1/2 Art, 1/2 Science. Totally Business Driven.

Communication that drives profits

  • Archives

  • Advertisements

Archive for March, 2009

Making Money from Small Talk – the Grocer Part 2

Posted by Marjorie Signer on March 30, 2009

Our friend the grocer discovered why his customer’s buying habits were changing and was able to change how he communicated with them to specifically address the things they felt most strongly about. In doing so, he not only reconnected with his current customers and helped them feel fabulous about the money they spent in his store, he was able to project the lesson out to his prospects and actually draw in new customers who he didn’t connect with when he was focusing his message on the health benefits of his products.


But how did the grocer make this discovery and what steps did he take to leverage the new information?


When our grocer’s sales started to dip he could have wrung his hands and hoped real hard that his sales started to rise again, but instead, he used some of the extra time he now had to reach out and TALK to his past and current customers.


When customers came into his shop he made a point of asking about how their job, their family and their friends were doing. He asked them directly about their feelings on recent news items and how they felt it might affect the entire community. Now if you’re thinking that conversations like that happen everyday as we make small talk, you’re exactly RIGHT! And that’s the point, when you talk to people with purpose and genuine interest, no matter where you’re having the conversation or what your relationship is with the person, it feels comfortable. The best part is, when you really listen you can find all kinds of clues about what their values and why they make certain buying decisions. 


Our grocer also talked to his past customers who hadn’t visited his store recently. Using email, snail mail and the phone, he contacted people and let them know that they were important to him; that he noticed that they hadn’t visited lately and that he was interested in how they were doing.  He also shared some of the stories that his customers had told him, explained that he was trying to find ways he could help support the community and asked for their ideas and suggestions.   


The key to the grocer’s success in reaching out to people wasn’t just that he asked for their input, it was that he made it easy and comfortable for them to share their thoughts and gave them a psychological boost by first telling them what other people had shared with him.


See there are two things going on here that contributed to the grocer’s success. First of all, most people want to help, especially if it is easy to do so. Helping other people makes us feel good about ourselves and our brains are actually wired to do things that produce that feeling. (Don’t believe me? How many times have you eaten a piece of chocolate that intellectually you know you shouldn’t have just because it makes you feel good?)


Secondly, the grocer shared the information he had already received from past conversations. Using the words of others who his current contact could relate to leads to a phenomenon called “social proof.” It’s scientifically proven that people are much more likely to engage in a particular behavior if they know that other people, like them, have already done so.  


Getting his present and past customers to talk to him (eventually talking to him and one another through an Internet forum) strengthened their feeling of commitment to shopping at the store because: a) the grocer reached out to them made them feel important; b) the grocer cared about the same things they did and was taking action which satisfied their fundamental desire to support people who shared and supported their values and c) they were involved and participating in the grocer’s business and that gave them a feeling of ownership and responsibility to the store and the other people with whom they communicated.  


  • What are some of the clues your customers and contacts are giving you?
  •  If you asked different questions could the answers have a positive impact on your business?
  • Are you connecting with your customer’s value systems and taking the time to give back and support the things you hold dear?
  • Are your customers a part of your business or just a dollar sign? How can you get your customers more involved and make them feel good about your business?

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

How Can you Fail When You Have Two Million Potential Customers?

Posted by Marjorie Signer on March 30, 2009

Cincinnati is a great place to live. We have the Cincinnati Art Museum, Union Terminal, a fantastic Natural History Museum, the global headquarters of P&G, Chiquita, Sunny Delight, and dozens of other large employers, beautiful architecture and good schools. But most importantly, the Greater Cincinnati area has more than 2 million people, most of whom are down-to-Earth, hardworking, honest consumers.

Two million people. That’s a lot of buying power and I bet most of them would be thrilled to be able to give their dollars to a company that is based in their community, cares about the same kinds of things they thing are important and is giving back to make Cincinnati an even better place to live, work and play. In fact, I’d venture to say that now, in these difficult financial times, our neighbors are even more interested in finding ways to protect their community with every spend of their dollar.

Smart marketing is even more important today than it was yesterday, precisely because of global economic conditions and the changing mindset of consumers. In times when we’re closely watching the amount of money we spend we start evaluating value and asking ourselves, if I make this purchase, how will it benefit me

Understanding what your prospects value and communicating that doing business with your company satisfies those values is your key to success right now. 

For example, a neighbor has a small grocery store that sells many locally produced, organic foods. His prices are generally higher than the “big box” stores and as his customers started to feel the pinch of the recession, sales started to dip. In more flush economic times, his marketing focused mainly on the health related reasons to buy organic food. But, even when money is tighter, people still have to eat 3 square meals a day and if the choice is between being able to feed your family top-notch organic foods and just being able to feed them, every family is going to try and buy the most nutritious food they can within their budget. A non-organic red pepper is still better than no red peppers at all.    

The changing habits of customers got our grocer thinking and suddenly it dawned on him. Yes, his customers liked being able to buy healthy, organic foods, but now they were thinking more about the affects the economic downturn was going to have on their family and community. Nearly everyone knew someone who had lost their job or had taken a pay-cut and even if it hadn’t happened to them yet, they were still tightening their belt and preparing for the worst.

This realization that his customers buying habits had changed not because of a change in their preferences, but because of the effects they had seen the economy have on people they cared showed him how to reconnect and re-engage his customers. Our grocer changed his marketing to focus on how shopping at his store directly and positively affected the people in the community!

How well do you know your customers? If you can’t describe your customer’s values and help them satisfy what’s important to them, this could indeed be a very tough time for your company. Take this opportunity to really think about your customers and answer the following questions:

  • Have your customers buying habits changed?
  • Have the things your customers talk about changed?
  • How does doing business with your company help your customers feel good about themselves?

Knowing your customer is the Holy Grail of business, but unlike the fountain of youth, you can find the fountain of success.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Back in the Fray

Posted by Marjorie Signer on March 30, 2009

As many of you know, the Austin, Berry, Sidders Company took an 18 month hiatus while I was helping a local bank reorganize and jump-start their marketing department. Now that they are functioning smoothly, connecting with their marketplace and being rewarded by their customers, I am pleased to announce that Austin, Berry, Sidders is open once again and better than ever!

We have done a little bit of reevaluating and reorganizing, teamed up with a bevy of experts and have found at least a dozen new ways we can help our clients succeed.

Our website, www.austinberrysidders.com is in the process of being completely refashioned and we fully expect it to launch within the next 14 days. In the meantime (and for years to come) we hope you’ll find tips, tricks and nuggets a-plenty here that you can integrate into your business right away.

As we journey together, your comments are greatly anticipated and your questions even more appreciated. My number one priority is sharing what I’ve learned and honoring the time you spend reading by adding value to your business. Your participation is the only way we can ensure we’re giving you what you want!  

Talk to you soon,


Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a Comment »