While on a scuba diving boat trip in Koh Tao, Thailand, I struck up a conversation with a young lady in, I would guess, her mid twenties. She mentioned that she was worried about getting sunburn because the boat didn’t offer much protection. I asked if she was wearing any sunblock. Her response: Nah, I haven’t been courted by a brand so I haven’t bought any product. I find I don’t really pay attention to a brand if they aren’t already paying attention to me.
Now, I must admit that when it comes to something like sunblock, I’m going to make a purchase, courted or not. I’m not really in the market for sun poisoning. However, when it comes to fashion, she is absolutely right. As a customer, I want to be courted. I want to feel special. I want to believe that a brand truly does appreciate my support and has a real love for its customer; a love that blooms less from the cha-ching of the cash register and more from the delight in seeing its work worn and loved by the community. Knowing that a brand appreciates me and my purchase, makes me want to make another purchase.
Here are a few ways to court your customer:
Samples or Trinkets
When a customer makes a purchase think about adding a little trinket or sample in with package. This doesn’t have to be something outrageous, just think creatively. For example, I bought a cute top online from an indie designer and she included a sweet pair of stud earrings that she made and that really complimented the top. Apparently, she had made a hobby of jewelry making and was able to share that with me as a thank you for a larger purchase. What do you do besides designing clothing? Do you knit? Make paper? Have an amazing recipe for something? Don’t be afraid to get creative!
Hand Written Thank You Note
Nothing truly says “Thank You” like a hand written note. Yes, you can get cards printed that say thanks in 7 different languages and you can have a thank you stamp made and slap it against the purchase receipt but neither of these things is particularly personal. Instead, take the five minutes to write a sentence or two thanking your customer and wishing them well with their new item.
Editor’s Note: The above to examples are things that probably won’t scale as your business grows but that’s ok. As an emerging designer, you’re in the unique position to be able go above and beyond for your customer and truly create within them a brand loyalty. As you grow, you will discover new ways of wowing and keeping your customer that are easier to scale with your business.
Happy Birthday Messages
As you create your database of customer information, be sure to include their birthdays. I really do love it when I receive an email wishing me a Happy Day and offering me some sort of discount or incentive. I often say to myself, “It’s my birthday, I buying myself something!”
This is a good example of something you can do as your brand starts to grow. Once you start participating in shopping events, trade shows, cool industry-related (yet open to the public) events, being able to extend some sort of special pass or behind-the-scenes access to some of your customers will be a great way to court them. And remember, VIP access is not only for physical events. Virtual events can be just as exclusive.
Social Platform Interaction
A brand that’s active on various social media platforms but doesn’t make the effort to actually interact with its followers/customers just doesn’t understand social media. I won’t name any names but there is a brand I have always liked and on a few instances I have made attempts to communicate with them via twitter, facebook, and instagram and never once received a response. Not even a simple “thanks!” when I praised a recent purchase. That sort of laziness?snobbery? has stayed with me and my love for that brand has dwindled a bit.
There are a lot of brands that do well with interacting and a few that come to mind are the super funky and fabulous Vanessa Mooney Jewelry brand which is always chatting everyone up on it’s Facebook page and Wendy’s Lookbook a style blog and TubeTube channel whose owner personally responds to each and every comment. Not easy when you’re busy running a brand but so utterly important.
Don’t fib to your customer just to make a sale. If a customer expresses concern about how a certain silhouette will fit, and you know it’s not right for her, be honest. (and polite!) If a color washes someone out but you’ve sold out of the perfect color for her, tell her! You can easily get in touch with her once the proper color is in. She will be much more appreciative of your honesty than if she gets home with something that isn’t right for her.
There’s another aspect to honesty also. If, for some reason, you’ve screwed up somehow be honest. Listen, we’ve all been there; an order shipped late, the size was wrong, or the special instructions for delivery were somehow missed, mistakes happen. Just don’t try to cover it up or blame it on the post office or the dog. Admit your mistake, apologize to your customer, and depending on how bad the screw up was, offer a discount or freebie. It’s a smarter way to fix your mistake and retain your customer.
These are just a few ways to court current and potential customers. If you can start implementing some of these pointers you’ll be amazed at the little army of brand ambassadors you will start to create.
We’re curious, how are you wooing and courting your customer?