One of TPS’s writers was on vacation at the beach when he ran across the owner of the local surf shop while crossing over the dune one morning. The shop owner, camera in hand, explained he was taking pictures of that morning’s surf to post on Facebook—something he had just started using this past fall.
Really? Talk about late to the party, thought the writer.
The writer later stopped by the surf shop and was chatting with the employees about the company’s marketing. Turns out another competitor in town gives away free store-branded t-shirts to anyone who buys two regular t-shirts or a pair of surf shorts. The store t-shirts, bought in bulk, probably cost the competing store owner two or three dollars each.
The employees of the first surf shop had encouraged the owner to do something similar, but they said he was too set in his ways after so many years of doing business. It seemed like a wasted opportunity—the thousands of tourists and visitors the shop receives each summer could all be advertising the surf shop on their backs for a cost to the company of just a couple dollars each. What a wise investment!
Then the writer noticed the collection of decals behind a glass counter. These included decals for a variety of surfboard and apparel companies, as well as the surf shop’s own decals. Great idea, thought the writer: people will plaster these on their surfboards and car windows, advertising the surf shop wherever they go
Guess again—the surf shop decals were being sold for two dollars each. Two dollars, for the privilege of advertising the surf shop on your automobile or board! Why not give them away? Another wasted opportunity.
All this got our writer to thinking—what was the surf shop owner doing to stay in touch with his customers? To build brand loyalty? To grow the business the best way possible: through his existing customers?
A small beach surf shop is a far, far cry from even a typical small-to-medium-sized business with a few dozen to a few hundred employees, not to mention a large, Fortune 1000 or 500 company. However, the lessons still apply. All businesses, regardless of size, need to strategically target their corporate communications to stay in touch with customers and prospects. This includes social media like the surf shop’s new Facebook page, Twitter, advertising via free products, newsletters (electronic and print), blogs, mailers (which may include information about sales or coupons) and pretty much any other form of communication that connects the company with the customer.
In my next post, I’ll examine the various types of corporate communications and how your company can maximize its use of each type to build customer loyalty and increase sales.