If you’re a local business or in direct sales, you know how important face-to-face marketing is to your business. You can’t wait for customers to visit your website or find you online. Even as you’re building your business online, don’t forget that one of the best marketing channels you have as a small business person is your personal interactions with people.
I know a local shop owner who chats with everyone who walks through her door. Telling the story of her business seems to be important to her for a lot of reasons:
- Gets to know her customers
- Helps describe and sell her product
- Naturally collects feedback
- Generates new relationships and referrals
- Retains customers
All of these marketing benefits intermingle with each other very nicely. But one of the best consequences of her friendly personality is that it helps build her email list.
Once she’s opened the door to a real conversation with her customers, it’s easy to ask them to give her their email address in person.
This shop owner I’m thinking of turns a visit to her store into a social and educational experience. The first time I visited this clothing store, I tried on a sweater and she offered a story about why she chose that particular style at market the previous spring. She also pointed out which line of jewelry introduces the most dramatic new styles each season. As our talk progressed, she touched on how she packs light but fashionably when she travels to the Midwest in winter.
Wouldn’t you know, the conversation leads to a connection: we both have family in Nebraska. Suddenly we have a lot in common.
Whoosh, just like that she’s got a customer for life.
I’ve seen her with other customers, too. This shop owner’s definitely a connector-type. If there’s something she has in common (besides an interest in clothes) with someone who enters her shop, she will find it, building relationships in which each customer feels valued and appreciated.
How well do you know your own product and vendors? How well do you know your customers? A LOT, I’m guessing. Just by being friendly and sharing what you know you can add a pleasant dimension to a cash-for-goods transaction.
To build your business, and keep customers coming back you need to bring that face-to-face conversation online. You must ask for their email address and continue the dialogue in their inbox.
Ask for email addresses in person.
If you’ve built rapport, asking for an email address in person is perfectly natural and expected. Even if the customer isn’t buying today, they understand that you want their business for the long term.
What’s the best way to get an email address in person? You might keep a lovely guest book on the counter, or an iPad available for an immediate digital capture. You could ask for their business card. If you request a handwritten address, check to see that the email was written legibly and correctly, and read it back to the customer to be sure. You might even give them a heads up as to what they can expect to receive from you…a newsletter, coupons, notices of upcoming sales, etc.
After making a personal connection, people are more likely to open your email when they see your name and sender address. That recognition fades quickly though. As soon as possible after you’ve asked for their email address, send an email thanking your customer so that they remember the personal exchange. You might send a coupon, or a simple acknowledgement of their visit to your shop or event to jog their memory.
Then be sure to invite them back to your business by telling them what’s coming up next.
It’s crucial to connect your physical store and relationships to your online world when customers equally live and shop. Don’t be shy. Ask for that email address.
Do you collect emails face-to-face? Why not share some tips of your own? I’d love your feedback. Please comment below.