No doubt the economy is top of mind for every CE dealer, large or small. Booked custom-installation pipelines are drying up, new business isn’t exactly queuing up at the door, and discouraging sales projections seem to be the prevailing theme for Q4 2008. So rather than grousing about an economic crisis our once-esteemed government cannot fix, it is now time to get back to basics and reinforce your customer connections.
Buying a stereo used to be about the relationship you had with that very cool independent hi-fi shop on the corner of any given college town. In my case it was Tweeter Etc. in Harvard Square. In those days, customers repeatedly returned to Tweeter to listen to the latest audiophile vinyl cuts, to hear a demo of their first and much-anticipated CD player, and sometimes just to ask their sales person to come by the brownstone after a power outage to stop their Betamax from flashing “*12:00*”. At that time the Tweeter Harvard Square store was as much a community destination as any local Starbucks might be today.
That said, unlike Starbucks and their stated mission to be the “third place” for people to gather (home and work being the No. 1 and 2 places), in Tweeter’s heyday this circumstance was the lucky accident of an entrepreneurial management team, a passionate sales force and an enthusiastically engaged customer base. Due to those market conditions, multi-store companies such as Hi-Fi Buys, Now! Audio Video and the The Good Guys prospered and flourished across America … Although I am deeply saddened to see Tweeter’s collapse, there are positive lessons to be learned in maintaining an energized community of raving fan customers. It requires a genuine personal connection.
Many of you have good customers who have graced your doors for many years, decades perhaps. Now is the time to reach out and touch every single one of them. My suggestion? Send a personalized, handwritten holiday greeting card to each client, customer and prospect with whom you have ever interacted.
Don’t be tempted to buy those corporate greeting cards with the “factory preset” imprinted message and have every employee scribble their name on it. You are seeking a personal connection. Instead, buy quality holiday cards and address them by hand, write a personal note (or have your sales consultants write a personal note) and throw a business card or two in the envelope. Stick a holiday stamp on it and start mailing them now! We sell to the “early adopter” population and the “early adopter” never stops early adopting. Reinvigorate that special customer relationship and make sure your company is top of mind for any holiday purchases.
Jeannette Howe is the executive director of Specialty Electronics Nationwide, the buying group. To learn more about Specialty Electronics Nationwide and its many benefits, please contact her at (949) 369-6402 or firstname.lastname@example.org.