• Each Person Differs. Archeologists believe that 85 billion persons have lived on our Earth since human life began many thousands of years ago. Our current world population is estimated to be 5.9 billion. Our U.S. population is 280 million, just 4.6 percent of the world’s total.
Each person, then and now, had and has a unique personality, temperament, psyche, spirit or whatever theologists and philosophers call our inner spirit. One’s personality may differ at times, too, from pleasant to indifferent to negative. No wonder it can be tough to close sales at times. But that’s what makes personal selling and other communication efforts such a constant and refreshing challenge. (Says who?)
• Personal Messages. Retail advertisers have varied ways to converse with one or small numbers of prospects. Custom-products stores use personal direct mail messages: letters, post cards, flyers, e-mails, newsletters, phone calls, radio commercials. Such stores and studios rely a great deal on word-of-mouth recommendations from contented customers to potential prospects.
• Reaching Personality Groups. Personalities may differ, but people still will have many similar likes and dislikes. Demographers (students of people groups) identify audiences by age, sex, income, education, ZIP codes and other special categories.
Large advertisers use the more-expensive mass media—newspapers, television, radio and print materials—to send their ads and publicity releases to general audiences. They buy many “waste people” (non-interested), but they also know their messages will be seen or heard by large numbers of good prospects. Also, they will rely on advertising in specialized media—magazines, cable TV networks, telemarketing, Internet Web sites—to reach similar groups of better prospects.
• Old Customers Best? Industry sources in home fashions (with custom decorating products) state that your source for new business can come from your existing base.
Examples: A special-offer direct mailing piece to a cold list may bring a response of one to two percent. Targeted mailings (letters, cards, flyers, e-mails) to the personalities in your regular customer database may net as much as a five to 10 percent return.
Personalized service. Can’t compete on price for most popular products, but can win with smiles and smarts.
And with better products—designer and brand-name quality.
One-on-one customer discussions with time to pursue personality concerns. Also with reliable follow-up to ensure guaranteed satisfaction.
Specific and creative decorating ideas can close sales. So can professionally trained salespeople with an enthusiastic attitude, with a touch of humor.
Need to create a quality image, too, especially products, ideas and service.
Word-of-mouth recommendations are a marketing necessity. Needs to be supplemented with occasional small ads and publicity releases (news of store personnel, products and services).
Top quality business cards are a requirement. Double cards can also serve as a small advertisement.
Extra budget for ads and PR helps when getting started and for special sales promotions.
• Home Need a Personality, Too? Most home fashion customers have an idea that their homes and window décor should be a reflection of their own personalities. They read the home decorating magazines and manuals, which advise them to seek their own personal looks when doing their homes.
But, most people have no idea what their own personalities are, let alone try to choose the correct personality for their homes. Nor do they have any idea of what styles and colors might reflect their own tastes. They are simply looking for some things that will win the approval and envy of their friends, not for unusual “conversation pieces.”
As the old designer/decorator story goes:
Decorator: “Madam, what period of décor do you want in your home?”
Madam: “Styles and stuff that will make my friends walk in and drop dead . . . period.”
John L. Lichty is a consultant and senior editor for Draperies & Window Coverings magazine. He has more than 30 years experience in the planning and administration of various consumer, trade and retail advertising programs.