31 Aug

Making Good Use Of Referrals

Posted in Synergy Suggestions on 31.08.11 by John Meloche

This week, we’ve decided to have the Synergy Marketing Consultants Blog focus on the topic of increasing your customer base. As always, we’ve mentioned that when handing out promotional gifts to your customers, one of the most popular results is the increase in referrals that many companies get. And you know where you can get those from!

On BusinessWeek.com, Michelle Nichols writes that maximizing your ability to get sales referrals is a key component to growing your client base. She writes that most referrals are generally nice people, considering that your store was recommended to them by others who are already fans of your store.

It only makes sense that if they enjoy their experiences with your business, they will be bound to refer even more people to you as well. Referrals are often “pre-sold”, writes Nichols. Someone who was referred to you usually walks in already under the impression that he or she will be making a purchase.

Therefore, referrals are often more loyal than their non-referred counterparts. Consider the “friendship factor” that comes in to play when people are referred to your store. You’ll want to do your best to provide them with what seems like preferential treatment. After all, you’d love for them to come back and bring along other new customers with them.

As much as Nichols encourages business owners to make the most of their referrals, she does make the point that entrepreneurs should never rest on their laurels. You should never stop marketing, she writes. Continually adding new clients who are not particularly related to your current client base is still a necessity for business growth.

“The reason is simple,” writes Nichols, “From these new, nonreferred customers, you can then start to generate referrals from new spheres of influence, new ‘flocks’, if you will. It’s similar to opening a new branch office in a distant land. Suddenly, a whole set of new relationships and possibilities emerges that you would never have discovered if your business remained 100% referral-based.”

Of course, marketing to new customers does cost business owners more than it does to get referrals from existing customers. You have to have a strong marketing plan to attract new people to your business, and this costs money. This is why making the most of your referrals will always be an important factor in the growth of your company.

We will continue to take a look at this topic in tomorrow’s blog.

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30 Aug

Pave A Path To Drive In More Customers

Posted in Synergy Suggestions on 30.08.11 by John Meloche

Satisfying your customers if of paramount importance if you want to run a successful business. But, as we mentioned in yesterday’s blog, you have to find ways to drive those customers into your store in order to get the opportunity to impress them. Naturally, we herald the use of promotional gifts as a great way to do that. And, of course, we have tons for you to choose from!

But giving out your gifts can be complimented by a number of other ways to encourage customers to visit your place of business on a regular basis. On CNN’s website, Shara Rutberg writes about a number of methods that business owners can implement to increase the size of their customer bases.

The first thing she suggests is to define your niche. It’s important to know exactly who your store is catered for in order to know how to gain the interest of your target market. One way to find out who is into what you have to offer is to get your customers’ contact information, such as their email addresses.

Marketing to people who have already visited your store is actually much easier than promoting to those who have never heard of you. Come up with ways to send out e-newsletters once you’ve secured enough contact information that can develop an emailing list. This has often proved to be very beneficial.

Keep your customers constantly updated. Don’t pile on the pressure. Just simply be informative and give the people on your email list the feeling that they are being let in on something special. It’s important to let them know that benefits await them as part of being customers at your store.

Doug Fleener is both a company president and author who admits that building an emailing list is not always that easy. This is why customers need to be made to feel that there is a sense of exclusiveness in joining up. Says Fleener: “Share what’s hot, give fashion tips, things like that, and you’ll find people will be very happy to share their information with you.”

Think about a local marketing campaign as well, suggests Rutberg. Look into small publications in your area that will directly speak to the community you are serving. As she writes, “targeting the homeowners’ associations and the small publications that circulate in the exclusive enclaves where your customers live could be another inexpensive way to reach them.”

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29 Aug

Give Gifts To Get More Customers

Posted in Promotional Products on 29.08.11 by John Meloche

Last week, the Synergy Marketing Consultants Blog featured a number of blogs that focused on the premise of satisfying your customers. For business owners, this will always be an important topic as they know that without customers, they would have no business to run.

Of course, we often encourage our clients to always be thinking of ways to impress their customers, as its important to grow a customer base in order to stay competitive in any marketplace. Our years of experience have taught us that promotional gifts are consistently effective ways to expand the reach of businesses.

Promo gifts provide a personal touch that the average advertising campaign cannot. A lot of money is put into television commercials and billboards, and these are often pretty wide-reaching. However, most business owners across Canada are unable to afford such lofty budgets to produce these ads.

Handing out promotional gifts makes direct connections with customers. The act is an exclamation of appreciation that often has long-lasting effects. Our clients often tell us that the recipients of their promo gifts regularly come back into their stores. Not only that, but they bring others with them!

Word-of-mouth promotion, we often say, is the best of all advertising campaigns. Who better to advertise your business than a happy customer? Your promo gift helps for your customers to feel special. It gives them motivation to tell others about your store. One of our clients spoke to us about this very fact.

“I often take the opportunity to introduce myself to new customers,” revealed one of our clients, “but when I started handing them keychains with my company’s logo on it, I found that new customers started introducing themselves to me! People would come in saying that their friends recommended my store and that they wanted to know if I had anymore of those keychains!”

Naturally, you will want people coming to your store to purchase your products or services. But if a promo gift gets them through the door, then you know that it has done its job. It’s up to you to keep your customers interested in what your company does best. But remember, giving them a reason to keep your business on their minds doesn’t hurt. Give us a call today to see what promo gifts would be best for you to give out!

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26 Aug

Keep Your Customers Smiling

Posted in Synergy Suggestions on 26.08.11 by John Meloche

In yesterday’s blog, we took a look at a SelfEmployedCafe.com blog by a blogger simply named Pawel. It offered up some pretty good advice on how to impress your customers. Unlike most blogs about customer service tips, however, Pawel’s piece decided to highlight some of the mistakes that many business owners make in trying to make their customers happy.

The problem, he finds – especially with new business owners – is the attempt to “over-please” the customer. In continuing to take a look at these mistakes, we return our focus to ways in which entrepreneurs can avoid making promises they cannot keep. One way to do this, says Pawel, is to not tell clients only what they want to hear.

He writes: “Clients always want to hear good news, however sometimes we have to give them the bad ones too. You may feel afraid to break them to the client but telling him a sweet lie won’t help. He might get impressed, sure, but only till the truth comes out. Which it often does.”

Not all of Pawel’s tips are about what not to do. In fact, he does offer up some great advice outlining the proper ways to keep your customers smiling. The first thing, he says, is to make sure your customers are aware that you value and respect them. It is your job to be there for them whenever they need your help.

This is achieved through good communication, Pawel writes. Give your customers the option of being able to call or email you regularly. Listen to their concerns and make notes of what it is they tell you. That way, you’ll be able to properly act upon them to quickly offer solutions that will benefit both the customer and your company.

Again, speaking to business owners who provide services, Pawel suggests that you make sure you have your projects completed on time. A major pet peeve of customers is to have their projects fall short of meeting their deadlines. Don’t worry about completing it early, he says, just be sure to have your work done on time!

Don’t overcharge! In yesterday’s blog, we mentioned that lowering your prices below what makes sense for your business is a bad idea. At the same time, you don’t want to charge too much. This is especially annoying for your clients when they agree to a price only to be told, at a later date, that the project will cost more than what was originally expected.

Be sure to stick to the original deal. When you change a price on a customer halfway through a project, or even worse, at the end, your chance of working with that customer again is practically non-existent. As always, we hope these customer service tips have been helpful. Keep your customers smiling, and your smile will be ever-present too.

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25 Aug

Impress Your Customers Around The Clock

Posted in Synergy Suggestions on 25.08.11 by John Meloche

Now what would the Synergy Marketing Consultants Blog be without providing its loyal readers with helpful business information? As you likely know, we often like to share our thoughts on how to improve your customer service skills and increase your customer base. And naturally, we feel that our amazing promotional products will help you to achieve success in these areas every time.

Of course, there are a ton of ways to impress your customers, in addition to handing them each a useful and practical gift with your company name and logo on it. It’s important to keep your customers happy around the clock. And that means always working on ways to keep them coming back to your store.

Chances are, you won’t be able to hand out gifts to your customers every single time they visit you. So what else can you do to impress them? On SelfEmployedCafe.com, a blogger, known only as Pawel, lists off a number of ways that you can keep your customers satisfied.

Pawel writes that “without happy customers your business can’t survive. You can be selling like mad but if you do not retain your new customers, you will never build a profitable company. However, as simple as it sounds, making your customers happy seems to be a problem for many startups.”

So, with that, we’d like to share with you some of Pawel’s ideas on how to consistently impress your customers. Interestingly, he points out that one of the most common mistakes a business owner can make when trying to impress customers is trying to hard to do so!

“Over-pleasing” writes Pawel happens in a variety of ways. First of all, he says, be careful not to fall into the trap of agreeing to everything. New business owners tend to do this. For those who provide services, you don’t want to agree to things that may inhibit the completion of your project. Don’t agree to deadlines that are unreachable, for example.

As well, refrain from reducing the price of your items simply to “make the client like you more”. Generally, when you lower the price for a customer, he or she will expect that price with each visit. This will end up hurting your bottom line, even though you may have originally intended to gain more of that customer’s business.

The moral here, of course, is that you don’t want to make promises you cannot keep. Offering your clients something that you can guarantee – even if it doesn’t sound as exciting as a far-fetched alternative – is no way to truly impress your customers. We will take a look a few more of Pawel’s tips in tomorrow’s blog.

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24 Aug

Give Your Customers The Loyal Treatment

Posted in Synergy Suggestions on 24.08.11 by John Meloche

In yesterday’s blog, we discussed a few ways in which business owners can ensure that they maintain strong senses of loyalty from their current customers. As Donna Fenn writes on Inc.com, it costs a lot less to retain current customers than it does to attain new ones. Besides, you don’t ever want to lose the current customer base that you worked so hard to establish.

One way to do this, says Fenn, is to encourage your current customers to bring in new ones. After all, who better to recommend your company to others than the people who frequent it? This is often one of the greatest benefits of Synergy’s promotional gifts as they inspire customers to inform others about the company who provided them with the gift.

It’s one thing to give a gift, however. It’s another to remind the customer of why he or she visited your store to begin with. Don’t assume that even your most reliable customers are aware of everything that you have to offer, reminds Fenn. It’s important that you remind them on a regular basis. Letters, emails and phone calls can all help with this.

“Create incentives for in-house referrals,” suggests Fenn. Consider offering your customers some kind of reward when a new customer that he or she recommended makes a purchase in your store. This will encourage them to send you as many new customers as they can…depending on the incentive, of course. Discounts and freebies often do the trick!

Remember that since you want to retain your best customers, it’s important to always pay attention to what they have to say. Give them a say in what you sell, says Fenn. Ask for their opinions on your products and see what you can do to ensure that their satisfaction with your company continues to grow. If they know they can always come to you for the things they want, chances are they will!

Finally, “put some skin in the game”, writes Fenn. In other words, stand behind your products and services and be willing to provide guarantees. Fenn cites one company owner who insists that “if we don’t deliver, don’t pay us.” When you stand firmly behind your business, others will do the same.

As always, we hope that these tips we have researched will come in handy when you are promoting your business to your favourite customers. And in keeping with our own desire to help companies grow, we encourage you to speak with one of our own sales reps to help you decide which promotional products will help you drive your sales up and grow your own customer base. Talk to you soon!

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23 Aug

Stay Loyal To Your Best Customers

Posted in Synergy Suggestions on 23.08.11 by John Meloche

At Synergy Marketing Consultants, we champion the use of high quality promotional gifts to help businesses grow their customer bases. It’s important for business owners to constantly be thinking about ways to impress their customers in an effort to generate repeat business as well as positive word-of-mouth promotion.

Our many years of experience have taught us that promo gifts help to do just that! There are, of course, a number of strategies that entrepreneurs can use to grow their client bases and develop stronger senses of customer loyalty. Donna Fenn of Inc.com writes that your loyal customers are your company’s most important assets.

In fact, she writes that acquiring new customers can cost a business owner up to ten times more than it would to retain existing ones. Fenn insists upon implementing some simple, yet proven techniques to ensure that you never forget the customers who have supported you thus far.

The first step, she advises, is to “think lifetime value, not transactional value.” Fenn uses the example of a bicycle shop owner who credits the cost of a bicycle bought a year ago towards the cost of an upgrade. If you can find ways to keep your customers enticed enough to come back to you and only you, you will develop a group of customers for life.

“Go for a no-brainer upsell,” advises Fenn. In many cases, stores sell items that can be used as accessories to other items in that store. It only makes sense to advise the customer of the benefits of using two or more of your products together. For example, a person buying an HD television at an electronics store should be encouraged to pick up a Blu-ray player.

“Stay in touch,” advises Fenn. It’s important to let your customers know that they are not just walking dollar signs, but people you genuinely care about. You may not see them as often as you’d like, so it’s up to you to make sure you let them know that they are never forgotten. Create phone or email lists and provide “low-pressure” ways of letting them know you have products that may be of interest to them at different points of the year.

“Practice the art of the perfectly-timed pitch”, writes Fenn. Especially during times of the year when people are keen on specials, such as the end-of-year holiday season, you may want to offer some special discounts on your products and services to your best customers. Here’s when your email list will certainly come in handy!

We’ll take a look at a few other ways of maintaining your loyal customer base in tomorrow’s blog.

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22 Aug

Food On A Stick All The Rage At The CNE

Posted in News on 22.08.11 by John Meloche

The Canadian National Exhibition is well underway. A summer staple in Toronto, the CNE is the city’s annual end-of-summer celebration that turns Exhibition Place into a crazy carnival! Complete with roller coasters, games and live shows, the CNE provides quite the can’t-miss atmosphere for people of all ages. There are a number of Synergy reps who don’t plan on missing it!

This year, the event – also commonly referred to as “The Ex” – opened on August 19th and will run until September 5th. And as always, one of the most popular elements of the more than two week celebration is the food. For many visitors to The Ex, there is nothing quite like the food offered up by the many vendors who set up shop at the carnival.

On the CNE’s opening day, The Toronto Star‘s food editor Jennifer Bain reported that the carnival boasts 30 different foods that are offered on a stick. Now, it should go without saying that most of the foodstuffs offered at the CNE are predominantly part of the “junk food” category. However, that doesn’t stop them from being popular items.

In fact, some Synergy reps have reported visiting The Ex this past weekend to, among other things, try the Krispy Kreme Hamburger. In case you were wondering, the name of the sandwich is exactly what it sounds like. It’s a beef patty served between two Krispy Kreme doughnuts. It’s rumoured to dish out approximately 1500 calories!

“Amazing!” one of our team members offered this morning, “You’d be surprised at just how perfect the combination of sweet and salty is with this bad boy. It comes will all the fixings too, like lettuce and tomato. I’m sure it’s really bad for you. But believe me, my taste buds weren’t complaining!”.

Bain notes, however, that this year, the foods on a stick have definitely made themselves a greater presence. Remarking how she could only find 21 such items a couple of years ago, the 165 food vendors at this year’s CNE event are seemingly upping the ante. She reveals that the most popular stick foods are of the sweet variety including deep-fried desserts made from Pop Tarts, Oreos and Mars bars.

There is also no shortage of meat on a stick from hotdogs to other sausages made of chicken and pork. Rounding out the stick food family is what Bain refers to as the “savoury” contingent of dill pickles, pizzas and macaroni-and-cheese wedges! Remember, you’ll have until the September 5th to get your hands on any of these delicious (or disgusting depending on how you see it) food items at the CNE!

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19 Aug

Dealing With Jerks At Work

Posted in News on 19.08.11 by John Meloche

In yesterday’s blog, we took a look at an interesting article that claimed that office jerks tend to make more money than their more friendly counterparts. Doesn’t seem fair, does it? Many workers know at least one person in their office that they are not big fans of. So why do they get all the fun? When you think about it, aren’t they actually bad for business?

Dealing with the so-called office “jerk” may prove to be one of the most harrowing tasks an employee can have in the workplace each day. Author Alexander Kjerulf is considered a happiness expert of sorts, and has written a number of books detailing how one can be happy in the workplace.

There is a way to deal with jerks, he writes on PositiveSharing.com. The self-professed Chief Happiness Officer has a few tips that may help you deal with your own office annoyance, that we’d like to share with you today. The first is to adhere to “The No A-hole Rule”. Kjerulf’s description is just a bit more crude…but you get the picture.

In fact, the rule refers to a book written by Robert Sutton. Citing it, Kjerulf insists that limiting jerks in the office starts with the hiring managers. It’s important, of course, to hire candidates who have strong skills that also include personable characteristics. Have a “no jerk rule” in your office and this should easily prevent many of them from even getting through the door.

There are a few who slip through the cracks, however. And as Kjerulf puts it, “jerks are bad for you and bad for business”. They actually carry high hidden costs as their unpleasantness can cause a disruption in the workplace, slowing production down significantly.

Results of “jerkiness” in the workplace can include a reduction of motivation and an increase in absenteeism. Naturally, team spirit gets diminished and deadlines can get missed. It probably goes without saying that it is important to screen out unpleasant employees during the hiring process, if possible.

Kjerulf writes that “Southwest Airlines…when they’re hiring flight attendants, applicants are flown in from all over the US, naturally on Southwest flights. On the boarding pass they get it says ‘Job applicant’ and if the flight attendants on that flight notice an applicant behaving rudely, they tell the recruiting staff and the interview is over before it even begins.”

Finally, Kjerulf reminds us that most people are nice and there are actually very few who are jerks. Being annoyed by someone at work doesn’t necessarily make that person a jerk, so it’s your responsibility to handle certain matters in a respectful way to see if they can be settled peacefully. After all, you don’t want to the one that everyone else considers to be a jerk!

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18 Aug

It Pays To Be A Jerk At Work

Posted in News on 18.08.11 by John Meloche

No one likes the jerk from work. Sadly, it seems as if in every office across the world, there is at least one employee who seems to get on the nerves of everyone around him (or her). Luckily, we don’t have that problem here at Synergy. Or do we? Do you know someone from work who just makes you wish you didn’t come in each day?

Well, if so, chances are that “jerk” is making more money than you are. Sounds like a strange thing to say, right? Well, according to The Toronto Star‘s Nicki Thomas , two recent studies found that office jerks seem to garner higher incomes and better home lives compared to their friendly co-workers.

The first study, writes Thomas, was presented at the Academy of Management in San Antonio earlier this week. It found that the annoying employee is often the one that takes home the bigger slice of the pie…so to speak. A number of authors who worked on this study reviewed data from surveys going back twenty years.

Perhaps, there is something to these jerks after all. Among other things, the study found that the more agreeable someone is, the less of an opportunity he or she is given to earn a greater income. It seems there is a direct correlation between a person’s forcefulness and his or her ability to earn greater money.

Reveals Thomas: “Their analysis found that women earn substantially less than men; workers who describe themselves as agreeable, warm or softhearted earn less than those who don’t describe themselves in those terms; and that agreeableness has a more powerful negative effect on men’s income than on their female counterparts.”

The second study was published online in the Journal of Organizational Behaviour. It took a look at data compiled from online surveys of 190 full-time workers and their partners. The study “suggests that employees forced to deal with rude co-workers bring the stress and negative emotions from those encounters home to their partners and children.”

Said Lew Bayer, a Winnipeg-based expert on civility in the workplace: “Maybe it impacts your wallet for a short time in a positive way, but there are tangible and intangible impacts of incivility that are very negative. Even if a company is rewarding rudeness in one or two high-ranking men, there’s a good chance they’re paying through the nose for re-training, turnover and passive aggressive behaviours (like lateness and petty theft).”

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