt featuring the final logo and sold it in store.
“Everyone wanted one of those shirts,” he added. “They really felt a sense of ownership over the item because they had essentially helped to make it; it was a really cool concept.”
With over 1,000 hits on the series’ promotional trailer alone, the popularity of the videos has been just as strong, demonstrating the value of University Co-Op’s cross-channel promotional efforts.
Burnt Orange Tailgating isn’t the first time the store has experimented with interactive advertising campaigns, however. In fact, they created a Fan of the Week promotion in the months leading up the Longhorn’s season debut to build excitement.
“We reached out and asked our fan base to post their most spirited pictures on our Wall, as well as tell us why they were such a big fan,” he explained. “Every Monday, I’d pick one and add it to our profile picture on Facebook. I also compiled all the entries into an album and reposted it to our page once a week to keep people interested.”
As a way to thank them for their participation, each Fan of the Week then received a personalized Prize Pack from the store.
“Everyone receives about $150 of in-store merchandise, but I wanted each winner to really enjoy their gift. So, the packages aren’t just one-size fits all. I try to change up what I choose based on what I think they would like,” he elaborated. “When one of our younger fans won, for instance, I mailed him a package that included our youth-size jersey. He loved it so much that his mom posted a picture of him wearing it on our page!”
University Co-Op also integrated a similar idea into their textbook buyback.
“We took pictures of students after they had sold their books at our buyback, and handed them a card with our Facebook URL on it,” he explained. “If they came to our page and tagged themselves in the picture, then they were entered into a drawing for a prize.”
This accomplished two very important things for the store.
“In order to tag a photo, students have to first ‘like’ our page, which boosts our fan count,” he said. “But beyond that, their tagged photo shows up in each one of their friends’ newsfeeds, increasing the likelihood that they will both check out our page and be reminded of buyback. It’s really win-win.”
The store’s willingness to interact with fans has created a true community atmosphere on their social media pages.
“When users generate content, it not only makes my job easier, but also makes them feel important,” he said. “We’re giving them a voice that they wouldn’t traditionally have and they love it!”
Because fans are so involved in the store’s pages, they are also much more invested in its success.
“We set a goal of reaching 20,000 fans before our September 3rd kickoff,” Kelleher said. “It was no easy task because that basically meant we had to gain 2,000 new ‘likes’ in just over a week.”
He added, “We asked our fans to tag us in their status or tweets to help us spread the word and entered everyone who did into a drawing for Burnt Orange Tailgating t-shirts. The response was overwhelming and although it took us a little longer than expected, we reached our goal within 2 weeks! Our fans are amazing!”
Along with the help of their fan base, University Co-Op also uses Facebook’s Sponsored Story feature to increase their following.
“It’s basically a way for Facebook users to learn about the things their friends like. So, when they are browsing on the platform, they’ll see on the right side of their page that some of their friends have ‘liked’ our page,” he explained. “It’s an easy way to spark interest.”
Although the store has clearly experienced significant social media success, they have no plans to slow down anytime soon!
“Our goal is to always interact with customers on a regular basis and be a part of their daily lives. We’re ultimately trying to add value to their newsfeeds,” Kelleher stressed.
As for others in the industry, he has one simple suggestion.
“Asking for engagement is the best way to get it,” he advised. “Keep it interactive and they will respond!”
Every semester, students receive a letter grade measuring their progress and success in various classes. Stacy Elofir, director of University Store at Towson University, believes college stores should be no exception.
After a transformative year, Elofir wanted to find a new way to showcase her store’s hard work. That’s why she decided to compile a summary of their accomplishments in one easy-to-read document.
“It’s our report card; our time to shine,” she said. “We’ve done so many things this year that had never been done before. My staff and I work really hard to reach that goal and I think it’s important to review the immense amount of we achieved with limited resources.”
Although she had presented similar annual reports for previous positions within the industry, this was a first for University Store.
“We’re operating in an increasingly challenging and dynamic industry,” explained Elofir. “As the director of an independent store, I feel constantly challenged to show my store’s value and prove that we are competitive. This is just one more way to demonstrate that effort.”
As a first step in the process, she designed a structure for the report.
“I knew that NACS offered templates, so I started by looking through their resources,” she said. “I really wanted to include the store’s graphics, however, so that the final result looked as though it could stand alongside our marketing materials. I ultimately used their suggestions but created my own hybrid version.”
Based on a series of strategic initiatives, Elofir then had to decide which content to include, which proved to be no easy task.
“Honestly that was the hardest part!” she admitted. “There was so much to include but I knew it was important to keep it as simple as possible. I integrated a combination of text and graphics to visually balance the page and provided as many statistics as possible to back up each point.”
Elofir began the report with a broad summary of the various ways the store provided value to their students as well as to the University throughout the year. She then elaborated on those areas she felt were integral aspects of the store’s success including expanded course materials and savings, clothing and gifts, new products, online sales, and marketing, with more detail.
Although each of these components work together to enhance the student experience, the store’s rental program is one service that sticks out as most significant this year, according to Elofir.
Starting with just 4 titles in July of 2010, University Store has seen tremendous growth in their program with over 500 titles available in the spring of 2011!
“We took a significant risk by restructuring our textbook department over the past year,” she explained. “Because we rent books at 45% of the selling price, fiscally it looks like we’re losing money. But, our program has been so successful that, at this point, 75% of our titles have been rented for 3 semesters or more. So, I was excited to be able to show that all of this hard work has paid off in dollars.”
Saving students more than $600,000 over the cost of purchasing textbooks new, their rental program has also made great strides at enhancing student perception.
“It’s been a resounding success,” said Elofir. “I’m very proud of our numbers and the impact they have made on our students. Our store has integrated basically everything MBS has available, from price comparison to a campus marketplace, to help us stay competitive, and the rental program is just one example of how that has paid off!”
Their program isn’t stopping there, though.
“I left for vacation and asked my textbook manager to submit a list of about 500 rental titles,” she added. “I came back and she told me we were going to have 640!”
It’s that strong dedication that Elofir believes has made the store what it is today.
“I’ve been blessed with an extraordinary staff that’s been so receptive to my energy,” she elaborated. “I think it’s really important to trust your employees and allow them to do their jobs. It’s amazing what can happen when you’re passionate about your job and you surround yourself with people who are just as passionate, too!”
After presenting her report to the campus’ vice president of Auxiliary Services, Elofir received such positive feedback that she has since shared it with others.
“We have a unique entity on our campus called the Incubator, where small businesses can pool their resources in order to perform at a higher level,” she explained. “So, I sent my report to the director to help identify areas of growth for our store. I’m determined to make our foothold so strong on campus that no one would even think of replacing us. “
Based on this input, Elofir and her team identified several ways the store can further develop their success in the future.
“We’re planning to update our website with customer friendly graphics, partner with the Athletics department to link from their site, create web-only sales and promotions, integrate Google Analytics to our webpage, and expand our mobile options, including the use of QR codes,” she said. “You just have to be fearless and take the leap. If you wait, it will be too late.”
Along with those plans, Elofir has one major area in mind that she also hopes to expand.
“My main goal is to make this the students’ store,” she revealed. “We already have 65 students working in the store, which is huge; but that’s a number I want to keep increasing. I’m hoping to eventually have students involved in every process of the store from picking out new products in focus groups to volunteering to run events. The more that we allow them to be a part of our store, the more likely they are to be loyal to us.”
For others in the industry looking to better their business, Elofir suggests first finding a focus.
“Identify one or two things that you know you can do,” she said. “That alone will have a significant impact. You don’t have to do it all at once.”
But, above all, she advises stores to refer back to one simple rule they likely learned long ago.
“The best way to get an ‘A’ in school is to do what your teacher wants you to do,” she explained. “Working at an independent store is the same. If you can find out what both your school and your students want, then your success rate will be that much higher. It’s all about providing the value that your customers are looking for!”
Want to know more about how Stacy is overcoming obstacles to position her store for success? She’ll share her exclusive defensive strategies to combat the competition in our upcoming webinar, Battle for Books. Join the rally; register today!
Given the current retail fascination with QR codes—with recent trials at Tesco on subway walls, Macy’s on products, American Express on beer cans and eBay on practically everything—it stands to reason those little boxed lines are doing rather well.
A recent credible survey, however, found that not only are most younger consumers oblivious to what QR codes are, but the many who do know what they are can’t get them to function. In short, 83 percent of the 1,300 14-to-24-year-olds surveyed couldn’t access a QR code regardless of how good the offer was. Looks like some people skipped an important step in product rollout.
That news is pretty bad, given the strong mobile interest—or general high-tech and experimentation comfort level—of that demographic. If they’re confused or apathetic, the numbers won’t likely get better as surveys examine consumers in their 30s, 40s, 50s, 60s and beyond. This particular survey was conducted between May 20 and May 30 by Youth Pulse (a.k.a., YPulse), which tracks marketing trends among the 14-to-24-year-old segment.
“I think the confusion for those who can’t figure out how to use them is that they don’t realize they need an app to read the code and, even if they do, they may not know the images are called QR codes in order to search for a QR code reader app,” said Melanie Shreffler, the Editor-in-Chief for Ypulse.
“When I first learned of QR codes a few years ago, a friend was trying to tell me what they are, and she said you just need to snap a picture of the image with your phone and voila. I asked how my phone’s camera would know what to do with that weird image. She thought for a minute and said ‘I have no idea, but somehow it must.’ I tried it and obviously it didn’t work. Eventually I went online and did a little research about how to use QR codes. I think that same scenario is probably happening for other users who are just learning about QR codes.”
Shreffler’s speculation is frighteningly likely. The problem here is best illustrated by the Macy’s experiment, where almost no signage and even less training of store associates pretty much left customers to figure it out on their own.
This study highlights one significant, yet often overlooked, detail about QR Codes: marketing. Though college students are undoubtedly extremely tech-savvy, they too need instruction sometimes.
Many retailers have jumped on the QR Code bandwagon without stopping to consider their strategy. As we outlined in our previous article, How to Create and Implement QR Codes, planning is key to any new promotion.
Don’t get us wrong; QR Codes are increasingly popular and hold endless possibilities for offering promotions and additional information in your store. Just don’t forget that you also need to include directions, such as easy-to-read instructions, along with your 2D barcode describing how students should use it.
As this excerpt points out, the same goes for your sales associates, who should all be trained on relevant talking points to explain what a QR code is and how it works to any potential customer. As with any new technology, education is crucial.
Taking these points into consideration will directly affect the success of your campaign and help you realize the true value of QR Codes for your store.
A social media presence is a must. But simply creating accounts for your store on these sites doesn’t cut it anymore. Each week, we’ll explore a new way your store can enhance their online presence in our Social Media Series to make sure you’re taking full advantage of these interactive outlets.
This week, take a look at how some of the experts in the field of social media suggest improving your Facebook presence in the following excerpt from the article 13 Hot Facebook Marketing Tips from Top Pros by Cindy King. View the full article on SocialMediaExaminer.com.
Ask the right kind of questions
“One of the best ways to get your fans talking on Facebook is to ask interesting and entertaining questions. But did you know there’s a right way and wrong way to ask questions on Facebook? When done right, you can significantly increase your fan engagement and build some great relationships,” says Amy Porterfield, co-author of Facebook Marketing All-In-One for Dummies.
“The trick is to ask questions that are easy to answer. Questions that require just one-word responses tend to get the most engagement. Remember, people LOVE to talk about themselves, so when you make it about them, they are more likely to jump into the conversation,” added Porterfield.
Include pictures in your Facebook updates
“Twitter is a link economy, whereas Facebook is a picture economy. So, just about every status update should include a picture. Ideas for pictures include customers, your product or service in action, employees and events. There’s no such thing as a bad picture,” says Guy Kawasaki, author of Enchantment: The Art of Changing Hearts, Minds, and Actions.
“And one more tip: crop your pictures. For example, no-one needs to see people’s feet. Remember that Facebook is going to present a tiny version of the picture, so you need to get up close, personal and cropped,” said Kawasaki.
Get creative when your Facebook readers are most happy
“Facebook has a Happiness Index that shows a spike of 10% on Fridays. As a marketer, you can take advantage of this increase in sentiment by doing something creative,” says Mari Smith, co-author of Facebook Marketing: An Hour a Day.
“About once a month, I host ‘Facebook Friday’ (similar to #followfriday on Twitter), where I invite all my fans to promote their own pages, links to their blogs, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, etc. In addition, I know from other studies—and from my own fan page reports from PageLever —that my fans respond best to photos.
“By giving your fans specific times to cross-promote, network and create more visibility for their own pages, they’ll be less inclined to do so outside of these windows, plus you’ll elevate your leadership and increase your news feed optimization,” said Smith.
Activate Facebook fans (don’t just collect them like baseball cards)
“Your Facebook audience is a club, not just a list, and you cannot satisfy the intellectual and sociological cravings of a club through one pithy status update each day. Get creative. Get interesting. Get successful,” says Jay Baer, author of The Now Revolution.
“Recognize that the vast majority of your Facebook fans are indeed fans. Why would you Like a brand that you don’t actually like? These are your best, most enthusiastic customers who have taken the initiative to raise their hands in the Facebook environment. Don’t bore them to the point where they lose interest.
“Create a robust, ongoing calendar of engagement programs whereby your company gives Facebook fans the opportunity to receive special insider info, tell you what they think about future product and marketing plans, access unusual fan-only deals or learn more about the people behind your brand,” Baer added.
A loyalty program that crosses all retail channels can spike holiday sales.
Multichannel retailers have long recognized that customers who shop across more than one channel are more valuable than those who shop only at a retailer’s brick-and-mortar store or website. But without a cross-channel loyalty program, such gains are often lost—particularly during the peak holiday shopping season, experts say.
A good first step toward a multichannel loyalty program is to begin applying the store customer loyalty program across channels, says Sahir Anand, vice president and principal analyst for retail and banking at research and advisory firm Aberdeen Group, a unit of Harte-Hanks Inc.
Instead of making loyalty points valid only at their store’s point-of-sale system, retailers should extend rewards programs across channels to build stronger customer relationships, as well as to gather information about how customers shop on the web and through mobile phones.
And brick-and-mortar stores don’t have to be the starting point, Anand says. A retailer could also start with its e-commerce site or even a social network presence to begin building stronger customer ties and loyalty programs, then extend them to other channels.
MBS Systems inSite Loyalty Module can easily be tailored to reward customer activity in your store, on your website, and even at your buyback. Once earned, your store’s unique point structure can then be designated for redemption both online or converted into a monetary value to be used in-store.
Better yet, you choose which merchandise is available for rewards redemption. Many people retailers know that you can place restrictions on certain product categories such as electronics, but did you know our module also allows you to reward students differently on certain classes of merchandise?
This is a great way to highlight your most popular offerings or boost sales in specific departments. For instance, consider offering double rewards points on your spiritwear during slow traffic times, such as mid-semester, to gain extra attention and move merchandise.