Follow Up is the First Step
Turning prospects into customers starts with getting customers e-mail addresses so you can nurture a relationship with them through contest giveaways, e-newsletters and other forms of e-communication.
You can’t turn on a television set, pick up a newspaper or listen to people talking on the streets without hearing about tough economic times throughout the country. In business, we all have issues to work through from time to time, but the real issue is that we can always work through them. A good place to start working through a tough economic climate is to concentrate on the fundamentals of your marketing.
One fundamental rule of good marketing is to treat every prospective lead like gold. In robust economic times we all tend to get a little lazy and not treat every interested prospect like they should be treated. In tough times we need to return to the fundamentals of making our marketing pay for itself. A consistent and value focused follow-up system can help do just that.
I’m sure you’ve had this happen to you more times than you care to remember:
A promising prospect strides in the door. They seem interested, ask lots of questions, look at some of your best models ... and then they leave without buying.
And never return.
This may seem inevitable – you can’t exactly chain them up and keep them in your store, can you? But you don’t have to lose that customer forever.
Think about this: that customer took the time to drive to your dealership and look. They were interested enough to ask questions.
The customer has already pre-qualified themselves; they have announced their interest in buying an RV by walking in the door. They may not be ready to write the check now for an RV, but they have certainly said, “Please know that I may be buying an RV in the future.”
It is a fact, no matter what the latest sales guru will tell you, customers will buy when they are ready to buy. So why do 90 percent of all businesses let that prospect leave without getting valuable contact information for follow up?
Getting Customer Contact Info
Here is one simple tactic for consistent follow up. Start nurturing that prospect into a customer simply by getting an e-mail address.
Most people don’t want to give up valuable information for nothing, so you could offer a weekly drawing of some type to everyone who gives you their e-mail address. And as a prize, you could always give away some of the promotional items from some of your suppliers. For example, a free cooler, a travel pack for families ... anything that would appeal to customers looking at RVs.
Now, you’ve got a list of e-mail addresses. What do you do with it?
The first step is to set up an automated contact system to handle all the e-mail addresses. A system that is easy to use will make you or your staff more likely to follow up.
There are a lot of online systems available. One of the easiest to use and least expensive is at www.aweber.com. This system can easily store your e-mail list. You can set it to send pre-loaded e-mails or you can broadcast a special e-mail to your list at any time.
One of the best practices to keep the communication lines open and keep in touch with prospects is sending out a weekly e-mail that is packed with value.
In that e-mail, you are going to give them information that would be useful to an RV customer. You are sending them a mini-newsletter every week. It doesn’t need to be more than a few hundred words. The focus should not be on quantity, or length, but on the quality of the information you are providing. You could send out a three paragraph e-mail that provides massive value and you will accomplish your goal of keeping in touch with the prospect and providing information that will make them remember you when they are ready to buy an RV.
You could write about best RV spots for families ... pet-friendly RV parks ... tips on how to travel with pets in RV ... safety tips for RV owners ... 10 Things You Must Bring with You on Your RV Trip.
In the winter, you could write about how to drive an RV safely in icy or snowy conditions. In the summer, you could write about undiscovered getaway destinations, steering people towards locations where there are not usually hordes of tourists.
For the more sociable types, you could write about the friendliest RV parks in the U.S. You could write about how to save money on your RV vacation.
The Law of Reciprocity
Every week you are giving them helpful information for free. You’re taking advantage of the law of reciprocity. Social psychologists have long observed that when you give someone something for free, with no expectation of return, that person feels more connected to you and feels obligated to you.
Every week you are writing about RVs, so you continue to get them thinking about purchasing an RV and how much fun it would be to have one, and where they could go and what they could experience in an RV.
You could include a picture of a beautiful RV park or travel destination with every e-mail that you send out. In each e-mail you could offer some kind of discount if they buy an RV from you and mention the e-mail.
Or you could offer some kind of bonus with the purchase of RV; a free tank of gas, travel supplies, anything that an RV owner would appreciate.
You don’t have to limit yourself to gathering e-mails only from customers who come into your store.
On your website you can include a form asking customers for their names and e-mail addresses and offer something useful in exchange. You could simply offer them your e-mail series: “If you’re interested in getting tips on getting the most out of your RV, give us your e-mail and we will send you our weekly e-newsletter.”
Just as you would with customers in your store, offer some kind of weekly giveaway with prize drawing, or write a short downloadable report or e-book in exchange for their e-mail address.
You may be thinking “where am I going to find the time?” First off, I would ask, “how can you not make the time to implement such a simple tactic that can make a huge difference to your sales?” That said, I know we all get tied up with day-to-day tasks, so there are a couple of things you can do to lighten the writing load.
These days there are thousands of freelance writers out there on the Internet just waiting to write your content. You can search for writers on any search engine or you can use a site like www.elance.com to post a specific request and get bids on the content. It is very inexpensive and the return on investment will turn out to be the highest of any marketing you do.
Once you get a catalog of content you can pre-load it in your contact system and set it to contact your prospects every single week. You would send them out this weekly e-mail series which gives them useful information and has a sales pitch at the end of each e-mail.
While getting this system in place and making it part of your sales process takes a little work upfront, it can be one of the easiest and least expensive ways to keep in front of your prospects. Once you’ve acquired a lead, they are far too valuable to let them just walk out the door. Keep your name and valuable information in front of them and you will be the obvious choice when they are ready to make an RV purchase.