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Monday, October 01, 2012

One of the great things about consulting for different companies in many different industries is that I get to see a lot of things that work and a lot of things that don't.  And recently I've noticed a real divide between businesses that do hardly any marketing and those who do way too much marketing.  Is there such a thing?  Yes!

Take for example the local store that gets your email address because of a contest or in store sign up.  Perhaps you gave your name and email in exchange for the promise of some really great discounts.  Within a few days you were bombarded with email after email offering discounts on a variety of items throughout the store.  You may have had some interest initially but now the emails are just pissing you off.

What happens now you might be asking yourself.  I can tell you that when local venues get marketing crazy... they annoy their customers and chase away prospects.  In fact, I've stopped going to some of the stores that have sent me email after email.  Of course you can always chose to opt-out, and I have, but there's more to it.  The reality is that stores who don't respect my time or communication preferences don't really care about me - they're just pushing product.

Don't Be So Desperate
People and businesses have a lot in common. Appear desperate and no one wants to be around you.  People certainly aren't going to keep coming back to you again and again.  And when local shops press hard on sending emails (because it's relatively easy), they only drive their customers off the proverbial cliff.  

In order to nurture a relationship with you audience, you must first understand what your customers want.  When you ask someone for personal information like a name or email, ask them for information about their preferences.  What categories of products are they most interested in?  How often do they like to shop?  What are they looking to get from you?  Customer's may surprise you with their answers or clarify what you may already know.

As a side note, I'm a big believer that you can't lead with a discount.  If you do you're telling your customers and prospects that you offer a commodity product.  When customers can't tell a difference between your product and someone else's, you have no choice but to discount price.  Products that are unique command a higher price point and create more value.

I Know You, Now What
My answer is simple, be respectful of the people you market to.  If I ask for information about your newest products, then send it to me.  If I've already told you that I don't want to hear from you, don't.  Be respectful of your customers and prospects and you'll cultivate meaningful relationships.  In fact, you can truly cultivate and grow your relationships with customers for years to come, maybe even turn them into advocates.

Local companies that do a good job of building relationships have an easier time growing their business. This is because most people make purchases based on recommendations.  It's certainly much easier to ask for a referral from someone who is satisfied as opposed to someone who is annoyed.  Before you start sending tons of emails to people who have little or no interest in your product, focus on what you know.

Don't Leave It To Chance
One mistake I see local businesses make all the time is taking a once-and-done marketing approach.  They get some customer information, open a Constant Contact or Aweber account and think they've got it made. You have to realize though, people change.  As such the marketing you do today must change in the future.  The most effective marketers take purchase information and use it to evolve their communications - this is the difference maker.

Think about how you can communicate to your customers based on what they've purchased and the preferences you've identified.  As you engage prospects, learn from their actions (what they do and don't do) to help inform future communications.  These distinctions can set you apart from other struggling to grow their business.


Business Consulting Firm in Houston said...

Very informative post.I think Effective customer communications can help assure customers that energy providers remain committed to offering reliable power at the lowest rate possible. Customer communications also can respond to public concerns—particularly during extreme weather and give consumers tips to reduce their energy usage and keep their own costs manageable.

Anonymous said...

Great post! I find it very interesting that you talk about being respectful to the people that market to you. It is sad that people need to be reminded about manners. However, it is so true that people don't care about their customers. If someone’s asks to not be contacted you need to respect their wishes.

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