I’ve just arrived at my desk. It’s only 8.00am, yet already I’ve seen several TV adverts and heard half a dozen radio commercials. I’ve had an inbox full of special offers, picked two flyers up off my doormat, and have received an SMS from a local restaurant. I can’t tell you what most of them say though. You see, like the average Joe, I’m exposed to thousands of marketing messages every single day – and I’m getting very good at tuning them out. That’s bad news for businesses – so, what’s the solution?

How can you engage customers?

In a recent report I read from Circle Research, “customer success” was shown to be the second most popular SME ambition (the first is “business growth”). So, it’s still high on businesses’ agendas. But, if consumers are switching off to marketing messages, how can they achieve that? Well, as the following SMEs demonstrate, it just takes a bit of creative thinking.

Get under the radar

Good Greens manufactures healthy, tasty snack bars. When it launched in 2011, it couldn’t compete with the big marketing budgets of known brands like Kellogg’s or Nestlé, so expensive campaigns were out of the question. Instead, founder Keith Pabley decided to start building relationships with local bloggers. And, it paid off. The number of reviews, mentions, and search engine results for Good Greens increased – and soon the bars become bestsellers.

Go back to basics

When was the last time you received a handwritten letter? Nowadays, they’re a rarity. Messages are tapped into an email or SMS – even greetings cards have gone digital. And no matter what the content, nothing screams “impersonal” like a perfectly-formatted typeface. Luckily though, businesses such as Jawbone, Grasshopper, and Prepwise (and many more) have all latched on to this and have reverted to good old pen and ink. They’ve sent customers or prospects personal, handwritten notes. And, in return, they’ve got lots of happy customers, tweeting lots of positive brand messages.

Turn problems into solutions

CIL is a Canadian paint company. It realized that while men were heavily involved in purchasing paint – and using it – far fewer enjoyed choosing it. White is white, right? To help men get involved earlier on, CIL decided to create a Facebook app and invite people to create more ‘manly’ paint color names. In less than two months, and with a small budget, the campaign attracted more than 20,000 unique users, generated 100 million online impressions, and increased sales by 10%. On the flip side though, I do wonder how the Canadian real estate market coped with an influx of ‘beer foam’ walls and ‘razor burn’ skirting boards.

These examples show how far customer engagement has moved beyond the “sell, sell, sell” approach. So, forget about popping flyers through my door or trying to dazzle me with flashy TV ads – a more creative and

personal approach is much more likely to grab my attention. So, why not give it a go? It might help you achieve your own “customer success” ambition.

You can read the report, “Ambition: why being ambitious matters and how SMEs are achieving their goals”, sponsored by SAP.







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