Category Archives: Advertising

How turnstiles and other security barriers will save you during Christmas

Christmas is a few short weeks away and shoppers are preparing for it. As a business person, you need to be more prepared than anyone, as late shoppers’ desperation will take them anywhere and everywhere. The festive season is always filled with enormous numbers of shoppers, often more than any other time of year. People often take their leave days to spend with family, but it also might be the first time they’ve even had an opportunity to shop. Thus, you shouldn’t view all shoppers as merely being late, in terms of procrastinating. Instead, you should recognise that there might be these mitigating factors for their desperate attempts to bring joy to their loved ones through gifts. To help reduce problems, both for yourself and the horde of shoppers, you should consider interventions that can help manage crowds.

What is crowd control?

As Lavi Industries points out: “When crowds are ‘controlled’ everyone can enjoy themselves and a business or event can be more successful.” After all, in order to reach customers to help them, you need to know where they are, listen to them and so on. If all you encounter is noise, shouting and desperation, everything will be a mess. Order helps everyone, including customers though they may feel otherwise.

The difficulty is how to enforce order amidst this chaos. You have to rely on staff, who can become overwhelmed. It’s ideal, then, when hiring to look for those who are capable of handling themselves in tense situations, which is what every holiday season tends to be, especially in busy places like malls. Indeed, as the American National Retail Federation notes:

“For stores that do not have dedicated security or loss prevention staff, the on-site store team is
often tasked with coordinating, planning, staffing and executing the event. These staff
members provide retail companies with outside expertise and know-how that can be beneficial
in emergency situations. However, this arrangement can also pose some challenges. It’s
imperative for retailers to provide clear lines of communication, access to a top-ranking loss
prevention executive who has key decision-making capabilities and a store manager with
access to local law enforcement and the mall/property management company.”

But people can only get you so far. You must consider other interventions.

Turnstiles

One of the most popular forms of crowd control, often used in the largest stadiums in the world, are turnstiles. Turnstiles are so popular there’s even a Turnstile band. What matters to you however is what a turnstile does. This is a mechanical gate that turns horizontally, allowing for individual entrance and exits, making for free flow of people. A turnstile gate can become your most important asset in managing a large crowd, since it prevents them from flooding in en masse.

In this way, people basically control themselves, since they cannot simply force their way through. Instead, they must operate carefully and thoughtfully. This slows down flow, which makes movement easier.

Staff training

As noted, staff will often be essential. They will need to help customers faster and get them to tills and out the door. You should assist not merely by handling tills yourself, but by training your team in advance. Staff should know who to call, where products are, how to answer common questions and so on. Obviously, by virtue of being staff, they should already be trained in these. However, everything will be turned up to eleven so they must work faster and be able to react quickly.

One of the most common problems during the festive season is an increase in customer complaints. As Elaine Allison, a consumer expert, notes:

“From buying gifts, food, alcohol parties and everything in between, we all need the extra time and strategies – including the staff who are working during the rush. Most people are not on their regular clock and they are getting pushy and cranky out there. This includes service staff in any of those industries that won’t breathe until about January 5th.”

Thus, you should expect one cranky person to encounter another, as a desperate customer meets obstacles and staff who are overwhelmed by the numbers around them. You must establish protocols, such as having a senior member on staff available at all times. Don’t ever let it escalate to the point where a customer makes a public display and vows to never return. Instead, isolate the customer, speak softly and assure them any problem will be solved. Sometimes, all customers want is someone in some position of power to hear their complaints – they don’t particularly want a solution right now, as much as they want a sympathetic ear to hear their frustration. Be prepared to play therapist!

By taking these kinds of precautions, you can create a smooth transition from the normal year into the festive one.

Top marketing tips for 2017

Every business wants to stand out from others. If a company is noticed more easily, it can draw attention and therefore customers, leading to profits and success. Being the best is meaningless if no one knows about your business.

With today’s technology, standing out is both easier and harder. This is due to the wealth of tools available, letting more people engage in smart ways to raise brand awareness – but this also means stiffer competition.

No wonder some companies are considering such drastic steps as artificial intelligence (AI), to help manage their marketing. CMO investigated these very recent developments, especially since they stem from some of the biggest tech companies in the world:

“Recent months have seen technology providers such as Salesforce, Oracle and Microsoft bring new AI-based technologies to market, promising to derive insights and improve conversions by mimicking the processes of the human brain in software. Salesforce, for example, is rolling out its Einstein AI technology to provide functions such as product recommendations within the Commerce Cloud, email content recommendations within its Marketing Cloud, and predictive forecasting tools for sales managers with its Sales Cloud.”

This ties in to wider considerations of what marketing trends can teach the modern business, to help broaden their appeal and reach greater audiences. These are some top marketing tips for business in 2017.

Document everything

It’s important to focus on tracking buyers’ behaviour. This lets us see how they got to their eventual purchases, what tipped them and so on. Of course, that depends on them reaching our site in the first place. But, once they’re on, it’s important that we know their movements, using tracking software.

But documenting isn’t enough, we also need to interpret the data properly. One of the most important lessons taught in marketing courses is knowing how to interpret a user’s behaviour. With more data in our hands, we have more basis on which to make informed conclusions. This is also the very data that AI can help manage in future.

Think wider

The world has become more connected thanks to the Internet. This is why we can do marketing courses online, gaining insight from all over the world. Whether we’re studying marketing courses in Egypt or marketing courses in London, there’s a universality to these ideas that lends itself to wider thinking. But, far more interesting, is to glean insights about particular populations and their behaviour.

For example, what matters to the average Londoner or Egyptian citizen might differ when it comes to certain categories of interest, such as sports or entertainment. Payfort, for example, points out that most Egyptian shoppers are under 35 years of age and its female shoppers do most of the online purchasing. Last year, the Royal Mail Group researched how the average UK shopper operated:

“86% of non-grocery shopping budget is now spent online, up from 80% in 2014, and the average spend is increasing. Consumers spent an average of £287 per person online in the last three months vs £274 spent online in the same period in 2014.”

Given our move toward online sales, it’s important we do not limit our research to only a few locations – we should be looking wider, tapping into what unites and differentiates shoppers around the world.

Social media

Everyone by now realises the importance of using social media for business. Not only does it provide legitimacy, but it also allows us to engage with customers. Indeed, social media can lead directly to sales, since we can announce deals, answer questions and so on, all of which leads to customers making a purchase.

However, in 2017, marketing experts have suggested we expand further. As Forbes’ Jayson DeMers notes:

“People are also starting to demand social media as a conduit for more vicarious experiences. It’s no longer enough to post your sentiments about an event; you have to show your users what it’s like to be there. You can do this with things like live video, 360 images and recordings, and even just more real-time posting. The idea is to make your users feel like they’re a genuine part of the experience, as it’s unfolding.”

New technology

As we already noted, marketers have shown an interest in AI as a means to help them deal with enormous amount of data. Yet, it’s not only the future technology of AI that is being regarded within marketing. Augmented reality and virtual reality are in homes all over the world and the average consumer is able to engage with new forms of interaction.

Jay Shemenski examined what these new technologies could mean for brands:

“In all of these applications, VR, AR, and 360 are giving brands opportunities to create remarkable experiences that are pushing the boundaries of content as we know it. But it’s important to remember that novel tricks will not build and nurture audiences. Instead it’s the enhancement of stories and value these technologies enable that is so powerful.”

Of course, they can only enhance content that is already good – they cannot themselves conjure up quality on their own. These are merely platforms, but it remains dependent on marketers to use them in innovative, creative and positive ways.

In the end, the trends that matter for 2017 are concerns we’ve had throughout 2016. Now is the time to reflect on what we can do to enhance these goals, making our businesses stand out in the years to come.

 

What startups must consider when starting their business in 2016

Startups must consider the world as it stands in 2016. Everything is integrated in ways no one could’ve foreseen. Creating a business no longer means standing by rules or ideas that worked decades ago. Instead, new ways have had to be created just as new businesses begun. What matters to people these days differs dramatically from before, meaning businesses have to had to readjust their priorities in extraordinary ways.

We should therefore consider just what startups should consider as essential in 2016.

The internet is everywhere

If we don’t have a website, we don’t exist. A digital presence is everything. Customers are searching with their phones, using them to find info on everything about shops to products being sold. People forget that the entire continent of Africa is renowned as being the mobile continent, with a large number of phones in use. As Time pointed out, “nearly 70% of Amazon’s customers shopped via mobile devices [the in 2015] holiday season.”

Existing does not just mean having a website – it means having a working, reliable and easy to use site. We need to also be on social media, since this conveys further reliability. Customers don’t like fewer ways to contact businesses and will see absence as a negative.

As part of considering how we’ll exist online, we must consider if we’re opting for Cloud or VPS hosting, the type of site we’ll build and so on.  

Mobile is everything

As we’ve noted, mobile is essential. We must create services in a way that welcomes mobile engagement. This could mean either making our site mobile friendly or developing a mobile app. From big to small, all businesses have developed apps that allow users an easy way to engage with the business. Amazon has its own app, as does the local Mr Delivery – making selections easy for the customer and encouraging follow through of sales benefitting the business. The convenience of mobile is the biggest benefit for a business – not catering to it could mean collapse.

Challenge and growth

These days, people from all walks of life are obtaining degrees and education. The barriers restricting people based on their identity have reduced (but aren’t completely gone, unfortunately). This means we’re operating in a world increasingly diverse. We should attempt to look beyond the confines of those we know and associate with, bringing in talent and skills from people we might not meet otherwise. Businesses consistently benefit from diversity, too, since this brings new ideas and considerations from perspectives we’d never consider. Often, values can be challenged but this should be seen as a reason to grow, as a person and business.

3 free ways to get your business out there

If only we could all have an enormous marketing and advertising budget. If only we could splash out on gorgeous marketing campaigns and be guaranteed financial returns. But we can’t. Starting a new business venture is difficult and brings with it a number of challenges that often cost money to overcome. So marketing your business tends to keep falling to the bottom of the priority list when it comes to expenses. However, there are clever ways to make sure your business gains some exposure without spending a cent.

Here are three ways to get your business out there that’ll cost you time but not money.

Fix your site and start a blog

You’ve probably set up your website already –every single business owner knows you must be online and have a website for prospective clientele to visit. It’s a no-brainer. But some websites do more damage than good when their pages are poorly designed and their static content is of the sub-standard variety. If this sounds like you, then fix it. Free website templates are easy to navigate and with enough practise you’ll be able to tweak the site to look and feel better. If you leave your sub-standard website online you’ll be doing damage to your business. Also, add a blog page and start writing. This sounds a lot more difficult than it is. However, having a blog page means you can create original content that Google will recognise as unique (improving your rankings) and that you can share across your social media channels. A blog is engaging. You can relate ideas and offer advice thereby establishing yourself as an industry expert.

Be social media savvy or die

You’ve definitely heard it before but you’ll hear it again and again. You must be present on social media. Platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube are free channels that’ll give you complete exposure if you use them properly. You need to share across all of these channels and ideally, automate your social posts. You’ll be able to share your unique quality content and respond to clients who engage. You’ll be able to start conversations and join in on forums or groups who’re talking about related topics.

Get out and socialise

Attend all and every event that is related to your industry and that attracts your target audience. This is basically real life social media. Find ways to get yourself on the guest list to events, conferences, seminars and community interactions. Spend some time online scouring through various social events, search for communities who are interested in topics relating to your industry and find ways to join them. The only thing you’ll be spending is your time and it’ll be well worth it.

When you finally have some money in the bank to spend on growing your business why not consider sending yourself on a couple of sales and marketing courses so you can keep your marketing internalised. In this way you’ll save money in the long run.

What lies in the future of marketing?

No one can accurately predict the future. Yet we can speculate on broader themes and examine what happened in the past. Making informed predictions does not mean absolutely perfect ones. To that end, we should wonder what lies ahead for marketing. Knowing what we’ll see means knowing what will work – and in this way, we benefit our business.

Social is king

Social media has come to dominate the modern landscape, with smartphone users. Even on the African continent, where mobile phone users outnumber even bank users, social media is rapidly spreading. Of course, social media is completely different than other forms of media since it is controlled by the audience itself. That is, they decide what to see but can then interact with major brands like never before.

This isn’t like an audience who could change the channel – on Twitter, Facebook and so on – users and brands can often operate on the same platform and have the same reach. As Inc.com notes:

“The social approach underscores the importance of the increasingly connected, interactive and vocal audience dominant in social networks. With increasing power over the kind of content they produce and consume, users are becoming more discerning. The mass market approach is thus no longer as relevant as before.”

Recognising the growth of social media is essential for any brands hoping to dominate or have some strong footing in marketing. Creating or working with a tech-savvy, socially capable marketing team is essential.

Mobile will dominate

Related to social media, mobile marketing will also continue to be important. What’s important is to recognise what technology is being used for. For example, SMS messages are no longer as prominent as they once were. This means if we’re still sending SMSes in 2017, we might look as relevant as VCR repair people.

But there’s another often overlooked aspect. As Internet Retailer highlights: “The more screens a shopper uses to access an online retailer, the more loyal and valuable she is.”

Good content

Customers want more than just what the business offers, in terms of products or services. They want an experience. One way to deliver that is to produce relevant content, tapping into wider social events and happenings. We want customers to feel they are dealing with people, not just a blank name or logo. By showing humanity, in terms of keeping up with social events, movements, thought leadership, we provide more ways for them to interact with us.

These are just some considerations for the future, but we should also keep up to date by doing marketing courses, providing us with more concrete foundations for consideration.