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4 Ways for Small Businesses to Show Customers They Care

4 Ways for Small Businesses to Show Customers They Care

Customers are often quick to spot a business that only cares about the bottom line. But the businesses that make it obvious that the customer matters? Those are the businesses that tend to get lots of repeat business. So how can businesses show customers that they aren’t just there to make another buck? Here are four ideas for small businesses to show customers how much they care.

Support a non-profit that customers care about.

Some businesses are built entirely around the idea that, for every sale, a donation is made to a charitable cause. The shoe company TOMS, for example, donates a pair of shoes to someone in need for every pair of shoes purchased. But small businesses don’t have to build their entire sales philosophy around charitable giving from the get go to show customers how much they care.

Consider a special event that donates a portion of all the proceeds to a local non-profit. Ideally, you should choose a non-profit that your target audience cares about or a charity that’s related to your industry. For example, a photographer specialising in children’s photography could make a donation to a children’s hospital or an organisation researching childhood ailments. If you still need inspiration, consider a charity related to the season. Give to an environmental organisation around Earth Day, for example.

Go beyond what’s necessary for customer service.

Good customer service is a must for businesses to thrive — but why stop at just good? Customers remember the businesses that went above and beyond. Don’t just fix the problem the customer comes to you with, but offer a coupon for their next purchase for their troubles. Reward employees that go above and beyond, like the cashier that helps the mum with the crying baby unload her cart, to encourage others to do the same.

Offer personalised service.

Customers remember the businesses that make them feel like they are more than just a number. Besides just remembering the names of your regulars, brainstorms ways to integrate personalised experience into your business. Consider software that will help track a customer’s preferences. For service providers, take a few minutes to ask a few questions to tailor that service to the individual, like finding out about a client before taking their picture or cutting their hair.

Go environmentally friendly.

More and more people are becoming aware of environmental issues. Some businesses have noticed and done things like ban plastic straws in the name of leaving less plastic in oceans and landfills. Try switching to environmentally-friendly packaging and letting your customers know about the switch. Consider using biodegradable paper bags instead of plastic. Brainstorm ways to reduce your trash. Both your customers and the environment will thank you.

Customers are more likely to return to a business where they felt cared for, not like just another number. That customer care can show in a number of different ways, from customer service that goes above and beyond to donating a portion of profits to a charitable cause.

2019 Point-of-Purchase Trends For Small Businesses To Watch

2019 Point-of-Purchase Trends For Small Businesses To Watch

An ad doesn’t do any good if no one sees it — but where should ads be placed to reach the ideal customer? A recent study by Frank Mayer and Associates recently pinpointed the current point-of-purchase trends in marketing for 2019, highlighting ever-changing advertising opportunities.  So where should small businesses direct their ad efforts in 2019?

Point-of-Purchase (POP) is a term used to refer to the placement of displays and ads, optimised to maximise the potential impact. POP can mean the difference between an ad or display with high impact, and one with minimal impact. By looking at POP trends, small businesses can brainstorm new ways to expand POP efforts.

Unique POP opportunities are created by crossing industries.

Traditionally, businesses advertise in their own industry to reach a specific customer. But the customer that buys your product doesn’t live on a figurative island and likely has other interests and activities as well. Crossing POP to another industry, Frank Mayer and Associates suggests, could open up more opportunities.

Small businesses can brainstorm ways to reach their target customer as they go out through their daily routines. If your target audience is mums, for example, consider the different places mums frequent like grocery stores and playgrounds, as well as the different online spaces such as mum blogs and apps. The advertising medium doesn’t have to be directly tied to your industry to be successful if it reaches the right people.

Businesses shouldn’t ignore technology, and in particular, augmented reality.

Augmented reality mixes both the real and digital worlds — and its becoming a prime spot for businesses to reach customers. Fashion companies have used the technology as a virtual dressing room, photographers can use AR to show clients what their prints would look like on their walls. Businesses can design their own Snapchat filters for a unique AR ad.

AR is growing in popularity because by mixing the real and digital world, consumers can integrate a product they are interested in into their own lives with just a smartphone. Brainstorm ways to use AR to stand out and offer customers a more personalised experience.

Convenience isn’t going away any time soon.

Saving customers time and effort has always been a good thing, but research suggests convenience will be paramount to reaching customers through POP in 2019. The study notes growth in options like programs for picking online orders up in store or using electronic kiosks for easier checkouts or customer service. Grocery delivery services are also growing in popularity.

Take some time to sit down and ask — what would make my product or service more convenient for customers? What can help them save time or effort? Pinpoint your customer’s pain points and find ways to ease them, and you’ll be rewarded with repeat business for that convenience factor.

Location matters when it comes to placing products and ads. Looking at POP trends can help small businesses increase the impact of their campaigns.

Mum Marketing: 5 Tips For Small Businesses To Reach More Mum Customers

Mum Marketing: 5 Tips For Small Businesses To Reach More Mum Customers

Mums are amazing — and we’re not just saying that because Mother’s Day is right around the corner. Between raising children and managing a household, mums do a lot. For many small businesses, mums are a key customer with many mothers making the everyday purchase decisions for their households.

So how can small businesses reach this unique, but important group of customers? Here are five ideas for reaching mums.

Make shopping convenient.

The average working mum puts in 98 hours a week between her job and taking care of her family. The key take away? The easier the shopping experience is, the more likely mums are to return, because convenience is a big factor when you’re working 98 hours a week. Mums, for example, may prefer to visit the fast food restaurant that brings the food to your table because between the baby and the diaper bag, her hands or full. Or, mums may prefer to order online and pick up in store to skip the hassle of shopping with kids. The same goes for online shopping — a slow-loading website or app that’s difficult to navigate may make mums shop elsewhere instead.

Make your online presence easy to find.

Another study suggests that 80 percent of mums research a brand online before buying. How easy is it for customers to find information about you online? What does that information say? As you build an online presence, consider what the customers looking for you online will find. Encourage positive reviews with good customer service. Use key terms to make your website easy to find.

Use social media to reach out to mums.

Social media can be a key tool for reaching mothers. Besides the fact that you can specifically target an ad towards mums, many in this group use social media to unwind and laugh a little. Share relatable, fun posts on your social media page. Take out ads that are targeted towards mums for products that are specific to mums, kids and families.

Build a presence with blogs.

Those same mums researching products online before they buy are also frequent visitors to blogs — or there wouldn’t be such a thing as a “mummy blog.” Businesses can reach mums by writing guests posts for these blogs, or taking out ads on blogs focused on motherhood. Building your own blog with tips centred around your products and service isn’t a bad idea either.

Make reviews easy to find with a service like Yelp.

When mums research products online, they look for reviews. Make reviews for your product or service easy to find using platforms like Yelp. Encourage reviews by claiming your business on Yelp and similar sites. Don’t be afraid to ask for a review via a note in your email newsletter, a social media post, or even an in-store sign, just make sure to be tasteful. Other services like the reviews on Google Maps, Facebook and more are also great for making it easy for customers to find relevant reviews.

Mums are an important part of the family dynamic — and are often a big part of many businesses. Reach more customers through marketing tactics focused on mums, and keep them customers by offering a convenient experience.

Launching a new product or service isn’t as easy as it used to be.

Launching a new product or service isn’t as easy as it used to be.

For good or bad, those days are gone. Today, the pace of news is limited only by the speed of light. Getting attention has become extremely difficult and the attention you do get is forgotten within minutes with the unceasing flow of even “newer news”.

New tactics are required by you to get the notice you deserve. So here are some steps for a successful launch in these fickle times:

  1. Start early. Start your outreach activities 6-8 weeks before the official launch date and then keep the news going up to, and beyond the official launch date.
  2. Make the product or service available to important influencers as a first step. Influencers can be friendly customers, prospects, or even bloggers who have a sizable online presence. Encourage these people to use your product or service and then write review articles or posts. These folks are also great resources to talk to analysts about your offering pre-launch.
  3. Brief industry analysts during this early phase, scheduling calls with these people takes time so do this early.
  4. Seed the social space with “leaks.” Target people who are naturally eager to learn about your offering. For example, ‘coming soon’ tweets and ‘leaked’ photos of your product create an aura of intrigue that builds interest.
  5. Don’t expect a “big bang” release unless your product or service is truly revolutionary. Unless you have a massive launch event planned, the official launch date should only signify the day your product is actually available.

So what are you waiting for? Take care, plan and GOOD LUCK !!

And don’t forget if you need any help Photo Direct is always here just give us a call on 1300 364 817.

Free Samples: Are They Good or Bad For Your Business?

Free Samples: Are They Good or Bad For Your Business?

As the old saying goes, nothing in life is free. But offering free samples is a long-time strategy that businesses have used to try to persuade customers to try a new product. Free samples can encourage customers to try a different product or upgrade their usual order. But how do free samples fit in to online sales? Are free samples good or bad for business? Here’s what small business owners need to consider.

Free samples can encourage customers to try new products next time.

Sending a free sample with an existing order can be a good way to try to encourage customers to buy a different or more expensive product with their next order. Just like free food samples in the grocery store, samples are a good way to encourage customers to try new things. Print shops for example, can send a colour corrected free print to encourage a customer to add colour correction to their next order. Other add-ons like paper upgrades can also be sent as free samples.

Samples can be considered wasteful.

The problem with free samples in online orders is that customers don’t have a chance to say no. The customer may not be interested and the product may go right in the trash, which is wasteful both financially and for the environment. Instead, businesses could to give customers a checkmark box that allows them to choose if they’d like the free sample or free upgrade. Another option is to offer a coupon for a free upgrade for first-time customers, ensuring the customer actually wants that upgrade while encouraging them to upgrade their next order at full price.

What samples do you give out to which customers?

Large businesses are using artificial intelligence to look at things like past purchases when determining what free sample to send. That may not be an option for small businesses — and can leave customers feeling like their privacy was violated. Perhaps a better option is to keep it to a small list of different free samples and to send only based on the current order, in other words be selective and strategic in your approach.

Free samples can be expensive.

While individual samples may not cost very much, in the long run, samples can add to a businesses’ bottom line. Businesses need to monitor sales performance before and after giving out samples to make sure that continuing to give out free samples still fits with the best interests of the company. If sales skyrocket after free samples, great, but if they don’t, cut back to keep the costs from piling up.

Free samples can be a great way for your business to encourage customers to try new or upgraded products. But, you should consider several different factors to make sure the sales tool is the right move before shipping out products for free.

5 Retail Trends for Small Business in Australia to Watch in 2019

5 Retail Trends for Small Business in Australia to Watch in 2019

The retail space is constantly evolving, adapting to meet new technologies and changing with the demands of consumers. 2019 will be no different. So what retail trends should small business owners in Australia stay on top of in the New Year? What trends can businesses integrate to grow in 2019? Here are five ideas, predicted from the Retail Doctor Group, on 2019 retail trends.

Technology will influence sales from smart phones, subscriptions and voice control.

Technology trends often influence retail sales and 2019 is no exception. Smart phones are continuing to takeover a majority of online sales, so small businesses need to ensure any online ordering platform is mobile friendly. Subscriptions through online stores are also predicted to grow, and could spark ideas for growth for small business. A photo / print shop, for example, can run a subscription special for a monthly set of keepsake prints or photo-albums covering that month’s milestones.

Retail focus continues to shift.

Consumers are placing more importance on factors like experience over the actual product, RDG suggests. “Boring” stores will lose sales, the group says. Curation and customisation will help retail shops stand out from the competition and feel a little less boring so do something about this and NOW”.

Convenience shouldn’t be overestimated.

Customers often pick where to shop for convenience, like a brick and mortar store’s proximity, or the easy online ordering system. 2019 is a good time to make sure your online store is simple, and your hours convenient and easy to find online. Brainstorm ways to make ordering more convenient for your customers, and you’ll likely reap the rewards.

Data is king.

Personalisation and convenience is important — and data is the way to determine just what that means for your particular customers. Gathering data through customer rewards programs, surveys and studies can help retailers tailor their business experience to their particular customer.

Specialisation is a good thing.

Good news for small business — RDG predicts specification is better than generalisation in 2019. Most small businesses are already smaller speciality shops — but businesses can brainstorm ways to highlight this specialisation over the course of the next year.

Some predictions will make a bigger splash beyond 2019 rather than steady growth this year — trends like robotics and machine learning are just coming onto the retail scene, but likely aren’t at a spot for adoption by small businesses just yet. Pinpointing the latest retail trends can help businesses understand what customers are looking for and where to focus for improvements in 2019.

Call Photo Direct Support Office (03) 9894 1644 and one of our experts can and will assist you with your needs. Call us today!

5 Ideas to Increase Post-Holiday Sales in January

5 Ideas to Increase Post-Holiday Sales in January

The holidays have come and gone and the calendar has turned to a new year — and with it, the holiday shopping season has dissipated. For many businesses, January is a month of slow sales. Consumers overspent during the holidays and aren’t as actively shopping. But businesses shouldn’t just cross their fingers and ride out the slow season. Here are five ideas to increase post-holiday sales in January.

Encourage gift card spending (and exchanges).

After the holidays, consumers may have several gift cards to spend. Encourage them to spend during the slow season with sales and social media campaigns. Consider post-holiday needs and run a special focused on that. For example, print shops can offer discounted album for customers to print of their images from the Christmas-New Years season.

For retailers, January is often the biggest time for returns and exchanges. Push for the latter with specials, well-placed product displays, and excellent customer service.

Launch a unique marketing campaign.

Combat slow sales with a January marketing campaign. Brainstorm ideas for an unusual sale, new product, or social media campaign. If you’ve always wanted to try a video campaign on social media, for example, now is the time to try.

Businesses can also begin focusing on the next holiday. Photographers, for example, can run specials ahead of Easter or Mother’s Day.

Host an event or contest.

In the slowdown after the holiday, why not create your own reason to get customers in the store? A contest or event is often a great way to boost a business during a slow down. Host an event to battle the winter blues. Run a giveaway on social media. Encourage customers to come into the store with in-person contest entries.

Reach out to holiday shoppers.

If you’ve been collecting emails and information from holiday shoppers, now is a good time to use it. Follow up with holiday shoppers and reach out with an exclusive offer, just for previous customers. Word the email like a friend, not a business — ask about their holidays before launching into any sales materials. Be sure to keep emails short and infrequent — no one likes junk mail.

Focus on ways to improve while shopping is slow.

Sometimes, a slow down is exactly what a business needs. If that’s you, instead of focusing on reversing the slow down, take the time to take a breather, and work on business tasks that can’t be tackled during the busy season. Update your website. Plan social media posts ahead of time.  Improve the appearance of your store. Invest in new tools to help your business run smoothly. Take the time to service equipment, like printers and computers.

The holidays may be over, but the work never stops for small businesses. To fight the slow season, try new ways to bring customers in like encouraging gift card spending, launching a campaign, hosting an event, reaching out to previous shoppers, or simply focusing on improvements that can’t be mastered during the busy season.

Contact the Photo Direct team on (03) 9894 1644 and use our expertise to build your business for 2019 and beyond.

What’s Next? 5 Key Retail Trends Experts Predict for 2019

What’s Next? 5 Key Retail Trends Experts Predict for 2019

As the calendar begins to approach the end of 2018, business are already looking to the next year — and the trends that come along with it. Analysing retail trends can help small businesses identify where to grow next to keep up with what customers are looking for. So what retail trends are experts predicting for the next year? Here are a few trends for small businesses to keep in mind.

Artificial intelligence is growing.

More and more, artificial intelligence is changing the face of technology. But retailers could see shifts too because of this technology trend. Today, shoppers can ask Alexa to order them something — that’s a prime example of artificial intelligence working inside retail. Small businesses probably can’t afford to develop their own digital assistant, but that doesn’t mean you should ignore the trend. AI software can help streamline your tasks and save time, or help customers save time. Watch out for AI trends that could help in both, like Messenger bots for answering commonly asked questions or smarter software for helping customers design photo albums.

Shopping isn’t just one channel any more.

Today, more customers are looking at multiple channels before digging out their wallet (or digital payment). Retailers with more than one way to buy will likely be rewarded. Besides a brick and mortar store and website, consider selling on social media outlets, in apps or with third-party companies. While there are more ways to buy than ever, the traditional isn’t going anywhere — statistics predict 45 percent of consumers prefer the physical stores anyway.

Think personal and custom.

Shoppers have always loved a bit of personalisation — remember how easy it was to find your name on a pencil or a key chain in the 80s and 90s? But what’s changed is the technology that makes personalisation easier to do. From including a first name in those marketing emails to creating custom photography packages, brainstorm ways that your business can offer a custom experience. Personalising ads by reaching out to target groups is also a good idea — if you also respect user privacy.

Recommendations are still essential — and easier than ever.

Word of mouth isn’t going anywhere, but it’s becoming word of fingers — those written reviews play a big role in business today. While online reviews have been around for awhile, experts predict increasing importance on recommendations, in whatever form. Make it easy for customers to leave a review by adding a review tool to your website. Encourage reviews on your social media page. If you don’t have one already, claim your business on review sites like Yelp and Google’s listings.

Focus on mobile reach.

Online shopping has been around for some time, but mobile shopping is getting its time in the sun. Statistics show a growing number of consumers are shopping on a smartphone, not a desktop computer. Start by making sure your website is responsive, looking good both on desktop and mobile. Consider outlets that are easy to access from mobile — like selling through social media. Make sure your online ordering system is just as easy to use on a smartphone.