A few years ago I had a job working out of an office in the city. There were a number of coffee shops within close proximity to where I worked, each vying for the passing trade. I remember one little coffee shop in particular, because a number of us from the office used to pass three other coffee places to get to this one.
What was it that attracted us, and the hundreds of other customers that also patronized that business? Was it the coffee? Well, the coffee was great, just the way I like it, but not being a true connoisseur of coffee that wasn’t the reason. Was it the price? No, in fact the prices were on the higher end of the scale, compared with the other coffee places around about. And no, the young women behind the counter didn’t wear tight miniskirts or short, short hot pants.
The reason why that particular coffee shop was so popular was because the owner knew all his regular customers by their first name, what sort of coffee they drank, and was able to enquire, with specific questions about how things were in the customer’s life. It was like a dear friend had invited you over and offered you a cup of coffee! In fact, the only time Dave did any work, as far as serving customers and the like was when one of the baristas was on a break and there was a sudden influx of customers.
Dave had learned, and practiced with a great deal of skill the art of relationship marketing. New people were constantly drawn in to the true friendship this man offered. And that’s what it was like, a true friendship. So, using Dave’s relationship to his customers, I’d like to offer 4 things that friends do for each other and make a few observations by way of comparison with what often happens on the Internet.
1. Friends maintain contact. Friends keep in touch with one another. If a customer had not been into the shop for a while, next time Dave saw them he would enquire about them, whether things were okay. Sometimes it was just a break from work, maybe a bit of sickness, but then there were times when something dramatic happened. Dave would listen to the customer’s story and express his best wishes in keeping with whatever the customer was experiencing. But he knew what was going on in the lives of his customers. Not in any intrusive way, but out of genuine concern.
Compare that with the common practice of Internet Marketers. There was a time not so long ago when the information you received from marketers was informative, even useful. Now, it seems each time a marketer contacts you is to promote the latest must have product or service. About the only other time you hear from them is after your “trial period” has expired and you have chosen not to subscribe to their product or service. Then, I presume they consider they have nothing to lose, they take the gloves and really start getting aggressive, telling you in no uncertain terms what an absolute loser you are showing yourself to be because you haven’t signed up for their ‘truly incredible, one of a kind, product’.
2. Friends enquire as to your wellbeing. They show genuine care and concern. In Dave’s case, it was not much more than an enquiry about whatever a customer had shared with him the last time they spoke, but it meant a great deal to know someone else cared enough to ask.
Compare that with the common practice of Internet Marketers. In many instances, although I admit things are on the improve, they only thing they care about is how much money they can make from having you ‘on their list’. The very expression “the money is in the list” betrays a mindset which cares little for what is happening in the lives of the people on that list other than what sort of “irresistible offer’ can be made, based on the customer’s previous buying patterns.
3. Friends share in the joys and sorrows of life. There were little things Dave would pick up from the demeanour of certain customers that would give him a clue that things were not as good as they could be, alternatively it was time for celebration. A comment as innocent as “you’re looking very glamorous today” might bring the response, “Oh, it’s my birthday” or “yes we announced our engagement over the weekend” which would be cause for celebration, and even, perhaps, a free coffee. On the other hand, a considerate, “you’re looking a bit down today” would many times bring out something that had been brewing for a while. Dave never really offered advice, but he was a very good listener, which is often all that is needed.
Compare that with the common practice of Internet Marketers. Not one of those with whom I have had dealings over the years has bothered to enquire about my situation at all. They have no idea as to what has been going on in my life. And, it would seem, they don’t really care. A large part of the reason for that is because most Internet Marketers have their business on auto-pilot, while they go off to exotic locations and talk to each other about new and different strategies to make more money.
4. Friends remember significant dates. On more than one occasion during the time I had contact with Dave I saw the surprised look on people’s faces as Dave would wish them a happy birthday or wedding anniversary. I can only assume he had a calendar of some sort where he kept note of those special events so he could offer his best wishes to the customers when they came in on that day. If the special day happened on the weekend, when the shop was closed, Dave would be sure to say something on the Monday morning after.
About the only dates I ever hear Internet Marketers refer to is the launch day of their new super version of the product you bought six months earlier and how the special “pre-launch” offer because you are such a valued customer means you can get the new product with all its added benefits for half of what everyone else will pay.
Now, I know I sound cynical about Internet Marketers, but compared with Dave and his approach, most Internet Marketers today don’t have a clue how to get a higher level of positive response that comes from being in some type of relationship with their customers. They seem to be more interested in the numbers. The larger the list, the greater the profits. Well, I for one have had enough, and my response to that approach is the same as I give to telemarketers when they interrupt my dinner. ” No thanks, not interested”, but they never seem to follow me up, so I never really get a chance to say it, except maybe by unsubscribing from their email list.
So, how might you get that sort of information from your customers? You simply do what Dave does. Initially you ask for basic information, (like name) then you engage in conversation with the customer. That might be by email (good choice) skype (better choice) or even conferencing with a small group of customers. The key is to communicate often and keep some sort of record on the information you receive just in the natural flow of conversation.
To bombard your customers with a list of twenty questions the first time you communicate with them would be a real turn off. Don’t do it. Simply allow the various topics to come up in general conversation…
“We were out celebrating my birthday last week…”
“Oh, really? When’s your birthday?”
“July 25th…any way, I bumped into….”
and the customer thinks nothing more of it until…next year, on their birthday they get an e-card from you wishing them well.
How often does that happen with other Internet Marketers? Not often enough. Which is good for you, if you choose to follow that part of The R. Suppedz Marketing Strategy through.
Is your customer going to remember that? You bet your sweet bippy (sorry, little “Laugh In” nostalgia there. Only a fellow Baby Boomer would understand)
Are they going to tell their friends and work colleagues? More than likely.
Will it mean more business for you? Quite possibly.
And what’s it cost you? A little thought and organisation.
End result. If they tell just one person who follows up with you, you could double your customer base every year!!! Think you could handle that?
Written by obidee
Category: Internet Marketing