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Learning how to promote

Doing things to earn your customer's business

Every business likes to think that they work hard to get new customers. With some businesses you can look at their profit and loss statement to see how much money is spent on advertising each month and see that they are making a serious expenditure in an effort to get a new customer to come into their business and spend money.

Unfortunately for many businesses, the effort is made to get customers to come into a business and little effort is exerted to get the customer to return, or better yet, bring a friend with them. Let’s look at a couple of examples.

There is a local business that is fairly progressive. The shop is clean, the shelves are well merchandised, and they sell a wide variety of gift items that appear to be properly targeted to the customers that live or visit the area. Of course, many of the products that are sold in this locally owned business are also sold in mass merchants.

At the checkout counter, you see a plastic holder with business cards. There is not a sign inviting a customer to take a card, but upon examination you see that the card has all of the traditional information on one side; store name, owner’s name, address, phone, website and email address.

As a customer makes a purchase of a consumable product, the transaction is much the same as what can be experienced in any other business. There is nothing bad about the experience, but then there is nothing memorable that would cause the customer to make a mental note of returning.

The customer has paid cash for their purchase, and with the exception of a thank you, the salesperson has done nothing to engage the customer and learn anything about them; where they live, what attracted the customer to the store; what did the store not have that the customer wanted or why the customer selected that specific item to purchase.

Yet, this customer gets home with their purchase, they find that they greatly enjoy the product and as can happen with all consumable products, the customer uses all of it. The customer finds they miss using the product and want to buy more.

If this is a local customer, hopefully the store is open for hours that are convenient for this customer to shop. Perhaps, this customer would like to be able to shop on the Internet. Research shows that today’s customer is likely to spend more money in a store if the customer has the option of shopping online as well as in person.

However, there was nothing in the store that invited the customer to shop online, or other than the business card, nothing indicated that the store had a website or that the customer could shop online.

This customer, that has made one purchase of approximately $20, does not live locally. But with the business card they have held onto, finds that the store does have a website and merchandise can be ordered online. At this point, the customer does decide to shop online with the store and does a sizable amount of Christmas shopping.

The store is thrilled with the order, processes the credit card and ships the merchandise to the customer located across the country. When the customer receives the package, they open it and find everything exactly as they have ordered.

However, the business has not included another business card. The business has not sent a note of thanks or bothered to ask how the customer found their website. The store has not included a catalog or flyer promoting any of the other products they sell. The store simply settles for putting the merchandise in a brown cardboard box and shipping it to the customer.

The store simply completes the transaction, goes about their business, and hopes that another customer wanders in their front door or finds their website. Is this any way to operate a business that wants to label itself as being progressive?

The missed opportunities are many. What about having a flyer or catalog that is given to every customer that makes a purchase in the store? How about a salesperson giving a business card to every customer that comes in the store with an explanation of being readily available by way of the Internet or a toll free number if the customer later thinks about something they would like to purchase?

What about the package that was mailed to the customer? Where is another business card in that package? Or a catalog or flyer? Or a flyer asking the customer to tell how they found the business? What about a quick survey asking the customer how they felt they were served?

We examine the businesses that spend sizable amounts of money to invite customers to come into a business. Yet, once the customer has come to the business, there is little energy expended to learn how the advertising efforts of the store came into play with regard to the customer.

Research, and experience, tell us many things about situations such as these:

Traditional advertising, which too often consists of item and price advertising, does too little to do anything more than attract a customer that is looking to shop at a place with a low price.

Repeat customers are the easiest to sell to. They are returning because of a previous experience with the business. Price is not the basis of their return or repeat shopping.

Referral customers are almost as easy as repeat customers. However, to get a referral customer, you have to give the first customer something to share with the referred customer if you want to make it easy for them to remember a business and find their way to you – either in person, on the Internet or by way of a flyer.

The more you know about a customer, the easier it is to sell to them. And the easier it is to find more of their friends who likely shop in the same manner.

Never forget a customer and never let a customer forget you. Two out of three customers that change where they do business, do so because of the perception that the business does not care about the customer.

Customers that have an option, in person, via the Internet, or by catalog, of two methods of shopping with a business spend more money with the business as compared to the business that offers only one way of doing shopping. When the business offers all three options, the customer spends even more money with them.

Businesses that spend a part of their advertising budget for this ‘power promoting’ method of advertising will spend less money to achieve more than the business that only uses traditional forms of advertising.

Every business wants to stand out from the crowd. Shouldn’t their efforts to stand out begin with their initial message to the customer, continue through the interaction with the customer, and continue way beyond the sale if the business expects to do more business with the customer?

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This article is copyrighted by Tom Shay and Profits Plus Solutions, who can be reached at: PO Box 1577, St. Petersburg, Fl. 33731. Phone 727-464-2182. It may be printed for an individual to read, but not duplicated or distributed without expressed written consent of the copyright owner.

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Profits Plus Solutions, Inc.
PO Box 1577
St. Petersburg, Fl 33731
(727) 464-2182
Fax: (727) 898-3179