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Writing your customer

Showing your customers that you care

Over the past several decades many retailers have made concerted efforts to gather personal information about their customers. The retailers have worked to gather names, addresses, phone numbers and in the last 15 years, their e-mail addresses. If you are like most people shopping in a store, you will resist their efforts to obtain that personal information.

These efforts have been made by the best of merchants because they recognize there is a substantial difference between the public and their customers. The public consists of those that see, hear, or read your advertisements on the radio, television and in the newspaper. Unfortunately, the response rate to advertising is fairly low. This occurs for several reasons; your business is too far away or they aren’t interested in what you are advertising today. Many of them don’t even have pets.  It is very hard to convert the public into customers. On top of that challenge, most businesses are attempting to convert the public into customers by attracting them with low prices.

The downside to this strategy of advertising with low prices is that the person that responds to a low price ad is likely to want you to continue providing them with low prices. Do they ever change their buying habits and pay full price for anything? Perhaps they just continue to watch the newspaper or other advertisements to see which store has the next low price.

Customers are those individuals that have previously done business with you and return to do more business. Compared to the public, these people are highly desirable. To succeed with these customers, you have to work hard to develop a relationship with these customers. You get to know many of them on a first name basis. You know the names of their pets.

Most importantly, you are likely to know more about the needs of these customers than they know themselves. If you can find a way to let these customers know about these needs, and that you have the solutions, then you will have a customer that will spend more money with you. They will make more visits to your store, be less likely to look for sale items, and refer you to their friends.

What we need is a manner of communicating exclusively to our customers. We need a technique of communicating that provides a timely message, and does so in a manner that does not appear to resemble advertising. We also have to find a way to get the customer to share with us their personal contact information. Let’s look at how we could accomplish this.

Imagine that this summer there is a heat wave that lasts for several days. For customers with outdoor pets, you could provide to them a great service by reminding them to keep their pets well hydrated. The solution could be as easy as the customer setting out several water bowls, or could include their purchasing an automated water dispenser.

Of course, putting this in the form of an advertisement goes back to that problem that we discussed earlier. So, how could we get around this?

If you sent a e-mail to your customers, you would be creating the most timely e-mail they could received. Imagine the customer hearing about the upcoming heat wave on the television evening news, and then seeing a e-mail from you the next morning! Do you think your customers would see this as an advertisement? Or will they see it as your providing a customer service with this bit of news? The answer lies in how you word the newsletter. May a strong sales pitch and customers will see it for what it is. Keep the customer’s pet foremost in mind as you write the e-mail and customers will see this as a service.

Let’s take a look at several e-mail programs available on the Internet. With each of these programs, you maintain the customer’s contact information on their website. Simply stated, you compose a letter to your customers in a writing program such as Notepad, and then perform a “copy and paste” from Notepad to the online service. Other programs allow you to build your newsletter within their website.

As we create this e-mail, we can explain the weather, our concern for their pets, and then our suggestion for a solution. When we add the suggestion of the automatic feeder, we can tell the customer that they can see a picture of what we are talking about when they visit your website. To get the customer to go immediately to your website, you put an active link in the e-mail. An active link is that bit of type that you see in blue in the e-mail. When the customer left clicks their mouse over the blue area, they will immediately see the page you are talking about.

It doesn’t need to be the front page of your website, but should be the page featuring the automated watering bowls.

Customers see this as your providing an informational service. You know that this is very accurately targeted promoting. With many of these products you can track your customers in as many categories as you want; cat lovers, dog lovers, bird lovers, and any other type of pets that you sell products for.

Try talking to your customers with e-mail. They are anxious to hear from you.

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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