In today's hyper-connected world, there are more opportunities than ever to reach your customers. However, because of the resulting clutter, barriers often form between your customers and the message that you would like them to receive. Therefore, it is critical for companies to connect with customers in a meaningful and intentional manner. Most importantly, the business-to-consumer connection needs to occur in a manner that is preferred by the customer.
Text messaging is as common to today's youth as talking on a cordless phone was to kids in the 1990s. These days, the majority of teenagers carry their own cell phones and utilize text messaging more often than they use their phones to make actual calls. While there are a number of mobile marketing solutions available, one thing is clear: mobile marketing through text messaging is an effective tool for a youthful or on-the-go audience.
Over the past 18 months, Auntie Anne's (www.auntieannes.com
) tested text messaging in various geographic markets with much success. As a result of this success, the company rolled out an ongoing text messaging program that allows for customer engagement at the point of purchase. While waiting in line for a freshly baked soft pretzel or a Lemonade Mixer, Auntie Anne's customers have the option to text a key word to a short code to join Auntie Anne's e-mail marketing program, Pretzel Perks. In doing so, the customer then receives a text prompt from Auntie Anne's requesting their e-mail address. After the customer completes this second part of the sign-up process, they have then joined the Pretzel Perks e-mail marketing program.
Auntie Anne's Pretzel Perks, a loyalty rewards program, delivers coupons straight to the customers e-mail inbox. After signing up for Pretzel Perks, customers receive a welcome e-mail as well as monthly messages to enjoy the latest in Auntie Anne's new products, specials and more.
Working the front line
While advances in technology and the tools available to reach your customers can yield great success, they are not the only method through which to engage customers. The first line of interaction, such as the cash register attendant or the guest services representative, is still one of your greatest marketing tools. These staff members can make or break an interaction with a customer. Is your crewmember having a good day? Does he or she feel empowered to make decisions? How is morale in your company? Have you provided staff with the proper training and tools to effectively engage the customer?
When your front line staff are trained properly and truly enjoy their jobs, they are the single most effective customer engagement tool in your marketing strategy. The value of these positions should not be underestimated as you consider new marketing solutions. It is crucial to invest in proper training, incentive strategies, and morale-boosting workshops to ensure that your staff is happy, satisfied, and engaged. Always keep in mind their powerful ability to enhance, or detract, from your brand.
Passionate, magnetic, fun
In-store point of purchase (POP) materials can also send a clear message by catching the customer's attention with dramatic visual imagery or compelling headlines that contribute to the overall brand experience. POP offers an opportunity for the customer to relate to the brand before ever purchasing a product. At Auntie Anne's this form of brand engagement includes images of pretzel products and tongue-in-cheek humor to express the passionate, magnetic, and fun brand personality for which the company is known.
Regardless of your audience, a company's messages must meet the customers' needs and speak their language. Customer interactions can occur at all levels, including at the point of purchase, through text messages, and ongoing e-mail campaigns. In creating marketing opportunities unique to the audiences' needs, companies will break through the message clutter.