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.

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.

What Creates The Total Brand Experience?

Building relationships with retailers and consumers through multiple touch-points creates the TOTAL experience.

In-Store Displays: Floor or wall displays have been proven to  increase sales by upwards of 45% or more. Having a section that stands out from the clutter will have people looking at your product before the competitors.

Sales Tools and PKs: Kits and product knowledge sessions for the floor staff gives the tools and education they need to sell your product. Creating sales incentives keeps your brand and product top of mind with the sales team.

Seeding: Getting your product into the right hands will drive word of mouth business. For example if your product is for a specific industry such as Kayaking, develop relationships with Kayak instructors and organizations/clubs.

Co-op Advertising: Local advertising helps drive traffic into the retailer to find your product. Brands and retailers usually split the cost 50-50 up to 5% of their total bookings (orders). This is a great way to support your retailer and help drive sell-through.

Promotions: In-store contests or a Gift with Purchase (GWP) is a great way to introduce your brand or product to brand new customers as well as build brand loyalty.

Events: Creating an event in a community or at one of your retailers helps build brand awareness and brand loyalty.

Future blog posts will expand on each of these touch-points to give you ideas of what you can do create your TOTAL brand experience.

Product Sampling as a Marketing Strategy

Product sampling has long been a traditional way to introduce new people to product or to introduce a new product into the marketplace.

Sampling at a trade-show has traditionally been an effective way to introduce your product or new product to new people.  There are a few problems with this strategy though. One is the fact that many people at the trade-show may not be your target market, so you will have wasted your sample. Secondly, many people go to these shows just to collect the freebies and may not be willing to actually purchase the product at a later date.  Thirdly, there are often so many companies sampling products at trade-shows that your product may not stand out in the crowd.

Direct mail sampling can be very costly if you have a very targeted market. The other day I came home to see a BIG bag of cat food hanging on my front door knob. I don’t have a cat and will never own a cat. Most of my neighbours don’t have cats. This product was costly and a huge mistake on the part of the pet food maker. They needed to be a bit more strategic in their approach to reach their real end consumer.

Beer Sampler

To stand out from other product samples, you need to BE CREATIVE. Here are a couple ideas that will help your product get noticed by the right consumer:

Create Strategic Partnerships
Find a partner with the right audience for sampling so there is no wasted product or reach.

So for example, you are launching a mosquito repellent, but travelling to outdoor trade-shows across the country is too expensive and doesn’t match your strategy.  Create a partnership with organizations such as provincial parks or campgrounds, who will hand the samples out to everyone who purchases a park pass. This will come with a fee of course, but you are reaching people who are spending time in the outdoors and will likely try the product out within minutes of receiving it. If the product lives up to its claims, those same people are likely to go to their local store to purchase it for their next outdoor or camping experience.

Gift With Purchase
Not only will you increase sales of your regular product, but you will have introduced your new product to an already loyal customer.

So for example, you are an athletic shoe company launching premium socks into your product mix.  There are lots of other sock brands on the market so it is difficult to get people to try your amazing socks.  Target your already loyal customers and offer a FREE pair of socks with every purchase of shoes or workout gear worth $100 or more.  Customers will be enticed to buy product in the moment since they will be receiving a gift with a high perceived value. Not only will you be increasing sales of your regular product, but you will have introduced your new product to an already loyal customer. If they love the socks, your fans will spread the word, plus the next time they need socks, they will think of your brand.

Also read “How to Use Samples to Promote Your Product” at for more ideas on how to make sampling work for you.