I ’m a typical Main Street business owner with a window-treatment shop. If you ask me most e-mail blasts and mailings are a waste of time. I do them because everyone says I should but I’m wondering if there’s a better way.

Of course I want customers to remember me when it’s time for them to buy a window treatment and I recognize that customer retention is important but do the typical marketing devices work? I unsubscribed from seven business lists this week alone! Am I the only one? What’s the right way to go about retaining customers without costly ads or annoying e-mails?

More Than Just Words

Joe Apfelbaum is the CEO and co-founder of Ajax Union a digital-marketing agency based in Brooklyn. He is also a public speaker certified Google Trainer and published business author.

Why does a customer choose your business? Is it because you have the best prices? What if another store opened up across the street with lower prices? Would they still come to you? When I speak to successful business owners time and again I hear that the best customer is a happy one who comes back and refers his friends.

Investing in your customer experience and taking your service to the next level is key for customer retention. How should you do that? People may forget your name what you said and the discount you gave them but they will never forget how you made them feel.

Sending e-mails is no different. You want to have an emotional connection with your clients. Don’t send them an e-mail with the latest promotions; send them a text asking how the window treatments you installed are holding up or if there is anything you can do to add value to their homes… (excerpted)

Beyond E-Mail

Chanina Katz has over two decades of experience in major ad agencies on the East and West Coasts developing strategies and campaigns for such clients as Colgate R.J. Reynolds KFC and Hanes. He has won numerous national and international advertising awards.

Before we get to the issue of e-mail blasts I want to talk about two marketing principles: USP (Unique Selling Proposition) and positioning. In brief that means creating a strong business brand and positioning that brand in the customer’s mind.

Are you aiming for everyone or have you selected a niche (such as new homeowners)? This is relevant to how you shape your message. Those who’ve made the decision to get new window treatments are your ideal audience. Your next best audience are those who are seriously considering doing so in the future.

You question whether e-mail blasts are effective. E-mailing customers when they have absolutely no interest in receiving your advertisements might jeopardize your relationship. To avoid that track the average repeated use of your services so that you know when to send out reminders. Then your e-mails will be welcomed.

Another low-cost marketing strategy is cross-promotion… (excerpted)

Find Your Strategic Message

Shoshana Raff is the founder and chief consultant at Raff Business Consulting LLC which provides consulting services business plans marketing strategy and career coaching.

You ask a very good question about customer retention. The truth is most business owners don’t realize that it’s less expensive to retain a satisfied customer than to find a new one. Without knowing too many details about your window-treatment business and what makes you and your business special it would be hard for me to give you an actual marketing plan for customer retention. But I can give you a general idea that will help you think through your strategy.

Every business has its own unique strategic advantage so first think seriously about what makes you special. It could be excellent customer service or a very talented design team. It could be affordable pricing or a combination of other things.

For instance let’s say your strategic advantage is that you have talented designers who work to put together beautiful window treatments. These people are patient work well with clients and give excellent customer service. One good strategy would be to highlight that advantage in your marketing. Here’s one suggestion: Open a social media account where you can post interior-design pictures featuring beautiful window treatments and home designs.

Through this medium customers can admire your work and come up with ideas of their own… (Excerpted from Mishpacha Issue 661)