Why to your retail store foot traffic is dropping and how to bring customers in

Getting foot traffic to retail stores is harder than ever. These are unique ways to attract customers to your shop.

Chocolate cookies can increase retail store foot traffic.
Chocolate cookies can increase retail stores foot traffic.

You know your sales go up the more your retail store foot traffic increases, but store visits are at an all-time low? Is everyone shopping for everything online now? Yes, they are.  71% of shoppers believe they’ll find better deals online.

The good news is that shoppers do still want an in-person experience as part of their buying process. And 94% of retail sales are still credited to brick-and-mortar stores. The bad news is that most retail shop owners are failing to create the experiences that attract customers to their location. With over 5,000 stores closed this year, can local retailers compete with e-commerce giant Amazon?
Want more creative ways to attract customers to your retail store? Download this free guide.

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Everything is different now. So here’s a list of unique ideas for retailers to boost foot traffic and increase sales in their brick-and-mortar stores.

Create curb appeal that increase retail store foot traffic

Humans are visual beings and it’s no secret that attractive and well-kept spaces invite people in, literally and figuratively. Use flowers and landscaping to create a store front so beautiful, people stop what they’re doing to come inside and check it out.

A compelling window display, like showing how a product is made can do wonders to grab the attention of people walking or driving by. The human brain is trained to detect movement, so an active demo can draw consumers into your retail store.

Bricks and mortar stores can offer amenities that online stores cannot

We’ve all had the experience of our phone charge being on single digits with no charging options in site. A unique, inexpensive and extremely valuable service you can provide customers is a charging stations. Promote this outside with a fun sign and you’ll draw people in easily. Plus, they’ll stay until their phones get a decent charge and the longer customers spend in your store, the more likely they are to purchase.

Offer ways your customers can recharge their personal “batteries” with a hydration station. Everyone needs water and if you add more options, like, tea, coffee and snacks, people will naturally want to step inside your shop. Attract more retail store foot traffic with chocolate chip cookies, granola and hot cocoa.

Have you ever been to a luxury car dealer and visited the customer lounge? Acura offers Starbuck coffee, water, sodas, fresh cookies, chocolate, chips, fruit and more. Lexus kicks it up a notch with a customer lounge experience that feels more like the VIP Admiral’s club than a car dealership. They have lots of seating with charging stations and a coffee and pastry bar that rivals any patisserie. Customers order the beverage and baked goodies of their choice and receive them at no charge. Sometimes there’s even a charming gift shop available for perusing while you wait.

The secret to increasing foot traffic to your retail store is to provide an amazing experience that makes customers want to come in and stay. It is all about creating incredibly positive customer experiences. And retail stores can do that so much better than e-commerce stores. Are you up for it?

Get the secret recipe for bringing more foot traffic into your retail store. FREE Guide!
Get the secret recipe for bringing more foot traffic into your retail store. FREE Guide!

Customer experience is the brand, so keep it warm and fuzzy

“Good real-time marketing doesn’t feel like marketing, but feels like a favor enhancing the relationship.” I like that. It sounds so…nice. All warm and cozy. Like a friendship I get to choose. And that’s the point, really. A great customer experience builds the know, like and trust factor.

As a human being, I like to choose with whom I spend my time…and my money. I feel much happier and open to companies who provide a nice, warm, fuzzy customer experience. But, this is the competitive world of a global economy, so how do we measure ROI for customer relationship building efforts?  Ted Rubin’s post on Loyalty Lab blog, “Real-Time Marketing: 4 Best Practice Examples of Getting It Right at the Right Time“, highlights four executives who got this right. He said, “Customer loyalty programs that engage the proper context and allow customers to feel control over the message, leads to an emotional attachment between the customer and the brand. Wwhich is at the very core of a Return on Relationship.”

Create an easy Customer Experience (CX).

Make it simple for me to find what I’m looking for. And if you have a useful suggestion, as Amazon always does, I will consider it and feel grateful for your help. If you make me feel like I’m being pressured or pushed in a specific direction, I’ll leave and likely never return.

Make an emotional connection with me. Safe, happy and valued feelings make me much more likely to buy from your company. Building a warm connection with customers goes a long way towards building loyalty.

Crafting the right marketing message to me at the right time is crucial to earning my business. Because that’s how you will earn my trust and my loyalty. Companies collect and analyze the big data generated by their customers online and in social media. Next, they use that information to understand what offers to make and to whom, and when to make them. And t hat’s real time marketing and it delivers real ROI.

The 4 selling tips small business owners must use to avoid failure

Which steps must you take or face business failure? This post includes the four selling tips small business owners need to follow so they can rock their success. Skip these at the risk of your own peril.

Starting and running a business is challenging! Business owners wear so many hats and have so much to do every day. While it’s essential for entrepreneurs to do many things well, I’ll give you the bullet points for the sales essentials you need to use to ensure success.

(Interested in more sales tips for small business owners? Download this free ebook, “From Cold to Sold” and get 17 sales secrets.)

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The selling tips small business owners are smartest to use are efficient and useful.

Have a selling plan

The importance of having a plan cannot be understated. And the good news is, it doesn’t have to be complicated. Without a plan, all the other selling tips for small business owners are wasted. Author Katherin Peterson famously said, “a dream wihout a plan is just a wish”.

SMB owners can keep the sales plan simple, for a start. Have one place where all leads and customer information is kept. This can be a CRM or an Excel spreadsheet. Create sales goals, even if you’re guestimating. 

Also, have an idea of how many opportunities you’ll need to close to reach this goal. Start with a specific target number of phone calls or in-person appointments. As you close sales, track how many prospects you contact for each sale. It’s also helpful for seeing how much follow up is required to close the sale. This is highly valuable data you can use to continue refining your selling plan. 

Know your unique selling propostion

Most likely, you’re famliar with this term. But unique selling proposition (USP) is still too YOU-centric. Like it or not, humans are ME-centric, which means the best way to make your product appeal to your prospect is to make the USP about THEM. This comes down to what does your product or service do for your client? A “value proposition” is the customer-centric version of the USP. 

Don’t even pick up the phone until you have a clear understanding of what your service or product does FOR your customer. What pain does is alleviate? Which problem does it solve? How does it remove fear? Understanding the value your offering delivers to prospects is essential to grabbing and keeping attention. No one has any interest in hearing descriptions of a product when they see nothing in it for them.

Sales techniques that focus on the prospect

Listen to customer’s needs

Asking questions and listening is powerful for building rapport and for discovering your customer’s needs. More about how much about the prospect your selling process must be. And guess what? People love talking about themselves, so getting your customers talking is easier than you might think.

Listening to customer needs also serves to further qualify what’s important to them and how they want to communicate. Which provides invaluable insight for tailoring your offer specifically to what your potential client wants. Thus increasing your likelihood of closing this sale.

Ask for the sale

Sound ridiculous? You’d be surprised how often this doesn’t happen. A common challenge facing small business owners is fear of rejection. Actually, this is a common problem for even the most seasoned salespeople.  Toss that fear of rejection out the door. If you’ve done a good job of qualifying your prospect, then you know if they have a problem you can solve. Simply ask if they want you to help solve it for them.

These are the top 4 selling tips small business owners need to use to ensure success. The list of others sales and customer retention techniques and  is endless, but these are the most important ones, in my opinion.

From Cold to Sold! 17 Selling tips small business owners can use to explode their sales
From Cold to Sold! 17 Selling tips small business owners can use to explode their sales

Why a Lack of Good Corporate Social Responsibility Is Killing Your Business

Good Corporate Social Responsibility is no longer a nice-to-have. In fact, companies who want to grow MUST practice good Corporate Social Responsibility, aka, CSR. Those brands who don’t face losing sales.

Driven by millennials who prefer to do business with brands who have ethical and sustainable business standards, the recipe for sales and marketing success changed dramatically. So now, all generations have an increased expectation that companies who want to earn their business must practice sustainability. Is your brand adapting, or dying?

Millennials (and other generations too) are looking for four major qualities in socially responsible companies. Download the checklist here for free.

According to findings from the 2015 Cone Communications Millennial CSR Study, “More than nine-in-10 Millennials would switch brands to one associated with a cause (91% vs. 85% U.S. average). Two-thirds use social media to engage around CSR (66% vs. 53% U.S. average).” Because of these factors, companies not yet engaging in good corporate social responsibility are losing sales.

Practicing Good Corporate Social Responsibility Is Great for Business

In 2015, Nielson published its annual Global Corporate Sustainability Report. It indicated that, globally, 66% of consumers are willing to spend more on a product if it comes from a sustainable brand. 73% of surveyed millennials indicating a similar preference. Additionally, 81% of millennials evexpect their favorite companies to make public declarations of their corporate citizenship.”

As John Mackey, the CEO of Whole Foods puts it:

“The whole corporate social responsibility ideal is trying to graft something onto the old profit maximization model. Now more than ever, we need is a transformation [in] the way we think about business, what it’s based on. People want businesses to do good in the world. It’s that simple…. We now need a deeper, fundamental reform in the essence of business.”

So, traditional advertising won’t work with Millennials. Conveying CSR efforts to Millennials requires authenticity, and a unique approach. Since Millennials grew up with the Internet, they want their voices heard. And they expect a two-way, open dialogue with companies and their brands.

Millennials and many of the customers from other generations want to buy from companies who give back.  As a result, brands who want to attract more customers and keep existing ones need to have a good corporate social responsibility program.

Good Corporate Social Responsibility - Free Checklist Download
Good Corporate Social Responsibility – Free Checklist Download

 

13 powerful strategies to increase customer retention

Customer retention strategies deliver highest ROI
Customer retention strategies deliver highest ROI

Question: What is the source of highest profit sales? Most likely, it’s your current and past customers. Next question: What is your customer retention process?

You’ve already attracted these customers to your brand, built the know, like and trust factor and earned a purchase from them. You successfully converted a lead to a paying customer. And it cost you money to do that. Maybe a lot of money. How much less expensive is it to keep good customers than acquire new ones?

Download the free Lifetime Total Customer Value calculator so you can get the maximum ROI from each customers this month.

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A good customer retention plan has amazing ROI.

In an article posted on Entreprenuer.com, Eric Sui said,  “According to Bain & Company, it costs 7X more to attract new customers than it does to keep them. Additionally, if you retain just 5% of your customers annually, you can generate up to 125 percent more profits. Retention strategies truly pay off in the long run and help you build a sound business over time.”

I’ve outlined 13 keys you must have for your customer retention funnel to be effective so you can score more sales.

1. Make retention a top priority.

Prioritize the highest ROI activity your company does, which is most likely customer retention.

2. Measure life time value of customers.

Determine the life time value (LTV) of your average customers. The additional purchases, upgrades, replacements and referrals they send to you add up to a much bigger dollar amount than just the first purchase they make. Download this free LTV calculator here.

3. Provide amazing customer service

Have you noticed that even the cable companies want to “delight customers”? They finally get the importance of keeping current customers happy because it’s way less expensive to keep customers than to acquire new ones.

4. After the sale nurturing

Create a system for following up after the sale at regular intervals. Depending on your business, that may be a week after the sale or a month. Pay attention to how your customers are engaging with your brand, it’s product and services. Respond quickly to customers. Always. A good customer retention funnel has as process that everyone who touches the customers uses to continue nurturing the relationship after the sale. Continue delivering high value content and service and you’ll score more sales.

5. Budget for customer retention marketing

Since the ROI on keeping customers is so much higher than on acquiring new ones, it makes sense to assign some budget to marketing efforts aimed at retention.

6. CRM

Without a good CRM, your customers may be on the business end of an ill-timed phone call from an inside sales rep pitching an upsell, when that customer is currently threatening to leave if a dire problem isn’t solved. Not a good customer retention play.

Since the beginning of CRM time, having a 360 degree view of the customer so that companies could avoid this type of mistake has been the goal. You can’t manage an effective customer retention funnel without a good CRM.

7. Communicate frequently

Your customers want to feel valuable after they’ve spent money with you. Communicate with them frequently to show you care. Birthday greetings, holiday messages, news and updates are great ways to show them you care. Remember to only email customers who have opted into your email list.

8. Engage on social media

Social media is the equal opportunity soap box everyone can use to rave or complain about their experiences with a company. Monitor social media and quickly respond to any complaint. Also, quickly thank customers who sing your praises. You can also use social media to ask your customers about what’s important to them and nurture relationships.

9. Convert complaints into opportunities

Everyone remembers the companies that handle their complaints with such concern for making the situation gone wrong into an experience that feels right. It’s interesting that what’s memorable is how great it felt to the customer that the brand went above and beyond to solve the problem, and not what went wrong in the first place. Be a hero to your customers when they complain and watch that same customer become your advocate.

10. Create a customer loyalty program

Rewarding customers for their patronage is a great way to develop their loyalty. Provide added value, special promos or offers that your customers want. The rewards need to be easy to earn and redeem. Keep things simple. Score more sales by rewarding your current customers and nurturing them to send referrals.

11. Host an event

Show your customer appreciation by hosting an event. An open house, after hours event or guest lectures can provide powerful incentives for your customers to spend more time with your company. Having fun and feeling valued has a way of bonding people tighter together. Events work whether they are virtual, like a podcast or live, like an open office social gathering.

12. Corporate social responsibility

Many customers choose to buy from brands that give back over brands that don’t. If your company already has a corporate social responsibility (CSR) program, share progress and successes with your customers. If not, get one. Select a cause that is consistent with your brand and aligns with your customers’ values and interests.

13. Upsell and resell

Since you’re paying attention to how your customers are using the products or services they purchased from your company, you’ll know what’s important to them. When the time is right, offer and upgrade or replacement product that has high value and will help your customer achieve their goals.

Email marketing with calls to action and free demos or trials, just like regular marketing campaigns. Incent the customer to try new add ons, upgrades and eventually replacement purchases, in some industries.

Lifetime Value of Customer Calculator
Lifetime Value of Customer Calculator

 

Why getting referrals is harder than ever – how to get them now

Getting referrals is harder than it used to be. If 87% of happy customers intend to refer, why don’t they? What happened? Media changed, culture changed and how people interact has changed. We receive 105,000 words in 12 waking hours- 23 words per second! With 34 gigabytes a DAY coming in to us, our brains are full.

People have a hard time remembering everything they need to do for their own business. So they can’t remember to do something for your business too. Like send you a referral. And this is the problem – Getting top of mind awareness is harder than ever. The solution is to have a simple process for asking for referrals – and use it.

Download my free 3-step plan for getting more referrals.

We are competing with more messages than ever. Even when people INTEND to refer, they often forget. Successful businesses use an easy to follow process to convert those good intentions into sales.

Getting referrals isn’t just good for our business

Here’s the thing about getting referrals – it’s a way people give too. People love to help other people. And they love being a go-to resource for their friends. Who are we to deny them the joy of sending their friends to us?

People naturally enjoy connecting with others we know, like and trust. We rely on our relationships with others for referrals and recommendations. We feel good about ourselves when we help each other and when we are a resource others seek for recommendations.

In his blog post, “87% of your customers will give referral, if you just ask“, Michael Boyett suggests asking “for a specific introduction. Example: ‘Bill, I’ve wanted to connect with Martha Smith but haven’t had much success. You mentioned working with her. Would you be willing to introduce me to her?’

You know Bill knows Martha, so you are not wasting Bill’s time, but asking to connect. Think of the time and energy you’ll save.”

Ask for the introduction and if it’s appropriate, ask for the referral. Embed this into your customer experience and watch your business grow.

Whatever method you use for getting referrals, I encourage you to include these key elements:

  • Commit to consistently executing the plan
  • Hold yourself accountable
  • Regularly evaluate your referral process and improve it
Getting referrals can be as easy as 123
Download free 3-step template for turning on the flow of referrals from happy customers.

 

 

What is the lack of soft skills in millennials costing us?

We hear it often. “Millennials make eye contact. They don’t respect authority. They don’t show up on time.” Why? What happened? And how is this lack of soft skills impacting our culture and our businesses?

Millennials who have great soft skills have a huge advantage over their peers who do not.  Studies, reports and articles emerge weekly about the severity of the challenges that employers have with hiring and managing a generation that lacks people skills. That means that members of the most tech savvy generation who have solid soft skills have a serious competitive advantage in the job market.

In his recent post, “Is Lack of Soft Skills Hindering Millennials’ Careers?,” Kevin Howell cited several studies that indicate the answer is “Yes”.

Lack of soft skills is holding back Millennials in their careers

It’s such a chronic and acute problem, that, according to a recent McKinsey study, “40 percent of employers said they have difficulty filling vacancies because younger workers lack soft skills, such as communication, teamwork, and punctuality. A PayScale survey found similar results, with managers highlighting leadership and ownership as skills that Millennials lack.”

What’s the cause of this lackluster skill set? Too much focus on STEM education and job? Maybe. Too much screen time? Perhaps. Some studies have shown that “social anxiety with face-to-face interaction increases with the amount of time spent online.”

“Regardless of the reason young workers struggle with soft skills, companies have to deal with it. Addressing the skills shortfall in the workplace means tailoring training and development toward those needs.”

And that means that soft skills training for millennials needs three things:

  • To be valued by millennials
  • Fun for them to learn
  • Include a lot of practice

Changing behaviors is hard and humans resist it. Shifting the way millennials interact in person is not going to be easy. Success will require engaging training, practice and accountability along the way.

This generation grew up with digital media and video games and they like activities to be fun. Gamifying soft skills training is essential to hold their attention.

Practicing new skills and repeating them often is how people skills behavior will change.

How to accelerate lead nurturing and turn on the flow of referrals

Part 2 of the Secret Weapon: Referral partners can amplify your sales.

You’ve asked, listened and begun nurturing those new contacts. Awesome! Want to learn what will speed the relationship developing process along faster so you can convert contacts into referral partners?

Here’s how to crank up your list of referral partners: Follow up until they “Buy or Die”!

80% of sales require seven follow-ups (and that number keeps climbing)   [Source: Scripted]
44% of salespeople give up after one follow-up  [Source: The Marketing Donut]

So, if you’re an entrepreneur looking to attract more clients, these numbers are eye-opening. This means it’s likely your competition won’t follow up as often as you will if you commit to five times. BOOM! Advantage, you!

Download the free 3 Step Plan to get more referral partners.

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If you’re a job seeker, this underscores the importance of persistence. While no one wants to be a pest, it’s in your best interest to follow up multiple times. Some HR experts say, “Follow up until they buy or die.”
People are just too busy to remember who they talked to and what action they promised. Those who rely on new contacts to do the follow-up are guaranteed disappointing results. Instead, proactive professionals who make a point to reconnect after introductions impress and succeed.

Staying connected is how you’ll nurture and build this relationship, so call or email with a brief message about how much you enjoyed talking with them and that you’d like to stay in touch. Mention something specific they talked about. Ask what social media they prefer and connect with them on those channels. LinkedIn is a given for most professionals, but find out if they like Instagram, Facebook, Twitter or Pinterest also. Most people have a couple of go-to channels they like.

People are more likely to respond to social media than an email, so take advantage of that and meet them where they are. Showing social love to your contacts will accelerate you rapidly towards your goal of accumulating referral partners to grow your business. Public admiration and validation is pure gold!

Check out my post “5 ways to get free leads on LinkedIn” and “Promote Your Business with Instagram” for specific tips.
You now have a platform for nurturing that new business relationship and expanding your network. Repost things they post, make comments (positive and insightful) and make sure you do it within the first week, and then every couple of weeks after that.
Network like a pro and watch the job opportunities and sales flow in, right? There’s a little more to it than that, of course. Once you have the strong referral network in place, you need to know how to ask for the referrals.

When you’re ready to build a full pipeline of referral partners, consider a the RAISE online sales course.

Learn more about RAISE online course

Ready to give yourself a RAISE?

I recently presented my R.A.I.S.E. method for relationship building to increase income at the Texas Women in Business meeting at Austin Country Club. Get out your pen and get ready to take some notes. This is a really powerful system that works outrageously well to increase sales revenue, so you can give yourself a R.A.I.S.E.! Discover how to build relationship and financial wealth.

Schedule your FREE sales coaching session!

So if you’re wondering how to increase sales or give yourself a RAISE, watch this 3 minutes video and take me up on the offer for a free coaching session.  Investing even 15 minutes in your success can have a massive impact on your business and your life. YOU are worth it!

Write Subject Lines That Get Your Emails Opened

Subject lines determine whether people click of don’t, so they matter. A lot! I recently created an email campaign for one of my clients and we saw very strong open rates, which has everything to do with great subject lines and brand name recognition. For this particular campaign, we were inviting the recipients to an event. Our  most effective subject line was:

You’re invited! [Company Name] [Event]

Subject line determines open rate
The email subject line makes or breaks your email marketing success rate.

Subject Line Determines Email Open Rates

It’s pretty important to find the optimal subject lines. Who cares how brilliant your email is if no one ever sees it? Test, test and test. Try different subject lines and track open rate performance. It’s almost shocking what a difference the subject line makes!

Some good subject line formulas:

  • Your Guide to [Industry-Related Topic]
  • How To Get the Most Out of [Product/Service]
  • 5 Tips to Extend the Life of Your [Product/Service]

Another technique that motivates readers to open emails is calling out the hot industry topics. Of course, any good marketer is creating content that address the issues that are top of mind for their prospects, so including those terms in the subject line should be automatic.

Read more on how to improve your open rates immediately with this post from Amelia Showalter, on CXL.  Once you’ve figured out the formula for fabulous subject lines, you may be interested in learning more about writing wonderful emails. Check out this post “Anatomy of an Awful Email” for a guide on what not to do.

Oh, and don’t forget to optimize the emails and landing pages for mobile. With mobile device use continuing to rise, demand generation efforts need to be responsive as well. You know the numbers: According to a Google Survey, 61% of site visitors using mobile device are likely to leave a site that’s not optimized for mobile. With a third or more emails being opened on tablets and smart phones, marketers can’t afford to not optimize.