Getting Their Attention
Imagination is key when it comes to attracting customers. Here's what some C-tailers have dreamed up.
By Nancy Klosek
The question of how to attract buyers to what you have to sell is as old as the first day a Cro-Magnon with 500 sticks of firewood—and the need for only 100 to live through the winter—wondered how he could interest his less-industrious neighbor (with just 50 sticks) in a deal for some of his surplus.
The species may not have evolved a lot since then, but the need for innovation in luring clients certainly has. Merely hanging out a shingle and hoping for business in the brick-and-mortar worlds of both specialty retailing and pure custom doesn't cut it, as only the best at the game know. It takes a combination of caring and cunning—refreshed by constant evaluation and fine-tuning—to keep a steady stream of bodies (and their dollars) flowing into a C-tailing business.
Most custom retailers and custom-only operations that we polled about attracting clients say they find less value than in the past in certain traditional modes of promotion, such as print.
Once ubiquitous sales tools in the days before big-box retailers and the internet, newspapers and other local print advertising seem to be waning as preferred methods of reaching customers.
Those for whom print has not been effective say it's too scattershot. "The regional magazine ads we have done didn't work, because they didn't really target the customer directly," says Scott Fuelling of the strictly-custom operation Phoenix/Unequaled Home Entertainment in Memphis, Tenn. "They read the magazines, but not with the intention of calling someone directly out of them."
That sentiment is echoed by David E. Crook, president of A/V Connections, a custom house in Little Rock, Ark. "Local publications, like business weeklies, have not worked in my experience. Even though you may spend a healthy amount and target executives in your area that way, you don't get much pull from that. The best source of business leads is from referrals."