Learning marketing from Thai street vendors

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Melissa Crossman
Melissa Crossman lives in Indianapolis with her two dogs. She enjoys cooking and volunteering in her community.
Melissa Crossman
Melissa Crossman
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In a tough economy, disposable income is down. While sales are still important to companies, marketers and brand advisors are focusing more on reputation building and loyalty. As marketing consultant, Angelia Kane notes on freelance marketplace Elance’s blog, street smarts rule the game these days. Kane offers insights from Thai street vendors that can help modern CEOs, marketing execs and startup founders gain ground in the down economy.

Think Outside the Box to Gain Customers

Kane’s Thai street vendors strategize location and services to earn dollars. If there are too many noodle carts in one plaza, a noodle vendor brainstorms a new great location. Some even make house calls. Apply this to your business by brainstorming all of the ways you connect with clients, then finding ways to add more. Chron.com echoes this, suggesting that you find more ways to sell to customers. Consider selling via website, email, telephone, fax and mail to capitalize all income streams. If you’re not thinking outside the box, your competitor is.

Invest in Interest

Customer interest, that is. Diverse actions, from signing up to receive your company newsletter or liking your brand on Facebook to purchasing a product or referring a customer, drive interest in your goods and services.

Campaigns like Cost per Acquisition (CPA) allow you to increase your ROI or return on investment by only paying ad money when an action is competed. You decide the action beforehand. CPA marketing helps you invest smartly. If you enjoy about 100 conversions per month and use tools like AdWords, you may be a good candidate for this method. CPA benefits you more than PPC, since clicks don’t automatically equal conversions. While CPA campaigns may have a sales goal as the desired action, they don’t need to. CPA may be a good option for companies looking to build brand recognition or promote a new product. Many actions don’t require a high price tag. It costs nothing for someone to like your Facebook page or follow your Twitter stream, and it gives you access to their network.

Customize With Add-Ons

Successful Thai vendors know that catering to the customer helps build relationships, create loyalty and convert first-time customers to return visitors and brand missionaries. Catering to the customer is more than serving a quality product. Thai vendors who offer hot sauces, a variety of meats and vegetables and an array of other add-ons are more successful than those with limited products. Likewise, companies that let customers design their own product by adding on components will be more successful than those that deliver a one-size-fits-all model. Letting the customer customize a product can separate you from your competitors and provide a distinction that coverts one-time shoppers into lifelong buyers.

Of course, all of these marketing techniques are most effective if they’re backing a product that’s made well, designed well and useful. If you lack a quality product, no marketing in the world can really turn things around for very long. As you consider tough economy marketing strategies, make sure your product or service merits the effort–and the share of consumer dollars.