Retailers did everything possible to attract buyers over the holidays. From educational sessions to discounts, coupons and special offers, retailers used their ingenuity and marketing smarts to make the best of a dismal season. Nonetheless, numbers were down and every indicator pointed toward an even gloomier 2009. Perhaps the very profile of the retail environment has shifted as consumers settle in for what may be a protracted economic change.
Here are some ways in which retailers can survive through the second half of the 2009 buying season and keep their business on track.
Don't Take Your Foot off the Gas: Remember the hectic holiday season while you did everything possible to make your business a success? No matter how tired you are or how discouraged you might feel, it's time to keep your chin up and continue marketing to your customers. A reduction in marketing efforts is simply not an option. Marketing keeps you in front of your current customers, enlightens prospects and positions you well for when the economy recovers. Those who stop marketing often find themselves losing precious momentum and having to make up ground in the long run.
Make Every Customer a Repeat Customer: You forged new relationships over the holiday season and strengthened old ones. Now is the time to take better advantage of those relationships and transform one-time buyers into frequent customers. Though statistics vary by type of business, product and service, it's clear that it costs more to acquire a customer than to retain an existing one. Whether asking customers to sign up for your product newsletters or offering frequent-user discount cards, you have ways to re-engage buyers.
Intuition Is Not Enough: Customers make or break your business. You must cater to your clientele and that means knowing what they want. Use resources such as your newsletters, brochures, etc. to distribute an open-ended customer survey. Actually read customer feedback and make adjustments accordingly, so customers can see you're making real changes based on that feedback. But make sure you track the effectiveness of those changes in your marketing strategies on a monthly basis.
ROI: Stop any spending that isn't directly resulting in customer acquisition or sales. Your rupees are tighter than ever, so managing them is critical. Examine your marketing mix and invest wisely. There are plenty of low-cost communications channels that have significant return on investment (ROI).Talk to your customers about what resonates with them and where they are now, and make decisions from there.
Think Thematically and Theatrically: Retailers are great at this: They find a seasonal hook and exploit it - pulling together displays, product offerings and so on - so that entire campaigns are tied together. However, this approach shouldn't stop at product marketing. marketing communications should reflect the same cohesive thinking. Timing each communications piece - press announcements, online ad campaigns, etc - to work in sync with the overall campaign can increase the effectiveness of your efforts and your overall brand resonance. Retailers should surround their customers with the right message, both online and offline.
So, Plan ahead!
Thus it can be concluded that today’s customers are different from those you encountered even a year ago. They expect more of everything - more information, more choices and more convenience. The energy, enthusiasm, and efforts retailers put into their holiday and festival campaigns can continue to pay dividends this year if they continue to face each day with the same vigor and determination displayed over the holidays and in the festive season.