Information marketers: Stop shooting yourself in the foot!

25 replies
Unfortunately, a lot of information marketers who know how to get customers do not know how to keep them.

Case in point - and this is not an isolated example by any means.

I ordered a $649 information product Thanksgiving week.

Usually something that price gets shipped by priority mail, so when I did not receive it by December 10, I emailed and asked what had happened.

Guess what, it had not been shipped yet. My card had been charged and I had not been notified of any delay. (It is against credit card regulations to charge a card for something that has not been shipped.)

Not only had it not been shipped, they said they were not sure when it would be shipped.

I called and left a message saying that if they were not going to ship it within 24 hours, please cancel my order and refund my card.

They emailed and said it would be sent out on Monday via overnight mail.

Of course I went to the post office looking for it, and when it still had not arrived by Wednesday, I emailed again. Where is it?

The reply was that it was mailed on Monday as promised.

I quoted back the email that had promised overnight delivery (to prevent me from canceling the order). I got an apology.

Finally I received the package on Friday. Several binders had been dumped into a box that was too large for them, with no packing material around them, and all the CDs and DVDs were now loose within the binders.

In addition, there was no cover letter welcoming me as a customer and telling me where to get started with all the different pieces of the package.

Am I an unhappy customer? You bet. At this point, I do not care how great the content of this product is, I do not want to keep it. It's toxic to me. So the seller is going to lose $649 instead of getting a lifetime customer.

Here's what should have happened:

1. If there was to be a delay in shipping, notify the customer with an apology.

2. If the order gets totally messed up, as this one did, offer the customer something more than an apology. At least refund the shipping charge! Or send an extra product with what was ordered to make up for the annoyance.

3. If you promise something that takes away the customer's annoyance, then follow through on that promise.

4. Before shipping, pack your information product so it will arrive in good shape.

5. Always, always include a "stick letter" to thank the customer and tell them how to get started.

I don't know why, but even most information marketers who preach the wisdom of a stick letter do not include one themselves. Read my article on this:

http://www.yudkin.com/stick.htm

Your comments?

Marcia Yudkin
Information Marketer
http://www.yudkin.com/informationempire.htm
#foot #information #marketers #shooting #stop
  • Profile picture of the author MaskedMarketer
    some people think that marketing is what matters most.

    I disagree. Customer service matters most. Marketing is important to get those customers, but if you don't have good customer service, you won't be in business long. especially online. There is an abundance of information sellers selling the same stuff and if you're not taking care of your customer the competition will.

    A good example would be the artibrage conspiracy. shady marketing tactics and bad customer service from what i hear.
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  • Thanks for this thread...

    The sad part is that a thread like this is even necessary. As we watch how financial institutions, major auto manufacturers and other businesses struggle to stay afloat, I often wonder how much is due to horrible customer service rather than "the economy".

    Over the past 10 years I have watched customer service in just about every industry deteriorate to the point where it should be called:

    Customer Disservice.

    Ever reached a CSR (which now we should call CDR) and you get the impression that you're inconveniencing them? I mean really - who am I to call with a problem I'M having with one of THEIR products and interrupt the conversation they were having with LaQuetia in the cubicle next to them.

    Or the absolute audacity to call at 8:00AM when they're still hung over from the night before and expect them to actually give a d*mn? Sorry, what was I thinking?

    Your example is probably not as extreme as most of us face, but it serves as a "Doing Business 101" tip for anyone just beginning, and a very important reminder for those of us who have been doing this for awhile that without customers, you aint got no business.

    Hopefully this latest "economic crisis" will force businesses to rethink how they DO business and a customer-centric philosophy will return. I can see the headline now:

    "Podiatrists see sharp decline in business as marketers stop shooting themselves in the foot."

    The Crazy Internet Dude
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    • Profile picture of the author marciayudkin
      I noticed in your profile it says "The Dan Kennedy Internet Marketing Rehab Center" - do you mind telling me what that's about?

      Thanks,
      Marcia
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      • Originally Posted by marciayudkin View Post

        I noticed in your profile it says "The Dan Kennedy Internet Marketing Rehab Center" - do you mind telling me what that's about?

        Thanks,
        Marcia

        It's just an inside joke I have w/ a partner of mine. We'll see each other online at the craziest hours after days of no sleep, and joke about needed to start a rehab center for Internet Marketers.

        I think I was somewhat sleep deprived the night I added that...

        CID
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    • Profile picture of the author MaskedMarketer
      Originally Posted by crazyinternetdude View Post

      Thanks for this thread...

      The sad part is that a thread like this is even necessary. As we watch how financial institutions, major auto manufacturers and other businesses struggle to stay afloat, I often wonder how much is due to horrible customer service rather than "the economy".
      Yeah its pretty sad. Its even more sad that some marketers preach that products don't matter as much as marketing. If you're a scammer then it makes sense, but if you're building a real business its suicide.

      Every business is in the customer service business! Although most run and hide after the sale, lol..
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      • Profile picture of the author bgmacaw
        This sounds like the kind of problems one can encounter when dealing with a bad drop shipper or order fulfillment service. I had a problem like that a few years ago with a drop shipper where both me and thus my customers were getting bad service (slow shipping, bad packaging, etc.). I managed to correct the bad customer impression of my operation at a considerable monetary cost to myself. I believed in good customer service even though the dropshipper didn't.
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        • Profile picture of the author marciayudkin
          Originally Posted by bgmacaw View Post

          This sounds like the kind of problems one can encounter when dealing with a bad drop shipper or order fulfillment service.
          True, but trying to blame it on the order fulfillment service is a copout. It's responsibility of the company you buy from to stay on top of the process, to notify you if there's a delay in shipping, to apologize appropriately and proportionately when something goes wrong and to keep the relationship on track.

          Marcia
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    • Profile picture of the author Nightengale
      Good points. But you're blaming the wrong person.

      The CSR is exactly that: the CSR. They're paid a low wage and don't really care about you or your business. Yes, they SHOULD be doing a good job, give prompt and courteous service and do a thorough job. Their job depends on it.

      But blaming them and getting mad at them is pointless. They don't make the decisions or the policies. And they have little incentive to make the business they work for a better business. You need to be complaining to the owners or the marketing directors. THAT is where the decisions are made.

      Michelle



      Originally Posted by crazyinternetdude View Post

      Thanks for this thread...

      The sad part is that a thread like this is even necessary. As we watch how financial institutions, major auto manufacturers and other businesses struggle to stay afloat, I often wonder how much is due to horrible customer service rather than "the economy".

      Over the past 10 years I have watched customer service in just about every industry deteriorate to the point where it should be called:

      Customer Disservice.

      Ever reached a CSR (which now we should call CDR) and you get the impression that you're inconveniencing them? I mean really - who am I to call with a problem I'M having with one of THEIR products and interrupt the conversation they were having with LaQuetia in the cubicle next to them.

      Or the absolute audacity to call at 8:00AM when they're still hung over from the night before and expect them to actually give a d*mn? Sorry, what was I thinking?

      Your example is probably not as extreme as most of us face, but it serves as a "Doing Business 101" tip for anyone just beginning, and a very important reminder for those of us who have been doing this for awhile that without customers, you aint got no business.

      Hopefully this latest "economic crisis" will force businesses to rethink how they DO business and a customer-centric philosophy will return. I can see the headline now:

      "Podiatrists see sharp decline in business as marketers stop shooting themselves in the foot."

      The Crazy Internet Dude
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  • Profile picture of the author Scott Ames
    Originally Posted by marciayudkin View Post

    Unfortunately, a lot of information marketers who know how to get customers do not know how to keep them.
    Product Development: Strategies and Tactics for Systematic Success

    It sounds like the marketer could use your consulting services.

    I don't know who the marketer is, but if they had virtual assistants or a fullfillment company doing this for them, they need to dig in and get it changed. If they know about this, then shame on them.
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  • Profile picture of the author Loren Woirhaye
    At every stage people BUY an experience. Marcia's experience
    of enjoying the product was disrupted by the carelessness
    of the seller in timely and neat delivery.

    Could anything be more obvious?

    Apparently not.

    Marketing can be a lot of work. But it doesn't end when the
    money comes in. Sometimes a first-time customer is won
    at a loss. Zit cream on TV is sold in this way. The customer
    needs to buy for something like 8 months before the
    company sees a profit.
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    • Profile picture of the author BrianMcLeod
      Originally Posted by Loren Woirhaye View Post

      At every stage people BUY an experience. Marcia's experience of enjoying the product was disrupted by the carelessness of the seller in timely and neat delivery.

      Could anything be more obvious?

      Apparently not.

      Marketing can be a lot of work. But it doesn't end when the money comes in.
      Man, that was a great post, Loren. Nice.

      Couldn't agree more.

      The lines are blurring more and more each day in terms of what constitutes a "brick and mortar" business and what an "Internet business" is. Even some of the most well-respected Internet Marketers could stand to learn a whole lot about the OTHER side of business - operations and customer support.

      And I think that they ARE developing that side of their businesses - by force when necessary - because the market is beginning to quite publicly demand it... As I said, those lines are blurring.

      In some ways, it is one of the few disadvantages to the "satellite" model that so many Internet business operate under. Problems and screw ups are entirely inevitable and predictably unpredictable. Having a staff under one roof that collaboratively fights the fires of day to day business is in many ways what keeps offline businesses running smoothly (when they do it right).

      So, it's one of the real challenges facing those who find success selling online -- translating those human resources effectively to outsourced partners and support staff.

      Man, am I getting off track...

      Marcia, great thread. And right on. Lame, lame, lame.

      Forgive my ignorance, but I've never heard the term "stick letter". Frankly, I cannot FATHOM not sending what I've always called a "Welcome Letter" or "Welcome Package".

      Operational retardation...

      Anyone who has ever done any substantial volume of transactional business would inherently understand that neglecting something that basic would result in a torrent of customer service calls, returns, and myriad other self-inflicted wounds. Just plain dumb.

      Best to all,

      Brian
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      • Profile picture of the author sylviad
        Hi,

        It sounds like the mix-up left some bad feelings at their plant - right down to the shipping dept. The workers probably just stood back and heaved everything into the box.

        Sad, but that's what happens in some companies. However, I would not mark this one episode as common or standard practice for information marketers. In my experience, the products were always well-packaged with welcome letters and in some cases, unexpected little extras. That was a nice touch.

        Sylvia
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        • Profile picture of the author marciayudkin
          >>Forgive my ignorance, but I've never heard the term "stick letter". <<

          A "stick letter" is simply a cover letter sent with an information product - so called because it helps the sale "stick."

          It warms up the transaction, helps create lifetime customers and helps prevent refunds.

          Marcia Yudkin
          Information Marketer
          http://www.yudkin.com/informationempire.htm
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          • Profile picture of the author sylviad
            Originally Posted by marciayudkin View Post

            >>Forgive my ignorance, but I've never heard the term "stick letter". <<

            A "stick letter" is simply a cover letter sent with an information product - so called because it helps the sale "stick."

            It warms up the transaction, helps create lifetime customers and helps prevent refunds.
            Huh? You already made the sale and if your product is top quality, you shouldn't be getting too many refunds. A "stick letter" certainly isn't going to make much difference. I guess this is marketing lingo, huh?

            Now, a warm courtesy letter makes more sense - a simple "thank you - appreciate your business" and "if you need help, you can get it here" - as a courtesy, moreso than as a gimmick to keep a customer. It's up to you to keep the customer - by maintaining contact after the sale.

            Sylvia
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            • Profile picture of the author marciayudkin
              Originally Posted by sylviad View Post

              Huh? You already made the sale and if your product is top quality, you shouldn't be getting too many refunds. A "stick letter" certainly isn't going to make much difference. I guess this is marketing lingo, huh?

              Now, a warm courtesy letter makes more sense - a simple "thank you - appreciate your business" and "if you need help, you can get it here" - as a courtesy, moreso than as a gimmick to keep a customer. It's up to you to keep the customer - by maintaining contact after the sale.

              Sylvia
              Sylvia,

              I'm not sure why you imagined that a stick letter would be different in tone from a warm courtesy letter. I'm also not advocating any kind of "gimmick."

              You're wrong, though, about the product speaking for itself. The more complex the product is, the more parts it has (we are talking about multi-piece information products here, not just a single book or CD or DVD), the more necessary it is to encourage the customer to dive in by saying how to get started.

              When this kind of a letter was missing from the shipment I received, all I can do is stare at the various components and try to imagine which one I am supposed to start with. I have absolutely no idea. And this increases the customer's frustration and interest in simply shipping the whole thing back. It also increases the chances that I decide that the product is above my head or too difficult to understand.

              A top quality product does often need a quick start guide, and its presence reduces refunds. A note warmly welcoming the customer is not enough.

              Marcia Yudkin
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            • Profile picture of the author BrianMcLeod
              Originally Posted by sylviad View Post

              Huh? You already made the sale and if your product is top quality, you shouldn't be getting too many refunds. A "stick letter" certainly isn't going to make much difference. I guess this is marketing lingo, huh?
              That is a dangerous presumption to make, Sylvia -- dangerous because it assumes that the reason that customers become frustrated and refund out is based upon the quality of the product which is very often not the case.

              To pin everything on the quality of the product short-changes the product terribly.

              Customer overwhelm and self-doubt have a HUGE role at this stage, for example.

              Now, a warm courtesy letter makes more sense - a simple "thank you - appreciate your business" and "if you need help, you can get it here" - as a courtesy, moreso than as a gimmick to keep a customer.
              Well, it appears that we're all basically talking about the same thing. Marcia called it a stick letter, I call it a welcome letter, you call it a courtesy letter.

              The difference is that your courtesy letter described above is an afterthought and insufficient. It fails to offer the buyer anything more that the typical language on a grocery receipt.

              A welcome package meets them where they are... in receipt of your product and ready to start using it.

              So, you provide the most commonly asked questions and answers.

              You provide a tutorial or special "how to get started" instructions.

              You help them begin to enjoy the imagined benefits they bought from you.

              The letter should provide transaction details and all pertinent contact information.

              None of that is a gimmick. It's how to reduce calls to your customer service agents. It's how you reduce immediate refunds due to overwhelm or buyer's remorse. It's how you engender a positive feeling of mutual respect.

              I apologize if I sound prickish, I'm just looking to clarify the language that seems to be coming from the same place but heading three different directions in terms of meaning and application.

              Brian
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  • Profile picture of the author Chris Lockwood
    Originally Posted by marciayudkin View Post

    It is against credit card regulations to charge a card for something that has not been shipped.
    Where did you get that impression? Ever sold anything on ebay? If the person paid via credit card through PayPal, I'm guessing you waited til they paid, like everyone else does.
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    • Profile picture of the author Lance K
      A stick letter is a welcoming letter in a warm tone. It reinforces the the emotions that led to the purchase and congratulates the logic that backs up those emotions. It prevents buyer's remorse. And helps portray an image of caring about customers as something more than a transaction ID.

      Also, Marcia is a wonderful marketer and a genuinely nice person. She doesn't talk just to hear her own voice. She knows her stuff.


      Marcia, you may want to move your links to your sig file per forum rules though.
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      • Profile picture of the author marciayudkin
        Originally Posted by Lance K View Post

        Also, Marcia is a wonderful marketer and a genuinely nice person. She doesn't talk just to hear her own voice. She knows her stuff.
        Lance, thank you for the compliment.

        Originally Posted by Lance K View Post

        Marcia, you may want to move your links to your sig file per forum rules though.
        Thank you for the heads up on this. I just re-read the rules and did not see anything about this. Apparently rules about this are posted in some place that is not obvious to me. Do you mind letting me know where that is?

        Thanks so much,
        Marcia Yudkin
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  • Two quick thoughts on some of the other posts:

    A "stick letter" (never heard it called that but I love the name!" overcomes a pretty significant part of any sale - buyer remorse.

    Not sure what products everyone is selling, but I know most of mine are higher end items between $297 on the low end and $5,000 on the high end. We all know that customers buy on emotion and then rationalize the sale. The stick letter is just another way of reinforcing why they bought in the first place (because some honestly do forget after the emotion goes away) and gets them excited about the product all over again.

    Doesn't matter how good your product is if the customer isn't able to keep the emotional connection there.

    Second point - concerning the credit card issue/shipping issue. Technically, you're not allowed to charge a card prior to shipping an item, but because of the nature of e-commerce most processors will allow it to be done due to the nature of things like digital product delivery and blah, blah, blah.

    It's an old "rule" made prior to the boom of shopping online and will probably go away in time.

    On a lighter note, I hope everyone has a safe and blessed holiday season no matter what it is you celebrate.

    CID
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    • Profile picture of the author ronr
      Every product should have a welcome letter and a "fast start" guide if the product is large or complex in the least.

      Also a follow up letter, call it a stick or something else, congratulating them on the wise decision to buy the product, reminding them of all the benefit they are going to receive from it AND if possible including an unexpected bonus can do wonders for reducing refunds and creating customer loyalty.

      This should be done at some level for any product but, not doing these things with an expensive product like Marcia purchased is just crazy!

      Ron
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  • Profile picture of the author Jowee
    I cannot tell you how many times the customer service ruined my opinion of a company or marketer before I received a product. Having to go back and ask where is the free software that was supposed to come with the book? I ordered the 12 cd set; I only got 6. And then they act like your lying or it's my fault. Common, why would I say I only got 6? And like it really hurts to send 6 more $1 cd/DVD... lol

    Money poisons people. And many do not think about the future. There are several so called GURUS out there that no matter how good the product is, I would not entertain it because of the service after the sale. So if they feel one is all they want from each person that's all they will get from me.
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  • Profile picture of the author jimcal
    Hi,
    It should be common sense but many marketers don't seem to realize the concept of lifetime value of their customers. I am so sick of talking to computers and being given a list of options to choose from that even if the product isn't great but the service is excellent, I will be satisfied.
    Thanks,
    Jim
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    • Profile picture of the author Cynthia A.
      Good points. But you're blaming the wrong person.

      The CSR is exactly that: the CSR. They're paid a low wage and don't really care about you or your business. Yes, they SHOULD be doing a good job, give prompt and courteous service and do a thorough job. Their job depends on it.

      But blaming them and getting mad at them is pointless. They don't make the decisions or the policies. And they have little incentive to make the business they work for a better business. You need to be complaining to the owners or the marketing directors. THAT is where the decisions are made.

      Michelle
      I've worked for several companies that has such poor customer service that they were actually on the verge of going out of business because of it. When people don't get basic satisfaction from the customer service department & keep getting put off (one company would send people to voicemail hell & no one would ever answer), they many times will go as high up as they can (which could be a regulatory board). And you never know who that customer is or who they know. A sister could be a high powered attorney, a father-in-law could be the Attorney General. Customer service can make or break a company but it seems like it's an afterthought to the business owner.

      Cynthia
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      • Profile picture of the author marciayudkin
        Update...

        Remember I said that it looked like the information product was just thrown into a box? The story gets worse, because now that I am delving into the product, it looks to me like the product was just thrown together, too, out of various miscellaneous items the marketer had laying around.

        There is a mediocrely produced "talking head" DVD filmed at a live seminar, one audio CD that is not explicitly related to the DVD except on the labeling, and because it mentions "audiotapes" must have been recorded quite a long time ago. And then there are a whole bunch of sample materials with little or no commentary on them.

        The lack of a "stick letter" (see discussion of that earlier in this thread) poses a tremendous handicap for my consumption and enjoyment of this product. Not only do I not know where to start, it's hard to see how all the pieces fit together. If the stick letter gave me instructions on how to learn from all the material and reiterated all the benefits of doing so, I would be more favorably disposed toward this product.

        Call me disappointed,
        Marcia Yudkin
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