Brick and Mortar Retailers Should Embrace the Smartphone

What is showrooming?
People visiting and using a physical store as a showroom, so they can touch and feel the product, and then go buy on-line.  I have heard this term over and over again by independent retailers who are using it as an excuse for their declining business. In reality, more people actually research on-line first and then go to purchase in-store.

Many independent retailers are scared of the smartphone and what they think that means for them and their business.  In actual fact, knowing that the smartphone is a permanent connection between the retailer and the consumer they should be embracing it. Smartphones allow an exchange of feedback and conversation with each other.

5 Suggestions on how to use this knowledge to your advantage:

  1. People research product on-line first, so make sure your website is up to date with product information including features, specs and pricing.
  2. Since people look at dealer locators and where to buy product, make sure your website is optimized so that customers can find you in the first place.
  3. Have a newsletter signup bar on your website to help grow your database so that you can keep your customers informed about new arrivals and brand promotions.
  4. Keep your social media accounts up to date and make sure that you respond regularly to people who tweet/chat about you and their in-store experience.
  5. Make it easy for your customers to research product right in your store, with the use of tools such as QR codes and Blippar apps.

These are just a couple ideas on how making it easy to do business with you will keep your customers coming back for more.

Two Tips For An Effective Email Blast

Two tips that will help you plan out your next effective email blast:

1. Instead of a “Buy Now Sales Pitch” give information that gives a reason to buy your product or service.

Example 1: A B2B case study would be great way to show how a product or service can affect a company’s ROI.

Example 2: Show how your product or service addresses an issue or concern that has been publicly voiced in your industry.

2. Instead of reaching out to new people, focus on your current customer base no matter how small you believe your database is. Often times your current customers don’t know ALL the services or products that you have to offer.

The following is a good example of an email blast that followed the 2 above tips to great success.

An Effective Email Blast _ Allerion Oilfield Services

An Effective Email Blast _ Allerion Oilfield Services


Attention To Details Convert Consumers To Fans

I love when a brand takes the extra time to pay attention to the little details that allow a customer to continually make small discoveries about the brand. A brand should consider how they can make each consumer touch point a unique experience.

The online buying experience from storytelling through shopping cart checkout to the delivery should be memorable. BUT the brand experience should not stop there. What happens after Fed Ex drops off the package at your door?

A great example of the ongoing discovery is “Johnny Cupcakes“. I am not going to expand into the history of this lifestyle brand – I will let you explore the website and discover the story on your own.

First, the package was not your typical brown box, but a custom bag with fun illustrations. Once opened, the tissue paper was not only branded but expertly creased and folded. Inside the tissue was a “freshly sealed” bag ensuring that the product was not ruined during shipment. A couple stickers were tucked inside as a little extra gift.

Johnny Cupcake Delivery Packaging

Johnny Cupcake Delivery Packaging

The attention to detail though does not stop there. Check out the hangtag with retro design that emphasizes the bakery theme.

Johnny Cupcake Hangtag

Johnny Cupcake Hangtag













I absolutely love the use of the oven mitt and rolling pin to continue along the same theme. Bon Appetit!

Johnny Cupcake Neck Tags

Johnny Cupcake Neck Tags

There are so many more details, but I don’t want to ruin all the surprises that this one simple t-shirt holds.

At what point did I switch from being a customer to being a believer in the brand and becoming a serious fan?  The shipping bag had me intrigued. The hangtag had me wanting more. The oven mitt tag put me over the edge.

It doesn’t stop there…. check out Johnny Cupcake’s social media feeds to discover original content that speaks to their brand uniqueness!


“Do more of what makes you happy!” __Johnny Cupcake

Customer Service – A Valuable Marketing Tool

Many companies have the philosophy that “The Customer is Always Right”.  This is definitely not a true statement, as it is impossible to keep ALL customers happy ALL the time. What the philosophy statement should really be is “The Customer is Number One”, meaning it is about how the customer service team interacts with customers on an individual basis as well as how they resolve any issues that arise.

In many companies, the employees who spend the most time with customers are the lowest paid and most often have a high rate of turnover. Customer service reps should be given the authority to make decisions and be given a sense that what they do is an integral part of the business.

We have all had those experiences with customer service reps on the phone with big organizations that leave us feeling bruised and unheard. It becomes a reflection on the whole company and the practices that they have put in place.

HowMayI HelpYou

When an unhappy customer feels that they have been heard and their problem resolved, they will often tell others about the great service they encountered.

With the rise of social media, one wrong customer service move can be broadcast very quickly and can become very far-reaching. In my experience with brands that I work with, the reverse can also be true. If you provide great service and follow through on steps to resolve a situation, customers will reach out on social media to give kudos to organizations and brands.

Live Chat for online businesses are a great way to divert a near disaster by providing “Instant Help” solving any problem or discrepancy quickly and efficiently.

Always keeping in mind that the Customer is #1, will help determine how each situation should be handled to give the best brand experience. In the end, the customer service experience can be worth a lot more than spending marketing dollars on big advertising campaigns.

How Effective Are Event Sponsorships?

The traditional way for event organizers to sell sponsorships for their event is through logo placement on event marketing and banners. Unless you are big brand that people already know and love, this can leave a lot to be desired.

Think back to all the events you have attended and possibly even participated in. Do you remember who the title sponsor was, let alone the silver and bronze sponsors? A presenting sponsor generally has higher visibility with their logo as part of the event name, as well as on-site announcements.  Whereas an associate sponsor’s logo gets lost within any number of sponsors at the bottom of a website or banner.

TD Jazz Festival Homepage Screengrab

In Toronto, TD Canada Trust Bank has been a long time supporter of the Toronto Jazz Festival.  Yet, on the website itself, the TD logo is not even 1 cm in size and has no real presence throughout the site. The ‘official’ sponsors of the festival are listed on the “Sponsors Page”.  I have lived in Toronto for over 20 years and never realized that Panasonic, Hyundai, and Movado were also sponsors.

If a large brand continues their sponsorship of a specific event over many years, the name does become associated with the event. In Toronto, Scotiabank does this really well with their long-term partnerships with the Toronto Waterfront Marathon, and Nuit Blanche. Another great example is Mountain Dew. “The Dew Tour” has become such a well-known event that even my mother has heard of it.

Event partnerships should also make sense in terms of who their target market is. Monster Energy and Go Pro sponsoring Wakestock makes total sense. National Geographic sponsoring the Banff Film Festival is an obvious choice.

Recently a brand that I work closely with was approached to sponsor an event. In reading through the proposal though, I was stunned at the lack of creativity and value offered for such large price tags attached. My suggestion, that as a brand we would want to create a unique experience through some form of interactivity and engagement with the audience, was met with horror and immediate dismissal.

In Part Two – I will take a look at some creative sponsorships that provide a lasting impression on event participants.

Loyalty Programs That Create Repeat Customer Transactions

What does it take to create a loyal customer? Sometimes it goes beyond a great product and great customer service. Sometimes it involves the word “FREE”.

In the past, retailers such as Booster Juice or Hallmark Cards used a paper card with a manual stamp system, where if you bought a certain quantity, then you would get one free. Loyalty programs of more recent times are now computerized and infinitely more complex.

Shoppers Drug Mart’s Optimum points add up with every purchase with different levels equalling a certain dollar value allowing their customers to earn FREE purchases when redeemed in-store. The program allows them to host special events that allow customers to redeem less points for more reward. They also have promotions that give customers the chance to collect up to 20X the points on specific product allowing them to sell-through on slower product. Win-Win!

Indigo has 2 different programs with very different selling features. Plum Rewards is a free program that is similar to Shoppers Optimum where you collect points to be redeemed for a specific dollar value in-store or on-line. Whereas their iRewards program has an annual fee, but you get instant gratification with a percentage off books, magazines or gifts.

Even service companies can give added value benefits through loyalty programs if it is a service that can be frequently used. which is an online ordering meal delivery service across Canada has a program called GO Points. Every order earns the client points to be put towards free meals.

Every industry seems to have their own program, and the travel industry is no exception. Hotel chains such as Hilton HHonors allow their guests to collect points to be used for future stays. Aeroplan not only allows you to collect points through travel, but through a whole host of partners. This also works in the reverse and allows the user to redeem the points for flights, hotels and for partner products.

For businesses that don’t want the headaches of creating their own loyalty program, they can partner with Air Miles who charges a fee, but who does all the work for them.

At the end of the day, each business is looking for new and innovative ways to keep their customers coming back to them, instead of going to their competitors.

Why Are Analytics and Metrics So Important To Your Business?

We had a client the other day say they weren’t interested in metrics and analytics and who felt that it would be a wasted effort and cost.  They were not scared to spend the marketing dollars, but felt that it was a necessary evil that had to be done whether they knew the specifics of what was working or not.

Analytics and Metrics are important for 2 reasons:

1. Knowing what is working well could mean that you shift more focus on what is working to reap higher rewards.

For example, by tracking your lead conversion, you might discover that social media generates more hot sales leads than adwords which are costing you hundreds or thousands a month. It would make sense to shift your dollars and focus your time on social media instead.

2. Knowing what is NOT working means you can look for and fix any issues or change your strategy to something that will work better.

For example, if you track the behaviour on your website, you might see that traffic seems to always exit on a specific page that has a call to action. Without analysing your metrics you would never know that there was an error. In most cases, it will be an easy, quick fix of a broken link. In the worst case scenario, you may discover that you need to re-evaluate your call to action.

Taking the extra time to analyse your metrics can only help your business succeed in the future.