Does your marketing style fit your product?

There are loads of great articles on the internet showing you how you can encourage your old customers to start buying again, with targeted offers and discount deadlines. And now that companies like MailChimp have made sophisticated email software available to everyone, it’s easy to create that type of campaign.

And why wouldn’t you? Because we all know that getting new customers costs more than selling to existing ones.

Of course, some customers are never going to buy from you again. Their tastes have changed. They left the country. They were buying a gift for someone else.

But sometimes, it’s the product that means these campaigns won’t work.

I only need one raincoat

A couple of years ago I decided a needed a waterproof coat. I did a lot of research, and I ended up buying a Stutterheim. Definitely waterproof, sealed seams, a proper hood - but also really stylish.

It was what I’d call an ‘investment’, but Stutterheims are handmade and high quality, and I wanted the coat to last. And it did.

It’s still looking great and keeping the rain out, and the thought of buying more raincoats hadn’t entered my head. So I was a bit surprised when the brand emailed me, offering a discount code to ‘update my rainwear wardrobe’.

Classic style doesn’t need updating

These coats are based on a design that’s decades old. The coats haven’t really changed. So what’s to update?

Okay - I could get one in a different colour. But I’m a fan of the minimal wardrobe idea, as espoused by brands like Cladwell and IntoMind. Part of the appeal of my Stutterheim is the classic design - so that I only need one raincoat.

And if I did feel I really needed another one, it wouldn’t be the price that stopped me. That 15% discount isn’t going to turn me from non-buyer to buyer. The coat would still be relatively expensive.

And given it took me a month to choose the first one, I was unlikely to take up an offer that expired in a week. It all felt a bit 'off' for a brand that's about durability and heritage.

So how can you grow your business if you sell stuff that doesn’t wear out?

I’m not suggesting that you should give up on existing customers. Maybe try marketing to them in a different way.

Match your marketing to your customer’s timetable. You probably should give up on short term boosts to your sales chart. It might work for some people, but it can be off-putting for others.

It’s okay to run promotions, but if you sell things that need a bit of pre-purchase thought, then a short-dated coupon isn’t going to work. Give people plenty of notice when you're planning to run a sale. Some brands offer sale previews to existing customers, which is a nice way to make people feel special.

Offer better reasons to buy again. Even for big-ticket items, some customers will buy more than one. I do in fact have two raincoats - the second one is much lighter, for packing into a bag. If Stutterheim had emailed me about coats that were different from the one I had already bought, that would have been more helpful than a coupon.

Once you have a customer experiencing how great your product is, can you suggest ways they could experience it more often? Or sound reasons to buy more?

Offer extras. Instead of discounting your core product, think about making it even better. How about accessories, customisation, servicing, cleaning or repairs?

I own at least three different clamp units so I can move my favourite saddle bag between different bikes. My partner gets his boots resoled rather than have to break in new ones. What could you offer to your customers?

Recruit them to your marketing team. If you can’t get them to buy, how about getting them to sell? This is a common tactic in the software industry: for example Evernote users get a free month of Premium for every new user they recruit. Could you offer exclusive codes for customers to give to their friends?

You might use them in your marketing campaigns too. Testimonials are a tried and tested way to boost sales. What stories could your existing customers tell, that would help to attract and convince new ones?

Don’t forget about research

Your customers can help you in another way. They can tell you how and why they decided to buy your product.

See this article on ways to get customer feedback, if you’re looking for ideas to get started.

And once you know how your customers go about buying, you can design your marketing to be as good as possible, for your particular product and brand.

Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and buy the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use myself and believe will add value to my readers.