In Part 1 of this case study I shared the following problems with a follow-up letter Dan, owner of Acme Screens, was sending to his recent customers.
Problem 1: Too much WE-ME. Not enough YOU-YOUR
Problem 2. Too many thoughts and offers for one letter
Now let's continue with Problem 3.
Problem 3. Discount Certificate for a Future Purchase
Side-Bar Comment: Dan was asking his recent customers to keep a discount certificate for R25 off their next purchase of replacement screens, until a future date when they were ready to purchase again.
My advice to Dan: Any time you ask your prospects or customers to take some action, you are going to be met with resistance. People are busy. They are easily distracted, forgetful, and they love to procrastinate - and that's with activities for themselves. They will take even less effort for someone else, especially a business.' - R25 DISCOUNT CERTIFICATE: You are asking your customers to consider purchasing additional screens in the future and to file and remember this certificate. They won't do that. Your certificate will probably be lost or tossed within a day or two.
Solution 3 If you want your customers to apply a R25 Discount Certificate to a future purchase of replacement screens, then you must send them the Certificate later, at the time when they may be ready for another purchase. Then you can follow-up with a phone call a few days later. When you mail them the Certificate, that should be the only thought in that mailing. Remember, one thought at a time - one stone - one bird.
Problem 4. Asking Your Customers to Give You Referrals in a Cumbersome Way -- R25 REFERRAL GIFT:
Side-Bar Comment: Dan also included an offer of R25 as a referral gift, for each referral his customers would send his way. Unfortunately, none of his customers were taking him up on his referral offer.
Solution 4 My advice to Dan: You are asking them to think of someone who might have an interest in your screens, and then have them speak with those people about your screens. They also have to tell their friends how to get in touch with you if they are interested. That's a lot to expect - most won't do it. If you want to get referrals, create a referral card - in the format of a post card - offering a free info-kit that includes lots of information about your product. Your customer can just hand those cards to their friends. Then, any of their friends who want more information can just fill out the card and drop it in the mail or call you for the free info-kit. This method makes it easy for your customers to refer you. There's nothing for them to do but pass out your post cards announcing your free info-kit offer. Very easy. Quick and painless. It's great that you are rewarding your customers for their referrals with a R25 Referral Gift. That gives them additional incentive to actually pass out your post cards. Don't forget that you could also ask them for referrals right after the sale.
Problem 5. Asking Your Customers to Write and Mail You a Testimonial Side-Bar Comment: Dan also included a request in his follow-up letter for a testimonial from his customers. That's not a bad idea. In fact, it's a great idea. But the way he was going about it was resulting in little or no testimonials.
Solution 5 My advice to Dan: As I said before, you are asking your customers to consider too many different actions that you want them to take. The best approach is to break down these actions into separate follow-ups.
Focus your follow-up on 'one' thing that you want them to do and you will get much better results. You are asking your customers to think of some positive things to say about your product and service and take the time to sit down and write them out and then mail you their testimonial. Very few will take the time to do that - or even remember to do it. Their lives are already filled with work. From their perspective, they don't need any more.
Of course, there are exceptions. Many businesses get unsolicited testimonials from their happy customers. But, the fact is, in your case, you are not getting them. So you need to do something different. One thing you could do is make sure you treat them in a way that they would feel compelled to say nice things about you and your business. Treat them right. Make the entire process from the first contact, to the sale, to the installation, to the follow-up a prime example of excellent customer service.
How about a thank you gift after installation, thanking them for their business? Make sure you educate your customers about the many features and benefits that they are getting with your products. Explain what sets your products and your company apart from the competition. That way you'll be helping them remember the positive things about their purchase.
Here's how to make it easy for your customers to give you testimonials. Listen. While you are with your customers or while you are on the phone with them, listen to what they are saying. When they say something nice or positive about your service or the features/benefits of your product or service, jot it down. Then ask them if you can use their positive statements in some of your marketing materials as testimonials. Most people will happily agree. Then simply type up what they said, and ask them to approve it. If they want you to rephrase a few things, that's fine, tell them it's not a problem. You can also just ask them how they feel about their new purchase. Hopefully, their responses will be positive. If not, you need to do some more work to improve your product or service. That is a very simple system for obtaining testimonials. It works every time.
Conclusion: Very often what happens to small business marketers is that they will attempt a few very good marketing tactics, and when they don't get the results they had hoped for, they mistakenly conclude that the tactics weren't a good idea. That's usually not the case at all. It's not 'What' Dan was doing in his follow-up letters that was wrong. It was 'How' he was doing it that was wrong. He needed better systems for carrying out his ideas. In every case, I showed Dan a better way to get the results he wanted. I did that by focusing on his customers. It's all about understanding your prospects and customers. It's about putting yourself in their shoes. Dan simply asked his customers to do the work for him. That's rarely the best idea. I turned that around and tried to make each marketing tactic as easy as possible for Dan's customers to carry out. When you do that you will have a much easier time getting the actions you desire.