I’ve lived in Pennsylvania for many years now. People here tend to be plain-spoken, straightforward and friendly.
But this past week, I’ve spent some time in Nashville, TN. Here in the south, I’ve seen the power of “nice” in action. What does it look like?
- It’s a clerk who takes the time to walk you all the way back to the part of the store you’re looking for (instead of just pointing it out and telling you where to go).
- It’s a restaurant owner who works at the front desk taking names and chatting with customers as they wait to be seated.
- It’s a young woman on an elevator who you’ve never seen before — and will probably never see again — who turns to you and asks “How are you doing today?” on the trip to your floor.
If you’ve spent a long time living in a place where people are a bit introverted, Southern hospitality might freak you out little at first. It’s unexpected, and catches you off guard.
But once you get used to it, you can’t imagine interacting with people any other way.
Which, of course, makes it an excellent marketing philosophy.
Read on to learn how to inject your marketing with some sweet Southern hospitality, y’all.
- Greet your customers when they walk through the door. Make eye contact. Smile.
- Make sure your employees understand why you do what you do. Then give them the freedom to make decisions about how they’ll implement your business philosophy where it counts: with your customers.
- Make it clear what you do and who you serve from the first moment someone hits your site. Make sure your business name is communicating this clearly. If not, be sure your tagline is taking up the slack.
Slow down and get to know your customer
- You’re lucky: you can see and interact with your customers in person every single day. Make it a point to ask good questions when you do, and look for unmet needs and places where you can offer solutions.
- Host live events, tastings or samples, and exclusive sales. Invite a select group in early. Show up, shake some hands and get to know them in person.
- Ask customers to take a survey, and give them plenty of space to add their own answers.
- Host live online events like teleclasses and webinars which allow for interaction and conversation.
- Invite customers to connect on social media and get to know them on those platforms.
Guide them to what they need
- Make your merchandise easy to find. Organize it logically, and use clear signage.
- Show your customer to the part of the store they’re searching for. On the way there, let them know where they’ll find the best bargains.
- Make sure your customers know about everything you offer. Create a “menu” of services and products and put it at your register.
- If you do business on the web, make your navigation menu crystal clear. Consider a page like this to show prospects what you have for them.
- Offer buying guides, comparison charts or quizzes to help people find what they need to solve their challenges.
Follow up on purchases
- Make sure your customer leaves knowing how they can contact you if they have an issue with their purchase.
- Publish your website address on your receipts. Share your customer service email address or 800 number.
- Ask customers to join a mailing list so you can stay in touch post-purchase. Offer them discounts, exclusive events and content created just for them in exchange for their email address.
- Make sure your customer knows you care just as much about them after the purchase as you did before. Check in to see if they’re satisfied or if they have any questions.
- Start a long-term conversation by inviting prospects to join your email list. But don’t just demand they sign up. Offer them a gift. Need ideas? This post shares plenty. And these webinars have even more.
Make yourself accessible
- Man the front counter or sit at the front desk occasionally. This gives you invaluable access to your customers: don’t waste the opportunity for direct interaction!
- On your website, share your contact information beyond social media links. Share a mailing address and phone number, too. Even if your business is completely virtual, you can do this safely if you get a business mailbox and use a Google Voice or Skype phone number.
Southern hospitality is just plain good marketing. What can you do to apply it to your business? Let’s talk about it in the comments.