It’s easy to get lost in a sea of online marketing. Facebook and Twitter, email and SEO, and websites galore are all important tools in a retailer’s marketing quiver. But effective marketing means ignoring the glitzy and trendy to shoot right to the heart of the matter: connecting with customers, in whatever ways work. So do not throw out those old school marketing methods. Professionals and pundits are saying that there’s life in them yet.
Lisa Barone, co-founder of Outspoken Media, puts it quite simply. “The ideas we’re preaching in social media (listening, reaching out, engaging, etc) aren’t ‘new.’ They’re not shiny or flashy, and we haven’t invented anything. Social media marketing and online reputation management, for the most part, are about customer service. They’re about going out of your way to treat someone twice as well as they expect to be treated, so that they don’t walk away, they skip. And while they’re skipping they tell everyone they know.”
Other experts agree. Reach customers wherever they may be. And they are not always in front of a computer. Some people would rather leaf through a catalog than browse a website. Give potential shoppers multiple ways to connect with you. For example, a survey from BigResearch says that for 44 percent of shoppers, word of mouth is the biggest influence in their electronics purchases. And that’s for electronics shoppers, presumably the most wired of demographics.
But word of mouth may be hard to create, and retailers can control the environment of their stores. In-store marketing is a proven way to effectively connect with shoppers. In a survey of stores offering samples to customers, sampled products showed an average 475 percent cumulative sales boost on the day of the event. Over the course of 20 weeks after the samples were offered, sales of sampled products rose 74 percent.
Other old school ways to reach customers include circulars, loyalty programs, direct mail, and others. The key is to experiment, measure results, and use the methods, both tried and new, that work.