When the economy stumbled, marketing became even more challenging. Many retailers and other marketers turned to low-pressure marketing tactics built around customer service to establish relationships with their clientele, rather than just selling them a product and sending them on their way.
Creating a good customer experience is key to getting and keeping customers. According to a recent report by the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania, only about 33 percent of consumers report having had a good customer experience in the past six months of shopping. Buck that trend, and your marketing efforts could give you excellent results in return.
Begin your low-pressure campaign by marketing your entire package, not just your product. To get started, concentrate on customer service, quality, follow-up, and customer retention. If you own a coffee shop, for example, offer free coffee samples or tastings of your baked goods to help customers choose their favorites. Make your shop welcoming so they’ll stay longer; and make sure your products are fresh so they’ll want to come again.
Your employees should be educated about the products you sell. They should be able to tell people how something works and what it is used for and know what customers are saying about it. To go back to the coffee shop example, your baristas should know what ingredients are in your baked goods, and they should be able to let customers know which are the favorites. And they should be able to say what their favorites are. No matter what your product is, your employees should have some experience using it. Sharing an experience with a client is a very low-key marketing tool.
To that end, managers are also taking pressure off marketers by not requiring as many quotas and other sales numbers. Instead, they’re placing higher value on high-quality interactions with customers and other businesses. Customers don’t want to be sold to, they want to positively experience the entire transaction from start to finish. They want knowledgeable salespeople who aren’t pushing to make a sale but looking to educate the consumer.
To be successful at low-pressure marketing, you need to train your staff to be caring and helpful. They should greet customers when they enter the store, ask them about their needs, and be able to meet those needs by being knowledgeable and accommodating with your products and services. In this system, instead of making marketing quotas, staff members get bonuses when they are observed doing a good job, or when the store meets certain other goals for the month.
Many other managers are offering higher staff salaries to encourage retention and adding more training to increase the staff’s knowledge and production. They also look for people who like to engage others and offer solutions to problems rather than simply marketing one item over another. Customer satisfaction is key here, and it can lead to customer retention and fulfillment. Call your customers by name, recognize their continued business, and let them know you appreciate them. They will spread the word.
Other low-pressure marketing tactics include holding customer appreciation luncheons and meetings, or offering free services for customers. Ask clients to test products for you, so they feel a part of the company. They’ll get a sneak peek at new offerings, and if they like it well enough, they may even do some free word-of-mouth marketing for you.
Keep the focus on the client rather than the sales pitch and the sales will follow.