Articles for Retailers - by Tom Shay

Shred Some of Those Old Ideas
     It Can Be Easy to Impress Your Customers

by Tom Shay

Differentiating your business from the competition relies on a variety of tactics and the good news is that some of them make it easy to impress your customer.

I frequently see businesses spending money on advertising in an ongoing effort to get people and/or other businesses to purchase their goods and services. Unfortunately, too often this same business does little to provide a great shopping experience, or in the case of business to business, does little to let the customer know they are valued.

These businesses use the contact information they gather from their customer to send them emails, postcards and other communications that often continue the message of a special discount on goods or services. And some of these messages even convey (often unconvincingly) a word or two about their great customer.

In today’s business world, we all know that there is very little customer loyalty and one of the key factors in this is a lack of customer service. Too many businesses fail to provide a unique shopping experience or remind their customers of their unique services. Price becomes the driving force.

There are many examples of businesses that have turned their products and unique experiences into commodities where, for the buyer, it’s all about price. For example, airlines, insurance and gasoline.

I’m not here to tell you how to spend your money to improve your customer service but, instead, I want to share a personal experience with my paper shredder.  

The paper shredder in our office needed to be replaced and while I can’t tell you the name of it I can tell you our new shredder is made by Fellows. There was nothing memorable about the purchase or the packaging of our new shredder.  As with many products, there was a registration card that came with the shredder and we registered the purchase online.

Nothing more was thought of the experience until about six months later when we received an email from Fellows with a subject line that was enticing enough for me to take it from the junk mail and read it.

The email stated the manufacturer wanted to make sure the shredder was operating properly and when proper maintenance is performed, the shredder should be in service a long time. To increase the probability of the long life of the shredder, it should be oiled on a regular basis. The call to action line in the email was, “Click on this link to see a video of how to properly oil your shredder”.
There was a short, easy to understand video of how to oil the shredder and how frequently oiling should be done. The video did mention Fellows brand oil, but stated that other shredder oils would also work.

Looking at our businesses, we could have videos that explain how to use and/or maintain any of the products you sell. A person starting out as an artist would surely appreciate the information. They could watch the video in private without having anyone know how little they know about the art supplies they have purchased. Teachers could give insights into new or different techniques.

Videos are only one method for impressing our customer and separating us from the commodity based competition. The bigger message here is that when we can sell products and services that make an impression we make with our build our customer base with more than just a lower price.

This old adage still rings true -- “He who becomes a commodity last is the winner”.

Tom Shay is a fourth-generation small business owner, author, columnist, coach and speaker who has authored several training manuals for retailers that can be found in the Resources section of the NAMTA website – His knowledge of small business marketing, business strategy, staffing, and financial management have provided small business owners with the help necessary to increase their profits plus build their business for the future. You can learn more here -