Updated: Feb 13, 2020
Well it's Valentine's Day... Again.
And as the the Valentines, Galentines, Cupids, and Singles' Awareness Day frenzy ramps up, why should business owners miss this opportunity to not only sell some products, but also show their customers how much they love them?
So, while these are more "year-round" activities, we recommend you get started this Valentine's Day by considering the following tips.
5. Blow Them Away
However you choose to say it, the strategy of under-promising and over-delivering is as old as business itself. But what I personally don't like about it is that it's kind of more of an outlook on how to cheat the system to look good rather than actually being great. So, if you really want to stand out in the crowd, I suggest asking yourself how can I "Reasonably promise and then knock my customers' socks off?"
This doesn't have to cost a lot of money, and in fact, a most of the upcoming entries are ways you can do just that.
Here's my personal example. When the Jason's Deli on Line Ave. had a fire in their kitchen last year, their general manager called me, personally. You see I host a lot of breakfast meetings, and they're one of the most convenient providers of delivered goodies at 7am. They recognized, I'm sure, that I order a lot of breakfast sandwiches from them, and told me that if I needed anything while their Shreveport store was down, they would be happy to bring our food out from their next closest store. In Longview Texas. 60.2 miles away. For 7am meetings. I never asked them to actually do it, but the offer blew me away, and all it required was one phone call.
4. Ask for Their Feedback
Do you survey your customers? I can almost guarantee that most of you have to honestly answer no. And I get it. Really I do. It's not complicated, but it takes time you're already using for something else. Also, if you have someone else help you with it, it can cost you. But let's be honest with ourselves. Is that really why you don't do it? I can show you several free and quick ways you can get feedback (and perhaps I will in our next installment), but the thing is, I don't think that's the problem. I think the real problem is that getting negative feedback (even when it's constructive and from a customer who loves you otherwise) well... it just stinks. It hurts feelings. This is your baby they're talking about, after all, and for the vast majority of us, ignorance is bliss... until it's not.
I did a survey of Cohab's clients in 2019, and most of it was positive and warmed my heart, and what wasn't glowing wasn't mean, it was constructive. Which leads me to...
3. And Then Actually Do Something About It
Some of my clients took the time to tell me their concerns and gave me lots of REALLY EASY ways to make their experience with my product better. So you know what I did? I listened. I went and bought new trash cans. I contacted our landlord about improving outdoor lighting. I started looking for reasonably priced ways to improve our outdoor signage. All of these changes will improve my business for all of my members, but just as importantly, it shows my existing clients that I heard them, and I take their concerns and requests seriously. Tell me the last big chain store that gave its customers that kind of sway.
2. Take a Break from Your Story to Tell Theirs
Have you ever heard of StoryBrand Marketing? It's a workshop series (who sadly does NOT sponsor us, we just like their product) that teaches you to "stop playing the hero in the story, and instead, invite customers INTO a story." And while you may never go to a StoryBrand workshop, you can take that message (which I copied and pasted off of their website) to heart.
Unless your customer is your mom, no matter how much they care about your brand, they care about themselves and their family more. They may like you, but they like that you provide top notch service that makes them FEEL GOOD more. You're not the Luke Skywalker (or Mando) in their story, they are. But if you're lucky (or more importantly, strategic) you can be their Yoda, and isn't that better anyway?
If you can take the time to make your customer the central hero in your marketing, advertising, and in-house service, you'll start hitting on what really matters the most to them. Bam. Instant 💕 story.
1. Learn Their Name
I read a LOT of advice lists before making my own because I was curious about what else is out there on this topic (it's a BUNCH of stuff). Many talked of loyalty programs and promo gifts all of which are great, and I can point you some GREAT local resources if you want to implement them, but if you're not currently doing anything to woo your client base, they're big and potentially complicated first steps. So I'd say start at the beginning instead. Make it a point to learn your clients' names and faces. For those of us who do big repeat business it's a lot easier than it is for retail business owners, I know, (maybe those folks can challenge themselves to add spouses and kids' names to their internal database) but something as simple as greeting a repeat customer by name might just be the fastest free way to show your client you care.