Relationships are what make small businesses, small businesses: the coffee shop that remembers a customer’s order, the store owner who helps a son pick out a gift for Mother’s Day … and the furniture business that works to find the perfect piece for each customer’s home.
“People want the connection that comes along with being a small business,” explained Sue Bedell, owner of Second Boom Design, a furniture business in Dorchester, Ontario, that creates handcrafted furniture from reclaimed wood and architectural salvage. “They want a business that will spend time with them and take the extra steps to give them the best experience possible.”
Since first sending email newsletters to customers in 2010, business at the store has doubled and Second Boom Design’s email list has grown to over 400 emails. Email marketing has helped the business build better relationships.
“It helps us stay in our customer’s lives without overwhelming them,” she explained. “We decided from the start that we wanted it to be something that people would actually want to read and look forward to seeing in their inbox.”
Here are three tips Second Bloom Design have found successful:
1. Use your newsletter to promote partnering businesses
Second Bloom Design’s retail store features not only work from Sue and her husband Dean’s workshop but also pieces from different businesses across Canada. These partners are highlighted in each newsletter, too. This way, customers can see the work that’s being featured at the store and also connect with Second Bloom Design’s partners directly.
“Building relationships by sharing and supporting is what works,” Sue says. “We’ve been fortunate to have so many of the businesses sharing that idea and helping to promote our business.”
Without solicitation, a lot of these businesses have taken the same steps to promote Second Bloom Design, highlighting their work on their websites and recommending them to their fans on social media.
2. Show personality to help make more personal connections
Every email that subscribers receive from Second Bloom Design is guaranteed to have two things: a personal note from Sue and Dean, and some helpful advice from Otis … the couple’s dog.
“It’s always nice to hear someone tell us how much they enjoyed reading our newsletter and thanking us for reminding them to come visit the store or give us a call,” she explained. “The personal touch really makes the difference.”
That much was apparent during the last holiday season, when Second Bloom Design had the busiest season for custom work that the business had ever seen. After seeing their businesses double the following year, they were fully booked leading into the new year.
One of Second Bloom Design’s biggest jobs of the season came from a regular customer who subscribed to the newsletter and felt a special connection to something she had read.
“We wrote about our family holidays over the years and she said her family had some of the same traditions,” Sue recalls. “That small connection was enough for her to pick up the phone and give us a call.”
3. Make your relationships more social
Along with the newsletter, Second Bloom Design uses Facebook and Twitter to promote their brand and to connect with their customers in the places where they already gather.
“We knew we had to be on social media because that’s where our target audience was,” she explained. “I was always a mediocre computer person, at best, but we’ve been able to build a good community of people who like our business and appreciate our work.”
Second Bloom Design helps make their content more shareable by posting photos from inside their shop and of their newest products. They even stage new pieces inside of their home to show customers how they would look outside of the store. Otis also makes regular appearances on their Facebook Page’s Timeline.
As that social community continues to grow, Sue says that she sees more and more faces in the shop that she doesn’t recognize. A business that had originally started and grew through word of mouth from family and friends has started growing through word of mouth on social media.
“Social media has allowed us to pull a lot of people from the bigger cities, like Toronto, who had gotten recommendations from our fans or had seen someone share one of our photos,” she explained. “Once people make the drive out here once, we find that they are happy to make the drive again.”
Does your business use email marketing or social media to build relationships for your business? Tell us how in the comments below!