21st Century Marketing the Old-Fashioned Way
With a recession affecting global business, entrepreneurs are turning to new techniques for marketing to capture the customer’s attention. While many African entrepreneurs have long used traditional marketing techniques, they are on the cutting edge for some U.S. executives.
Surprisingly, the newest emerging marketing technique is old-school face-to-face personal interaction. Personal communication between two individuals builds bonds and results in sales more often than any other type of marketing. At a time when consumers are second-guessing every purchase, the personal touch can make all the difference.
Face-to-fact interaction is still the fastest and most effective way to build trust, and more than ever, clients need to trust that they are getting a good deal. Convenience, customer service and low price are still important but according to marketing guru Kim Gordon, customers need to have confidence that the product will perform as expected.
Kim Gordon, marketing coach at Entrepreneur magazine’s website and the author of four books on the topic, is a noted speaker on new media and old marketing techniques.
Ms. Gordon insists that the business owners who will thrive in a difficult economy are those who interact directly with their customers on a regular basis. A shop owner should make special efforts to interact with customers, perhaps by offering in-store demonstrations or workshops. Teaching the customer to use your product will result in repeat sales. Kehinde Okafor, a butcher from Nigeria has used this technique effectively. “When we started teaching the customers how to prepare the meat so it is nice and tasty, we started selling more. Now, we sell almost twice as much meat. People come from villages all around to ask how they should braise this or roast that.”
However, simply interacting with the customer is not enough. Ms. Gordon notes that customers today expect to be understood. They are tired of being passively told what they should do or buy. Instead, customers want to buy from someone who understands their needs and will listen to their concerns, engaging in a dialogue.
Listening to customers also provides valuable suggestions about the products. A clothing retailer, for example, may learn how to make dresses more appealing to older customers with higher incomes.
Forming an advisory panel is an excellent way to build customer loyalty and expand your client base. Prominent members of the community are invited to join a group that provides you with feedback on new products. In exchange, the advisors may receive inexpensive gifts, early notifications of sales and new products, or coupons for a percentage off.
Members of the advisory group tend to buy more, because they feel their opinions are incorporated into the end product. Discounts help them justify these increased expenditures to themselves, and to others. In addition, the advisor is more likely to recommend a new product to friends when he feels that he had a hand in designing it.