It’s almost time to welcome another month and what a month May has been! We’re flying higher and higher into the future (not literally of course). So here we are now in the remaining days of May 2019. A period of time that will never ever come again.
Hope you made the most of each day and squeezed every last drop out of every second you had life in your body thus far. I for one certainly did – now more than ever, since times are changing drastically before our eyes. At times it’s a tad difficult to distinguish how drastic the changes really are and what is reality and what’s not.
Today’s blog follows from last Monday’s about branding and determining who are the customers that genuinely appreciate not only WHAT you have to offer them and how you can serve their needs. But WHO you are as a brand and how your product or service is an extension of your individual persona and your background.
People buy from who they believe they can trust (at any point in time), so understanding and communicating explicitly your brand to your niche customers (and the employees who truly want to be your brand ambassadors) is vital.
As promised, here are a few (brief) tips on how to maintain genuine service:
I’ll use the specific example of children’s clothing which you can adapt to the product or service you are offering. Apart from separating exactly WHO you would like to serve and their general NEEDS (aka why they are purchasing your product/service), you can create the mood to meet them exactly where they are and build from there as circumstances (and purchasing power) improves.
You have to determine exactly who are the parents you are ‘targeting’ (basic marketing jargon), the age group of the children and the lifestyle habits of both.
You can reach a wider catchment area of customers if you divide your ‘market’ into segments. For example (younger) single moms (or dads) with a bit less disposable income but still want their kids to look trendy and well-dressed.
For this group of parents, you may want to source clothing from a supplier who can afford to charge a lower price because they are producing in bulk (while still supplying fairly durable clothing). In this way, you can pass on those savings to these specific customers.
As with anything else worthwhile (to you personally) in the long term, you’d have to do a bit of leg work, phone calls or a few Google searches (to find these suppliers) depending on where you reside and how savvy you are in each respect.
For creating the mood, the way you interact with customers who may be sensitive about their spending habits especially during their children’s formative years, will be clearly different to a housewife who has a sitter or helper with her husband ‘bringing home the (main source of) bacon‘.
This segment of customers will most likely be able to afford higher end clothing for her child/ren. Notwithstanding this mother may have challenges of a different nature; her priority may be that of convenience versus cost, so when pricing for this group you may want to provide ‘add-on’ services.
This may include (but not limited to) free or discounted delivery, gift wrapping (for birthdays, Christmas etc). And for ease of shopping – print/online catalogues or newsletters with various styles, colours and brand options; new items, clearance sales, holiday discounts and gift certificates.
While I know it’s no ethical business owner’s intention to charge the living daylights (for want of a better phrase) out of their higher end customers, at times shopping genuinely makes people feel better. So by all means, if you see an ‘opportunity’ to greater serve your customers’ needs where it’s needed – go for it. Since after all you are in business to make money, provide excellent customer service and attract repeat customers.
Of course, this is not to be confused with splurging, impulse buying, competitive or ‘just because’ shopping (or living above your means).
By providing over-the-top-service catering to the specific needs of ALL customers and not shunning the ones who may have less disposable income at this point in time (for various reasons unbeknownst to you), you’d know that these parents are sure to tell their other friends about your store. And this is how you build Brand Loyalty.
Especially when they see your customers’ kids all dressed up on Sunday, they’d want exactly what they are wearing (or similar) so their children can make the cutest family portrait to last generations.
The third group can be professional working parents – single or married. For various reasons this group may have a combination of priorities or challenges such as time, cost and convenience.
As a business owner it’s up to you to price and offer services tailored to the specific needs of each segment of customers. As well as set the mood and tone for your employees to follow suit at your discretion and your own budget.
For example, if you have a small space (as opposed to a huge departmental store with hidden passageways, or crevices for kids to hide or get lost), you may want to section off an area for them to play or sit and read under the clearly communicated supervision of their parents/caregivers to avoid any unfortunate and ill-timed liability for injury etc.
Based on your budget and the season (Independence Day, Easter, Halloween,Thanksgiving, Christmas); you can further create the mood while the parents shop by playing soft (and not glaring) background music, video games/cartoons/educational videos, age specific (in-store) toys (especially if accompanied by younger siblings who may be toddlers etc) and snacks (that are well-labelled in the case of children with allergies).
The (aesthetics) colours in your store, props, temperature, washroom facilities and the general smell should also be inviting to parents and the ages of the children to whom you are catering.
It goes without saying that the store should be easily accessible to children, parents and grandparents with no steep drops, inclines, sharp objects, blind corners, slippery or broken tiles, (easily movable) rugs etc where people can skid, slip or fall. Applicable signs etc where needed.
Finally (for today’s blog)! Small tokens of appreciation for loyal customers or ‘big spenders’ goes a long way to attract repeat business. It can be as simple as a birthday greeting (phone call,
singing telegram voice message, personalized text, card, cookie, cupcake, bookmark, discount certificate from your store or a business partner etc based on your budget and their preferences).
These gift ideas are not hard and fast and should not feel forced or obligatory. It is based on the relationship you may have built over time with your individual customers and how much you value their contribution/impact to your business (no matter how large or small) – whether it’s shared values/ethos, ideas exchange, loyalty or referrals.
This example covered several branding areas and can be adapted to almost any product or service once you get still enough to find those creative outlets. Or just have a non-intrusive chat with your customers and inner circles. If you’re still unsure and will like to brainstorm some ideas, you can send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Enjoy the remainder of your May! May the force be with you!
See you in June 🙂