WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT CUSTOMER LOYALTY PROGRAMS

These days, customer loyalty and rewards programs are all the rage for all types of businesses.  From offering BOGO’s (buy one, get one free), free shipping and points for future items, these types of programs not only compensate your customer for purchasing products through you, they can also keep your customer base coming back for more and for a longer period of time.

However, many businesses fall flat with these types of programs by not planning and executing properly.  The bottom line is that you should look at this program as enhancing your customers’ experience and always strive to put their needs first.  Whether you start your own ‘VIP Club’ or ‘Rewards-style’ program, we’re here to help with our list of dos, don’ts and examples of how to start rewarding your customers today.

THE DO’S

  • Set parameters for your rewards based on what’s best for your business.  While for online companies, offering a free shipping reward is a great way to get people to order, this may not be your best reward if you have a substantial amount of foot traffic.  Additionally, set parameters based on how much a customer spends or how often they purchase, creating tiered levels of rewards, and giving your most loyal customers a special level of service.
  • Strive to build lasting relationships with your loyalty programs.  Engage your customers by giving them rewards they truly want, will use or will benefit from.
  • Think about your budget.  Starting a rewards program could get expensive if you don’t plan properly, so always track your budget on costs for the rewards.  This will allow you to calculate your Return on Investment to see which rewards work best, which don’t work and what you can change within your program to make it a better fit for you and your customers.
  • Track your customers’ purchasing habits.   By tracking what a customer purchases, you can offer them a reward that will truly help them.  For example, if they purchase two of a specific item at once, they get 50% off the third, or a discount on purchases of 10 or more of an item.  Additionally, if you see that a handful of customers purchase very little, offer a small discount to entice them to purchase more frequently.
  • Clearly state the parameters of your program to all customers and keep the process simple.  Make sure all users know how they obtain rewards or points by providing a handout of the guidelines.  Also, by creating a simple process for access to program rewards and account information, you are more like to run the program properly and have more users.
  • Partner with other businesses.  For example, if you hold an open-house event for VIP clients, partner with the catering service for discounts on your products and their services.

THE DON’TS

  • Don’t use a ‘one-size fits all’ model for your rewards program.  Tailor each reward or provide options that customers will find usable that way they will be happy with the reward they receive, and will be more likely to continue to purchase from you again.  Think outside the box, and keep in mind what will benefit your customer the most.
  • Don’t just give stuff away, or give your customer leftovers from an event.  They will not appreciate the reward, nor will they be enticed to purchase more.
  • Don’t make it difficult to sign up for your program.  Offering the ability to easily sign up by registering their email address with the first purchase is a quick way to get all of your customers started.
  • Don’t make rewards impossible to obtain.  If your customer has to spend $10,000 at your store to receive a $20.00 coupon, chances are you will never have anyone actually receive a reward, which completely defeats the purpose.  Think like PetCo – for every $100.00 you spend, you earn a $5.00 coupon to be used on anything at their store.  The reward level is easily reached, and the reward is completely fair for all users.

HOW TO START REWARDING:

Even with a small budget, here are some ways for you to start testing what loyalty program works best for you:

  • Celebrate with your customers by offering a small discount during the month of their birthday.
  • Offer additional services, such as product warranties, with little mark-up.
  • Reward referrals to your business by offering a coupon or discount.
  • Upgrade shipping with a specific purchase amount.
  • Offer your VIP customers a free preview night, or open house, in which they will be the first to see your new products.
  • Notify those in your rewards program of sales early so they can get a head start on shopping.
  • Have your customers create a ‘Wish List’ and when they reach a specific amount of purchases, you surprise them with a free gift.

Remember, the end goal of a loyalty program is to build a two-way relationship that benefits both users, so think about what your customers really want, and you’ll see the gains from increased sales and profits.

Have any questions about customer loyalty programs, or have any advice or ideas to share?  Comment below with your questions, or call 1.800.627.2920 or email adv@DOWElectronics.com to talk with our dedicated marketing team!

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5 SOCIAL MEDIA TERMS YOU NEED TO KNOW

Social media can be overwhelming and difficult to keep pace with – it is constantly changing and your audience has the potential to be huge, so not knowing what you’re doing, or what you are talking about, leaves you with the chance of looking confused to the entire world.  Don’t sweat – we’ve got a list of the most basic terms and how they pertain to your business.

PLATFORM – a platform is any system that manages content.  For example, the DOW Electronics’ blog platform is WordPress, which hosts an entire community of blogs.  This is important to know because each platform will have its own rules and regulations about what you can and can’t post, so make sure you read each prior to getting started.  Additionally, each platform has its own advantages to reaching your audience to give them the information they want.  For example, Facebook and Twitter are great for posting new sales information, promotions, and behind the scenes pictures, while a blog is best for showing off your expertise, so use each platform differently to ensure you gain the most.  This means you will need to post different types of content on each, and will take a little extra planning.

MICROBLOGGING – microblogging is the posting of short messages on a social media account.  These include Tweets on Twitter, Status Updates on Facebook, and comments on any given social media platform.  Microblogs are great because they promote the sharing of knowledge, networking, and intelligent conversation between individuals interested in the same topic.  While you may not think these are really important since they take little thought or preparation time, you need to put in the planning time to post something that your audience will get value from.  You also want to make sure you never post anything that is offensive or something that can be misinterpreted.  These comments can still be found by a search engine, and the last thing you want to do is generate a negative position about your brand.

HASHTAG – a hashtag is the symbol ‘#’ followed by a series of words or characters.  Messages that have the same hashtags are then grouped together to show you what is currently trending in social media.  For example, at DISH’s Team Summit this year, when posting to Twitter, the hashtag #TS2013 was used to group all like pictures and tweets in the same category.  Additionally, Facebook just recently added the functionality of the hashtag on its platform, so you will see these popping up in your news feed, with a link to click to see who else is posting about the same topic.  If a specific hashtag pertains to you or your business, go ahead and microblog about it – your brand will gain attention for staying on top of current ideas and events.

TRANSPARENCY – transparency is the act of engaging in considerate and courteous conversations with all users on any given platform.  Each and every platform that allows user content to be shared will have a transparency policy set in place, and repercussions can include blocked or deactivated profiles, so always think about the end result since you do not want to post anything that is offensive to any of the other users.  The main goal of social media is to share ideas and generate new beliefs via collective genius, and this is something you should aspire to do in every day social media use.

GOING VIRAL – going viral, or virality, is the rate in which content is passed along on any platform.  YouTube is a great example for thinking about virality.  This is the ultimate goal for any social media user – the faster your content goes viral, the more press and attention you are likely to receive.  However, there is a fine line, as you want to make sure your content goes viral for the right reasons, so make sure to have a sharp eye on all your posts.  When thinking about viral content, it is good to create a mix of useful information with lighthearted humor to engage your audience.

Now, it is important to remember these are the very basics, and since each platform changes each day, you need to make an effort to stay up-to-date with how each will affect your content and pages.

What confuses you about social media?  If there are any topics you need assistance with, just leave a comment below and the DOW Electronics team will be happy to help!

Event Hosting 101

Summertime has arrived – and that means plenty of events, socials and fairs for you to participate in and market your business.  But, there is another option – hosting your own event!  When you host an event, you are in the driver’s seat, ensuring everything fits your needs, from schedule, budget and the overall success of the event.

However, as with anything, there is a correct way of putting together an event so that you get the most rewards from your time.  Whether it’s planning ahead or selecting the best event location, follow these tips to ensure your event-hosting is a true success story!

Location, Location, Location

The first option to host your event is obvious: your store front!  Not only will people already know where it is located, it will allow your company to remain consistently branded since you will be at a location that is only associated with your business.  But, take a step back and ask yourself a couple of questions: does my store front location get a lot of traffic?  Are the people stopping by inquiring about new services?  If the answer is no, you might want to partner up with another local business that does get a lot of consumer traffic to help you host your event.  Consider having it at a local pet store and having a ‘Dog Days of Summer’ event or at a local mall or shop where you know there will be a lot of people coming in and out.  You can also see if your location partner will assist with an incentive for your customers for each sale made, like gift cards or a discount on purchases.

Plan (and Budget) Ahead

One of the biggest mistakes we often see in the DOW Electronics’ Marketing and Advertising Department is not planning or budgeting ahead.  Before you get the ball rolling, take a minute (or a few) to write down everything you will need to account for with your event materials and budget.  Items you may not account for, like food and drinks, promotional items, nametags, event advertising and signage, are all vital to the success of any event and can cost extra if you procrastinate, so account for everything.  And, if you are having a family-focused event, make sure to have some games, and small promotional items that won’t break the bank and will keep the attention of children.  The planning and budgeting will help you in the long run – on the day of the event you will be fully prepared and focused on selling, and afterwards, you can provide true tracking on cost-per-sale to determine the success of your event.

Advertising is a MUST

In planning, advertising your event is a must!  Print and radio are great options for you to get the word out that you are hosting an event, but why not send out an invitation?  Get a list of all your potential and current clients, or those former clients you are trying to bring back to the store, and personally invite them!  Whether it’s an email blast, a physical invitation or a video invitation on YouTube, your invitees will appreciate the personal touch and are more likely to attend.  Other ways to let your community know about your event include submitting a press release, inviting a radio or television station to do a live remote at your event, and social media.

Remember, hosting your own event has endless advantages, so make sure you utilize your time and efforts to receive the maximum benefits from your event.  With most of your work falling within the planning phase, it will take a little extra time to make sure all aspects are accounted for, but will pay off in the long run!  And, don’t forget to contact the DOW Electronics’ Marketing and Advertising Department to submit your event and advertising for co-op preapproval, or for help with event items such as tents, banners and promotional giveaways.  We are here to assist you with all your event and advertising needs and can be reached at 1.800.627.2920 or by emailing adv@dowelectronics.com

What are your event hosting tips?  What works best for your business?  We want to know – comment and share with the DOW Electronics Marketing and Advertising Department!

Showroom Success: The Green Edition

If you read and implemented the ideas from our Successful Showroom blog post a couple of weeks ago, then you have a clean, well branded showroom. In honor of Earth Day this past Monday, April 22 let’s take it one step further and help your business reduce the waste it generates from daily operations.  Did you know the average American worker produces two pounds of paper and cardboard waste each day and approximately 10,000 sheets of paper waste each year? (www.cleanair.org)  Consider all the copies, disposable coffee cups, shipping boxes and other miscellaneous trash that your company contributes to the massive amount of waste created each day.  To help your business lessen the waste it produces, here are some ideas that are low cost, low hassle and can be as easy as changing a light bulb.

More than Paper and Plastic

At the very least, most businesses now recycle their paper, but what about all the additional items that you and your employees throw away that could easily be recycled?   Cardboard boxes, ink cartridges and glass products are a prime example.   Cardboard boxes in good condition can be reused to ship out other products, and printer ink cartridges only need to be taken to the local office supply store to be returned.

Only about 20% of glass is recycled each year and there is no reason why you shouldn’t be doing this as well – just collect and take to your local recycling collection plant for sorting.  Some recycling plants will even schedule a monthly pick up, so just call and check with the recycling plants in your area.  The best part is this is easy to set up and utilize in your business.  All you’ll need to do is set up a small area with collection containers and let employees know which products go in each container.  Another added benefit is that you may receive money back for the recycled products, or, in the case of the ink cartridges, discounts towards your future purchases.

Other ways you can supplement your ‘green’ activity in your office: give your employees reusable coffee mugs, and get rid of the Styrofoam cups, which are not biodegradable, or use cups for water instead of bottles of water and make double sided copies when possible.

Around the Showroom

One of the biggest areas of waste will be your showroom, but not in terms of what you are throwing away.  Before you leave each night, take a look at all the electrically powered items left on or plugged in.  You aren’t necessarily throwing anything physical into a trashcan, but you are wasting electricity by leaving on any lights, computers and plugged-in chargers that aren’t being used.  At the end of each day, make sure you and your employees turn off all computers and lights, and unplug all unneeded and unused equipment chargers.  According to www.energy.gov, which reviews and reports on the United States energy usage, you can save around $10,000 in energy usage each year if 10 employees all take the time to turn off lights and computers each night and on the weekend.  With savings like that, you can’t afford not to start turning your showroom green!

Other ways you can supplement reducing waste at your business: turn off water when it’s not in use (and check for faucet leaks), turn off the heating and cooling systems on weekends and switch your light bulbs to energy efficient bulbs.

Now you have a handful of ways to start going green within your showroom and office, but there are a lot of other things you can do to go green each day.  It’s never too late to get started.  For those of you that already implement green techniques, comment below with how your business reduces its waste!

QR Codes and Your Business

The QR, or quick response, code is popping up more each day, and has quickly become a huge trend in today’s marketing.  But, if you don’t know the best way to get started and use them in your marketing, you’ll be lost, so we’ve done the research to help you utilize them to grow your business.

The Basics

The QR Code is essentially a more complex bar code.  A bar code only stores price and product info, is one-dimensional and can only be scanned by a laser scanner.  A QR code is two-dimensional, can be scanned with any scanner with an imaging device, such as a smart phone camera, and can link to any type of information, like videos, maps, contact info and more.

There are a number of free sites that will allow you to create and track your QR code. The ones with the best ratings are www.QRStuff.com, www.GoQR.me and www.QRMobilize.com (plus, many more).  They all offer different options as to what the codes can link to, and some even offer free website mobilization which is crucial.  I would suggest checking out a few options to determine which one best fits your needs.  Also, don’t shy away from using a paid site, which will offer advanced options.  The extra money spent and advanced options in tracking and mobile assistance may be your best option in helping you facilitate and determine the success of your campaign.

Best Practices

Now that you know how to set up your QR codes, it’s time to review the dos and don’ts of utilizing the codes in your advertising.

  1. Mobile Sites: it’s always important to remember to connect your code to a mobile optimized site.  Your potential customers will be scanning these with their smart phones and mobile devices, so connecting them to a full web page will be a logistical nightmare.  When prepping your mobile site, plan something small, like a landing page with opt-in information, instructions, promotions or a video instead of your full informational site.
  2. Size and Space Matters: when planning the usage of your QR code, think about how your users will scan it.  Putting it on your billboard, or on the side of the bus are probably not your best options – how will your potential customers scan them when the bus moves, or when in a moving car?  Magazines, newspapers, flyers and posters are much better options, as your customer will have more opportunity to pull out their device and scan your promotion.  And remember to keep the QR code in proportion to your ad, but large enough for a scanner to read.
  3. Call to Action: one of the biggest mistakes made is that when using a QR code, there is no call to action.  Always place a small line or sentence identifying what the user stands to gain from scanning – it can be as easy as ‘Scan Here for Troubleshooting Information” – so the customer knows what to expect beforehand.

Practical Uses for Your Business

The best part of QR codes is that their uses are virtually endless, and we’ve already thought of a few great options for you to get started using them to grow your business today:

  • Include with new equipment purchases and have the code link to installation instructions or troubleshooting questions.
  • On marketing materials with directions to your location, or special promotional and sales information.
  • Print a QR code on adhesive Avery labels and cover the bar codes for any products, this way customers can’t scan the bar code and find a lower price elsewhere.  You can include anything from sales and contact information to product reviews.
  • Print on the back of your business cards and it will automatically include your contact information in their phone.
  • Include on signage for any special event you will be participating in or hosting, with information on your location within the event, giveaways or add the event to their personal calendar.
  • Include on your advertising in magazines and newspapers with a link to testimonials

Now you are ready to get started.  If you have any questions on using QR codes for your business, feel free to call the DOW Electronics’ Marketing Department and we’ll be more than happy to assist you.  Or, if you are already using QR codes in your advertising, comment with your suggestions and examples below!

2013 Marketing Resolutions

There is no doubt that December can be an overwhelmingly busy month –with the hustle and bustle of the holiday’s, family gatherings and more, chances are you let your Marketing and Advertising plan fall to the wayside.  In this week’s post, it is our plan to help you with your 2013 Marketing Resolution.   Whether you want to simplify, revamp or retain your current customer base, we’ve compiled the best and most realistic marketing tactics you can implement this year.

SOCIAL MARKETING SMARTER, NOT HARDER

Here at DOW Electronics, we have several social media and online accounts, which can be tough to manage, especially if you cannot or do not want to sit in front of a computer all day. It’s been around for a while, but HootSuite is an easy, and free, fix to this problem.  HootSuite allows you to set up one program and add all your social media feeds, so you can post, respond to messages and answer customer questions all from the same site, freeing up substantial time.  You can also schedule messages in advance, so you can set your posts the night before, for after hours or even on the weekends, allowing you to spend less time worrying about finding time to post on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and more.

CONTENT IS KING

It’s been said before, but it has never been more important.  Everyone, including your client base, is constantly bombarded with information, especially now in the digital age.  If the content you are putting in the market is not relevant to your audience, you will be passed over without a second look.  This not only means giving your clients the information they need, like training videos or tutorials, but also updating old or obsolete job aids and training items to be current.  Check your website to make sure everything is up-to-date, and do the same for any social media or business profiles. Old material looks unprofessional and like you’ve stopped caring, so updating your materials will not only be a benefit to your customers, but will also show them you are the professional they can turn to.

GO MOBILE AND GET LISTED

Almost everyone has a smart phone or tablet these days, so if you haven’t thought about supporting mobile access to your website, you should be.  This is the perfect opportunity to reach new customers in your area as people are foregoing traditional ways of communications (land line phones and dial-up internet), and switching to a smart phone or wireless device for everything.  Consider new families that move to your area – how will they find you if they have yet to set up internet or phone lines to call around?  Of course, they will turn to the instant connection on their device, and if you aren’t there for them to review, again, you will be passed over, and won’t even know it.

One site that will help your mobile marketing and online profiles is GetListed.org.  Getlisted.org was launched in 2009, and allows small business owners to regulate their online presence.  This easy to use, and free, online tool lets you claim your business listings on Google, Yahoo, Yelp!, FourSquare and more, thus increasing your search engine optimization.  You can also update business information and photos, creating a complete profile, which is more likely to be looked at.  So, now when those new families are moving in and searching for a cable or internet provider on their smart phone or wireless device, your business information is included, no matter what search engine or social media site they are using.

EMAIL MARKETING

One of the best ways to constantly reach your current or potential client base is email, but when was the last time you updated and cleaned up your email list?  Take the time to clear out the outdated information so you are only putting resources towards those who you know want your information.  Also, create an opt-in form on your website to draw in any potential clients, and maintain contact with past or current clients. Additionally, use email for more than just promotional and sales emails – company updates, press releases and community news will not only give your business personality, but will also show you are looking at the bigger picture within your organization.

Now that you have some ideas for your 2013 Marketing Resolution, it’s time to put them in place!  Start digging around and see what you can start changing now, and schedule the rest to be completed within the next couple of months, that way you are ahead of the curve and updated before 2014 rolls around!  Which of these tips will be the easiest for your business to implement?  The hardest?  Let us know what you need help with, or your feedback – we’d love to hear it!

2012 – The Year for Satellite Broadband.

With 2012 coming to a close, we can all reflect on our businesses and the changes we have experienced. One change in particular stands out to me: 2012 was the year that satellite broadband became a solution that was applicable to all households, not just those that live in rural America.  This change brought about new pricing and reasons for our retailers to sell this to all customers.

TECHNOLOGY UPDATES

ViaSat and HughesNet , the two largest satellite broadband providers, launched new satellites this year.  This means our industry saw a change in technology, which allowed satellite broadband resellers the opportunity to compete in markets that were once out-of-reach for the satellite broadband industry. The launch of ViaSat-1 and EchoStar XVII gave satellite broadband providers the ability to offer speeds that rival that of digital subscriber lines and this improvement in technology and speed gave DISH Network the opportunity to provide their customers with a true television and broadband bundle in one bill. In October 2012, DISH Network launched DISHNet, their satellite broadband service. DISHNet’s variety in plans and speeds gave retailers the services their customers have long desired.

PRICING & SPEED UPDATES

I’ve included a small outline for the DISHNet services, when bundled with DISH satellite television.  As you can see, the prices can fit any budget, so there is no reason why they shouldn’t be offered when you have a new customer walking in the door.

DISHNet Plans when bundled with DISH TV service:

  • $39.99/mo.
    • 5GB Anytime Data
    • 5GB Bonus Data
    • Up to 5mbps download &  1mbps upload speeds
  • $49.99/mo.
    • 10GB Anytime Data
    • 10GB Bonus Data
    • Up to 10mbps download &  1mbps upload speeds
  • $69.99/mo.
    • 15GB Anytime Data
    • 15GB Bonus Data
    • Up to 10mbps download &  2mbps upload speeds

DISHNet offers not only competitive speeds for customers and multiple options for different internet users, but a healthy revenue streams for dealers. With 90% of DISHNet customers also bundling their broadband service with DISH  television programming, the bundle through DISHNet is a win-win for customers and dealers.  As internet consumption continues to rise in the U.S., satellite broadband will continue to be a reliable and viable solution for retailers and their customers.

WHAT ABOUT 2013?

With the technology changes, you can only imagine how much more technology will advance in the next year.  Faster speeds, more competitive pricing and more data options are all feasible for the coming year, which only means better sales and better product/service for your customers.  As the satellite broadband revolution continues to grow, they will only continue to face and overcome the challenges facing the industry regarding speeds, data and efficiency of equipment.

Join in on the DISHNet parade (see video below) and get your customers running in for satellite broadband.

What do you think about the satellite broadband revolution?  How do you sell or promote these products and services to your customers?  We’d love to hear your feedback!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?NR=1&v=Ug_pBYyN_SU&feature=endscreen

Trending in 12Volt

So far, 2012 has seen lots of changes in technology, from tablets and iPads to Application Stores and thinner, sleeker models of phones, TVs and more.  The 12 volt industry, or Car and Marine Audio and Video, is no different – so, we asked resident 12 Volt Specialist, Jeremy Doran, what the top trends in the industry are today.  Jeremy has 17+ years of professional installation experience, is MECP certified and is a graduate of Mobile Dynamics, which has enabled him to work with some of the most creative and accomplished installers in the business.

One major trend is the integration of iPads and smartphones to your vehicle for music, internet radio, movies, navigation and whatever else you have your device set up for.  These can be installed into a car using a custom kit within hours, and – PRESTO – the world at your fingertips.  Getting directions, finding a restaurant or locating the nearest gas station has never been easier. Check out the video below of DOW Electronics retailer Soundwaves of Tampa and their installation of the iPad Mini, just hours after release.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RCXJIjxvPNE

Doran noted that add on Bluetooth systems are in high demand because many states are making cell phone usage illegal while driving.  In relation, radios with built in Bluetooth capabilities are popular for hands free phone usage and music streaming.  In car Wi-Fi hot spots for constant internet connection are also rising in popularity.

“You’re seeing an increase of people wanting to stay connected while driving, but also taking safety into consideration,” stated Doran. “Full integration of your smartphone or tablet to your vehicle is extremely popular, because now people want the ability to have their text messages, Facebook feeds or twitter posts read to them while driving, but without risking an accident or ticket.  And since we all depend on these devices and save so much information to them, it only makes sense to connect them with another important piece of machinery to all of us – our vehicles.”

In addition to media usage, smartphones are being used as remote controls for monitoring of vehicles, keyless entry, remote start, security and GPS tracking, but these are not the only trends currently popping up.  Also popular right now are devices that unlock manufacturer settings so that navigation and video operate while driving, LED daytime running lights and aftermarket HID lights.

“These aftermarket changes are ways the individual customer can make their vehicle unique, and tailor it to their individual needs,” stated Doran.  “Whether they are doing it for style or function, these updates allow each person to get exactly what they want from both their vehicles and smart devices.”