General Store Marketing - Part One

Know your customers

One of the hallmarks of the general store was how much the shopkeeper knew about his (we’ll assume he was a man) customers. He knew the brand of soap your family preferred, special events in your family’s lives and could make informed suggestions on new products that you might enjoy. If there was an item that you needed that was not in stock, you could approach him to place the order and get a reasonable time frame for when you could expect the item to come in. Further, an assistant would probably be willing to run the item over to your house.

Since the scale and the community served by the general store were small, a good store manager could keep track of his customers, what they bought, and who they were. Since organizations now serve much larger and more diverse customer groups, this individual attention has fallen to the wayside. Now organizations by and large tell customers what they should want and have only just started to use customer input to influence their product and service mix.

There are several ways that organizations can reconnect with their customers and a few examples below will help foster that relationship. This is not an exhaustive list, but rather a few major practices that organizations can use to become more relevant and authentic to their customers.

Care about your customers…by listening to them

Almost every organization says it cares about its’ customers, but it is imperative that there is a system to back up that assertion. Organizations have to ENCOURAGE customer feedback then respond in a timely fashion. Customer feedback can be encouraged by making it easy for customers to share input online, at the point of sale, and throughout the sales channel. Once received it is critical to acknowledge the issue and work to fix the issue as quick and completely as possible.

To encourage feedback offering refunds for less than 100% satisfaction or reward customers providing feedback. This system will not draw out new problems but rather will bring light to issues that your customers are already having with your product/service.

One caveat to this feedback system is logging which customer provide feedback. Those that provide you with constructive feedback should be engaged, while those that are trying to manipulate the system should be ignored.

Do you have examples of organizations that are using general store principles of rewarding customers for providing feedback?


Brian Siegel said…
Brett: I agree! Being consumer/relationship driven improves productivity and performance of brands.

To do so, you must gain innovative insights, and constantly be of value and service by getting to know your customers!

Great insights!

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