My wife knows nothing about Dungeons and Dragons. My sister-in-law knows almost everything about Dungeons and Dragons. As I write this it’s just a few days until Christmas. So obviously my wife has bought her sister nothing related to Dungeons and Dragons, even though that would be what she wants most. What a palaver. Neither one of them is happy. It’s not that my wife hates her sister and won’t buy her what she wants. She loves her sister but has no confidence that she can get the right gift, or even an acceptable gift. For those of you that have businesses that deal in specialised hobbies this will be a familiar tale. What my wife needs is help to buy. Let’s look at a strategy that can help a small business give their customers help to buy.
Who Do I Target?
The first point I would make is that you don’t need to target the people who don’t know. That sounds odd after I just explained that the problem is that the relatives and friends of your customers don’t know you. But because that is the problem you will find it very difficult to find those people. What’s the solution here? We need to get information and buying help to people we don’t know and who don’t know us. How do we do that? Can we use social media targeting algorithms? It’s possible but our problem is we are targeting non-customers. We don’t know them and more importantly there will probably not be any unifying piece of data that will let us target them. But these are the people we need to target.
What Are The Problems?
A long time ago I ran a specialist hobby shop. Back when I was just a film buff and long before I’d ever made my first film. I had many loyal customers who would frequent the shop regularly. They would come and make weekly or monthly purchases and I got to know them. Occasionally there would be friends or relatives with them but not frequently enough for me to build any kind of relationship. However, it was sometimes enough for those friends and relatives to realise that my team and I were available to help. When birthdays and Christmas approached they would sometimes appear in the shop looking for advice on what to buy. This got me to thinking.
Only a fraction of your dedicated customers present buyers know you exist. Some of them know your customer is a big fan, some don’t. They have no Idea where to start. They come and ask for your help, the ones that know about you. Then you ask them what their relative/friend collects/needs/has already. Here’s the second problem. The person needing help to buy doesn’t know the answers to any of the questions you need to ask in order to begin helping.
How Do We Get To Them?
So after thinking about these problems I eventually came up with at least a partial solution. I won’t pretend it was my idea. It is an idea that has been around for a long time. It’s a simple idea and one that has in a new form made a huge impact upon the digital world. What I did was get my regular customers to write a list. More than that I made it very easy for them by producing a printed sheet of products with names, prices and pictures. The idea was that the customer could circle or tick the things they wanted and give the list to friends or relatives. Or if they wanted to be subtle they could just leave the sheet lying around to be found. Of course what I’m talking about is a wish list.
The Power Of Wish Lists
You probably have an Amazon wish list. You probably have lots of wish lists on many sites. The genius of the digital wish list is that it is shareable and public. If someone knows you they can see your list. If you want to you can send it to them. They know exactly what you want even if they have no hobby knowledge at all. The power of the wish list is that in the digital world it is not limited to what you can fit on a piece of A4. The product list from which the wish list is drawn can be vast. That means that it doesn’t have to be restricted to specialist hobby businesses. Furthermore it doesn’t have to be a catalogue of text and images. Your product listings can be accompanied by videos. Now your wish list for one customer is a marketing tool acting upon the present buyer too.
One last question. Does your website have a wish list function? Is it public if the customer wants it to be? Is it shareable? Perhaps if the answer to these questions isn’t yes, it’s time for you to visit your web designer.