Are you noticing the customers who talk the most?
Recently this writer walked into the pharmacy he has done business with for over 30 years. Speaking with the person at the counter, I asked to speak with one of the three pharmacists who are the current owners of the business.
During our conversation, this person made a comment that inferred I was frequently asking questions during my visits. This person was right. I like to understand what medications I am taking and want to be sure the pharmacist and the doctor have both checked for reactions to any other medication I take.
This conversation caused me to think about how we as independent businesses see our customers. It is true that I do frequently ask this pharmacy owner questions. It is also true that regardless of the size of your community, the majority of residents in your community have never asked you any questions because they have never done business with you.
With larger communities, it is even more likely that most people have never even heard of your business; no matter how much you advertise.
The average person doing business with you is pretty unique in that they have even walked through your doors. They are even more special if they spend money with you as the overwhelming majority of people in your area will never do so.
I wonder how many business owners stop and think about just how special these people are. From my years of study and observation, there are far too many businesses that take the, “if this person doesn’t buy, the next person will” attitude.
Continuing with the observation of this business owner, I wonder how many owners think about the customers who ask lots of questions and always want to talk.
My expectation is that these people do not become talkative only when they come into this particular business; they are this way all the time. They are social people and do so in other businesses as well as when they are with friends and family. Depending on their favorite styles of communication, they would likely be talkative on Snapchat, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram and Pinterest. They are just very social people.
While my friend and other owners may see talkative customers as a part of the job, I wonder if these talkative people are seen as an opportunity.
Borrowing an example from the medical profession, think about someone who is spreading germs. They do so because of their contact and interaction with other individuals; touching door knobs, faucet handles, other people, coughing and sneezing. These people are spreading germs.
What if we looked at these talkative people as spreaders of a different kind of germs? This time, let’s substitute “germs” with messages about your business. Now you would be wanting them to be spreading the germs/news about your business to everyone.
Of course, the message they spread needs to be a positive message. And for that message to be most effective, we need it to be strong and correct.
A very important part of this example is that we need our germ/message spreaders to be an individual whose message is well received by others. This person needs to be one that others are thinking and saying, “I respect what this person says. I am confident they give correct information.”
This is where the business comes into play again. Who has the opportunity/responsibility to make sure the customer is knowledgeable?
When you read research material about how people make their decisions about the products and services they are going to buy, the recommendation from another individual far outweighs any advertising the business or product manufacturer might do. They even listen more to a friend than a spouse!
When you add new product categories or departments to your business, how about trying a preview party for which you only invite your existing customers? Perhaps you could offer an incentive if they brought a friend who is currently not a customer of your business.
Many of us have special events; anniversary sale, birthday sale, clearance sale or something that ties into celebrations that the community as a whole is having. Perhaps on the night before you advertise the sale, you could have an event for which you only invite your customers.
With each of these examples, would you expect these existing customers to talk about your business?
We once spoke with a retailer from Georgia who had developed a methodology for getting more business by getting more people to talk about his store.
He calculated that he often spent $2,000 to advertise for any given event at this store. He then added up how much the discounts and markdowns were from these same events. The total was approximately $500. Between the markdowns and advertising, he spent $2500 for many of the events designed to drive customers into his business to buy.
As an experiment he decided to reverse the numbers and add a new ingredient. Now he would spend $500 on advertising. However, he made the markdowns on merchandise even greater than before so that the total of the markdowns approached $2,000. The new ingredient was store decorations and refreshments; they added festivity and excitement to his sales event.
The result? Increased sales. Why? Because no one talks about how much money a store spends on advertising. However, customers will talk about how much they saved and the great deals they get at a store. The existing customers drive more customers into the store for you.
The key for these examples is people talking. Who are your customers that talk the most? It can be those who talk in your store as well as those who are the most active on social media. There is the second key of what you do to get customers talking about your store.
Who’s talking? Knowing the answer can be the necessary ingredient to increasing sales in your business.