What is the one thing that you could do as an entrepreneur that would make your business stand out? Why, caring about your customers, of course! Marketing research has time and again shown that customers will choose to do business with places that provide a sensation of care and nurturing to their clients.
Reasons To Shop
Customers enjoy the feeling that they're being offered more, especially when it is free. The interaction that small educational offerings throughout your store and site will provide customers with will not only allow them to learn common facts about what they are buying, but free up your employees from answering annoying questions repeatedly.
Even small efforts to provide educational facts to your clients will be viewed as a reason to do business with you. This produces a reason to shop within your clients. Yes, they could pay a little less by going to the big box store down the street, but they know that by shopping with you, they will be a person rather than a number.
What Education Does
As an entrepreneur, you're probably reading this and thinking “Seriously? I don't have the time to waste with educating customers.” What you need to realize before dismissing the idea is that education can take on many forms, not all of which will require a continuing effort on your part. Communicating with clients can be as easy or as difficult as you make it. To give you an idea of what you should do, and what you should avoid, here are some helpful tips.
What To Do:
- Easily Understandable – Make sure that your customers can understand your educational offerings easily. Difficult, confusing communications will have an adverse effect on your entire plan.
- Encourage Participation – Free classes hosted as a part of this education are a wonderful way to get your customers involved. When the class is finished, watch the sales of the related items skyrocket.
- Advertise – Use your forms of communication as an opportunity to slip in a sales pitch. Make sure that the items are relevant to the topic. Your customers will be educated while seeing advertisements as well.
- Advertise The Education – Regardless of whether your educational system is a series of how-to posters around the store, a fresh article once a week, or a hands-on adventure inside your store, advertise it. Your competitors aren't doing this, and people will come simply to learn.
- Circular Relevance – Customers who come to learn will end up buying, and customers who come to buy will end up learning. The important part of this is that you are giving your customers a new, fresh idea for why such and such is a good thing to spend their money on. Introducing new ways that an item can be used will increase sales.
What Not To Do:
- Undermine Your Store – Avoid teaching your customers how to get by without buying from you. Be careful not to teach your customers how to make for themselves what you offer for sale. Make sure this education won't put you out of business accidentally instead.
- Employee Slacking – Just because you are now offering educational newsletters, posters or fliers in your business does not mean that your employees should use these educational props as a replacement for their own involvement. When a customer asks a question, your employee must have the proper answer. Handing someone a piece of paper to read will not replace good customer service.
- Educate About Non-Stocked Items – The entire point of offering these educational services to your clients is to encourage them to buy. Avoid making references to items that you don't carry. This will only frustrate your customers, and send them elsewhere in search of what you told them about.
- Clutter Your Education – When you produce an educational piece, make certain that it is only about one topic. Information should be about one item only, and endeavor to teach the customer new ways of using the item that they had not thought about before. Mentioning items on the other side of the store will create confusion, while offering more advertisements than information will turn customers off altogether.
Methods Of Education Communication
The manner in which you choose to communicate your educational information is entirely up to you. You can chose from any of the following, or be creative and make your own. Many entrepreneurs choose to incorporate multiple forms of communication to reach more customers.
- Newsletter – The newsletter, whether printed or emailed, permits you to reach a wide variety of customers with a mix of informational topics. Try to center these around a theme, and don't publish too often. You want customers to appreciate these, not consider them spam.
- Fliers – Small fliers for in-person information work wonderful. These can be printed on half sheets of paper. Punch a hole in the corner and string them on a metal loop, then hang them near the object. Complete this offering with an invitation to participate, such as a “Free! Take One!” sign.
- Posters – These larger informational items can be printed, then framed and hung around the store as more permanent forms of information. Keep them dusted and looking nice, and you will find customers stopping to read them.
- Website Articles – Using your website as a means of communication is a wonderful idea. Customers can refer to your informational section to learn all about an item, and then find it for sale without ever leaving your website.
Whatever method of education you choose to provide to your customers, you must always remember to not force it on them. Being forced to supply your email address during the check out process is annoying, and customers will take a dislike to your practices when they are spammed with unwanted information later. Make certain that participation in your helpful, educational material is completely voluntary. Doing so, and seeming as if you genuinely care in the process, will give you a boost over your competition.