When Jim Koch started Samuel Adams Brewing Company in the 1980s, everyone said he was crazy. Today, he is a billionaire who speaks about the importance of communicating with customers in ways that other businesses are failing.
“It was a long, slow process for the education of a consumer,” Koch says. “Beer was sold on the advertising and the marketing of a brand, not the ingredients, brewing process, and the passion of a brewer.”
Marketing has changed significantly with widespread adoption of email and social media, not to mention the way customers expect to be educated on a business. The story, ideals and values of your business should be told by emailing your customers, mailing your customers, posting to your customers. The point here is that the small business needs to cater to this new generation adverse to print and suspicious of companies who don’t demonstrate an elementary aptitude for new technologies or who are afraid to tell their stories. But it’s equally important to ensure that traditional customers who eschew new technologies are also kept in the loop.
The best business software technology allows for both Internet communications as well as traditional phone and printed communications. After all, when it comes to sending an invoice and getting paid, small businesses are keen to do what they need to do to make sure the media is in the format the customer wants.
Why Customer Information Management?
Managing customer information, including email addresses, should be fundamental to any business software solution your business chooses.
Where customer information management is concerned, key features included in the Thoughtful Systems’ solution include email, phone, fax, snail-mail address and social media contact information and the ability to create mail merge letters for bulk mailings to leads and customers. Also, using this business software allows your business to send bulk email campaigns with a built-in email engine.
Emailing your customers is important because it shows you care, but equally important is your respect for their privacy and integrity, for instance if they ask to be removed.
When to email your customers about service changes
- When your business provides promotional offerings
Everybody likes a deal. By offering a compelling reason for a customer to broaden their relationship with your small business you are demonstrating that you understand their needs while enhancing your customer service.
- When your business upgrades existing services or adds new services
Businesses keen to expand their reach within an industry, or perhaps get into another industry can use customer emails to announce the strategy behind such changes in a business model. “Innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower,” said billionaire Steve Jobs about the need to create new products.
- When there are changes to billing or business operations
Lawyers are keen on telling their clients to “disclose” changes in business that could impact how your customer interacts with your product or service. By including line items within an email or print communication to customers, you’re able to provide plausible deniability for anything that could go wrong when you change your billing or business operations model.
Emailing your customers with newsletters
- Email newsletters should be sent 2-3 times per month
There’s a certain threshold that customers are willing to accept. Overstep the boundaries of appropriateness, and they’ll be annoyed. By targeting your customers with unique content that is appropriate to their needs, you’ll help more than hurt.
- Email newsletters should be targeted by customer type
The built-in Thoughtful Systems’ Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system allows you to segment your customer list into client types. For instance, a plumbing business may have a combination of retail, industrial, home service and government contracts – it’s important to segment these clients and target their specific needs.
Beyond emailing your customers
- It’s important to capture new email addresses on your website
Capturing the email addresses of potential customers can be a great way to get new business. By having an active “sign up for news” button, you can keep them in the loop and close the deal when they’re ready to make a decision. Don’t let a potential customer forget about your business.
- Capture social media “likes” and followers on social media
More and more people are moving away from their email addresses and using Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn to research and follow interests. Consider an active engagement on these sites for the purpose of reaching out to a younger generation already plugged. Social media posts should occur in tandem with emailing your customers when a broad audience is targeted.
- Be ready to adapt to new means of communicating
For some customers, text message communications are preferable over email or phone calls. It’s important to take notes on the means by which your customers prefer to be contacted. Thoughtful Systems business software offers the ability to communicate to customers via text messages, emails, faxes, printed communications and custom social media protocols.