Nov 23, 2008

Ask Not What Your Customers Can Do For You...

But Ask What You Can Do For Your Customers. (sorry, President Kennedy).

Another thread is posted at 2Peas about a store owner who sends out an email and essentially reminds everyone that she can't stay open if they don't come purchase stuff. She says something about needing so many people buying just $20 a day from her to help her keep her doors open.

It's not the worst I've seen. Click HERE for a REALLY BAD example of an email from a store owner. BUT, still, it looks like a request for charity and that the store owner feels she is owed survival by her customers.

Rule number one in retailing is (say it with me), "CUSTOMERS ARE SELF-INTERESTED". They don't care that you need 20 people to buy $20 of paper from you each day. They want to know what you are going to do to entice them to come into your store and drop some money.

You don't have to be cheaper than the big box stores, but you can remind your customers that if they shop YOUR store, they get ideas, service, selection, etc. that they can't get at the chains. Give them a reason to want to come.

Let me put it another way. I know of two women who were both recently hospitalized. One is very demanding. You could never do enough for her. You could come visit every day and she would complain that you didn't come TWICE a day AND bring her flowers. Consequently, when she was hospitalized, she had to beg and guilt people into coming to visit her. Visiting wasn't that pleasant as she was generally just crabby the whole time you were there.

Contrast this with the other woman who nearly died in a head-on collision last summer. She's been in the hospital for MONTHS and will be there until probably February of next year. Despite her severe injuries, the costs and the legal wranglings (she was hit by a drunk teen), she is always pleasant and cheerful to be around. So, people are happy to go visit her often.

So, if you compare this to store owners who are probably all suffering a degree of financial hardship right now, which store would you rather go to? Would you rather go to a store where the store owner was cheerful and provided you with great service and ideas that kept you coming back or would you rather go to the store that complained that you weren't doing enough to help them pay their bills?

I'd rather shop at store who earned my business rather than one who demanded it.

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