October '13

For the Business of Apparel Decorating

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Your Personal Business Trainer by Vince DiCecco |||| Make It Personal! Tips to increase customer loyalty I grew up in a very small New Jersey town in the 1960s, and I have vivid memories of walking into the only Vince DiCecco is a dynamic and sought-after seminar speaker and author clothing store on Chestnut Street—Jerry's Departwith a unique perspective on business development and management ment Store—with my mom to buy gym gear for school subjects, primarily in the decorated- and promotional-apparel industries. and the dress suit for my first Communion. The busy staff With over 20 years experience in sales, marketing and training, he is presdiscussed family, school, church and sports with their cusently an independent consultant to various apparel-decorating businesses tomers as they waited on them. When it was our turn, the looking to improve profitability and sharpen their competitive edge. Visit salesperson began asking my mother a litany of questions: his new website at, and send email to "Is this your first visit to our store? Are you new in town? Where are you from? Where do you live? Where do you mation. However, since customers do not work? How many children do you have? How old are they?" view the transfer and use of information as From our answers, the salesperson discovered we lived on the west side of town, that I a personal benefit to their total purchasing loved to play baseball and was an altar boy at church and that my mother was a factory experience, sales may increase, but cusseamstress. We were treated to feel like familiar customers at a store with an obvious pretomer loyalty does not. mium on personal services. To build sustained loyalty, marketers and Unlike the usual consumer of the 1960s, the modern-day customer is more complex, small business owners must gain knowlinformed and mobile, with a tendency to be guarded about personal information. Even if edge of customers' most intimate likes so inclined, sales professionals today aren't expected to keep direct track of every customer. and dislikes. Then, they must use that Instead, mass marketers employ strategies to artificially recreate the intimacy that led to knowledge to deliver the benefits customsuccessful brand loyalty in the past. Well, maybe it's time to get back to fundamentals. ers want. This way, customers feel that the sales process is just one part of a meaningThe state of marketing today ful relationship with the vendor. To replace the inquisitive salesperson's personal memory, marketers now turn to credit card data spending habits and the study of online information (like details from social media profiles and generic marketing surveys) to determine what trends are prevalent and how What a partnership makes shoppers make buying decisions. Customer partnership is an attitude that reThese statistics build warehouses of information and draw conclusions through data lies on mutual genuine, expressed respect. mining techniques. It's all very sterile, impersonal and mundane. When marketers detect As a result, you will know that you've done any semblance of a pattern, they convert the raw data into direct mail pieces, email blasts, telemarketing calls and other, easily ignored sales pitches. So, how have marketing masterminds attempted to recapture attention? They've invented the velvet ropes of incentives known as "loyalty" programs, where customers earn everything—from cash back, to bonus goods and services, to airline miles, to significant discounts—as rewards for keeping their business at the suitors' stores. In the early 2000s, the average American shopper belonged to 3.2 such programs. Today, that number has at least tripled. To participate, shoppers must share the kind of information that salespeople personally gathered in recent decades. Because questions can be deemed an invasion of privacy, marketers trade discounts and other considerations for the infor- 20 | Printwear PW_OCT13.indd 20 October 2013 9/17/13 8:48 AM

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