Personalized Marketing

Roy Bergold, multiple award-winning former Chief Creative Officer for McDonald’s, recently offerred some great tips in QSR Magazine – Let’s Get Personal: Customers who can put a face to your business will be inclined to come back. Although his ideas were primarily focused on the quick-serve restaurant industry a lot of what he said could be applied to almost any business.

Personalization of your Marketing

… How to get your customers to join hands with your brand.

So, how do you help your customers consider themselves part of your brand’s family? It begins by introducing your customer to you and you to your customer. Your ultimate goal is for your customers to feel special when they visit your store and the best way to do that is by insuring they feel personal to your business, not just to another number. Here are some tips for doing just that:

  • How do I get my customer to comfortably introduce himself and feel good doing it? The best way to make anyone feel special is by remembering their name. But if you have a business that experiences high volumes of customers, that can be a huge challenge. You may be quick to say, “No way. I own a high volume restaurant and there’s no way I can remember everyone’s name.” I encourage you to pause and hang in with me for a moment because I believe theres always a way if one just pauses, suspends judgement and thinks creatively, even if only for a moment. Here’s a Practical Strategy that almost any business could use: Let’s take that restaurant as an example. Your customer asks for a a takeout order;  simply ask for their first name ( your probably already do that anyway) now go one step further and write their first name on the takeout bag. Boom – their food order is now personally theirs and no one else’s. It’s subtle but it does register at even at a subconscious level that customer feels it. In our high-tech world seeing and hearing our name is more powerful than ever.
  • Now let’s look at the flip side – How do I introducing myself and my staff to customers without it feeling forced. If you’ve met a relator recently and received their card you probably got one with their smiling face looking at you and if they are very clever they even squeeze on a brief bio or something that helps you remember their specialty. It works! You can take that same concept and use it with your staff or management team. Put up a nice framed bulletin board in your reception area or somewhere your customer frequent. Have professionally done pictures of your staff with their names and a brief personal bio.  You can also have this do double duty by making it something to help your staff feel special too by featuring one of your team each month. Rotate through your staff and pick something unique and special to highlight about that person. Note – you’ve probably seen this done poorly. Don’t make that mistake! Insure photos are done by a pro, it’s a lot cheaper than you might think, and insure your board is always kept neat, clean and up to date.
  • Ask your customers to join your e-mailing list by giving you their e-mail address. You know this is one of the first Practical Marketing Strategies I suggest but, I thought I wuld throw it in here along with a few reminders.  Make sure you follow through! I’ve seen so many businesses smart enough to start capturing names from the get-go but then waste that valuable personal information by not following up. Don’t make anyone wait for contact. I’ve had clients say, “I don’t want to bug people or seem like a pest.” Think of it this way – when you were single did you ever give someone your number and never get a call? How did that feel?  When someone gives you their contact info they’re serious – they expect that call. Don’t make them wait!
  • Ask your staff who their best customers are. Chances are they know the names of your best and happiest customers. Ask them to introduce you the next time that loyal customer comes in. It only takes a moment to let them know how important they are to you and how much you appreciate their business  If you want to take it one step further ask them what they like best about your product or service and if you really want to grow your business ask them what they don’t like. An easy way to phrase it – “If there was anything you would change about (your product / service) what would that be?
  • Host a “Friends and Family Day”. Maybe not what you think – this is a day where you have your family and some of your close friends work with you and serve your customers for a day. Essentially you are introducing your personal family to your business (customer) family. It’s a great way for your customers to see you as a real person who wants to help them rather than a businesses person who wants their money. Not only that it’s lots of fun and you’ll end up with many new friends.
  • Start a Customer Charity Program. Many businesses like to tell their customers what charities they give to. Personalize your good deeds by allow your customers to choose which charity they want their loyalty reward to go to. You could give a portion of each sale or a percentage to their favorite charity, rather than yours. Your customers feel good when their loyalty reward helps say a local charity, and you get to introduce yourself to the community when you present the contribution. This is a double win – you personalize yourself to your customer and to your community. The key here is to insure the customer picks the charity, not you.

People tend to buy from someone they like and trust, someone they know. Think about this example and how it might work for your business –

Steve is a busy guy who lives in Victoria. He popped into your business and noticed your “Fan Club Incentive Program” so he popped out his smart phone, quick scanned in your QR code and registered his e-mail to join.  He figured he might save a few bucks next time he was in or win something. But once he walked out the door he forgot all about it. He had no idea he had just become your new personal-ized friend.

Once Steve got home he sat down at his computer to check personal e-mails and do a little surfing. Low and behold he already received a message from you, personalized to him and telling him a bit more about your business. Not only that but as a Thank You for signing up he received a personalized coupon worth real cash off his next purchase from you. This wasn’t some generic 10% coupon anyone could get. Nope, it had his full name printed right there on the coupon. You guessed he might be interested in that new item which goes perfectly with the one he just bought and invite him back to pick it up at a discount. Steve agrees he saw that item and thought about purchasing it while he was there but decided to pass now, thanks to your invitation, he prints off the coupon and makes a mental note to stop in tomorrow to take you up on your offer. The next day he notices some of your other external advertising  and it reinforces his good feeling about planning to return. It also reminds him of the exceptional service he always gets at your place.  Now can’t wait to get back there. After work Steve drives straight to your shop where is greeted in a warm personal way – your staff remember him from the day before.  You notice when Steve pulls out his coupon so you quickly swing by call him by his first name and genuinely thank him for using his coupon. You and your staff celebrate his discount making certain he knows how happy you are to give that gift. Steve is truly a personal-ized friend of your business. He’ll be back.

Reality Check – After reading that story you may very well be still be thinking, “With my volume of customers I can’t possibly know everyone by his or her first name.” That’s true but you can take advantage of the amazing technological opportunities that allow you to connect with your customers and build a more personal relationship with them. Instead of turning your customer into a number you can utilize online marketing strategies to personalize their experience like never before.  Instead of being a faceless owner you can personalize yourself and become a friend to your customers. Focus on building these kinds of relationships and watch what happens to your business!

About Mark Kanty

Mark is the founder and Director of Release Dynamics. Established in 1990 this small business consultancy provides Practical Marketing Strategies to Release the Full Potential of small and medium sized businesses. The Web Site Marketing division of Release Dynamics specializes in taking clients to the top of the search engines for the unique high traffic keywords their customers are searching for.