The World’s Greatest Car Salesman
I just read a story about Joe Girard, known as the world’s greatest car salesman. He was the only salesman to be inducted into the Automotive Hall of fame – for selling 13,001 cars in one year!
Joe started his working career at 9, shining shoes during the great depression. He was an abused child, living in a Detroit ghetto, but he rose to become unparalleled at his chosen career, selling automobiles. His sales secret was pretty simple, too. It wasn’t high pressure sales tactics or manipulative closes. He simply never let a customer forget him, and most of his customers were repeat buyers. Many of them started as referrals. His “secret” was consistent marketing.
His specific technique (customer acquisition strategy) was to get the contact information of everyone he met or presented to. Then, he sent them a greeting card once a month. Every single month. He didn’t send sales pitches. He sent positive, pleasant messages. Over time these repeated mailings helped him build relationships, which drove his sales and referrals. By the time he neared retirement, he had two personal assistants just to help him send out the greeting cards.
To emulate him, you have at least three options:
Mailing Cards Through Postal Mail
You could send greeting cards via snail mail. It’s surprising enough today to get noticed. The cost of a postage stamp today is $0.57 if mailing within Canada, or $1.00 if mailing to the USA for standard letter-mail. That means postage, while not being a trivial cost, is well within the reach of most small businesses. Inexpensive cards can be sourced from dollar stores, ordered online, or created by your local print shop. Another possibility is SendOutCards.com, who would be happy to automate mailing real cards for you. The downside, other than cost, is that this isn’t a very “green” strategy.
Mailing Email Using Your Database or Autoresponder
Whether you have an autoresponder account with a company like AWeber or Constant Contact, or maintain a CRM (Customer Relations Management) system or other database, you can mail out helpful, regular mailings to your clients and contacts. One way is to automate blog posts. Another is to create a newsletter. The key is that the content needs to be more than a sales pitch. It should offer information of value, or at least a pleasant distraction. The downside? It’s hard to stand out from the rest of the email deluge.
Mailing an Electronic Card
Another way to go is basically a combination of greeting cards and electronic mail. One of my clients mails me occasionally with an animated card from http://www.jacquielawson.com. They’re charming. Animated, interactive, appealing, pleasant, non-salesy cards, just to let me know he’s thinking of me. I enjoy getting them. Membership fees are low, only $12 annually, and you can send as many cards as you like (out of 157 choices) for the one fee. You can pre-schedule cards to be delivered on a certain date, as well. The downside? They’re personal – each card is sent one at a time, you can’t just feed in a list. Which is perhaps the whole point.
Other sources of electronic cards include http://www.bluemountain.com, http://www.123greetings.com, http://www.regards.com, and Hallmark’s E-card subscription plan: http://www.hallmark.com. I haven’t checked those out in detail, so your mileage may vary. The downside? They may not work for clients who don’t have Adobe Flash (for example, IPad users), and of course some clients may be concerned about security when asked to click links taking them to unknown sites.
Adding Personal Cards to Your Marketing Strategy
You don’t have to choose just one technique – perhaps mixing them up would suit you best. Mailing a greeting card to everyone you meet every month might be overwhelm, especially to start, but even committing to mail just 10 people each week would mean sending over 500 greetings each year. I think you’d see some business result, don’t you?
Image Credit: Laineys Repertoire