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The Walls of Fame

Recognizing your 'famous' customers

If you have ever had the pleasure of having your name or picture appear in the newspaper, in addition to keeping that day's issue, you have probably purchased a couple of extra copies. You may have had additional copies sent to you by friends and relatives, along with their words of congratulations. There is something about the recognition that everyone enjoys. The same is true for recognition of your employees.

Try something as simple as going to a trophy store and having nametags made with the employee's first name. This, as compared to taking the nametag of the employee that no longer works at your store, and just putting another sticker on the nametag and hand writing the name of the new employee on it. Why would this be important?

The Maslow theory teaches that every human has five needs: 1. food, clothing and shelter, 2. to be a part of something, 3. their self esteem, 4. the esteem of others, 5. to give of themselves to others. See where the recognition fits in? You won't necessarily get better employees just by giving raises, as compared to showing concern for all five basic needs. The same is true for customers. Many businesses think that the price is the most important thing in attracting customers. When they look at the chain stores, they see that price is what they advertise, and make the assumption that price is the key. In reality, price is the only thing that the chain store can talk about because they are unable to do the important things that only the independent retailer can do.

Two of the best promotions that we have ever seen were created by a couple of retailers. The first retailer was a camera buff, and owned several quality 35mm cameras. As this was a small store in which the owner spent most of her day on the sales floor, she kept one of the cameras under the checkout stand. When customers would come into her store, and time would allow, she asked if she could take a picture of that person. She did not have a professional looking backdrop, but instead took pictures of customers throughout the store. She kept a list of the date and the person's name so that she could write this information on the front of pictures when they were developed.

She then took the pictures and hung them around her store. There were groups of photos hung high on the walls above the merchandise displays, behind the checkout stand, and just about any location where she could not put merchandise; there you would find a dozen or more photos.

Over the years, the collection has become quite a conversation piece. There have been articles in her local newspaper as well as national publications like Home Improvement Market. Customers came into the store with their friends and family, just to show them the unique collection. Of course, they would always search out the pictures of themselves and remark about some of the photos that were now several years old.

The second retailer was fortunate to have an older building that had very high ceilings, thus affording him a lot of wall space above the traditional 8-foot height of the counters. His wall of fame began with several certificates; the type that every business gets with helping a community group or project.

He thought that if an organization that had been helped felt it was important enough to award the certificate, then he should show his respect and appreciation by hanging it in his store. He then added a couple of baseball jerseys from the youth teams he had sponsored. Next to the jersey, hung a photo of the team.

There were the heart touching items, a small poster showing two brightly colored hand prints, the crudely written words, "Thank you. I love you", and the signature of a very young mentally challenged girl in the special needs class of a school. There were items and photos from the local celebrities: two professional baseball players' photos, a jersey from a customer that played in the NFL, a member of the USA volleyball team, and an Olympic swimmer.

From there it became a community wall. Any newspaper or magazine article that was written about one of his customers was framed and added to the wall. Paragraphs in the stories that mentioned the customers were enlarged so that you could read it while standing in the aisle.

Most of the articles featured folks in the neighborhood that had done something special for the community; everything from volunteers, to newspaper articles about customers and the businesses that they worked in or owned.

This retailer also had a customer that was a cartoonist for the local newspaper. The cartoonist mentioned that on several occasions, the inspiration for the cartoon came from this particular store. When this occurred, the cartoonist gave the autographed original artwork to the store, and it also became a part of the wall.

Both of these displays were conversation pieces within their community. And being a conversation piece is the best advertising you can ask for. It is also the type that the chain store cannot begin to duplicate.

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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