Staff Atascadero Chamber of Commerce Derek Kirk

By Derek Kirk, President | CEO of the Atascadero Chamber of Commerce

What if our local business owners went trick or treating this year? Not trick or treating in the traditional sense, but what if they filled their Halloween buckets up with the candy of customer engagement? With the upcoming months crammed with holidays like Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas, there is no better time to start filling up your bucket.

So, why should you bother with customer engagement?

Customer engagement leads to the long-term sustainability and success of your business. Now that is worth repeating. Repeat customers are engaged customers. Now, there are some unengaged customers that may wander in, but likely not the majority. Unengaged customers do not frequent businesses. For local businesses, unengaged customers are one of the greatest missed opportunities. Your business could be missing out on a lot of “candy”.

How do you start filling your bucket with customer engagement? You can begin by capturing your customers’ attention. Do not just do the same old thing. Customers expect that and disengaged customers will ignore it. Doing something new and different can make your customers stop and do a double take. In the coming months, you can take advantage of the holiday inspiration and count down the twelve days of Christmas for example.  Each day could hold a special sale or a prize for a random shopper. Or, you could start thankful Thursdays in the month of November, encouraging customer participation. The possibilities are only limited by your creativity.

As fun as these events can be, it is not enough to hope people hear about it. Sharing your events and cool deals is the next step to filling up your bucket. Social media is one of the best tools we have today at our disposal to spread your news. You can share your event online and potentially reach more people than if you hired someone for two days that walked around passing out flyers dressed as a giant turkey. The key to social media is to get visual. Post pictures that POP or videos that encourage a smile. Then, follow up by providing information that lets your customers know the where, when, what, and why of your event. You can also create Facebook events ahead of time and start promoting early on your business’s page.

There are a couple of other ways you can share your events and cool merchandise from your store. Such as, developing an email list for your clientele and send them regular fun updates. You can even team up with other businesses close to you and have events on the same day, to encourage more foot traffic in your area and into your store. If you are a Chamber member, you can update our online calendar with information about your events. You can also share your flyer with us, so we can share it on our social media and on our in-office television for all of our visitors to see.

Lastly, make the experience when customers walk in your door memorable. Customer service is key when it comes to developing and sustaining customer engagement. Your customers matter. They are the secret ingredient to your success. The way they feel when they leave your store will be what they tell their friends and family about. Start small and focus on the little things that can create a positive environment for your customers such as a hearty ‘welcome’ or a pleasant-smelling establishment, or nice background sounds. Then you can move on to focusing on bigger things like rewards for your frequent customers and little welcome items for your new customers. Now is the time to set your store apart from all the rest. The only question is, how will you choose to do it?

I hope you are just as excited about this Halloween as I am.

Candy isn’t just for trick or treaters anymore.

Here at the Chamber, we are all working on ways we can better partner with businesses like yours to empower them. Because we know that when our business community thrives, our community thrives. There are a couple of exciting upcoming events for business owners that gives you the opportunity to capture, share, and create lasting memories with customers. Our largest business event is the Business Expo, followed by promotional spots in Good Morning Atascadero, called Uptalks, and Light Up the Downtown. We are also working on a couple of other new programs for our business community. The one you can expect us to roll out later this year or early in 2019 is our Chamber Spots program. This cool, new program gives reward points to visitors of our establishment and to those who visit our members’ businesses…more on that soon.

Together let’s grab a bucket and fill it with opportunities for business success.