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Christmas is on the way so plenty of businesses are starting to think about ways to lure shopper’s dollars. Martin Grunstein joins Peter Switzer on his Sky News Business Channel program – SWITZER – to look at simple strategies retailers can use to drive sales in the lead up to the holidays.

With the Reserve Bank raising interest rates in these challenging times for retailers, Grunstein says the most basic competitive trick is to “stop doing what everyone else has done all the time and start doing a few different things”. The old sale sign, even the one that says “Sizzling Summer Sale!” as Switzer suggests, is no longer effective.

Grunstein says retailers need to put something else in the window. He gives the example that most optometrists have the sign ‘optometrist’ in the window, “which is not an advantage over other optometrists”. When some optometrists asked him what they should put in their window, he suggested:

“Thinking of getting married? Come in for an eye test. You might change your mind.”

“Comedy works,” he says. “It’s all about cut-through, and everything they’ve taught us about marketing and sales, retail, any type of business, is that you’ve got to do what the other guys aren’t doing.”

No more Christmas cards

Grunstein says, while he is not anti-Christmas, or anti-good will, he is “anti-doing whatever everything other bugger does in the marketplace”. This includes the common Christmas card. Grunstein no longer sends Christmas cards, he sends Happy 27 November cards. His clients gets lots of cards at Christmas and no one remembers who they were from. All Grunstein’s clients get a card on 27 November and everyone remembers who sent it.

“In 1994, I did $20,000 worth of seminar work that came from my 93 27 November cards being passed around to people I would never have been able to get in contact with myself,” he says, adding that there are three reasons he sends the card on 27 November:

  1. “It costs exactly the same whether you do it 27 November or 25 December.”
  2. “December is a dead month for me. And one of things I try to urge people to do in business is make some ‘how’s things?’ phone calls. Don’t talk to them just when you want to sell them something. I pick up the phone in December and say “G’day, how are you? Just wanted to keep in touch and say hi,” a week or two after I’ve sent out a 27 November card and I’m top of mind. You’d be amazed how much business I write in my quietest month of the year.”
  3. “The third reason I do it is so I never forget my wedding anniversary, which is 27 November.”

Picking up the phone is important. Grunstein says unreturned phone calls is the greatest cause of lost business.

“These companies go on these massive retreats to work out their mission and their value statement or whatever, and all they need is to return phone calls. The companies come back and they say, ‘we’ve been to this retreat, and we’re going to give the best customer service in the world.’ [You ask] ‘Why won’t you answer anyone on the phone?’ [and they answer] ‘Well, it’s because we were away at this retreat.’ Just return the phone calls – treat me with dignity, treat me with respect.”

Think outside the square

Grunstein heard a story at a workshop about a lady who had a great customer service experience when she bought a Lexus.

“She said she was test driving the car and the sales person was asking a lot of questions – some relevant, irrelevant, one of them was ‘what type of music do you like?’ She didn’t give it any thought until she took delivery of the car – sitting on the front seat of the car were $200 worth of CDs in her favourite music,” he says.

Grunstein asked the lady how many people she had told about the CDs in the last six months. She said around 100.

He then asked how many people she had told about the car.

“Very interesting reply. She said ‘no one initially, but every person I told about the CDs wanted to know what car it was, and I told 100 people about how happy I was with my Lexus and where I bought it.’ And I said to her ‘I’ve been trying to explain customer service for years. You just did it in 30 seconds.’

Companies spend a lot of money on CRM software, when really all they have to do is ring up their clients, says Grunstein.

“It doesn’t take a lot of rocket science and brains to ring up a client a month after they’ve bought the car and say, ‘Are you enjoying the motoring experience?’”

He says all businesses are in a “people business”.

So, this Christmas and all year round, “it comes down to having strategies that are different from the others”. 

Work on your business, not in it. To learn how, book a complimentary business assessment today with a Switzer Business Coach.

Important information:This content has been prepared without taking account of the objectives, financial situation or needs of any particular individual. It does not constitute formal advice. For this reason, any individual should, before acting, consider the appropriateness of the information, having regard to the individual’s objectives, financial situation and needs and, if necessary, seek appropriate professional advice.

Published on: Friday, November 06, 2009

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