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The art of appreciation

By | Business Etiquette, Strategy | No Comments

When I was a girl, my mom had a steadfast rule about thank-you notes: Other than a short window on Christmas Day, there was no playing with our gifts until our thank-you notes had been written.  It was excruciating for my brother and me to watch the neighborhood kids ride past our house on their shiny new bikes every December 26th.  We instead sat writing note after note to everyone from grandparents to Santa Claus.  We were likely the only two children who ever wrote to the North Pole after Christmas, but she insisted that we acknowledge the labors of Santa and his elves.

As much as I hated writing those notes, I have to admit, we received extensive compliments from the recipients.  I learned early on how tickled they were to learn that we liked the sweater or that we planned to save the money for college.  I quickly caught on that thank-you notes made people happy, and usually resulted in bigger and better gifts the following year.

The art of appreciation will move to the front burner in 2009, as clients looking to reduce costs may analyze the benefits of your services.  Knowing their business is important to you can set you apart from your competitors and create trust and long-term loyalty.  Research shows it’s actually cheaper to generate more business from exisiting clients than to pursue new ones. And it’s important to note that recognition is not just for the holidays.  You can’t send a fruitcake at Christmas and ignore the other 11 months.

Do you have a well-planned, consistently executed “Client Appreciation Program” for your existing customers? If not, now is the time to start.  It could be as simple and inexpensive as handwritten cards when a client signs or re-ups with you; adds or expands business, or celebrates an anniversary as a client.  Skip e-mail if possible; personal greetings carry a more genuine message.  If you know a client is celebrating a life event such as a wedding or new baby, be sure to send your written congratulations — or sympathies when appropriate.   If your budget allows for coupons, rewards programs, referral incentives, small gifts, or client events, add those in.  Just be sure you’re doing something to recognize your clients regularly.

It takes mere minutes and just pennies to stand out in a crowd.  Now, when your crowd of competitors is likely dwindling, it’s easier — and more important — than ever to show your clients you value their business and your relationship. Just like I learned when I was a child, the mere expression of personal appreciation can have fringe benefits, both in life and in business.  Looks like mother really does know best!

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Recession? What Recession?

By | Marketing, Sales, Technology | No Comments

What’s missing from this photo? About seventy-five squabbling siblings, several (though not enough) overwhelmed staffers, a couple dozen frazzled parents (including me), and the line leading out the door past Starbucks.  Because, when it comes to the economic “downturn,” the only thing down at GameStop stores I have visited recently is their inventory.

Halfway between the Christmas Eve peas and mashed potatoes, I recalled “THE GAME”.  It’s capitalized to express its utter necessity to my pre-teen son. Although the mall lot allowed a bevy of prime spaces, GameStop was packed like a can of sardines even as Santa made his way through the eastern seaboard (updates courtesy of NORAD). I waited patiently for 30 minutes to pay while being thrashed by anxious customers in my same predicament.  I can’t imagine there was anything left to buy by the time I straggled out, bruised but not broken. I had THE GAME in hand.

Alas, the relatives dished out GameStop gift cards galore–and we found out on Friday morning that apparently, the rest of the world’s kin did the same.  And that ALL of them planned to use the cards now.  At the same location.  At the same time.   On the same games.  Or so it seemed.  After failing to find everything at the nearest store–which was so busy we had to wait 20 minutes in line just to be let inside–it was off to another mall.  Me, the three kids, two neighbors and somebody’s cousin from Oklahama.  And ALL of them were loaded with GameStop gift cards.

I dutifully took my place in line while my charges jostled with the 50 or so other card-carrying kids. I was impressed by the “Buy Two Used Games, Get One Free” sale.  One mom about to drive to Texas with triplets waited to purchase a stack bigger than a ten-gallon hat.  Trade-ins took twice as long, but they offered good money plus a discount for used games.  They even suggested we buy a used game over new, which saved us $10 and gained us rights to return.  My youngest scored several “Buy One, Get One” deals, and huge “Guitar Hero” and “Rock Band” boxes flew out the door.  I know because I was hit by them.

GameStop seems to be playing this recession right.  Deep After-Christmas discounts?  Check.  BOGO offers to move excess inventory?  Check.  Agressive marketing, value branding?  Check.   Even the annoyingly long lines create a certain buzz.  Of course, it doesn’t hurt that even when money is tight, many parents are willing to sacrifice to keep the kids happy. While I doubt that GameStop’s fourth quarter will be its best ever, I guarantee their December numbers will be better than most.  And while I don’t own any stock in the company, maybe it’s time to buy some.  As long as I don’t have to wait in line!

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Elect-a-head on Ellen DeGeneres

By | Fun, Marketing, News, Sales | No Comments

One of the joys going around here at Counterintuity has been seeing our client’s presidential bobbleheads appear on the Ellen DeGeneres show. The spotlighted products are by one of our clients, Elect-a-head.com. A big thanks and congratulations goes out to Lisa, our publicist, who by connecting with the major producers on various TV networks and shows, made it possible to see the skit Ellen put together on her show based on Elect-a-head’s presidential bobbleheads.

Here’s the video: