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Spend Some Time Picking up the Phone and More Tips for Year’s End

Including a markdown strategy to set you up for holiday success and when exactly to blast those mobile campaign messages for maximum impact.




Spend Some Time Picking up the Phone and More Tips for Year’s End

customer serviceEveryone to the Phones

Once your business gets big enough, you hire someone to answer the phones. That’s great for efficiency but it also adds a layer between you and your patients. And it’s not just you — it’s everyone who no longer answers phones, from your manager to your opticians. But there’s real benefit in maintaining that contact, says marketer and business author Seth Godin, arguing that everyone should spend time every month picking up the phone and answering a few questions. On top of learning what people are looking for or unhappy about, you establish a small human connection with your business.

inventoryDon’t Wait to Mark Down

It’s barely the start of the holiday season but now’s the time to be thinking about your markdowns, says inventory consultant Ted Hurlbut. First, with more store traffic, you can move more goods with a smaller discount than in January, he says. And second, by disposing of the merchandise before the last three weeks of the holiday season you’ll have your boards and showcases brimming with best sellers at the peak time of the year.

marketingTime It Right

If you’re considering a mobile marketing campaign this holiday season, blast those customers who signed up for your texts at a time they’d likely be eating lunch or meeting friends. If your promotion is an exciting one, there’s a good chance they’ll share the news with friends or workmates, boosting the campaign’s impact, Paul Hurley, founder of, told The Wall Street Journal.


psychologyInspire Gratitude in Customers

What’s better? A grateful customer or a loyal customer? A paper in Journal Marketing argues the former. It says customers who are made to feel grateful become enduringly loyal and as a result, increase their purchases from the business. In contrast, loyalty or rewards programs rarely inspire gratitude. Miles or points are seen more as something consumers earn. So what’s the psychology behind it? Humans get pleasure out of reciprocating good deeds, and guilt when they don’t. What unexpected gifts or services can you surprise your customers with?

marketingWhen in Doubt … Gift Cards!

Picky teens, hard-to-shop-for dads, new stepmoms: They’re all among the people for whom it’s hard to choose a gift. Another cohort you may not have given much thought to: the elderly. Dr. Scott Keating of Vision Trends by Dr. Scott Keating in Dover, OH, gets in the Black Friday action by promoting gift certificates for “the hard to buy grandparents.”

operationsDon’t Cut Muscle

Unless the economic downturn threatens your company’s existence, do not cut back on strategic initiatives, write Robert S. Kaplan and David P. Norton in the Harvard Business Review. These initiatives will give you the competitive advantage for the long haul, and you might try creating a new accounting category specifically for long-term strategic plans. “Attempts to cut fat and waste often slice into newly growing muscle, bone and tendon,” the authors write.

marketingDouble Up on Hashtags

#BlackFriday, #SmallBusinessSaturday — whatever holiday you highlight in your email newsletter this month — be sure to include hashtags that will allow you to follow the cookie trail, say the marketing mavens at Constant Contact. “Whether you issue a challenge, offer advice, or ask your readers to share, include a branded hashtag and a custom hashtag — along with a corresponding post on social media — so you can easily find and like what they post,” they say. As the name implies, a branded hashtag is essentially your practice’s tagline.



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