Posts Tagged ‘relationship’

10 Good Reasons to Use Email Marketing

May 7, 2011

by Doug Smith, President, The Woodhaven Group, LLC

As a CEO, I wish that 30 years ago I had this extremely productive tool to communicate with my customers and prospects.

If your business is not using email marketing, then you need to make it a part of your marketing mix going forward.  What benefit will your company get from email marketing?  Here are 10 good reasons:

  1. It will increase your business cash flow:  Email marketing costs less than direct mail, television, radio and other forms of purchased media.  This means more cash for your company to use in other areas of the business.  Executed properly, over both the short-term and long-term email marketing will have your highest return on investment of any marketing channel in your business.
  2. Can segment your customer base:  Instead of a general message to a mass audience you can tailor your message to a segment of your customer base that has shown a desire for information on a specific topic, product or service that you offer. Relevant targeted content is at the heart of effective email marketing.
  3. Can build a 1 on 1 relationship:  This is not possible with television or radio.  Each email can be personalized with the recipient’s name, they can reply to what you have sent and you can directly respond to their comments or questions.  
  4. Can review response history of the individual:  Did they open the email?  Did they click-through to a link? Did they buy? Compare this to newspaper or television where you have no idea  whether your customer even knew the ad or 60 second spot even existed.
  5. Allows you to use triggered emails:  Based upon response history, you can automatically target future emails to their area of interest.  For example, if you are an attorney and your prospect clicked on an estate planning article, you can follow-up with an email on trusts.  Triggered emails can be set up by date such as birthdays, anniversaries of a successful completion of a job, for  holiday messages and many other ways.
  6. It lets your customer be in control:  Marketing has changed. The consumer now controls the relationship.  With email marketing the consumer can choose what part of the email to read, when to read it, if they want to respond to an offer and even opt out of receiving future emails if they conclude that your information is not relevant to them.  This is a good thing. The best performing company will win. Make sure its your company. 
  7. Email marketing can be synchronized with other marketing channels:  Email marketing does not have to  stand alone. You can use other channels like social media or direct mail to sign up prospects to receive emails about your company. By identifying a specific area of interest, a key person can respond with a personalized letter or phone call and not waste your prospect’s time.
  8. Can utilize education-based marketing:  Email marketing is not a sound bite or tweet.  It allows you to dig deep into a topic and educate your consumer.  Better yet, your company can send a series of emails weekly on a topic of interest.
  9. Builds brand:  A consistent ongoing message can build trust and credibility in your company. When the time finally comes to make a buying decision you will have built a reservoir of goodwill that will give you a chance to close the sale. 
  10. Can link to your website:  Your website should be treated as if it was another location of your company that is used to strengthen the relationship with a prospect or customer.  Linking to different parts of your website from an email can educate, sell, and communicate what makes your business unique.

There are some who say that email marketing is on the decline and is being replace by social media.

I disagree.

Email marketing continues to be at the core of an integrated marketing strategy that can build sales and profitability increase the cash flow of your business over the long-term.

I would be interested to know what your  experience has been with email marketing.

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Yes, Twitter Can Drive Sales For Your Company

July 30, 2010

by Doug Smith, President, The Woodhaven Group

Many if not most business owners I speak with do not see any value in using social media to help drive sales and cash flow.  The typical response I receive is that such sites as Facebook and Twitter are for teenagers to know what their friends are doing.

Well, tracking the activities of friends can be a reason to use social media.  However, there is a business use also and many companies are tapping into the potential that social media offers.

If you are still reluctant to use social media, then I would suggest testing with twitter.  It can be extremely low cost and it can be an opportunity to communicate time sensitive promotions that are  just for a few hours today or to link back to your business’s main site or blog.  Best of all, twitter is a tool to keep building a strong relationship with your customer by providing timely, relevant information for their use.  Here is a recent post by Jay Baer about Twitter where he touches on some pluses and minuses.  It is very good reading. Go to it right here.

Still not convinced it is for your company?

Here are some national and local companies using twitter to drive sales.  Do your own research and see if any of the tactics these businesses are using could be applicable to your company:

  • Home Depot:  read about how the customer care team accomodates customers here. 
  • Cafe Patachou:  read how this very successful local restaurent in Indianapolis receives feedback, gives out announcements of todays menu and links to local media. See it here.
  • OfficeMax:  this national chain of office supply stores does a good job promoting back to school as well as in store coupons. Read about it here. 
  • Kroger:  this grocery powerhouse uses twitter to pass on digital coupons. Best part is Kroger targets it to the local zip code. See the coupons here.   The Kroger twitter site is actually called Kroger Deals. No confusion about what is going on with this message.
  • Williams Sonoma:  this upscale kitchen store uses twitter to mention “tasting events” taking place and that there are only “2 hours left for free shipping.”  Good example of  using twitter for a time sensitive promotion.  Find it here.
  • Costco:  this big box retailer taps into twitter to let their customers in on current coupons to be used. They also ask straight up what their customers would like to see Costco doing more or less of. See it here. Great example of relationship building that is unique to twitter.
  • Birds Barbershop:  is twitter only for the big businesses? This Austin, Texas barbershop uses twitter to stay in touch with their clientele. Read about Birds if you are going to be in Austin and need a haircut.  Its right here
  • City Barbeque:  If I was hungry in Ohio, this restaurent would be hard to turn down after viewing this twitter site  where they advise that today is a good day to eat barbeque. You can get your barbeque fix right here.
  • Portland Oregon Farmers Market: probably one of the best farmers markets in the country uses twitter to promote their multiple locations. See more about them here.
  • Dairy Queen:  so you think your business is too small to use twitter. How about this Dairy Queen in Burton Michigan. If they can sell ice cream cones using twitter you can market your product. Read what they have to say here.   Hurry!  Only today you can get $1 off a waffle bowl if you call it “twitter bowl” instead. 
  • Dry Cleaners:  Dry Clean City in Charlotte, North Carolina where they ask on Twitter if your favorite dry cleaner is closer to your home or work. They also feature their $1.99 dry cleaning special.  See all about it here.
  • Penwell Insurance:  this little local insurance agency in Cicero, Indiana probably does the most effective job of using twitter as anyone. I am sure their Google ranking is soaring with all the links back to their web page. See more here.
  • Franchisees:  twitter can work for individual franchisees such as this one in Saratoga Springs New York of  Wild Birds Unlimited. The warmth of the owners comes across on the site. Learn more about them here.  If you go to the site don’t forget to list your top 10 favorite birds.

Social media and especially twitter needs to be a part of an intergrated internet marketing strategy for your company. A real strength of twitter is in realtionship building and the abilitiy to tie back to other channels of your marketing. How about tweeting to view our TV spot on the evening news tonight or stopping by our booth at the local Home Show? 

Sales, cash flow and the future of your business depends upon your ability to stay abreast of new marketing techniques as they come along.

Don’t get left behind.

Key Supplier Relationship Will Increase Cash Flow

May 3, 2010

by Doug Smith, President, The Woodhaven Group

The relationship between a key supplier and customer can be like family.

Executed correctly this relationship can profitably grow the sales and profit of both companies.

As you become more important to your supplier here are a few tips that can act as a guide to increase the amount of cash available for you to grow your business:

  1. Ask for and get extended terms on each invoice.  Once established you should not have to pay the same terms as a new customer of your supplier.  If 30 days is normal then ask for 60 day terms.
  2. If you have inventory make sure your supplier exchanges slow-moving inventory units for what is being used or sold the most.  This should be done a minimum once every 6 months, preferably once per quarter.  In some industries it makes sense to do it once per month.  Show future sales projections so your supplier can justify taking this action. 
  3. When the above inventory is returned make sure there is no restocking charge applied.
  4. If your business is seasonal, you may want to negotiate paying less during the slow months and more during the busy months.
  5. Have your supplier fund the purchase of a major capital item you need to buy to grow your marketshare. This may be a new piece of equipment needed in your manufacturing facility that will allow you to be more productive.  The payment can be spread over a multiyear term with a small amount added to each unit of inventory purchased from your supplier.
  6. Once you have become a major customer or “partner” of your supplier negotiate putting the key items being bought on consignment in your facility.  This inventory remains on the books of your supplier until you are ready to “pull” them for use in manufacturing.  Only then does the terms begin on your invoice.  If you combine consignment with extended terms then your cash flow really explodes.  To properly execute a program like this requires the use of security agreements and physical inventories but the cash savings is worth it.
  7. Negotiate additional advertising coop and simplify how it is processed.  Many companies offer a marketing rebate or credit to their best customers but then make it almost impossible to get due to extreme rules and regulations.  If possible, agree in advance on an advertising coop amount and deduct a fixed amount each month from invoices.  At the end of the year you can reconcile any differences.
  8. Ask for a price decrease.  You may be surprised how often a supplier will grant this wish to a major customer.  They realize the cost to acquire a new customer is high and realize your increased margin dollars over time will make up for a 2-3% drop in price.
  9. If you cannot get a price decrease, then get an agreement that the price either will not be increased or will be increased only by no more than a certain percent for a specific period of time.
  10. Regardless how great the relationship is and regardless how many concessions you are given, you need to still periodically compare prices in the market place.  If not locked down  prices can start creeping up.  There should be an understanding in a good relationship that you are always getting the best price possible.

Suppliers can be a great source of cash flow.  I have successfully used every one of the tips mentioned here.

A lot of the cash or money used to grow your business can come from well executed cash flow strategies.

This is one of them.