Why the ‘Good Old Days’ of Commerce are back for good

Relationship Marketing expert Al Elliott MD of Dallas Matthews and July growth lunch guest speaker on how our grandparents had it just right when it came to one to one marketing and how your business can implement key lessons to improve customer service.

Gary Venynerchuck ( said it best when he said, "Our great, great grandparents are better suited to the next eight years in commerce than we ever will be."

You see, shopkeepers 70 years ago were naturally adept at 1:1 marketing. They knew that Mrs Simmonds had just had a baby and therefore needed extra milk. They only ever showed Mr Wilson black leather shoes, as that’s all he ever bought. They remembered that Mrs Jones liked a certain type of toffee so always kept some under the counter for her.

The ‘good old days’ relied on three things

  • Identification of the customer. The store owner needed to recognise the customer and keep detailed notes (often in their head) of the particular needs and wants of that customer
  • Conversation with the customer. The store owner ensured that whilst they were serving, they were continually talking and listening to the customer, mentally storing future needs and wants.
  • Personalisation of their offer. The shopkeeper would then add that feedback to their mental (or written) notes on that customer, and ensure that each subsequent visit was more and more tailored. This allowed them to sell more and more to each customer (as opposed to modern marketing which is all about selling each product, to more and more customers).

Our great-great-grandparent’s world changed, however, when supermarkets and out-of-town ‘Big Sheds’ started to replace high street shopping and the increasing footfall each day meant that memorising each customer was no longer feasible. Luckily for savvy business owners today, we’re now entering a phase in business where we can actually replicate old-fashioned customer service, using modern technology. It’s now relatively inexpensive to track individual customers as they click around your website. Most email marketing systems allow you to track what links each of your customers click on in your emails.

Social media streams allow us to learn what our customers do and do not like, and we can even have real-time conversations across social networks, which you can record against each customer file. All this data on the customer means that we should be offering highly tailored, highly personalised, highly relevant offers to our existing customers to get repeat purchases... but most businesses are not doing this.

Knowing what a customer likes, and tailoring your offer to precisely fit those needs and wants will allow you to make big, BIG wins in customer acquisition and especially repeat purchases. Think about it. You want to be treated as if you are special. You love it when a business remembers your name/and or preference, and you are much more likely to buy when a business makes you an offer that is perfectly tailored to you. (Amazon do this very well.)

However, in most sales situations, interactions with businesses are, at best, impersonal, and at worst, exasperating. Have you ever tried to call RyanAir...?

By implementing some small changes (such as a simple customer identification system, like a cloud CRM system), and thinking more and more like our great, great grandparents did, we can bring back the ‘Good Old Days’, where loyalty was paramount, price was not usually an objection, and customers actually enjoyed the buying experience. Make these changes to the way you talk to your customers, and I bet you a farthing they’ll be back to buy again.

Al Elliott is the MD of Dallas Matthews, a specialist Relationship Marketing agency in Manchester. He and his team offer managed CRM services that help you automatically upsell, cross-sell and re-sell to existing customers using vouchers, mail & Social Media

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