Is social media your media?

Monday, December 21, 2009

You may remember, from your redline magazine, that profit doesn't come from sales, it comes from customers. And selling more to existing customers is easier (and cheaper) than finding and selling to new ones.

There are a number of ways to do this and you don't have to pick just one communication channel. Often using more than one channel will allow the advantages of one to compensate for the disadvantages of the other. Plus, by mixing your methods you can reach different target audiences within your market.

3 News reported at the weekend that more independent businesses are venturing into 'social media' to build relationships with customers. Social media is everywhere and no doubt you've heard of Facebook and Twitter, you may even use it at home - or your kids do. But how does it help your business and should it replace or compliment other advertising media?

Take it from us, direct mail and online can work well together - redline magazine and redline online (a social media tool) compliment each other perfectly and given their success we couldn't imagine one without the other.

In issue 8 of redline magazine we will be giving you some tips to get you started, to help you understand and decide if social media is for you. But, to help us keep it relevant, let us know what your social media questions are, tell us if your business has tried to use it and what response you've had.
Like many of you we are busy, busy, busy as we head towards the Christmas break. We've been scouting around for content for the next issue of redline™ magazine (out in March - subscribe today!) and sourcing interesting posts for redline™ online.

Of course, if there's anything you would like to hear about in the magazine or online then share your comments with us and we’ll look into it. It's always great to get your feedback and so many of you have shared your thoughts with us already. It helps us get to know you better and stay relevant.
redline™ online will be updated regularly until Christmas, at which point we will take a breather and we will be back the week of 6 January. So don’t forget about us, drop by in the New Year.

You will also notice a change in the New Year, Nick Thompson and Kate Thirkell will be contributing to redline™, both are Communications Specialists for New Zealand Post's Business Markets team. I'm heading off on maternity leave but I'll be back around August and will look forward to catching up with you then. No doubt I will be checking in from time to time to see what you're all saying about redline™ - my other baby!

Happy holidays!
For many businesses, retailers and e-tailers in particular, Christmas is the busiest time of the year. If you haven't prepared yourself already, here's how you can weather the storm:
  • Try not to get bamboozled by the rush - prepare yourself mentally for a busy time.
  • Plan ahead - you know Christmas is coming, so there's no excuse for not being organised.
  • Ease your stress - take on extra staff and extend your opening times.
  • Contact your customers - send customers a personalised greetings card. Go one step further, personalise your postage and overprint your envelopes with your company name or logo.
  • Smile - it makes all the difference to your customers, and makes you feel good too!

Many companies go quiet after the Christmas burst. You might be ready to switch off but, instead, consider taking advantage of the calm:

  • Use the down time wisely - then, you won't have to play 'catch-up' when your business is fully operational again.
  • Stay visible - don’t disappear over the holidays. Open with fewer staff and reduced hours. Use your website as your shop window and to take orders while you're away.
  • Create a holiday notice board - so staff can easily pass on and pick up messages from each other.
  • Put your mail on hold - keep your mail safe by putting it on hold.
  • Plan for the year ahead - get yourself and your business organised for the next 12 months and get on top of the company house-keeping.

Will you be busy this Christmas or is your business shutting down? What tips do you have to stay on top of the silly season? Share them here.

Stay in tune with customer behaviour

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

According to a study by The Nielsen Company*, 65% of Kiwis are:

  • eating less fast food and takeaway meals,
  • using less power, gas and electricity,
  • buying fewer new clothes,
  • using their cars less, and,
  • switching to cheaper grocery brands.

The survey suggests that New Zealanders plan to keep their spending under control even when economic conditions improve.

With this in mind, what can you do?

Know what this means for you - a drop in consumer spending could mean lower profits. And you may find that your customers want to negotiate on price or want 'cheaper' alternatives.

Give great customer service - this is easy to do and often doesn't cost anything. Importantly, your customers will remember you for it.

Offer incentives - a free gift, a discount voucher or a two-for-one offer will encourage your customers to come back to you when they do want to spend money.

Encourage referrals - word of mouth is the best form of advertising, ask your customers to recommend you and reward them for introducing new business.

Provide a lay-by-option - it may seem a bit dated but you're more likely to make a sale if you allow customers to pay over time for products they can't afford 'now' - and as there's no credit, there's no risk to you.

Sell online - consumers are cutting back on using their cars, so make sure they can still buy your goods via your website.

Comment and tell us how you're dealing with changes in customer spending behaviour.

*The Nielsen Global Consumer Confidence Survey, April 2009

Your feedback on our new Trade Me page was great, it helped us design a solution that met your needs. On the back of that success we would appreciate your feedback on this.

We have a number of ParcelPost™ Postage Included Bags for Standard Post™, FastPost™ and Tracked services. This results in 18 different products, so if you tend to stock up you have to purchase a lot of bags to cover all the possible sending options.

So we thought we might try and make it simpler for you but before we do we would like your feedback on this idea.

We are thinking of replacing the packaging for these separate products with one untracked Standard Post™ Postage Included Bag in various sizes, with an upgrade option. Then, if you have additional sending needs, all you need to do is upgrade your item to Tracked or FastPost™ by buying and applying a ticket to the bag. Simple.

It won't cost you any more than the current service, it's an extra 50c for a FastPost™ service or an additional $1.00 for a Tracked service. This comes with some added good news, the maximum weight limit across the entire product range would be increased to 3kgs!

Tell us what you think by commenting on this article. Tell us if it’s a 'good idea' or a 'bad idea' and your reasons why, we want you to be happy with the result. Thanks!