If more repeat business, referral business, and increasing your lifetime value of customer (LVC) aren’t enough reason to send a friendly monthly customer newsletter, perhaps you might reconsider if you knew it could find you the love of your life!
This is my story.
In 1977, at 18 years old, I moved to Pennsylvania after my first year of college in New Hampshire.
I needed a job and based on my previous 4 years working in a bike shop in Massachusetts, I went to the bicycle store nearest my new home.
As luck would have it, I met a very nice man named Andy Bredikin, who hired me as a mechanic.
Before long, Andy promoted me to manager.
As store manager a percentage of my income was based on a simple profit system.
When the store made more money, I made more money.
So, I did some research on how to increase profit, not merely sales.
What I discovered was that of all the items sold in the store, the specialty bicycle clothing had the highest profit margin.
I’m specifically talking about bicycle helmets and the fancy jerseys, padded shorts, gloves, and shoes.
The only problem was, wearing tight lycra shorts and colorful jerseys was not very common in the late 70s – early 80s!
Plus, in those economic times, there was a lack of demand – or so I thought!
As an avid cyclist with real-world practical experience, I found that when I simply explained the advantages of the somewhat ‘funny looking’ clothing to our customers, they too quickly saw the benefits and purchased them, based on our recommendation.
Seeing how well we sold this high-margin clothing face to face, I figured that if I could simply educate all our other customers about the advantages of bicycle clothing, we would sell much more, which would increase the store’s profits, and ultimately my paycheck.
To be successful, I knew I had to replicate these casual ‘in person’ conversations with the rest of our customers who were not coming into our store.
The best way I thought of to communicate with a large audience at one time was to write a newsletter and mail it to our entire list of customers.
I purposefully wrote the newsletter in a conversational tone, just the way I would talk to a customer in the store.
I wanted my newsletter to read as if it was a conversation, not a sales letter or marketing piece.
I mailed our first newsletter to every name we had on the store’s customer list – about 1,200 names.
I also used the newsletter as a prospecting tool and distributed it to the members of the various bicycle clubs and organizations within an hour’s drive of our store.
Did sending out a printed newsletter work?
Before I started sending the newsletter, our annual sales of bicycle clothing were about $10,000 per year.
A couple years later, we were selling $100,000 worth of clothing – at a huge margin!
I was quickly sold on using a friendly, monthly customer newsletter as an effective marketing and profit building tool and I did what any smart marketer would do – I kept doing it!
I was amazed that every time we mailed a newsletter, we would see more of our customers in the store!
Now here’s where Cupid’s arrow hit the target, strong and sure.
About a year after I started working there, I met Andy’s daughter, Stephanie, when she was on a break from college.
Candidly, I was smitten right out of the gate!
Thankfully, Stephanie saw something in me too and we started going out.
Two years later we were married and started our family.
Andy, for his part – having seen what I could do with a newsletter – had his answers, firsthand, to the “practical” questions every loving father asks about his daughter’s suitor.
We had his blessing.
Now, almost 43 years into our marriage, I have the blessing of a wonderful life partner, four successful children, and four awesome grandchildren.
It’s funny how things work out.
I got the job with my future father-in-law because of my mechanical experience.
He then promoted me to manager after seeing my chops at sales and marketing, and I know from many conversations over the years that Andy was grateful at how we were able to grow his one-time small bicycle store into a nearly 7-figure business.
We both know that the turning point for the store’s massive growth and increased profitability, was the moment we shifted our attention from always trying to grow by acquiring new customers.
Instead, we purposefully started focusing our marketing efforts on maximizing the profitability of the customers we already had.
And that all began in 1979 when I sat down at the typewriter and wrote my first customer newsletter.
So, you see, whether it’s customer love, or quite possibly romantic love, good old fashioned customer newsletters are a highly effective marketing tool and I encourage you to at least check this out now!