Category: Adding Value

Are you really open when you’re open?

One of my biggest gripes that happens with bricks and mortar businesses is in regards to opening and closing times.

Businesses that close at 5:30pm, but already look closed at 5:15pm.

Do you think that makes the customer feel comfortable or uncomfortable? It’s obviously the latter, and making customers feel uncomfortable is a problem for business.

Here are three examples:

  1. Being in a cafe and they start taking the garbage out and stacking chairs while you’re there (within the advertised opening time).
  2. Being at a retail store that starts shutting down computers and is more focused on packing up then helping you.
  3. Taking the signs in from outside before you’ve closed so to anyone passing by you look closed already.

You might think it’s an efficient use of time because business is slow in the last 15 minutes, but let me promise you that giving a customer a substandard experience certainly won’t start attracting more customers. You’ll just end up getting quieter and quieter.

Think of the big brands, they generally have a 10 minute and 5 minute call ready for their doors to be closed at that time. There’s a consistency, but they don’t reduce the experience you’re getting so they can get out early.

The benefit behind a bricks and mortar store is that you have the opportunity to immerse your customer in an experience that online stores can’t match.

How good is that experience if you’ve already started packing up or if you’re not ready when people arrive in the morning.

Your customer experience should be like an event. You don’t rock up to a concert and they’re still setting up. The stage is set before you arrive. You don’t want the magic to be tainted because some of the musicians were just hanging out in front of the curtain before the curtain opened.

And there’s another danger – they stop coming because you look closed!

If you’re paying rent for a bricks and mortar store, it’s important you look open when you’re actually open – especially if you’re paying premium rent at a site that has good passing traffic.

Life’s too busy for customers to remember when everyone closes, so if you look shut I just don’t stop. It’s that simple.

Be open when you’re open, and close when you’re closed. If you don’t want to stay till 5:30pm then set the expectation that you close at 5:15pm and delight them if they come to the door and you grab something for them.

The point:
Whatever you do, when a customer interacts with your business give them the full experience and your full attention.


Read more blogs on how to delight your customer here, or download our free ebook ’10 things small business must stop dong NOW.’

5 effective ways to run a successful competition

In the last blog post I told you all of the things you shouldn’t do when running competitions on Facebook…that’s a bit unfair unless I follow up with something a bit more empowering! So here it is…

1. Decide why you’re doing it:

a.) Encourage feedback. Use your competition to get feedback on which product your audience prefers, or to find out more about what they do on the weekend for example. Choose something that will benefit your marketing.

b.) Increase your audience. Ask a question like “give us your best caption for this photo” because the more people who answer the more you’ll fall into the newsfeeds of their friends, which will likely encourage some of them to participate.

c.) Generating leads. This is all about bringing people closer to your product so they’re more likely to buy it or enter their name in a mailing list. The idea here is that you’re using a light touchpoint to encourage people to give you a more permanent way for you to stay in touch, i.e. e-mail.

d.) Capturing data. Do you already have an email list but you want to know more about your audience and their preferences? You might want to get them to update their preferences (or even just a detail like their address) as part of a competition.

e.) Changing behaviour. A competition is a great way to reward people for changing their behaviour to suit you better. For example getting people to come see you in a quiet time rather than a peak time. They may need to enter during your quiet time, but make sure you leave enough time to give them a ‘thank you’ for entering that encourages them to experience wht you have to offer.

2. Use a prize that your target audience will love.

This is pretty obvious. And if you don’t know what type of prize your audience would love more, you could give them a choice. The upside here is that you also get to know your audience better.

3. Keep things simple.

The more hoops you make someone jump through the bigger the prize needs to be. The simpler you can keep it the better.

4. Celebrate the winner!

Too often competitions don’t make a big deal out of the draw, and then people wonder if it was legitimate or not. Make a big deal out of the winner so people are more likely to enter next time.


5. Measure.

Will you run the competition again? It should all come down to whether or not you achieved the goals you set out for in point number 1.

Remember there are some things you shouldn’t do when running a competition. If you missed those from the last blog post you can read them here.

The recent Bonds Baby Competition is a great example of using a competition to drive you closer, much closer, to their online store where they just happened to be having a 40% off sale. To participate you had to enter your email, then verify it with a link in your inbox. This is just one example of how you can move people from strangers through to likely customers in just a few clicks.

It all comes down to experimentation, and honing in on best results.

Remember, getting more likes and reactions isn’t everything!


Free resources


What damage is your Facebook competition causing?

Last week my news feed on Facebook was clogged with ‘like and share’ competitions.

Some were great offers, but what I really wanted to see was what my friends were up to.

That moment compelled me to share these insights in to the “best practice” of Facebook competitions. Many people may simply not realise they’re breaking the rules and it’s hurting them.
If you’re a business owner and your social media people are doing these competitions, then it may be putting your whole social investment at risk.

1. Nobody likes spam.
By forcing people to share your competition, your information starts clogging up the newsfeeds of their friends who might not really appreciate it. You could actually be pushing your potential customers away and they may even click ‘hide or block’ to posts from your page. This will hurt your organic reach meaning you’ll have to rely more on paid boosting.


2. More ‘likes’ is about ‘vanity’
Having 10,000 or 100,000 likes on a page might look good but it doesn’t necessarily add value to you, your business or your followers. People are probably only liking your page because they want the free stuff not because they value a relationship with you. Competitions are best used when you’re gathering useful information from your followers that are most likely customers, not just quick answers from any person chasing a prize.


3. It’s not ethical
Shares can’t actually be seen or measured by the business holding the competition. Likes and comments are OK, and people can share and tag if they like but making a share a condition of entry isn’t truly fair because it can’t actually be checked. The only difference to this rule is that using a third party competition app actually DOES have the ability to measure shares.


4. It screws up the Facebook algorithm
A like and comment competition is fine. It could actually give you some great answers to a question and be a bit of fun – it’s encouraging quality conversation. However, asking people to share as a condition of entry artificially creates an influx of data to the facebook algorithm which can skew what people really want to see. Imagine if a multinational company did a ‘like and share’ competition it would lock up news feeds. Sure lots of people will see you, but will they respect you, trust you and can you sustain their interest?


5. What’s the punishment?
If impeding quality engagement, or having potential customers blocking you isn’t enough there’s always the chance that Facebook will dish out a direct, more obvious punishment like closing your page. Last year I saw a business who had a personal profile labelled as their business and had collected several thousand friends. This was against facebook rules and out of the blue that rule was enforced, resulting in the business losing all of those contacts overnight with no warning. You may not get punished for breaking rules immediately, but you’re taking a massive risk.


6. You might be breaking the actual law
Just like raffles and competitions that we see in the flesh, promotions online may also need permits. These laws change from state to state and country to country. In the online realm your competition knows no state boundaries. So just make sure you have the right permit for where ever your followers may want to enter from. For example, in Tasmania a permit is not required, but if someone in another state was to enter they’d be entering illegally because we don’t have a permit in that state.


Let’s make sure you’re not making any of these mistakes, and in our next edition we’ll share tips on how to run a great competition that adds true value to your business and your followers. Oh… and just in case you love reading rules, here are the promotion guidelines for Facebook.


To help identify your ideal target customer download a copy of our FREE Buyer Persona worksheet and think about who you’re really connecting with. Your best customer isn’t everybody. 

Buyer Persona worksheet download


13 Tips for Effective Sponsorships

If you’ve ever given out money under the guise of ‘sponsorship’ then this is an important read!

My experiences over the years have had me on both sides of the sponsorship equation – both the sponsor and the sponsored. After 20 years of delivering events, I know how important sponsors are but I also noticed that many don’t actually leverage their sponsorship well. Some expect it to behave like an advertisement and see immediate conversion of strangers to customers…and that’s a mistake.

Let’s take a look at a few key points on sponsorships…

1. What’s your motivator?
Know how to identify which category a ‘request for sponsorship’ actually fits into – is it philanthropy or a true sponsorship?

Philanthropy – you contribute to a positive event for humanity with little fanfare or expectation of being recognised. It is most often done by the owner of the business, an individual or a committee within a business. Whilst Warren Buffet gave the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation $31bn in past years, philanthropy is not just for the rich. Most of us have been philanthropists at some point when we give a donation without ever expecting anything back.

Sponsorships – are usually managed by the marketing department and should provide a return on investment including publicity and a strong chance to meet defined outcomes for the business (particularly the chance to generate awareness or initial connections with a target audience). Business is business… you should always expect a return of some degree and this should be much more than having your logo included on something. This must be an opportunity for you to connect with your target audience in a way that will be a competitive advantage for your business – the same as any marketing activity.

The line between philanthropy and sponsorship has become blurred amongst many organisations in the past years. It’s time to get back to doing things for their original intended purpose, not just sponsoring things because ‘you should’. Be clear on ‘why’ you’re doing it.

2. Does it fit your values?
There is no way that Fortescue metals Group  would be getting approached to sponsor a Greens Party convention. It just wouldn’t be the right fit! When your business has clearly defined brand foundations you’ll easily know if the opportunity reinforces your unique brand values. It should build integrity in what you stand for. Having your name aligned with something that doesn’t match your values will water down trust in what you stand for. For example: Effective Naturally supports projects that encourage an audience to re-imagine possibilities, it should affect change by addressing the cause (not the symptom) and should be a touchpoint that leaves a long-lasting impression by bringing people together rather than be divisive. The sponsorship becomes an example of what your business stands for.

3. Does it speak to your target audience?
McDonalds are great at sponsoring items that connect directly to their core market – kids! There is no credibility or marketing advantage to be won by sponsoring something that doesn’t involve your staff or your target market. Origin Energy have a policy on sponsoring things that are important to their employees in turn generating a ripple effect of advocacy from employees and their pockets of community around them.

4. Are you buying connection, awareness, or neither?
Most sponsorships offer your logo being shown on things. The bigger your logo the better right? Not necessarily! We’ve previously discussed how having your logo in the wrong place can do you damage. Even the type of paper your logo is printed on could leave an impression in people minds. Big logos feed the personal ego, but unless you’re a flamboyant brand where bigger is always better, then being subtle will earn you more respect. In our years of producing in-stadium media for the AFL, we were always careful not to chop off the goal replay on the superscreen with a sponsor logo – just imagine how that would upset footy fans! Your sponsorship should always be seen to enhance the experience not interrupt it.

If your product can be used to enhance the experience, and thus get it in the hands of potential customers in a way they appreciate, that’s even better!

5. Be consistent in decisions and justify it
Just yesterday I said no to a great cause for just $50. Why? Because although it was a great cause and it brought happiness to people, it didn’t provide sustainable benefit which is one of our criteria. I explained “We would sponsor every great cause if we could but it just doesn’t help us concentrate in the difference we really wish to make.” It doesn’t get easier and I prefer to do it in person. More importantly, out of respect to the person who has taken the time to contact you (probably because they like your brand) do it within a reasonable time frame (7-14 days maximum).

6. Is it value for money?
This is where the philanthropy side may come in if it’s OK value but you really want to support it anyway. Sponsorships can be a better way to spend marketing budget because unlike an advertisement it gives you a number of touchpoints to build a relationship that one-way marketing doesn’t provide. The best sponsorships will include opportunities to attract new people, get people talking about you (or your event), a chance for you to connect in person and some digital component. Whether it’s good value or not depends on how many of your target market you’re likely to have those touchpoints with in relation to the cost.

7. How does it meet your outcome?
Be 100% clear on what you want and how you expect it to be measured. Have a clear agreement on outcomes, but keep the journey itself flexible and adaptable to maximise opportunities along the way. No sponsorship will ever deliver to the expectations of the sponsor, if the expectations weren’t clearly defined in the first place.

8. Be prepared to spend more
When you buy a sponsorship, you’re buying the rights to leverage off the success and brand of the sponsored item. Some proposals will be highly inclusive of benefits, others will be the bare minimum. I see so many organisations pay a sponsorship sum and have their logo on something but do nothing more to add value to that sponsorship, mostly because they spent their whole budget on getting the sponsorship. This is where they fail.

If you spend $5,000 on a sponsorship, make sure you have at least a couple grand to activate it. If it’s a kids event, you might provide something for the parents that makes their day easier. They’ll appreciate it and you get much more connection with people doing that than you would if they just saw your logo as a Gold sponsor.

A classic case study is the Sydney 2000 Olympics. Ansett spent $40-$50 million dollars to be the official airline but left themselves little budget to advertise the fact. Qantas started planning ahead in 1998 by signing on as a major sponsor for Cathy Freeman so they were synonymous with her by the time the Olympics happened, and bought a $7m Olympics advertising package with the Seven network. They simply activated better and according to Roy Morgan research, more Australians (42%) thought Qantas was one of the Sydney Olympics corporate sponsors than did Ansett (15%).

9. Collaborate and Leverage
If the work you’re doing on a sponsorship ends once you’ve done the agreement then it’s probably not going to be a great deal. One of the first questions a person requesting your sponsorship should ask, is “what do you need to achieve?” – and that’s when the collaboration should begin. There should be a good degree of discussion on how your goals will be met and how your connection with the event / cause will add value to the audience experience. Also look at how you can leverage the relationship with other partners again working together to be bigger than yourself alone.

10. Think Big!
Be prepared to get creative and think about how and when your target audience is likely to connect with the item you’re sponsoring (be it an event, sporting team, flying doctor aircraft etc). When your audience interact or see the item you’ve supported it should give them a positive gut feeling. Don’t be afraid to think big – if you’re a real estate agent, you might choose to support an event that brings people in to your sales location. When those people think of buying, that particular real estate agent would be top of mind. In short, work out how you can be in the right place at the right time in front of the right people.

11. Help people feel good
It comes back to that saying “People forget what you say, they forget what you do, but they never forget how you made them feel”. This ability to ‘move’ people is an unbeatable value of sponsorships. It also builds on Tip. 4 about enhancing the experience.

12. Make it personal
Another quote comes to mind “People do business with people”. If you have the opportunity to create an event around your sponsored item, or maybe include your staff as volunteers to enhance an event then it’s a great way to build meaningful relationships with your target market.

13. Give yourself time!
Most major organisations want at least 6 months notice to activate a sponsorship for a couple of reasons. First so they can budget for it in their marketing budget, and secondly so they can have time to think creatively, get the signage and collateral in to place, maybe order more stock and ensure you get to sprout about the relationship in all of your communications over the period. Of course it also means you get 6 months worth of touch points rather than just activating for the day or two when something’s happening.

The Final Advantage: 
 Sponsorships can be a highly valuable opportunity to connect with your audience in this new world of business driven by trust. It’s said that it takes 7 good touch points to move a person from being a stranger to a customer and a sponsorship can help you hit multiple touch points. It should build relationships, leave impressions that reinforce your brand and it should help your business get to where it wants to be. With defined outcomes, the decision on whether or not it meets objectives should always be clear.

If you’d like to read more articles about current marketing trends, perspectives and effective techniques, grab access to my blog here and also see the article about how to track which 50% of your marketing works.