Top 10 reasons why email should be a key part of your marketing strategy.



1.     Email marketing is a valuable tool for small business. Almost half the world's population will use email by 2020. That's 3 billion people.  Within the other half of the population, 1.6 billion people don't have electricity.  205 billion emails are sent every day and it is expected to grow to 246 billion by the end of 2019

2.     Email makes you money. For every dollar you spend on email marketing, you can expect an average return of $38.

3.     Email grows your business.   For customer acquisition and retention, email is way ahead of other tactics for most small and medium-sized retailers in the US.  80% versus social media 51% acquisition 44% retention. Organic search 62% for acquisition. 88% of marketers worldwide said they used email marketing focused software. As the saying goes if you're not growing, your dying.

4.     Facebook can't compete. It's an important marketing tool, but when you're looking for the most direct way to reach and interact with the audience it's best to turn to email. Why? According to Forester, people are twice as likely to sign up for your email list as they are to interact with you on Facebook.

5.     Email has a higher conversion rate than social media and search combined. Turning prospects into customers most efficiently is critical to small business success.

6.     72% of consumers prefer email as their source of business communication. Consumers rely on emails to learn more about the businesses they shop at and make informed purchasing decisions.

7.     Consumers want to hear from you. 61% of consumers enjoy receiving promotional emails weekly.  38% would like emails to come even more frequently. Keep this in mind next time you fret that customers will get turned off by sending emails too often.

8.     Transaction rates are skyhigh. Send an email and it converts to the sale, that's the dream right? That's also the reality, especially when you personalize your emails. Personalized emails received transaction rates that are six times higher than others.

9.     You'll reach a mobile audience. Smart phones are here to stay and are used by almost 80% of Americans today.  Marketers are scrambling for ways to reach mobile users. Luckily there's an easy and cost-effective option. 88% of smartphone users actively check email on their phones. This makes it more popular than any other app for both iPhones and android's.

10.  What can email marketing do for your business? What do you want to increase; the number of customers or strengthen your relationship with existing customers?   Email marketing gives you the tools to do both.

Would you like to learn more about developing your email marketing strategy for 2018? Email or call Bruce Wildes today. or 207-370-8210.

Sources:  Constant Contact, eMarketer 7/21/16,


How offering free Wifi can boost profits

By Comcast Business, May 27, 2016

As a business owner, you're always trying to give your customers and clients the best experience possible. You know it's important to understand what they need to stay competitive.

That's why more and more types of businesses — from fast-food restaurants to laundromats — are investing in fast, free WiFi.

A study found that 74% of businesses are using or plan to use "bring your own device" (BYOD) policies. And for many small businesses, it's a no-brainer: Offering WiFi helps gain customer loyalty and even increase sales — and employees can benefit too.

Here are four reasons why providing WiFi could benefit your business in a big way.

1. You'll enhance your marketing.

Certain WiFi solutions allow you to promote your business before customers even sign in. For example, WiFi Pro from Comcast Business allows businesses to create a custom splash or landing page to attract customers and share real-time offers. Additionally, there's an opportunity to brand your network with a custom WiFi network name — like "Sally's Cupcakes Free WiFi."

Customers can do the marketing for you through social media. By letting customers "check in" at your restaurant or share a photo of their favorite dish with their friends, they're spreading the word without any effort on your end.

2. Customers will spend more time at your business.

WiFi access helps customers stay productive and connected while they're in your store or at your place of business, so they'll want to stay longer. In fact, as many as 62% of businesses report that customers spend more time in their facility when WiFi is offered. And when they're there longer, they'll likely encourage their friends and family to spend more time at your business, too.

3. They'll spend more — really.

You might worry about customers who use the WiFi without spending a dime, but chances are good they'll end up actually spending more. Half of small businesses surveyed said that customers spent more money when free WiFi became available. For retailers, customers can use the WiFi to browse your products and read reviews in real time.

4. You'll gain a competitive edge.

Many people filter businesses — coffee shops, bookstores, laundromats — based on which ones offer free WiFi. Those that offer fast, free WiFi have a clear advantage over those that don't. The reality is, customers have come to expect free WiFi at most places.

Free WiFi will make your customers' lives easier and improve their perception of your business. Consider investing in a budget-friendly solution — like Comcast Business WiFi Pro — to help your small business grow.

5 Ways to ensure a superior customer experience in a tight labor market.

Whether it’s a strong economy, more restrictive migrant worker rules, or other mitigating factors, many businesses today are facing significant to severe labor shortages. 

Customers don’t care if you are short of help.  They still expect the same level of service, regardless of your staff levels.  How do you ensure they have a superior experience, despite the labor shortage you may be having? 

1.             Be responsive.  If you can’t meet typical expectations for deliverables, be clear and honest in your communications and don’t make excuses.  Most people are understanding if they know the situation.

2.             Know your customers.  The more you know about your customers the better informed you will be when making important decisions.  Decisions that will often mean the difference between thriving, surviving, or worse.

3.             Fix your mistakes.  Mistakes happen.  How you deal with them is often more important than the mistake itself.  If it’s a customer facing mistake, the faster you respond to it, even if its not 100% fixed in your response, the message is clear to the customer and your retention rate will be much higher as well.

4.             Go the extra mile.  Everyone likes to be treated special.  Showing them you care by doing something a little bit extra, goes a long way toward building a long term relationship.

5.             Think long term.  When a guest makes a purchase, do you view them based upon the value of their purchase, or do you view them as someone who could purchase from you X times a year, for so many years, which is a lifetime value worth $X?  Are they worth giving a little bit extra in appreciation of their business?  Starbucks knows their customers have an average lifetime value of $8000+.  Do they quibble over a wrong cup of coffee with a guest?  NO.

Contact us today if you would like to learn more about how we can help and possibly take a 30 day test drive!

What's the value of a 'like'?



iStock_6942426_XLARGE (1).jpg

Social media is often a quagmire for both small and large companies to understand and effectively leverage.  Currently, 80% of Fortune 500 companies have active Facebook pages.  Their individual goals may be different.  Is it to increase sales, increase customers, attract followers, or to influence offline behavior?  87% of the Fortune 500 CMOs said they couldn’t document that social media creates new customers.  Research shows they are using social media the wrong way.

In a recent study by comSCORE and Facebook, with Starbucks customers, the people who like Starbucks’ Facebook page or who had a Facebook friend who liked the page spent 8% more and transacted 11% more frequently over the course of a month.  They confuse cause and consequence.

Does following a brand on social media cause them to buy more?  Maybe.  Maybe not.  It is also possible that those who already have positive feelings toward a brand are more likely to follow it in the first place, which is why they spend more money than non-followers in the first place.

Liking a Facebook page helps to further ensure top-of-mind brand awareness.  Companies must combine push and pull marketing.  They must support likes with branded content. 

Social media doesn’t work the way many marketers think it does.  Research was conducted to test whether liking a brand, or passively following it, makes people more likely to purchase it.  It also tested whether peoples likes affect their friends purchasing.  Does liking affect other behaviors?  Boosting likes by paying Facebook to display branded content to followers’ newsfeeds increases the chances of meaningful behavior change.

·      Endorsing a brand doesn’t affect a customer’s behavior or lead to increased purchasing.  It doesn’t increase purchasing by friends. 

·      Supporting endorsements with branded content does have some positive effect.

·      If you encourage your Facebook page to become a gathering place for your loyal customers, it can become a great source for customer intelligence and feedback from a crucial constituency.

·      In order to prove the ROI of a ‘like’ you must:
Define the metric

o   What is the goal?  Increase sales?, Change offline behavior?, Other?

o   Metric should be measurable

o   If not easily quantifiable such as increasing sales by 5%, it may involve a survey to help quantify the impact.

Based upon the research conducted, the most effective way to achieve a measurable return on your investment with your Facebook ‘likes’ is to run advertising to promote your posts and expose new recruits to your message.  To measure results on your own page, create a group from your customer base to like your Facebook page.  Invite half the group to ‘like’ your page.  This is the treatment group.  The other half is your control group.  Record which group each customer is in.  Confirm your assumptions.  Did liking inductions work?  Did the invited take you up on your offer?  Run advertising to promote posts and to expose new candidates to your message.  Measure the spend of each group.  The difference in the spend of each group is the value of the like on your page.  Use as large a sample size as possible.  Make sure the email address is current. 

As a follow-up experiment, pay Facebook to display 2 posts per week to the members of your ‘like’ group.  Measure the difference to the control group.  Vitality measured an 8% difference over the control group. 

Conclusion:  Social media, if used properly, can provide measurable results.  It can have a positive impact on acquiring, retaining, and growing the value of your customers.  The group of loyal customers is one of the most valuable assets of any business. Social media can provide you intelligence on your loyal customers while also creating greater engagement by amplifying your efforts through advertising.  According to research conducted by Fred Reichheld at Bain and Co., author of “The Loyalty Effect” and “The Ultimate Question 2.0”, a loyal customer is worth six times the business of a satisfied or passive customer.  Social media can be a very cost effective way to retain and grow this most valuable asset.

Please feel free to contact me today if you would like to have a complimentary one hour discovery meeting to further explore how to put together an effective and measurable social media strategy and management plan for your organization. 

Source:  Harvard Business Review Mar-Apr 2017   Leslie K. John, Daniel Mochon, Oliver Emrich, and Janet Schwartz


Use Automation to Create More Highly Engaged Customers.

Use Automation to Create More Highly Engaged Customers.

If you want to create more highly engaged and profitable customer relationships, you need to gain access to their email and mobile phone number.  Use them to consistently communicate with your customers based upon their unique relationship with you.  Until now, this took a lot of time and money.

Read More

10 Steps to Finding and Keeping Your Best Customers

What are you aiming to accomplish this year?  

What are you aiming to accomplish this year?  

By Bruce Wildes, Acadia Business Advisors, LLC  207-370-8210

Finding and keeping the best customers for your business has never been easy.  In recent years, the tools for doing so, have changed.  Today, data is king!  You will be more profitable the more you can focus your time and resources on the smaller group of your most loyal customers and those who want to be, with the right assistance in getting there.  These may not be your highest revenue customers, but they are the most profitable.  The process is easier with a plan.

 1.   Identify your customer with every transaction.  Whether it’s a phone number, their name, or an email address, every business can identify the customer with their purchase history today.  Contact us for tools to automate this process for you.

2.   Communicate with them.  Not only while they are conducting business with you, but in-between, via email, the Web, or on social media.  Will it get done consistently and done well?  If not, please contact us. 

3.   Consistently invite them to provide their feedback and quickly respond with a personal comment within what may be a template auto-response.  If they know you are engaged in your business and they know they are being heard, you may not always agree, but they will become much more loyal to your business and more of an advocate for you in the marketplace.  Fred Reichheld of Bain & Co. and creator of the Net Promoter Scoretm , found that a loyal customer is worth six times the business of a satisfied one.  A detractor costs multiples more than the revenue they generate. We can design and manage this for you.

4.   Put a plan in place.  “A failure to plan is a plan for failure.”  What is your vision, mission, goal, strategy, tactics, results?  Contact us if you would like us to facilitate a planning workshop.

5.   Make the physical and online experience seamless.  Customers today want to have the conveniences technology provides with purchasing online, while also having the relationship a physical presence provides.  Provide customers the ability to access your online store while in your physical store, to see products not displayed in the store or to order products to be shipped to their home or another location.

6.   Streamline the checkout process.  Long lines cause customers to leave without a purchase.  Research shows Americans will leave a store without making a purchase if the checkout line is 8 minutes or longer.  In Britain they leave after 6 minutes.  If you don’t have a POS system that supports use of an iPad or other type of mobile device, be sure to include it in your next POS upgrade.  It also gets the employee out from behind the counter and dramatically accelerates the transaction process for the customer.  Many bigger stores have installed self-checkout stations with great success in reducing line fatigue.  If you are contemplating a new POS system, we work with several and can help you with the selection process.

7.   Provide ‘Retailtainment’.   If you are a restaurant or retail store, why not invite a local celebrity to sign autographs, or a musician to play, or a magician to perform, or a car show if you have space away from customer parking.  It can be a traffic booster that also differentiates you from competitors.  

8.   Immerse your customers in the experience.  Provide an opportunity for customers to use your products through an experience.  Ikea has their Dining Club. Guests get to run their own restaurant within the Ikea store, cooking meals and entertaining friends while being surrounded by Ikea’s products.  How can you apply the concept in your business? 

9.   Build your community.  As you identify who your most loyal customers are, bring them together through special events, access to online chat sessions or informational forums that can be online or in-store.

10.  Engage your employees.  Recently, I conducted a series of employee development workshops for a client.  It quickly identified and level-set across the organization how to quickly engage and elevate the customer and their experience.  Contact us today if you would like to learn more.  


Leveraging Voice of the Customer in Your Organization

Leveraging the Voice of the Customer

By Bruce Wildes11/25/2016

Today’s customer has more influence over the success of your business than ever before.  Listening more closely to your customers improves the customer experience and can lead to a wealth of benefits for your company. 


Its not just listening, but also acting on what they said and showing them the impact of their feedback.   How engaged are your customers with your brand?  Whether positive or negative, they are sharing their experiences about you with their friends, family, online communities, and social networks.  How you respond and whether you do or don’t, will also, on a broader level, be shared across their networks. 

The impact of implementing a strong Voice of the Customer program that promotes customer engagement is profound.  Fred Reichheld of Bain & Co and Net Promoters ScoreTM  found that highly engaged, or loyal customers are consistently worth six times the business of satisfied or passive customers.  They freely promote your business to others, they resist going to competitors, they are more forgiving, and they are easier to upsell. It is easier to create another loyal customer who has been referred by an existing loyal customer.

Voice of the customer not only is a view into individual customer behaviors and needs but also on a broader level through online communities, for example, the ability to see trends, benefits, and issues, much earlier within a product lifecycle.

Voice of the customer is much more than a one time online survey. It includes all forms of communication between your customer and your organization.  It can transform the culture of an organization. It provides multiple channels for the customer to utilize communicating their feedback and comments with the ability for the provider to respond quickly, whether an individual or to a broad audience.

Voice Of The Customer can be one of the most powerful influencers on the success of an organization. A well managed voice of the customer program will dramatically elevate the customer experience, strengthen customer loyalty, and significantly improve profitability, while potentially transforming the culture within some organizations. The success is determined by a few key elements:

1. Supportive leadership. 2. Accountability. 3. Responsiveness. 4. Taking action.

If you would like to learn more about how to put a VOC program in place, please contact us today.

How to Increase Survey Response Rates

We all feel it. Survey saturation!  There is a reason they have become so prolific.  With 1.4 billion smartphones sold in 2015 and 80% of internet access is done through a smart phone, the rules have changed with the consumer.  A recent study found that 80% of the merchants felt they provided an excellent customer experience yet only 8% of their customers agreed.-(MaritzCX)

What motivates people to take a survey is still a bit of a mystery, however, there are a few key elements that will drive up response rates.
1.  Share the results.  Post a summary report on your website or in your store.  Perhaps email it to all respondents.  
2.  Identify other people who care about the results. depending on the type of survey you may list professional colleagues, organizations, or others in your industry you don't compete with, to help you broaden your base of respondents.
3.  Send a reminder.   Whether it's an old-fashioned postcard or an email, a reminder will work.   A second reminder is often one of diminishing return.
4.  Charitable giving.   This works particularly well if it's a common cause supported by the respondents
5.  Tangible incentives.   A common incentive for retail stores can be dollars off the next visit with a minimum purchase. other incentives can be of a lottery type.  "Complete the survey and the entered into a drawing for a $5000 gift card."
6.  Allow respondents to be anonymous.
7.  Hire an independent third-party company to conduct the survey.  Afirm with experience will know how to craft the questions, what order to put the questions in, and be able to provide respondents anonymity while also allowing them participation in incentives.  They will also typically get a higher response rate than a firm doing it themselves.

Contact us today, if you would like our free 10 Tips to a Terrific Survey. 
Feel free to share this article with a friend.


Ten Reasons to Conduct Market Research©

You’ve been in business a number of years and you feel you are ‘successful’.  Do you really know your market, now?  You plan your entire marketing based upon your experience and ‘gut instinct’.  You have a lot of data available to you but do you stop to properly look at it, analyze it, and validate it?  If you consistently do look at and analyze the data, you have a significant competitive advantage over your competitors. 

Market research is not a single event, but it should be an ongoing process to achieve maximum benefit.  It’s objective, systematic, and consistent analysis of data about your competition, your organization’s role and position in the market, and the market environment.

The information you obtain from market research is powerful and can have an important influence in critical business decisions and usually, if done correctly, the conclusions you reach have a value that far exceeds the cost of the research itself.

Ten reasons to conduct market research

1.    It guides your communication with current and potential customers.

a.    It should inform you of the most effective way to communicate with your customers.

b.    You should know what they like, dislike, prefer to see, hear, or do, allowing you to focus your message toward making them take action.

2.    It helps you identify opportunities in the marketplace.

a.    Is the product or program you offer or plan to offer what the customer wants to receive?  It allows you to prevent making expensive assumptions and to make modifications on what you plan to offer the target audience first.

3.    Market research helps you minimize risk.

4.    Market research measures your reputation.

a.    How do you measure against your competition?

b.    Over time, how have you changed to stay ahead or improved your position in the market’s perception of your position in relation to the competition?

5.    Market research exposes potential problems before they occur.

a.    You get reaction to a new product or service before being released.

b.    It allows you to put your best out, creating greater positive first impressions, which are most often, lasting impressions. 

6.    Market research allows you to do better planning.

a.    Sales projections and marketing expenditures to achieve sales can be more accurate.

b.    Sales costs and cycle times can be reduced.

7.    It can help you measure and establish trends.

a.    A consistent market research processprovides you a lot of data to analyze your customers and establish trends.

b.    This allows you to be more proactive and less reactive in the decision-making process.

8.    Market research helps you with your market positioning.

a.    It helps you benchmark and measure progress, allowing you to make better and faster decisions.

9.    It can define the most persuasive promise

a.    Every brand makes a promise.  What is yours?  It must be simple.  “Fast, secure, tasty, personal’.

10. Market research can find the compromise

a.    Going to the market with a new product or service eliminates the bias of the internal organization.

b.    It can provide you a new approach that meets your expectations and also meets the needs of the largest part of the market, which may be different from your original plans. 


In conclusion, market research is an investment.  Though it may seem expensive and time-consuming, good research provides unbiased information and a more accurate reflection of the perception of your audience.  In the auto industry, the manufacturers consistently gather data from their prospective customers, existing customers, competitor customers, and other sources.  They develop ‘concept’ cars for the series of annual auto shows, based upon their earlier research and use the shows to get additional data.  Models are often launched or scrapped based upon audience reaction at these shows, often considered their final stage of their market research. 

Source:  Marilia Spindler, AE, Happy Creative.


Is Price Relevant?

In most buying decisions, price has to be part of the consideration.  It is difficult to buy a Bentley on the budget of a Ford.  If you are buying a car of the same brand and model between two dealers, their reputation and your experience in the shopping process will typically have greater influence than a small difference in the price. Is price the best determinant for an investment of the type you are considering, that can have a major impact on the direction and future of your business?  I would argue that it is certainly a factor but that it should never be the deciding factor in a major business decision.  Other key considerations I would factor into the decision process of any major investment:

1.  What other value to your business does the provider currently provide, or could provide in the future?

2.  Does the provider have a consistent track record of clearly working and looking out for the best interests of its clients?

3. Does the provider deliver options that allow you to utilize a product, skill set, or service that meets your needs now, while also being able to provide you other levels of products, skill sets, or services that may be different over time as your business grows and your needs change?

4.  Is there good chemistry in the relationship that will be beneficial to you during inevitable difficult situations?

5. Price is long forgotten when there is quality in the product and in the experience over the life of the relationship. 


Below, is an article in The Insurance Journal, March 18, 2008


Price is an Issue in the Absence of Value


Willis Chairman and CEO Joe Plumeri concluded a series of discussions on mega-trends in the insurance industry sponsored by the Insurance Institute of London (IIL) at Lloyd’s last week. He told his audience that “one of the biggest challenges facing the insurance industry is the demand for differentiated value.”

Plumeri’s remarks added to discussions of the changing nature of risks and the “war for distribution and the convergence of capital and insurance markets,” said a Willis bulletin. He encouraged the industry to find innovative ways to meet these new challenges.

Plumeri’s address, according to Willis, packed Lloyd’s Old Library. He told the assembled brokers and insurers to demonstrate what he termed their “Value Gap” to clients who now demand exceptional quality and best cost. “Value is the gap between what clients can do for themselves and what we can do for them,” Plumeri explained. “As an industry we do not have great self-esteem and as a result we don’t get adequately compensated for the value we deliver.”

In plain words Plumeri stated: “Our industry only gets paid for the placement of business and not all the invaluable advice and service that we provide clients throughout the entire process. What you put into that gap will differentiate your client offering.”

Plumeri discussed the volatility of today’s risk environment and urged the industry not to try and give old answers to new questions like cyber risk, terrorism and climate change. He suggested embracing technology as a possible solution. “I believe in enhancing technology not, instead of people, but on behalf of people,” he continued.

Plumeri also discussed the demand for and retention of professional talent as another mega-trend for the industry to take action on. “We have to stop recycling people,” he stated. “We need an injection of fresh, new talent into the industry because that’s the only way we will grow our business.” To achieve that goal means making investments in training of staff as a critical component in retention.

His conclusion was a strongly worded appeal for recognition of the important role insurance plays in stimulating economies. “The insurance industry is the DNA of capitalism,” said Plumeri, “and we have a responsibility to the global economy to meet these new challenges. We need to navigate all these mega-trends to define our future success.”

Source: Willis Group Holdings –