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A view of the industry through the eyes of independent and chain retailers.

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20 Percent Disciples

Your best customers can help you attract new customers.

by Rich Kizer & Georganne Bender (February 1, 2010)

We're going to learn a new verb today, class: Airlined.

A retailer once asked, "How can you make a small fortune in the creative industry?" We said, "Start with a large fortune." Ba dump bump. Yeah, we know, it's an old joke, but it got your attention.

But there are truly two ways to grow a business: focusing on improving the bottom line through stringent control of all expenses, while keeping a close eye on margin; or focusing on growing the top line – sales. We think you have to do both. However, there is one imperative you must add to the equation that can make both goals attainable: you must develop an insatiable appetite for building relationships with your customers. This is especially true in today's business environment.

It's been said that 80% of your business is done on 20% of your inventory. Let's take that a bit further and extend it to customers; it very well could be said that 80% of your business is created by 20% of your customers. Let's call them your 20 Percent Disciples.

Ever wonder why those 20 Percent Disciples do not entice more "new" customers to come to your store? It's because they lead busy lives, and quite frankly, they just don't think about it. Your 20 Percent Disciples hold an incredible power when they talk your store up, but you have to give them a reason to do so. When you do, powerful word-of-mouth advertising is what happens.

We know a craft retailer who gave "BMG" (Be My Guest) invitations to every customer who registered for certain classes. These customers gave them to their friends so they too could join in the on the classroom fun. This got rapid fire word of mouth going, and the 20 Percent Disciples felt extra special because they got to invite their friends to "their" store.

Another retailer implemented a program she calls "SURPRISE!" simply by hanging a chalk board behind her check out area. A banner above read, "Someone bought someone a gift!" Written on the chalk board were messages similar to these:

Shelly bought Anna a sheet of alphabet rub-ons

Alison bought Nancy a packet of mini heart brads

Kate bought Bette a ticket to the Friday Night's Crop

This retailer is encouraging customers to buy their friend an inexpensive gift, and the only way the friend can get that gift is to come to the store. Gift-givers pay for the purchase upfront, then tell their friends to stop in an pick up their free surprise. What happened next was a classic case of "she told two friends, and she told two friends, and so on and so on and…."

Another derivative of this is our "Introducing My Friend" card; a viral marketing tool that brings new customers to your store. Drop us an e-mail and we'll send you an easy-to-customize template and full how-to instructions.

One more tip to attract new customers: encourage gift card purchases. A wonderful gift from your store is, well, wonderful, but it won't automatically bring the person who receives it to your store. On the other hand, a person must come to your store to redeem a gift card, and while they're there, you know what to do: sell them something! Another plus: studies show that 80+% of gift cards are redeemed for more than the face value; and more than 40% are redeemed for twice the face value. You can't lose!

Right now is the perfect time to put your 20 Percent Disciples to work for you. Don't abuse them; reward them! Invite them to special events just for them. Feed them while they shop, crop, and craft (you know our motto: "Food is Good!"). Ask for their creative input, and above all, thank them, thank them, thank them, for choosing your store!

(Note: To read previous columns, click on the titles in the right-hand column. Rich Kizer and Georganne Bender are professional speakers, retail strategists, authors, and consultants whose client list reads like a "Who's Who" in international business. Retailers depend upon KIZER & BENDER for timely advice on consumers and the ever changing retail market place.

Named "Two of Retailing's Most Influential People," KIZER & BENDER are experts on consumer and generational diversity, marketing and promotion, and everything retail. They are widely referred to as retail anthropologists because they stalk and study that most elusive of mammals: today's consumer.

Any speaker can talk about customers, but Georganne and Rich actually become them. In addition to focus groups, one-on-one interviews, and intensive on-site studies, their research includes posing as every kind of customer you can imagine – and maybe even a few that you can't! The result of their research is literally straight from the customers' mouth: solid, ground-level intelligence that you can use today to better serve your own customers and build your business.)

KIZER & BENDER Speaking!

Keynotes | Seminars | Consulting | Store Design

103 North 11th Ave., Ste. 206, St. Charles, Illinois 60174

Phone: 630-513-8020 | 24/7
Mobile: 708-347-2682
Fax: 630-513-8098
Web: www.kizerandbender.com
Blog: www.kizerandbender.blogspot.com
Twitter: http://twitter.com/kizerandbender



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