I spend a majority of my time at work on the front lines (aka phone lines), helping our customers. On a typical day, I walk customers through how to use the different features of our product, troubleshoot any issues that arise, and track their feedback. It’s a humbling experience – while my job is to know our product inside and out, for our customers the product is an integral part of helping their business grow. No matter the rapport I build on the phone, there can’t help but be a separation between the customer and I because I cannot truly put myself in their shoes. I can empathize, I can visualize their workload, but I cannot experience what it is like to be a small business owner firsthand.
When I was approached to participate in a customer visit for Mom & Pop Business day, I jumped at the chance. I would be able to help a customer one-on-one and be able to really see what a day in the life of a small business owner is really like. How could I say no? It was with great pleasure that I stepped across the threshold of a gift shop in Waltham, Massachusetts called Gourmet Pottery. To let you know a little more about the business, Gourmet Pottery specializes in fair trade, hand-crafted items from local vendors and from around the world. As chance would have it, I have been a customer of Gourmet Pottery in the past. I have purchased coasters made in Vietnam from recycled magazines, a decorative Day of the Dead sugar skull, and other eccentric items. It’s the kind of shop with endless ideas for any gift-giving occasion.
The goal of this visit was to learn how Gourmet Pottery’s owner, Dinny, utilizes Constant Contact to communicate with her customers and to help in any way we could, either with her account or around the store. We wanted to understand her struggles and see if there were undiscovered areas of the product that we could illuminate to make the experience of creating emails a smoother process.
Prior to the visit I designed a couple templates; one in our 2GE editor and another in our newer, 3GE editor. Dinny expressed she received positive feedback about her casual approach to her emails. As someone that thumps brand consistency, I can appreciate the desire to maintain the casual and fun atmosphere of the store in her communications.
The most glaring omission I saw when reviewing her previous mailings was the lack of pictures! As you have seen if you have made it this far in the post, the products offered by Gourmet Pottery are diverse and fantastic, and that should be illustrated in each and every mailing that goes out!
Dinny mentioned to me she goes to a trade show twice a year in New York City to scope out new products or engage with new vendors. On top of staying ahead with day-to-day business needs and the occasional time off, I have a better understanding of the competing priorities for small business owners. It adds more value to the time our customers take out of their day to speak with us about the product.
While I went through her Constant Contact account and covered topics such as creating campaigns in the third-generation editor, managing bounces, and list management, Dinny was frequently pulled away to greet a customer or to monitor the setup of a display or table. It was a live demo of how tough it can be to dedicate time to projects other than what might be in front of her.
Dinny’s ultimate goal is to leverage her contact list and use it to drive more traffic to the store. In order to achieve this goal, we started with a three-part strategy: a strong subject line to entice her audience to open the campaign, an easy-to-read campaign with images that highlight her products (this is the highlight of her store, it should be the highlight of her campaigns!), and that something else to take the customers over the edge.
One thing Dinny does that I love is she has a “super-secret” word you can say when making a purchase to save 10%. A recent example was, “Chirp.” Though if you actually chirped that would suffice. It’s a neat little thing to personalize a sale that is unique to Gourmet Pottery.
At the end of the day, the important part about the visit was to spend time with one of our customers, to put a face to the activity that bustles in her account, and to learn just as much as we teach. If I wasn’t humbled before, I am now. Email marketing is an important part of the modern small business and its growth. But it is imperative to keep in mind all the plates that spin when you’re running your own business and it allowed me to really see the impact that our product has, not only on Dinny’s workflow but also on the bottom line.