Tag Archives: marketing
Jack’s Wednesday guest post beats the deadline!
One of our favorite times here in the bookstore is Halloween when the shops in town provide treats to the kids. We’re a bit different because our treat is a free book! This sometimes comes as a bit of a shock for a couple of reasons. First of all we invite the kids to come in and choose a book from the ‘kids’ room’, and secondly, they occasionally expect something of a more candy-ish nature. I discovered years ago that inviting kids into the shop is considered a bit scary around here (they usually expect to just stand at the door and get a ‘treat’). For us it’s a treat to see upwards of a hundred kids with their parents traipsing in and out clutching a book and the costumes are usually amazing.
Jack just scrapes in under the wire – –
I’m sure I’ve posted about this before, so here goes again, Probably – –
Not too long before I retired from a twenty-year career in the community college in my home town I was ‘persuaded’ by my Principal (Chancellor) at the third time of asking, to embark on a MBA. I had been teaching management programs and so I suppose that made sense. I had free choice about which program and didn’t know that there was a ‘pecking order’ out there in terms of difficulty and/or credibility in the wider world. So, I opted for Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh. I chose it simply because of proximity and the flexibility of the timetable. I didn’t know it was notoriously rigorous, difficult and high in the pecking order!
I quickly found that there two clearly different groups of subjects – half were ‘soft skills’ – team dynamics, leadership, marketing – that sort of thing. I loved that, understood it and found it very self-affirming. Then there were the math focused ones – finance, statistics etc. I hated them because I’m completely useless at math. But I struggled through and finally got there!
What on earth has this to do with a bookstore in a small Southern town?
One of the things I clearly remember from my studies and research was this. The most loyal customers any business can have are the ones that have a problem that you manage to fix.
Yesterday morning a young lady came into our store to see if a book she had ordered had arrived. I didn’t recognize her and asked if I’d done the ordering. “No” she said – I think it was your wife and it was a couple of weeks ago. I searched through all the email confirmations of the orders we’d done and there was no trace of it. As panic set in I phoned Wendy.
It turned out that she had made the order at the exact moment that E-Bay shut down their Half Dot Com subsidiary. She honestly thought she’d ordered the book but it hadn’t gone through. I’m absolutely certain we aren’t the only ones to have gotten caught by this.
The customer was most understanding when I explained what had happened, but she needed it for a class starting on Monday and needed to read it before then. I immediately went to an alternative site and found a seller that could get it to me overnight.
It came in today, I phoned her and she got it with four days to spare. It cost her just the $6 she’d paid when ordered and us another $6 to get it for her, so we made nothing – but – I’m completely certain that she will sing our praises much, much more than if it had just come when it was expected.
You don’t need an MBA to make a customer happy – – –
Jack just managed to get in under the wire this week for his Wednesday guest post –
Some days are just ‘normal’ – here’s one – –
Start with a run to the grocery store for the makings of shepherd’s pie (supper with our good friends Beth and Brandon tonight – plus a guitar lesson with Brandon).
Medicate the dogs and feed the three garage cats.
Clean out the cat litter trays.
Another good friend Teri arrives and hangs out until the shop opens.
Order six new Celtic flags for our annual festival coming up in a month’s time.
Tidy the bookstore kitchen and mop the floor.
Get the festival banners out of the shed and paint out the ‘4’ in the date ready to be re-painted as ‘3’.
A couple arrive to collect their winnings in the bookstore auction of surplus stuff.
Two elderly and very frail ladies arrive with a bag of Christian romances to exchange for more of the same. But they also spend some money on more books – they are lovely and we chat at length.
A young woman arrives for more (bulky and heavy) auction items. She is carrying an infant and is on her own. The items are upstairs.
A regular and very interesting customer comes in and browses and spends money on lots of books.
Start making the afore-mentioned shepherd’s pie.
Two folk who’ve never been before arrive and I give them a quick tour – they buy some books and come back to get Wendy’s ‘Little Bookstore’ book after they go for money. (We do take cards, btw.)
Continue preparing the shepherd’s pie.
A lady from a not-so-very-close book-club that read ‘Little Bookstore’ phones to arrange a visit next week. Sadly, on a day when Wendy will be out of town, but they will be happy to see me!
Package a book we had sold on-line and Wendy gets it over to the post office.
Get a message asking if I can guest lecture to a class at UVA Wise on Scottish-Appalachian connections in a couple of weeks’ time.
We can’t find two small hand-carved statuettes that were sold in the auction. They were hiding in Science Fiction!
Finish the shepherd’s pie.
Another couple arrive to collect auction items – from upstairs. We carry down the desk, avoiding kittens.
Friends arriving for dinner at 6:30 to eat the shepherd’s pie.
Guitar lesson with one of the friends.
Pick apples from our apple tree so Wendy can freeze them.
Jack’s Wednesday guest post is actually on a Wednesday for a change –
Being an old curmudgeon and resistant to change I’ve always been averse to cell-phones. When I retired from my college job I went work as a ‘consultant’ for the Scottish Qualifications Authority and my boss, Paul, was way ahead of his time with these gadgets. He liked to be able to contact his team any time, day or night. Wendy and I had a pre-paid basic cell-phone each that we only ever used in dire emergencies and we swapped them back and forth. Paul would often phone me and usually got Wendy, who he then berated at length for not being me!
Much later when Wendy started working with the college she was supplied with a sophisticated I-Phone. Over time she has had hers replaced regularly with more and more up-to-date models that do everything except cook for you. On many shared car journeys she has handed it to me and asked me to talk to people or text them or check the route or the weather ahead. I have hated doing that as I have no idea how these things work and my fingers always hit the wrong letters or the wrong icon. She tries to talk me through it, but things like “Look for the little green phone” don’t bode well for a marriage when spoken while careening down the motorway at 70+ miles per hour.
But she now has one that seems much more forgiving – either that or I’m getting better. It’s not unlike guitar chords, really, when one thinks about it… Wendy says her directions have gotten better, but I’m going with my fumble fingers figuring things out.
Which has finally led me to agree to have one of my own again. I’ve been given a present of a redundant I-Phone 6 and all I have to do is choose a carrier and a contract.
Once again I’m clueless. Growing up in Scotland there was just one phone company and you paid whatever everyone else paid. Now I’m trying desperately to understand who gets the best coverage, the best data rates, text versus voice – and on, and on. It’s a minefield!
But I’m determined now and I will get there with the help of ‘Our Good Chef Kelley up the stairs’ (our tech savvy cafe manager), and ‘Mark along the road’ (our computer expert).
If they don’t get me there I could always try the main line, as the old song says—