Whether you’re talking about Starbucks, Walmart, IBM, Microsoft, or any other wildly successful corporation, you have to admit that something they’re doing is working in a big way. Starbucks doesn’t give out coupons, use punch cards, or advertise on radio or TV. Yet it continues to be one of the biggest business success stories of this generation. Its marketing is actually quite subtle, yet hundreds of thousands of people flock to purchase coffee, food, and retail items there every day.
How can you apply some simple, practical marketing strategies in your business that mirror those used by large, successful corporations? It’s easier than you think, and costs less than you would imagine. The following marketing strategies come from research conducted with employees of some of those companies. Not surprising, each strategy has to do with recognizing your employees and their potential impact on your marketing. It’s a first step toward shifting your thinking “inside out”. They are easy to implement, and can have huge implications for your business profit.
Provide great employee discounts
Although on the surface this doesn’t look like a great marketing strategy, take a moment to think about it. Your employees are your best marketing tool. If you make it easy for them to shop at your store, they become walking, talking advertising campaigns for your business. If you own a retail clothing store and only offer your employees a 5 or 10% employee discount, chances are they’ll find similar items in another store for less.
What incentive do they have to buy it from you? But if you offer them a 30-40% discount, they have greater motivation to shop at your store, and when other people notice their clothing, your store gets the credit. Not to mention, the more of your products they try and buy, the better equipped they are to sell them to customers.
Give your employees free stuff from your store
Again, on the surface, you may be thinking “that will cost me a fortune”, but it doesn’t have to be high cost items. If once a month you provided your staff (or even selected members of your staff – be creative with how you choose who gets the take home prize of the month), with a small item from your store, or business, it will go a long way toward building loyalty in your staff, and also getting your staff to try the things you sell when they may otherwise not do so. It’s free advertising.
Your employees have friends and families, and they have a huge influence on their buying decisions. Say you own a computer store. Consider that everyone who works at your store has a large network of people who come to them with questions about computer equipment simply because they work at your store. If they don’t know anything about what you sell, they won’t be influencing their friends to shop with you. In fact, they may be a negative influence on your store. On the other hand, if last month, they won a particular piece of hardware that has doubled their computer speed and efficiency, and as a result, they can speak confidently about how this changed their computing experience, how different do you think their discussions and advice to their friends and your customers will be?
Allow your employees to have input in your marketing plans
Strong companies know their employees are their best window to the market. They know, often better than management, what customers want, what they’re talking about, what they need. Give them the opportunity to have input in your marketing decisions, and reward good ideas. And don’t be afraid to implement those ideas! It will show employees their contribution is valued, and allows them to see the impact of being invested in your business. Not every idea will work, but the more of them you try, the more likely you’ll find ones that do.
Reward your employees for hard work and loyalty
Successful companies value their employees and demonstrate that to them. Whether it’s monetary rewards, company retreats, an occasional paid day off – people love being acknowledged for their hard work. It makes them happier on the job, and this positive attitude affects customer decisions. Not only does it motivate them to work even harder, but they tell people what a great employer you are. This motivates their circle of potential buyers to seriously consider purchasing from you. Potential customers assume that if you treat your employees that well, you’ll treat them well too.
Work on developing your team
Smart, successful businesses put a lot of money and energy into building their teams because they know a strong team is the foundation for a strong business. Professional development and training, teambuilding meetings and retreats, and team-oriented activities on a day-to-day basis strengthen your business. People who genuinely enjoy working together reflect that to customers, and customers enjoy their experience in your business even more when that team spirit is evident.
Your employees are the first ring in your marketing circle. Sell to them first, and you’ll find greater success in selling to your customers. Consider them as part of your marketing strategy and you’ll see big results.
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