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"Listen my children and you shall hear, of the midnight ride of William Dawes."

Our version of the story by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow is probably not what you remember as to what happened on that special night in 1775. Wasn't the story about Paul Revere and his midnight ride? The answer is both yes and no. For you see on that night, it was both men who went out on horseback to tell the residents of New England about the impending invasion by the British. But, it was Revere that was memorialized by that story. While we do not have Longfellow to ask as to why he chose Revere instead of Dawes to write about, in checking with historians, we find that the lives of the two men took different paths after that evening. And it is most likely that it is because of their later actions that Longfellow decided to write about Revere instead of Dawes.

For it was Revere who, after that brave act of concern for his community, continued to do similar community oriented things for the rest of his life. History buffs will testify to the name of Paul Revere continually showing up in the history books as he continued to serve his newly created country.

With Dawes, his moment in history was pretty much a one time event. What do these two men and history have to do with your business today? We are wanting to see how one name becomes more memorable than another, and what you can do to make your name more memorable to your customers.

In their book, "The Experience Economy", authors Pine and Gilmore provide a statistic indicating that 85% of the public is unable to distinguish one business from another. For example, think about the customer who is writing a check to your business to complete a purchase. Have you ever been asked, "So, what is the name of this shop anyway?"

At first thought, you might think you have a scatterbrain customer that does not pay any attention to where they are. But let's look a bit deeper into the situation.

You have been advertising through the local media - radio, television, and newspaper. And then there is that sign on the front of your building promoting your name. Perhaps there is even a sign at the edge of the parking lot with your name on it. How much did those signs cost you?

And now here is a customer who has made it past all of those advertising expenses, and they are having to ask who you are? Most definitely we have a problem here. For it is not likely to be a scatterbrain customer, but a business that has not given the customer a reason to remember their name.

Just like the difference in Revere and Dawes, we need to create a way for people to see a difference in our business and everyone else's business. Let's think about our customer going down the road to shop at our competition. It does not matter if the competition is a small independent business, or if it is that big box store. What type of interaction is going to happen between the customer and the competition after they have made their purchase?

Did the business take any steps to get the customer's name, address and phone number? Most likely, the only way they will know the customer's personal information is if they are making their purchase with a check, or is purchasing something that requires ATF registration. Even then, if they have that information, are they going to do anything with it to speak to the customer? In the electronics field, there is a retailer that is noted for their effort to obtain that information from each customer. Unfortunately, because of the way they work to obtain that information they are frequently frowned on by customers.

The first reason customers dislike their efforts is because it is the only interaction between sales help and customers. Too often the customer is left to select the merchandise and take it to the counter where the first words from the sales help is, "Can I have your name please?"

Customers often see this as an effort to get a name for their mailing list, and nothing more. The second reason why this effort is disliked is because the customer does not see any benefit to them. Remember that the first question every person is asking when they do business is, "What is in it for me?"

Why would they want to give you this personal information? Imagine a situation in your shop where the customer has just selected their first rifle. If you were to offer an occasional class on how to care for a rifle, you could tell the customer that you would give them a call before the next class and offer them the opportunity to sign up. Don't you think the customer would then want to make sure you had their personal information?

And for the customer that is making a purchase of a high quality rifle, you could say to them, "Obviously you enjoy a high quality weapon. We are expecting a delivery of some very good cases in the near future. If you would like, I would be glad to give you a call or send you a postcard when they arrive."

Now, the customer sees a benefit to themselves for providing their personal information to you. Your future advertising budget could actually be changed to include sending something to these customers on a regular basis. Instead of advertising to the masses all the time with the traditional media, you could actually know when new merchandise is ordered, who the most likely customers are to purchase the new items. The financial savings from this change in advertising format can be quite substantial. We have seen figures that indicate it can cost a business $20 to get a new customer into your shop, while only $4 to get an existing customer to return.

Surely, Paul Revere continued to do the things he was first noted for because of his love for his country. And today, everyone remembers his name. Your continuing to do things after the sale, for the want of your customers returning to your business for future purchases, is a good reason you want to be a Revere and not a Dawes.

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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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