Weighing the Pros and Cons of Small Business Holiday Sales Strategies

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The holiday season is an ideal time to reflect on what your small business has accomplished throughout the year, but it’s also an opportune time to leverage the holiday promotional season in order to drive new leads, increase sales and build brand awareness.

The latest article featured on PR Newswire’s Small Business PR Toolkit helps small business owners determine if a holiday sales strategy makes sense for their business by weighing the pros and cons of participating in Black Friday, Small Business Saturday or Cyber Monday.

Black Friday is the Friday after Thanksgiving holiday, and is a shopping tradition that can be traced back to the 60s and many large retail operations use this day to run their in-store sales promotions. The main advantage is that shoppers are out on the street and looking to take advantage of sales promotions. Small Businesses are also at an advantage because they have a smaller infrastructure that allows you to personalise your customer service and even follow-up post sale.As for cons, there is a lot of noise and small businesses may get lost in the shuffle.

Another holiday is Small Business Saturday, which is a holiday that was officially recognised by he US Congress in 2015, but its roots go back to American Express who wanted to draw attention to the mom-and-pop brick and mortar stores serving local communities.

Its pros are that it offers a good alternative to not get lost in the Black Friday commotion. Sending promotional materials to loyal customers ahead of time can be a relatively easy endeavor that has a high level of return.
In terms of cons: while this day bolsters local shops, you are asking customers to come back out again and there may be some hesitation on their side.

For the remaining discussion on weighing the pros and cons of participating in Cyber Monday as a small business, read the remainder of Wied’s article here: http://bit.ly/1Lqz2pc

Digital Marketing Now Mainstream, Survey Reveals

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Digital marketing is now mainstream, and digital commerce is a top priority for marketers, according to a survey of marketing executives by Gartner, Inc. The survey also found that marketing budgets increased 10 percent in 2015, with 61 percent of respondents saying they expect budgets to increase again in 2016.

These findings form part of Gartner’s 2015-2016 Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) Spend Survey that included responses from business leaders responsible for marketing — in particular, digital marketing — in 339 large and extra-large companies in North America and the U.K. Respondents represent organisations with more than $500 million in annual revenue across seven industries: financial services, high tech, manufacturing, consumer packaged goods (CPG), media, retail and transportation/hospitality. The survey took place between May and July 2015 and marks the fourth year that Gartner has surveyed marketers on spending priorities and marketing operations.

“There is little doubt that digital marketing is now mainstream,” said Yvonne Genovese, group vice president at Gartner. “Marketers no longer make a clear distinction between offline and online marketing disciplines. As customers opt for digitally led experiences, digital marketing stops being a discrete discipline and instead becomes the context for all marketing. Digital marketing is now marketing in a digital world.”

Ten percent of marketers say they have moved beyond digital marketing techniques and are expanding marketing’s role to create new digitally led business models. The blurring of the physical and digital worlds represents opportunities for marketers to apply customer insights to create and test new digitally led experiences and business models. Digital commerce is surging, capturing 11 percent of the digital marketing budget (up from 8 percent in 2014) as marketers become more accountable for driving results.

“The rise in digital commerce is an opportunity for marketers,” said Jake Sorofman, research vice president at Gartner. “There was a time when marketing and selling were two distinct disciplines. In many cases, digital merges these two into a single, continuous activity from initial awareness, through engagement, conversion, transaction and repeat purchase. Marketers can now tie spend to revenue. In fact, it’s becoming a mandate.”

Two main factors are driving marketers’ interest in digital commerce: the need to point to tangible results from marketing investments, and the recognition that companies need more than a commerce platform to sell. In the past, we’ve seen digital commerce operations wholly disconnected from the marketing engine. Today, we’re seeing integration between marketing and digital commerce as two parts of a single discipline, where marketers bring everything from content marketing and brand storytelling to advanced analytics and multichannel campaign management to optimize digital commerce across channels.

B2C companies have long been considered more sophisticated in digital commerce, but we’re seeing growing appetite by B2B companies under pressure to reach customers directly with digital commerce initiatives. They are looking to engage customers directly to better understand their needs, preferences and behaviours.

As CMOs face the digital transition, the survey showed that overall marketing budgets are on the rise. This year, 61 percent of respondents said that marketing spending will be, on average, 11 percent of company revenue, up from 10 percent of company revenue last year. That one percentage point change represents a sizable increase — 10 percent, year over year — in marketing spend.

“Bigger budgets, however, come with sizable expectations,” said Mr. Sorofman. “Marketing is expected to drive profitable growth through the acquisition, retention and expansion of the most valuable customer relationships. As customer buying journeys and customer expectations expand, so, too, does marketing’s scope of responsibility. As a result, the marketing remit now often includes driving broad-mandate customer experience, digital commerce and innovation initiatives.”

Providing an Outstanding Customer Experience is the key to Success, claims Omnilotus

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London-based customer acquisition specialists Omnilotus believes that providing an outstanding customer experience is the key to success.

Customers are the life-line of every business; every business needs customers in order to succeed. Customer acquisition specialists and experts in dealing with people, Omnilotus, has claimed that providing an outstanding customer experience is key to success and they has outlined its reasoning behind this recent claim. 

With businesses getting between 60 to 70 per cent of their income from existing customers, making sure those customers are satisfied with their experience is the key to achieving success.

“Many companies focus too much of their attention on acquiring new customers, and while this is important, they should invest an equal amount of time and effort to make sure their existing customers are happy and that their needs are being met,” said a spokesperson from Omnilotus. 

Bad customer service can be fatal. Research indicates that it can take 12 good service experiences to make up for just one bad experience, and that is only able to happen if the customer sticks around and provides the company with an opportunity to rectify the situation. 

At Omnilotus, they put customer service at the top of their agenda. They invest a vast amount of time and energy into customer service training as they believe that customer service is the number one priority.  “Get the customer experience right and profits will take care of themselves as a result,” said a spokesperson for the firm. 

In a world where there is so much choice for consumers, customers are no longer loyal to brands like they once were, and they will seek out the best deals. Omnilotus believes that the key to retaining and acquiring customers is getting the customer experience right first time. 

London based sales and promotions specialists, Omnilotus believe face-to-face marketing is the most effective way to provide an outstanding customer experience. The human element is something that isn’t utilised by many firms. In an economic climate where consumer confidence continues to fall, Omnilotus is using brands to use direct and interactive marketing strategies to enhance their customer experience and simultaneously build brand loyalty and improve customer retentions. 

Omnilotus is an outsourced sales and marketing firm based in London. The firm specialises in a personalised form of marketing whereby they connect with consumers directly, on behalf of their clients’ brands. Omnilotus works closely alongside their clients in order to determine their goals and target markets. Then, the firm develops unique campaigns that reflect these needs and take them directly to consumers via face-to-face marketing methods. This helps to create long-lasting connections between brand and consumer as well as increases customer acquisition, brand awareness and brand loyalty for their clients.

SMEs need to re-think their social media strategies

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GB Marketing Enterprise believes that social media is either misused or underused in business, and offers insight into creating a valuable marketing tool.

Social media is a valuable marketing tool when used correctly. A platform to create exposure and encourage customer engagement in a single space should never be overlooked, believes GB Marketing Enterprise. A lack of understanding appears to be the main issue, and with all marketing strategies, tailoring is required to suit a campaign or business model. 

It is important for businesses to identify all social media platforms and their specific markets that they attract. For example, a LinkedIn network would not use the same approach as a Facebook strategy but both hold advantages for business use. Factors to consider when targeting a specific platform include:

  • Age of active platform users – For example the strongest category for this site is adults aged 18–29, as 87% of this age group use Facebook.
  • Location demographics – Understanding platform dominance in a location is crucial for budget allocation. 
  • Income demographics – One important thing to consider is the income level of various segment targets.
  • Gender demographics –Which platform holds gender dominance? Twitter holds a dominance on male foot flow over social media platforms. 24% of adult men use Twitter.

GB Marketing Enterprise believes that all SMEs can benefit from using social media to assist customer engagement. With the increasing need for the consumer to feel heard, and feel included in the brands they select, it is an effective tool for marketers. By understanding both the consumer and the platform it can be an essential tool to take a business to the next level. The data required to select the correct platform or to achieve optimal results is available online for all to use.