The Myth: During the holiday season, the goal of retail, online, and mail-order marketers should be to process as many sales as possible. This will help recoup some of the lost revenue due to the poor economy.
The Reality: Marketers are losing millions of dollars by going for the "quickie sale." It's hard to get a customer at any time of year, so when they are coming to you, driven by the holiday purchasing wave, you have the opportunity to accomplish much more than just robotically swiping their credit cards and moving on to the next transaction.
This month, millions of customers will be purchasing from an on-line, mail-order or brick-and-mortar marketer. The majority of those customers will not be engaged in any way by the sellers, who are stuck in a manufacturing model, trying to process "holiday" transactions as quickly as possible. These blunders represent literally millions of dollars in lost opportunities to establish relationships with customers who could make multiple purchases in the future.
In a previous blog, Discounting as Addiction, we discussed the dangers of relying on discounting as the mainstay for driving customer purchases. The end result of this addiction is that the only compelling reason to visit the company's store or web site is for another discount "high." This addiction by the consumer is perpetuated by the seller's addiction to discounting, and so the cycle deepens.
Relationships based on value identified by the customer, on the other hand, carry significant long-term potential for both seller and buyer... but you can't find out what your customer considers valuable if all you are interested in is a "quickie" transaction.
Try This: Ask each customer if you can ask a few brief questions to help provide them with ongoing value as defined by their individual needs/interests. The types of questions you should ask are intuitive. For instance:
- Would they like to receive information, useful tips, or promotions regarding the product(s) they just bought?
- Are there other products in the store/catalog/or web site about which they would like to receive information?
- Any other friend or family member they would like to send this information to?
- And last... as a result of offering value, you have earned the right to request their email address.
Think about it. What better time to prove your value and build a powerful database than at the point of purchase? Most customers are happy to spend the extra few seconds identifying how you can better serve them in the future. And those that don't want to spend time can choose not to.
Ernan Roman is President of the marketing consultancy, Ernan Roman Direct Marketing.
Recognized as the industry pioneer who created three transformational methodologies: Integrated Direct Marketing, Opt-In Marketing, and Voice of Customer Relationship Research.
Clients include Microsoft, NBC Universal, Disney, Hewlett-Packard and IBM.
Ernan was named to "B to B's Who's Who" as one of the "100 most influential people" in Business Marketing by Crain's B to B Magazine.
His latest book on marketing best practices was published in October, 2010, and is titled: Voice of the Customer Marketing: A Proven 5-Step Process to Create Customers Who Care, Spend, and Stay.
Ernan is also the co-author of "Opt-In Marketing: Increase Sales Exponentially with Consensual Marketing" and author of "Integrated Direct Marketing: The Cutting Edge Strategy for Synchronizing Advertising, Direct Mail, Telemarketing and Field Sales."