Ah Fall! I love this season. It means crisp days here in the Northeast, complete with fashionable sweaters and boots. On the culinary front, autumn arrives with the return of everything Pumpkin. I look forward to this season for many of the flavors that come with it, everything including; apple crisp, hot cider and anything I can try that has Pumpkin. “Hi, my name is Jennifer and I am a Pumpkin-holic.” Yes I admit it – now you know my hidden truth.
The Tricky Question of Tradition
The return of some of my favorite fall treats made me think. As these seasonal traditions come around, do we, as business owners and marketers, give our clients what is expected? Is it better to give them something new and different?
Tradition has a strong draw. But that doesn’t make it appealing to everyone. Today’s the first day of fall, and just last week I heard someone say; “I am already sick of Pumpkin.” Of course I was shocked! How do you get tired of Pumpkin? But I am biased.
I say give the people what they want! If your customers want tradition, give them tradition. On the other hand, if you know your customers have had enough, already you might want to back off with your messaging and operational choices. Of course, this all means you need to know what the people want.
Ask Your Customers
Whether you run a B2B business or a B2C business, the most important thing you can do is talk to your customers. Ask them what they are interested in seeing from your business.
Be specific rather than asking open-ended questions. Give your customers options that you have been discussing in-house and ask for their feedback. People are much more responsive to “Which one is better, A or B?” than they are to “What would you like to see us carry?” People love to share their opinions: that’s why Taste Tests are so popular.
Be sure to give your customers a way to provide you with their ideas. Something as simple as having your staff wear buttons that say “A or B?” will encourage your customers to weigh in with their opinions. Make sure you check in with your staff regularly so you know what they’re hearing from their customers.
Your online presence is a great way to gather customer opinions. Ask people what they think on Facebook or Twitter. Add a feedback form to your website. Host a hangout on Google+ or invite people to call and speak to you 1-on-1.
Market Your Dilemma
That’s right I said it – market the fact that you have a dilemma about the degree of traditional or holiday experiences you should provide to your audience. Make your confusion a central part of the conversation.
This is a great marketing opportunity. Use your social media, your eblasts, your direct mail and your website to spread the word that you want to hear from people far and wide on, let’s say, the Pumpkin question. This is a great opportunity to try out survey tools – and don’t overlook the possibilities of inviting people to come into your business in person to make their vote!
Be strategic about promoting the conversation – reach out to your favorite bloggers, and ask them to do a post on the subject. Write your own blog post on the topic and share it with influencers in your industry via social media. You’ll get people talking if you don’t keep quiet about the situation you’re trying to solve.
This is a great way to use your marketing tools and to get your audience involved in what you’re doing to grow your business.
Announce the Outcome
Introduce an element of time pressure into your conversation. Let customers know, “I have to decide if we’re going to have Pumpkin muffins or not by September 21st”. That deadline will do two things: reinforce the fact that you really value customers’ opinions, and spur last-minute participation, as people don’t want to miss the chance to have their say.
When everything has been decided, make a big deal about the outcome. You may want to have an in-business event, and even send out a press release. Introduce the results with a lot of fanfare. Explain why you are going in this direction, emphasizing how many of your customers, fans, and friends participated. Share the details of what your audience said and how you considered their feedback in the decision making process. Make it easy for people to share the news on social media.
Put the Calendar to Work for You
The really nice thing about traditional events and celebrations is they keep happening. Every year, you’re presented with a number of opportunities to have this type of brand-building conversation with your customers. It’s a fun, friendly way to boost visibility and introduce yourself to new customers.
If you need help creating, launching, and ultimately profiting from this type of campaign, give us a call. We’re here to help you make it happen!