Flooring The Consumer on Simple Marketing Now

Please visit Flooring The Consumer's new home on SimpleMarketingNow.com where you can subscribe to receive updates to blog articles in real time!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

MarketingProfs B2B Forum 2010: Boston, May 3-5

MarketingProfs B2B Forum 2010Save the date for the MarketingProfs B2B Forum 2010! It's happening in Boston from May 3rd through 5th, 2010.

I've been invited to attend as a guest blogger to help share the wisdom I experience.

I'm also able to offer you a $200 discount if you use Code "BLOG" when you register. To register click on this B2B Forum 2010 link.

Here's what you can expect from this year's B2B Forum.

First, look over the schedule-at-a-glance. It will help put into perspective the overall program of events.

New for this B2B Forum is a Pre-Conference Training Day on May 3rd with two intense sessions to choose from:

+Lead Generation Workshop with Ruth P. Stevens from e-Marketing Strategy
+ Integrating Social Media Into Your Marketing Plan To Improve ROI with Christina "CK" Kerley from ckEpiphany

The full conference program takes place May 4th and 5th. It focuses on integrating social media into your marketing - a most relevant topic if you want my opinion.

I always enjoy MarketingProfs keynote presentations. In 2009, we had Steven Berlin Johnson and Barry Schwartz.

For 2010, we will have B2B Forum Keynote Presentations from David Weinberger [The Cluetrain Manifesto co-author, senior researcher at Harvard's prestigious Berkman Center for Internet & Society, a Franklin Fellow helping the State Department use Web 2.0 in innovative ways, and a senior consultant to the Harvard Law Library] and Mitch Joel [author of Six Pixels of Separation and president of Twist Image]. I'm psyched!

[In 2009, I really enjoyed hearing Sandy Carter who had us thinking intensely about effective marketing.]

I'm looking forward to similar inspiration, reconnecting with old friends and meeting new ones. Will you join me?

I hope so.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Stores Within Stores Give Me Something To Talk About

Union Station East HallA question I frequently ask my retail experience presentation participants is what other businesses might be worth partnering with. In other words, what if you could enhance your overall retail experience by featuring stores within your store? Perhaps a business related to your category, or perhaps not.

It's a concept that this article from The Sacramento Bee titled Stores within bigger stores seem to pump up sales explores with examples from grocery stores, department stores and restaurants.

The benefit as described by store owners: "we're offering more choice and leveraging the infrastructure." And also driving sales.

From my perspective, stores within a store seem an ideal way to offer Unique, Relevant, Memorable Retail Experiences. Don't you think?

Malls do so by bringing together a range of retailers under one room and now adding kiosks and other temporary vendors within mall halls. Why can't free standing stores do the same?

The arrangement could be seasonal or event-based as Lis Calandrino describes in Meet Lisbeth Calandrino - Executive Coach Extraordinaire where flooring and shoes come together to tell a fashion/design story after twice-yearly shoe buying trips.

Imagine giving the concept of a store within a store a shot. What might be the benefits?

You certainly set the stage for variation and novelty. You create opportunities for magical conversation and unexpected sales. After all, by bringing together unexpected products, you create serendipitous juxtapositions that fuel conversations that help sell product. Finally, if you partner locally, image the community building that's possible!

What else?

What experiences have you had with stores within stores? Which are the best examples you've come across?

Image credit: Union Station East Hall originally uploaded by Mr. T in DC

Monday, February 15, 2010

Big Bob's Flooring Outlets Customer Comment Cards

Scott D. Perron, president Big Bob's Flooring OutletDuring Surfaces 2010, Scott Perron, Paul Friederichsen and I presented a three-hour workshop titled "Marketing In A Recession 101." During that session, Scott, who is president of Big Bob's Flooring Outlets of America, Inc. headquartered in Kansas City, MO, brought up the customer comment cards that Big Bob's sends out to customers in the Kansas City area.

As you can see from this video, Scott and Big Bob's are serious about delivering superior service to their customers. The customer comment card monitors customer satisfaction and marketing effectiveness by offering customers the means to easily provide feedback on their Big Bob's retail experience.

So many seminar participants had questions about the customer comment cards that I thought I would ask Scott to discuss them in more detail here. If I've missed anything, please do let me know.

Big Bob's Flooring Outlets Customer Comment Cards

Scott, many of our seminar attendees expressed interest in your customer comment cards. What are these cards?

These are customer survey cards we send out to customers with our thank you cards [see image below] and bounce back coupons.

How does Big Bob’s in Kansas City use them?

Big Bob's Thank You cardWe use these customer comment cards to source our customer shopping experience and to ascertain how customers were motivated to shop at our store.

These are the questions we ask on the cards:

+ Are you a first time customer?
+ What did you purchase?
+ How did you hear about Big Bob's TV?
+ Were you offered interest free financing?
+ Was our store clean and easy to shop?
+ Was our service rep professional and courteous?
+ Was our independent contractor professional?
+ How many stores did you shop before purchasing?

Why do you ask these questions?

The answers to these questions when measured and managed properly represent one of the most valuable tools you have at your disposal. Plus, employees typically do a poor job with “accurately” sourcing their customers where we believe the consumers answers are transparent.

We review every card the customers return and capture the information in a spreadsheet [see image below].

Big Bob's Customer Comment CardsAre you satisfied with the response rate? Why?

Yes, we're very satisfied. Through our first 12 months of implementing this system we have experienced over a 13% return rate.

Wow! That is impressive! What kind of insights do you get from the responses?

The main insight was how customers found us. Then we track their answers to determine if anyone is dissatisfied with our services. We contact those consumers immediately and rectify the issue.

What do you do with the information?

We decide where to spend our advertising dollars and when and how to train our employees and installation teams to service our customer better.

How long have you been doing this?

A total of 16 months now. We implemented the program in late 2008.

Do you recommend that other retailers adopt this practice?

Absolutely no question about it…We pay only $.97 each to print the cards, envelopes, bounce back coupon and survey card with mailing cost both directions. It is the least expensive focus group you can do for your business and everyone should be thanking their customer…If you don’t, someone else will.

Big Bob's customer comment tracking sheet
Any other info to add?

Be sure to ask for e-mail addresses so you can continue to market to your warm circle of customers.

Thank you, Scott!

Do you send out customer comment cards? What kinds of questions do you ask?

How else do you keep a finger on the pulse of your customers and their reaction to your retail experience?

You can reach Scott at Big Bob's Flooring Outlets of America, Inc., 10001 W. 75th St., Shawnee Mission, KS 66204; his email is scott [at] bigbobsflooring [dot] com.

Other posts relating to our Marketing in a Recession 101 workshop:
+ Connecting With Retail Consumers - Marketing Strategy Series
+ Marketing In A Recession - Strategy Series
+ Marketing In A Recession - September Update

Friday, February 12, 2010

Stephanie Weaver on Bridging New & Old: Social Media Series

Stephanie Weaver

My latest guest for Flooring The Consumer's Social Media Marketing series: Bridging New & Old is Stephanie Weaver.

Although Stephanie Weaver is passionate about the customer experience, she focuses on a specific type of experience. That of the museum visitor experience, a subject she addresses in the Experienceology Blog [e.g., this post about museums using social media], in her Experienceology podcast series and via her Experienceology website.

You see her pictured here with a few tools of the trade: an assortment of toys she uses during live training sessions to make workshops more fun and remind participants that social media is fun!

Stephanie is among the first bloggers I connected with back in 2006 when she and Susan Abbott, the founders of the Bathroom Blogfest [which will celebrate its fifth year in 2010!], invited me to take part.

I'm delighted to share her perspective on Bridging New & Old!

You can also reach Stephanie via Twitter @Experienceology and on Facebook/Experienceology.

C.B.: Stephanie, how/why did you get involved in social media?

SW: I first got involved through blogging, then podcasting, then Facebook, then most recently Twitter, YouTube, and Linked In. Last year I began offering (paid) webinars as a way of affordably serving customers. The funny thing is, I don't think of myself as a techie at all. I've just learned as I went along.

Blogging seemed like a great way to reach potential B2B customers, as I could explain in detail my approach to visitor experiences, show photographs, and link to other resources. My goal was to provide as much value as I could to the nonprofit cultural attraction sector.

I got involved in Facebook because of the Bathroom Blogfest, as we were exploring whether it was a good tool for co-creating an online event. While it didn't prove to be effective for that originally, we did attract some new bloggers using FB.

I starting Tweeting this year, right before a conference I was attending, to see whether that provided an avenue for colleagues to get value from the conference through my tweets. I always have things linked, to get the maximum bang out of the effort. So when I'm at a conference I have my tweets automatically update my Facebook page, etc.

I have found that FB is best for connecting with people you know, while Twitter helps you connect with people you don't know. I've been on LinkedIn for a while, originally for the SEO potential. After they improved the functionality of LinkedIn in the summer of 2009, it has become a much more valuable tool. I have even gotten one actual consulting job out of it.

C.B.: What do you like most about social media?

S.W.: It's a quick and fun way to stay connected to people; people whom I know in real life, as well as meeting people virtually who I might eventually meet in person. I learn about new things every day with very little effort. It allows nonprofits (especially) to reach new audiences and create conversations with them. It challenges me to use new technologies, as well as help my clients use them effectively. It also allows you to send what I call digital assets (podcasts, vodcasts, blog posts) far and wide with just a little extra effort.

C.B.: What do you like least about social media?

S.W.: It can feel very difficult to keep up. I find I've needed to scale back the blogging, and take breaks from it so that I don't get burned out. It's also frustrating when they change the interface like they did on Facebook today, as then it feels like you have to learn it all over again.

C.B.: How has social media changed how you interact with the marketplace as a consumer or customer?

S.W.: I enjoy reading about places I haven't been (museums), and know that I will visit those places when I visit those cities. I don't follow consumer brands on social media; I use it only for my work. I do sometimes see restaurant recommendations or similar items from friends that make a bit of an impact. I do like being able to post a comment about a TV show on their Facebook page and have a reasonable belief that someone will actually read it.

Just last week a local museum was in danger of being closed by the city because of budget issues the city was having; a public outcry was vastly easier and organized through FB and Twitter, and so far, it looks like it's been spared. I've also been interested to see how the White House has used social media all along to help people stay connected. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't, but I give them a lot of credit for trying to be as transparent as possible.

C.B.: What 5 suggestions do you have for companies to implement so they can more effectively bridge old media with new media and connect with end users?


1. Begin with a strategy (read Groundswell: Winning in a World Transformed by Social Technologies if you haven't already).

2. Don't join a platform if you can't maintain your presence there long-term.

3. Amplify your efforts; use social media to get your digital assets out there so that they reach as many eyes as possible.

4. You don't own your brand; your customers do. So don't be afraid to let go of control and get them involved in telling your story. It's already happening anyway!

5. For cultural attractions, check out the Brooklyn Museum for cutting-edge use of social media. They are constantly trying new things, sometimes failing, and always moving on. They're also a beacon of transparency as well.

Thank you, Stephanie!

Comments, questions, observations?

I love how Stephanie is using the tools of social media to educate museums about the visitor experience. How might you adopt a similar experience for your customers?

If you are immersed in social media, what differences have you observed in your interactions between Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn?

How else are you experimenting to improve the customer experience?

[Note: Stephanie's comments reminded me of Museum Innovation To Connect With Customers.]

For additional insights from other participants in the Social Media Series: Bridging New & Old, please visit the Entire Bridging New & Old series, which includes a link to the e-book based on the first 26 interviews in the series.

Monday, February 08, 2010

Simple Marketing Now - January 2010 Update

Simplify your marketing with Simple Marketing Now!

January 2010 Simple Marketing Now Update

Here is the latest that I wrote about on the Simple Marketing Now side...

[For those of you new to Flooring The Consumer, I also write the Simple Marketing Blog where I discuss marketing strategy and creative, practical, simple marketing approaches and share best practices - many of which may be relevant to you and your business as you consider what's possible. The blog also acts as newsroom for Simple Marketing Now.]

More specifically, during January 2010, I shared Fascinating Marketing Presentations, Social Media Marketing Resources and Simple Marketing News.

Simple Marketing News:

Two press releases:
Whittemore Keynotes Big Bob's Flooring Annual Convention
Whittemore Addresses Social Media Marketing at Surfaces 2010

Fascinating Marketing Presentations:

Joe Pulizzi on Content Marketing
Steve Rubel On Digital Trends - BRITE 09
Urban Outfitters: Be Where Customers Are

Social Media Marketing Resources:

Practical Social Media Perspective: Links of Note
The State of Social Media Marketing 2010 [Note: I contributed to the research and am quoted in the study.]

Thank you for reading!

Monday, February 01, 2010

2010 Consumer & Marketplace Trends

What's ahead for the retail experience?I'm fascinated with marketplace trends and how consumers react to social forces and economic conditions. After all, that's what affects the retail experience. As a result, I like to observe consumer behavior and identify patterns - by watching myself and those around me, listening to conversations and doing lots of research.

In the process of doing research, I've come across several resources about the consumer and the marketplace. I share them with you here. I'd love to hear your reactions and how you see some of these trends reflected in your market and retail environment.

2010 Consumer & Marketplace Trends, Insights and Predictions

JWT [once upon a time known as J. Walter Thompson] offers a goldmine of resources worth investigating:
+ JWT Anxiety Index Blog and Trends and Research
+ JWTIntelligence.com Blog and Trendletters, etc.

Of particular interest is Work In Progress: 10 Trends For 2010, a 32 page report available for purchase that I received a copy of. I consider this a longterm trend reference as it filled with thoughtful and relevant insights about consumers and the marketplace. Others must, too, as the 2009 report is also available for purchase. In its 5th year, the document is put together by Ann Mack, JWT's director of trendspotting and reviews the year's trends while setting the stage for what's to come "in the economy, the culture, the aging population, and the environment."

Macks's 10 trends that will drive consumers in 2010 include:

+ searching for stability
+ reading the fine print
+ maximum disclosure
+ the devil wears packaging
+ it's BIC and it's bigger than ever
+ trickle-up innovation
+ retooling for an aging world
+ life in real time
+ location-based everything
+ visual fluency

The Retail:Next Studies, Fad or Trend? Will recessionary shopping behavior continue from October, 2001 is a free download with registration to RetailWire. It addresses:

+ Longevity and Lasting Impact
+ Economic Values
+ Lifestyle changes
+ Shopping Patterns
+ Shopper Behavior
+ Store Experience vs. Value

SheSpeaks: Social media strong driver of purchase behavior among women refers to the 2nd Annual Social Media Study which details how women are participating in social media and how that participation affects their purchase behavior.

The 10 Customer Service Trends for 2010 by Barry Moltz details how important customer service is. It is "the new marketing... It's time to offer outstanding customer service only because it makes economic sense for your small business. It is the only truly sustainable competitive advantage."

Barry's top trends include:

+ We try harder.
+ It's not your product.
+ It's all about you.
+ Tell the world.
+ The brands are listening.
+ Online service gets a face lift.
+ Insourcing is in.
+ That's tight.
+ Fire them.
+ Get small.

These next three articles appeared in May 2009:

Coping With Consumers' Newfound Frugality from AdAge, 5/21/09 by Avi Dan urges rethinking of assumptions around product, promotion, price as well as place.

The New Consumer Priority is Saving, Not Spending by ReturnPath's Stephanie Miller includes fascinating stats about consumers. I love her closing statement "Bottom line: consumers want interdependency, not independence of channels. Be sure to combine your search, bricks, website, email, social networks."

Study: The Three Stages Of Trading Down by Sarah Mahoney makes reference to quality and value, offering consumers information about their purchases and the continuing importance of sustainability and local sourcing. Yes, the article is about food shopping, but extrapolate from it for your product category.

These resources combined with many conversations and my observations led to my most recent Floor Covering Weekly article which appears in the Surfaces edition. It is titled "Have you adapted your retail experience?" In it, I refer to 3 categories of consumer influence - the era of frugality, not trusting marketers, and a definition of value that includes wanting to improve the world - and 3 areas of opportunity for 2010 - make it simpler, don't lie to her or waste her time, and don't make her regret she bought from you.

Two new additions:
+ From Mintel, a leading market research company, comes seven consumer behavior trends for 2010. More specifically, resilience, reviewing & re-evaluating, prove-it -- accountability, escapism, media evolution, ethical responsibility and stability. Read the full document titled Mintel Predicts Global Consumer Trends.

I'll leave you with my friend David Polinchock's Ponderings. David offers some of the most insightful retail and brand experience insights around and has just published A Look Forward, Some Predictions from 2010 which refers to:

1. Authenticity continues to be critical
2. As social media grows, people will demand much more from brands
3. Brands must learn that they start the conversation and that people amplify it.
4. If you don't give me information, I'll go to someone who will.
5. We need to expand the Experience Continuum.
6. To expand the Experience Continuum, we need to start creating Oneline experiences.
7. We'll start to understand the importance of Location Based Branding.
8. Augmented Reality and QR codes will become mainstream.
9. Physical retail needs to adapt or face the consequences.

Note: 'oneline' refers to how we live our lives increasingly moving between off and online and integrating the two.

Back to my original question, what are your reactions? How do you see some of these trends reflected in your market and retail environment? Are there any you've noticed that aren't included here?
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...