Reconsider Snail Mail

Keep in touch with existing customers and gain new ones into your hot tub store

In addition to writing for SpaRetailer, I am a marketing strategist and copywriter. In those latter two capacities, clients and prospects often ask if I have anything in my bag of tricks that’ll help them get more business from current customers, and additional referral business. When I tell them to do a monthly newsletter, I often get a blank stare.

Admittedly, it’s not the world’s sexiest answer.

Customer attrition is the bane of every business owner. Still, business owners erroneously seek to acquire new customers, a costly errand, while leaving current customers (with money) to shrivel on the vine. There is ample evidence to suggest that for every 30 days you are not in touch with your customers, 10 to 15 percent have forgotten who you are, never to return. If they aren’t buying chemicals, filters or spa service from you, then from whom? Your competition.

Shaun Buck owns The Newsletter Pro in Boise, Idaho. He’s authored the book Newsletter Marketing and co-authored The No B.S. Guide to Maximum Referrals & Customer Retention, with Dan Kennedy. Buck says it’s woefully outdated to think people will refer business to you just because you did a good job.

“Not long ago, people would joke that there’s a Starbucks on every corner,” Buck says. But on average, he says, there are 16 dental offices for every Starbucks in America — so if you’re a dentist who does a good job, big deal! The dentist down the street, along with 14 other ones, does a good job, too. “You need to wow people, have a relationship with them, if you want their continued business and referrals,” Buck says. “People won’t stick their neck out or give a referral unless they have something amazing to gain or some kind of relationship with you. Business owners don’t think about that reality. Instead, they act as if they are entitled to a person’s business.”

Newsletters generate enormous goodwill and establish your expertise. A great newsletter example in the hot tub retail world comes from Alice Cunningham at Olympic Hot Tub. Cunningham wrote and published a snail-mailed newsletter for more than 25 years. While now she mostly uses email blasts, she still provides value for her customers. It’s not uncommon to receive seasonal reminders of spa care from Cunningham. “We get a big response for service, tune-up and valet techs when we do email blasts,” Cunningham says. “We have five full-time valet techs on the road, and we’re about to add a sixth. We don’t advertise valet techs; they’re only mentioned in our emails. And because this communication reminds customers we’re here, we sell spas (second and third systems to existing customers) over the phone at our
service center. I just sold one by phone 16 minutes ago!”

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Buck suggests a mix of postal and email delivery. “The average person receives 147 emails a day in their inbox; they receive 3.9 pieces of mail each day in their home mailbox,” Buck says.

You can’t delete an envelope. The trick is to put it in an envelope, first-class postage and make sure it looks like personal correspondence. You don’t want it to go in the trash pile when people sort their mail. People also tend to save printed newsletters. Buck says larger companies are reverting to direct mail — and he believes smaller, local businesses will soon follow.

If you’d like to get the highest degree of interest from your readers, develop personal and relatable content. Share stories about things that connect with your audience, and tie it into business. It’s easier than you think and highly effective. Can’t write? Hire someone.

Buck recommends a four-page color newsletter with an insert. The insert can be a sales piece. Never do anything that looks like a display ad in the newsletter itself. By building a relationship via newsletters, you’ll soon have an army of customers singing your praises, doing more business with you and referring you to family and friends.