Saturday, March 1, 2008

Apart from the competition

As a small business owner, I am constantly trying to find ways to set myself apart from my competition. I want people to buy from me and I have to give them a reason why I am better than the cheaper alternative or the bigger store.

I came across this website someone had posted on their blog. I was immediately touched by the story and I love this idea.

Check it out here: The Simple Truths of Service

What are some things you can do get customers lining up to buy from you over and over again? I would love to hear your thoughts on this.

Here are some things I came up with:
  1. Hold special invitation only events -- these can even be online sneak previews.
  2. Send personalized thank you cards. I bought the cutest felt food from BeckyM on etsy and I got a handmade card with my order. It made me feel really special.
  3. Send a card to customers on their birthday with a special offer just for them
  4. Offer a frequent buyer program. For example, if a customer buys x number of products from you they receive a $15 store credit.
  5. Send out personalized newsletters with exclusive discounts. I use Constant Contact to stay in touch with my customers. They have easy to use, professional template designs. I let my newsletter subscribers be the first to know of new products and I give them exclusive discounts that I don't offer any where else. In fact, yesterday I had a leap year sale and only announced it in my newsletter. Do you know how many sales I got? SIXTY-NINE! That is over a 500% increase of my average day of sales. (Send an email to if you would like me to refer you. If I send you a link to sign up you will receive 60 days for free and a $30 credit!)

Please post your ideas and have a chance to win a "handmade by" stamp from my store. Only one entry per person and I will randomly draw a winner on Tuesday, March 4th at 9 p.m. CST and announce them here on Wednesday.


ButterflyChicBoutique said...

With my last business, I found, even my loyal, repeat customers, rarely used my discount coupons.....which I find weird! LOL

I found automatically including small,relevant free gifts with orders over a certain amount really impressed customers.

So does great packaging. If what they pay for is fun to open and presented nicely, they appreciate it. I got tons of customers comment on my packaging of my products. :0)

LoveMeKnot Creations said...

i don't have any return customers yet, but if i were a customer and someone sent me a bday card I would be amazed and definitely check out that store again!

I do agree it is the store/items that will bring the customer back, but a close second is customer service. i want my customers to know that i appreciate them and the fact that they chose to shop at my store, so I think even a simple 'thank you' and handwriting it makes a difference.

Nicoleigh said...

I am a repeat customer to your store...due to the leap year promotion. I had been pondering making another purchase, but was just putting it off. But when I received the newsletter and the promotion, I went ahead and made the purchase.

I have also been a repeat customer at another store. On my second purchase, it was around my birthday. So with that purchase, they included a little something extra for my birthday. I thought it was great! I hope to go back to their store again in the future, just like I will yours.

Alison said...

great ideas!! I always wanted to do a newsletter but thought it was too much work, looks like it really works for you!

I'm going to look at your etsy shop now!

Body Language Soaps said...

Fabulous Tips! I can't wait to try some of them out myself! I love offering Customer Referral specials as well!

CopperSpringsLeather said...

Make your customer feel important. This is a step above customer service. If your customer mentions that they are buying this X for their friend, ect follow up with them and ask them how their friend liked X.

TexasTesla said...

There are two kinds of customers. One wants the best price, period. Those people are difficult to retain, and probably not worth the effort.

The other kind are people who value quality, and are willing to spend a little more to get something special. Those are the ones to target - and I think ideas like newsletters, discounts, and little gifts really help. Part of the problem, however, is getting large enough to do that - customer tracking is unfortunately not done for free.

Sweet Papery said...

Great tips everyone!

I like what CopperSpringsLeather said about following up, that is a great idea.

littlelilly said...

This is such a great topic! I was really touched by the video link, and it made me think of updating my message to buyers every morning with something really inspiring and unique that lets them know that each time they return (and make a purchase!) they will have something wonderful to look forward to! I will start this tomorrow!

Kelly C. said...

Thanks for this post! I found your blog through Etsy forums and am so glad I did!

Deborah said...

I found your shop and blog through Ali Edward's blog... which leads me to my tip: I think it's great to offer incentives to buyers who refer new buyers. Ask people to write in the comment box where they heard about you. Then send a special discount "coupon" to the person or blog that they mention.

Hey I see you're in Dallas. Are you a member of EtsyDallas?

Andrea said...

What a great post. I have been thinking about this a lot this past week. Thanks for your thoughts.

Jenni said...

I just opened my etsy and don't have any customers, much less repeat customers! But one thing I will say from my experience as an online shopper is quick and helpful responses to questions - particularly important at an online store. If I have a question about an item in a brick&mortar store I can stand there and wait until the person gets back to me which forces them to be quick. With an online store it is easy to let a question sit in your inbox for a few days until you have "the time" to deal with it. Making the time and getting a quick response to the customer - even if you have to send a message that says, "I got your email about [whatever] and will require [x] days to [do whatever]. I will get back to you then." - makes a huge impression (to me at least). It's just another way to let the customer know you care.

This seems like common sense, but I had bought an item from an online store and had lost the copy of my invoice. I sent them an email telling them that I needed it to submit an expense report to my boss. It was THREE weeks before I heard back from them.

Becky said...

Thanks for mentioning me. I love adding just a little handmade note. I love my customers and I want them to know it!

I LOVE my stamps. Thank you! : )

Joie De Vie said...

i just have to tell you that this video gave me goose bumps and i got a little misty-eyed! =)

being a fellow etsian, i couldn't agree more that anything you can do to make your clients' experiences important and outstanding will make or break their likelyhood to return... communication has made a huge impact for my clients, especially when working on custom orders... promptness can make or break an order!

i guess we could all apply the Gahndi saying: " be the change you want to see in the world " - just like Johhny did!

thanks for the great post - i actually posted about it on my jewelry blog also!