Stay in Touch!

How do you stay in touch with customers? I ask because most tackle retailers do a lousy job of staying in touch with me, and I’m in tackle shops all the time.

When a customer is checking out, why not ask for his email address? Tell him you won’t share it with anyone else, that you only want it to send an occasional coupon or fishing report. Tell him you want to upgrade your services and the best way to do that is to offer more — more discounts, more information, more contact.

Other retailers are doing it, and they’re getting my business. Books-A-Million sends me coupons nearly every week — Barnes and Noble, too. As a result, I go to those stores a lot.

But it’s more than coupons. They’re also telling me about new books, music and video in their stores. Usually, it’s not something I’m interested in, but once in a while….

What if you had the email addresses of all your customers that have been in the store in the past two years? What could you share with them?

For starters, you could send them fishing reports. I’ve read a million fishing reports, and I know they’re mostly junk. But they can serve a couple of valuable purposes. For one, they can remind people to go fishing. In this era of everyone thinking they’re too busy to do much of anything, we need reminders to do fun things … like fishing.

For another, the fishing reports can promote some of the products you carry in the store. After all, the fish will only be eating stuff you carry. If the report says they’re chewing the life out of Big Bob’s Deep Divers, then you can bet you’re stocked to the rafters with them … and maybe you’re even offering a discount — two for $10! What a deal! At those prices, they can’t afford to stay home!

And before you say that your customers don’t want to hear from you, know that you’re wrong.

If they truly don’t want to hear from you, they won’t give you their email address … or they’ll unsubscribe from your distribution list. The ones who stick around want that contact. It’s called “permission marketing.” You have their permission to market to them, and that’s a lot stronger than an ad in the local paper or a 30 second radio spot on the Saturday morning outdoors program. That kind of marketing merely interrupts the customer.

People trapped behind a desk all day are looking for a reason to get out. Remind them to go fishing.
People trapped behind a desk all day are looking for a reason to get out. Remind them to go fishing (with your tackle).

Your e-newsletters will tell them about sales, tell them about the fishing, tell them about promotions, tell them about local conservation issues and new fishing techniques. Reach out to them every week or two — no more than that. Give them a nice diversion from the usual junk they get in email. (I don’t know about you, but my inbox is full of stuff telling me I’m too big in one area and too small in another.)

Some don’ts

  • Don’t ask for much. Better yet, don’t ask for anything. Give instead. Give information, give discounts, give opportunities. If you do it right, you’ll get plenty of business in return.
  • Don’t produce a lousy product. If writing and spelling are not in your wheelhouse, get help. Don’t put anything out there that is less than a quality message. Your emails speak for you and your store. They should be articulate, brief and interesting. If they’re not, get someone else to write them.
  • Don’t tell me it’s too late or that you needed to start this program five years ago. If you don’t start now, you’ll really be kicking yourself in another five years.
  • How many times has a customer told you that if he knew about some promotion you were offering or some event you were hosting, he’d have been there? If you had a regular e-newsletter system in place, he would have known, he would have been there and it would have helped your bottom line.
  • I’ve never had a retail tackle shop ask for my contact information. That’s a lot of lost opportunities. You need to stay in touch with your customers, and it doesn’t have to cost you a dime.
  • A rising tide lifts all boats. Let’s be that tide.


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