8. One is a lonely number. Think about co-branding. Joining up with another company that has a product or service that together with yours makes for an exciting package. This approach isn’t done very often and that’s a mistake. A simple example is a restaurant in close proximity to a movie theatre complex offering a discounted set of movie tickets for any dinner party of two or more people. From time to time BMW offers two fancy name brand bicycles and BMW bike carrier when a new BMW is purchased. Progressive Insurance co brands in the sense that it also promotes its competitors with the basic theme — may the best insurance offer win from those of us who provide it.
9. Two-way dialogue. If you really want to get consumers involved stop sending e mails that don’t allow a response. The vast majority of companies don’t allow consumers to respond back. How annoying. Be willing and able to hear from consumers via e mail and be able to respond quickly. Quickly means same day. Same approach applies to your phone service. Back to e mail — if you want to stand out with stellar customer service you must encourage incoming e mails with comments and suggestions and create an ongoing dialogue with as many consumers as you can.
10. A simple thank you can go a long way. Make it a New Year’s resolution to call the top ten percent of your customers next week to thank them for their years of loyalty or their first year if they were new customers in 2011. Just thank them. No offer. No selling. If they want to buy, great, but they should initiate the request. Many will not be home — for them leave the thank you message on their answering machine.
11. 2012 is a Presidential election year. Those who track Media Spending predict 2.5 to 3 Billion will be spent on political advertising on TV alone — most of it from July through election day. It will most likely be an endless stream of nasty messages which will be mind numbing and make us all grumpy. Consumers will stop paying attention to media in general except the extremists on both sides. Your business may suffer as a result of consumers “shutting down." You might think about creating promotions during this time that make fun of all the negativity and offer a feel good alternative message. Or, just scale back and wait for the election to be over.
12. Always remember the three basic principles of successful promotion never change. 1) Create visual or sensory excitement. 2) Create real news about your product or service (what’s new, different, special). 3) Have a strong and compelling call to action. And have a very rewarding and successful 2012!
Steve Cone is Executive Vice President of Integrated Value and Strategy at AARP.