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One morning, as I was heading to my brick and mortar retail store, I stopped at a nearby Panera. I was craving some steaming hazelnut coffee and a chocolate chip bagel (my weaknesses). The line was long and I was hooked to my phone scrolling though the podcasts trying to find the next one to listen to. I stood there oblivious to my surroundings focused on the sound through my earbuds waiting my turn. Someone tapped me on my shoulder, I spun around to see who it was while I yanked the earphones out.
It was one of my customers whom I had not seen in a while. We exchanged plesantries and she exclaimed to me that she had been meaning to come into the store for a while and now that she saw me, she finally remembeed and she would come in right away. As we were talking another lady in the line turned and said the same thing. "I have been meaning to come by the store, need to get something for my nephew. I am going to stop by this morning."
Customers buy from those that are in front of the customer. As a store owner if you are constantly not in front of your customer, you are missing an opportunity. I was under the false impression that people will come into the store when they need something. Why do I need to remind them that I am there? I later proved myself wrong.
Everyone craves human interaction. You can make your customers feel imprtant when they walk into your store and you trike up a conversation with them. But as a busy small business owner you cannot have the interaction with every customer. Use your emails and newsletters to have that interaction with your customers.
After my exchange at Panera. I realized that customers need constant reminding and so we started sending a bi-weekly newsletter/email. As we got regular with it, we saw an exponential growth in traffic and sales. The amount we spent on mail marketing versus traditional advertising were drastically different. Some traditional advertising we would spend almost $3,000-$4,000 a month and get less than 10% in return. Versus, email marketing cost us nothing more than a few hours of time and the returns were a consistent, involved customer base and a monthly increase of more than 25%.
For every small business, the goal should be to stay in front of the customer at all times so that when they have the need for the particular product that you carry, they will turn to you naturally. You need to remind them constantly of the value you provide, of the new products that you have in, events that you are having in the store. As a business owner, you want to get involved emotionally with your customers.
The best way to be on your customers mind is by sending them value rich emails or newsletters. Customers are used to seeing emails and newsletters from corporate owned stores that are product rich. You open a email and get bombarded with their new products and prices etc. As a small business owner, you have to convey your expertise to the customer. They are not looking for another product heavy email but what they would like to read is how that product can help make their life easier.
Your newsletters/emails should make your customers more informed. If you can teach them something new with interaction, you can gain customers for life.
A few things to keep in mind when sending out emails to your customer base as a small biz owner-
1. Dont just talk about the products that you have. Tell them why they are unique and why it is so awesome that they need to come into the store.
2. Include articles that are relevant to your customer base. Most of my customer base were involved with children. I always included an article related to kids.
3. Involve other local businesses. Get other local businesses to submit articles or put a coupon. That way you can send it out to both theirs and your customer base.
4. Put pictures or videos of behind the scenes. As a local business, get your customers involved with your inner workings so that they feel more attached.
5. Giveaway specials just to your email subscribers.
We made it a point to capture every customers email address when they checked out. We made it compelling for them to sign up by informing them of all the special offers and news that would come their way. We created the newsletter in a way that they were about the customers and the local area.
Emails are the best and the most cost-effective way to be in front of your customer. If you are not using this to build your customer base, you are missing out.