Friday, September 28, 2012

Get Customers In Touch with Each Other

When health club retailer Planet Fitness launched a campaign to get members in touch, they meant it literally: “Welcome back the Pat on the Back with us! The sincerest form of atta-boy encouragement known to woman and mankind.” There was a video extolling the pat, a POTB Generator to produce text atta-boys to post on Facebook, and a POTB kit, which included foam fingers.
     The POTB campaign success was more likely because it supported the Planet Fitness Judgement Free Zone® approach, “which means members can relax, get in shape, and have fun without being subjected to the hard-core, look-at-me attitude….” The success was also more likely because it’s supported by research showing that touch is a sales motivator.
     Consider the results of a consumer behavior study done in the mid-1970’s at a university library. As the clerk returned the library card to some of the students, the clerk placed her hand directly over the student’s palm. Other student patrons of the library didn’t receive the brief touch. When the students were surveyed outside the library, those who had the touch rated the library significantly more favorably than did the non-touched students.
     Decades later, researchers at Tel Aviv University assessed the results of a retail employee touching customers in settings that included a supermarket, a restaurant, and a bookstore. There, a brief touch on the arm of a customer led to the customer feeling more positive about the retailer. And positive feelings toward a retailer increase the potential for financial profitability.
     Touch soothes and energizes at the same time. However, I want to point out that touch also can freak out a consumer. What worked in the mid-1970’s might not work now. What’s welcomed by university students or Israeli bookstore patrons might be offensive to the people frequenting your store. Keep the touching pleasant for the customer, but keep touching customers.
  • Shake hands, bump fists, place a hand on the arm—whatever is culturally and socially appropriate. 
  • Reach out toward customers with palms facing upward, or whatever else in the customer’s culture projects a welcoming attitude. 
  • Maintain the style of culturally appropriate eye contact to stay psychologically in touch. 
     Better yet, though, for avoiding the freak-out effect is the Planet Fitness angle of having acquaintances touch each other.
     Planet Fitness had another angle, distinctive for a gym: As soon as 20,000 POTB messages were generated, Planet Fitness handed out free cupcakes at all facilities.

For your profitability: Sell Well: What Really Moves Your Shoppers

Click below for more: 
Touch Customers

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