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Articles on:  Hobbyist/Customer Attrition, Avoiding the Summer Doldrums in Aquatic Sales

Handouts: Goldfish Care, Moving Aquariums, Fish Disease

Releases: Using ReleasesPut An Aquarium In Your Office

/Go Rin No Sho of Business

Using Printed Handouts

Bob Fenner  

The Pet Industry, our economy and the consumer has changed and is changing. These are leaner and meaner times. Nationwide, the consumer is becoming more sophisticated and demanding. The retailer who is quick, intelligent and sensitive to these changes will persist and prosper. The others'¦?

Several recent documents we've seen point out an aspect of our business that has been sorely ignored and under-developed: Marketing. Most retailers seem hard-pressed to detail how much of their gross they devote to marketing/advertising. The industry average is about 3%. For rapidly expanding or new outlets this is often 4-5%. More often, management is critically aware of what the marketing/advertising budget is invested in. In particular, what does not work. Which is most everything! Television, radio,

newspaper, magazine, et al. advertising benefit to costs ratio is being diluted with 1) the growing popularity of cable and video rental 2) consumers increasing resistance to slogans and pure "sales pitches". People are more and more demanding value for their discretionary dollars. They want quality and service. Our challenge: how to provide it in an effective, cost-effective manner.

This article details the appropriate use of an old, tried but true, re-emerging marketing, informational tool. The Printed Handout.

In continuing issues we will provide you with some of these handouts that you may adopt/adapt for your use. Use them! They accomplish several vital functions: 1) Provide necessary information; the successful hobbyist is your present and future customer and best promoter. 2) Provide a standard "script" for your staff to present, perfect, and pass-on. 3) Show that you and your store cares. Something "magical" happens when someone is given his or her own copy of a well-developed and produced handout. They read it and retain it and your name in mind.

What They Are: Handouts are documents describing benefits and uses of your products and services. They can take many shapes and forms. We have found the best to be the standard 8 1/2 by 11-inch paper. We use our company stationery with our business card attached. Our mock-ups are done on personal computers and the resulting drafts copied in-house or sent out to be printed for large volume, popular pieces.

Titles: What are the most common questions that require more than a minute to describe in adequate detail? Which areas do you at times feel you and your staff need to reinforce instructions and cautions thoroughly? How many tie-in sales would be made if only the customer could be given something to "chew on" later?

Make A List. With your crew, determine what the hot topics are.

Make A Schedule. Set aside some definite time each week for this strategic work. Search through industry periodicals and manufacturing and distributor public relations releases for resource material. Copy ours shamelessly!

Distribute: Provide a rack and a sign and instructions to your staff regarding use of this wonderful tool. For example, place a copy of your Introduction to the Hobby/Tips for Beginners/Setting up A New Aquarium with each new tank purchase or to customers expressing an interest in future purchase.

Check with business supply outfitters for available technology in displaying your handouts. Some businesses charge a premium for the cost of a re-print. We do not suggest this. The interchange is of more benefit in the long term if there is an obvious "investment" accompanying you and your staff's time. Post conspicuous signs declaring the availability of your handouts.

Instruct and Train your personnel in the appropriate use of these handouts. They are not a substitute for common courtesy, or attending a customer. They are intended to augment, back up provided adequate, standard information. Practice with your staff; show them how you do it.

Handouts can be easily focused and annotated for use as direct mail material. USE THEM. They are inexpensive, effective educators and promoters. The informed hobbyist is the successful, repeat customer. Help them help you by providing needed info via printed Handouts.


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