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Connecting with Customers in a Contactless World

by | Oct 1, 2020

Note from Lisa: This article is based on a true story about a real business. The images are from my farm and business. 

For some flower farmers before Covid-19, they thought their biggest challenge was growing enough flowers.

Business was booming. Selling their flowers at several large farmers markets and had done so for many years. Each week at the market, customers lined up to make purchases. Their biggest challenge? Growing enough flowers to meet the unending demand. 

Sounds dreamy as a business owner doesn’t it?

Standing on the outside looking at a business model like this, it appears like all is well. Other than showing up and having a product full display, it didn’t seem like much else was needed… until Covid-19 literally shut the world down. 

The markets and shops closed. And this particular business had no way to reach out to their faithful customers. They also didn’t have a website and were not active on social media. It may sound crazy in this day and time but there are many businesses that fit this description. As the harvests piled up unsold, they realized they had a missing piece in their business, a way to contact their customers beyond face-to-face.

It’s never been more obvious then now, how much we need direct contact with our customers. 

Many of us haven’t ever had to think beyond the face-to-face meeting, till now. Yes, it’s more work and who wants to add another layer of things to do to an already endless chore list. But, what we have witnessed these past months of the pandemic is those businesses that could reach their customers have pivoted their sales outlets and because of that, their businesses will survive. 

We made it as simple as possible for our customers to order from our members-only market. For 20 years they have just shown up on market day on the farm and selected their flowers. All changed with contact-less pickup. This is the main image on their weekly email.

Were your customers standing in a virtual line wanting to buy from you but you weren’t there to send them a sales link, or where to pick up, or, or, or ? Have heard it said that a business’s customer email list is the most valued asset the business owns? It has surely been proven true this year that… it is golden.

Where to start and how to do it?

When I speak of direct contact, I mean sending emails. While I see social media as a very necessary tool in business, it is not enough. You do not have any control over it, nor do you know who sees your posts. You cannot depend on Facebook or Instagram to show your posts to all your followers. With an email list you are in control.

To create a customer email list you will need an email service. Sending large group emails through your email box is problematic and not professional. There are many services to choose from such as MailChimp, ConvertKit, and others. They offer plans based on how many email addresses are on the list and may even offer free introductory plans. Some of the benefits they offer include templates to create emails, storage of your email addresses, the unsubscribe feature that should be on every email, and other tools.  

Once you decide on a service and get it set up you need to get busy building your list. If you have face-to-face meetings, put a flyer about how and why they should sign up for your News with their purchase. Invite your followers on social media, ask friends to share. We offer free resources to folks that sign up for our Farm News (sign up and see.)  It is a great incentive for them to do it, because face it, people are not looking for more emails in their inboxes. Invite them to sign up with a free gift (resources) and then give great content to keep them engaged. 

Here are three examples of our weekly emails to customers. We make each one easy to read, interesting, and vary the content to our appreciative customers.

What should you email your customers on the list? Good stuff. And what does that mean? Things that people enjoy may surprise you. 

  • Photos of your garden or business and a blurb about what is going on in it
  • An image of a flower and tips on growing it
  • What is available for sale now
  • How they can buy from you
  • Your family 
  • Your pet
  • It’s an open book…

Your customers will love this glimpse into you and your business. So many ways for them to feel so much more connected to you.  

People love seeing you and your pets!

Connected customers become returning customers and when and if the day comes that you cannot connect with them face-to-face, you will have your email list to back you up. 

If you would like to learn more about flower farming including the importance of a customer email list, how to construct simple emails, and using social media for business you may be interested in my course Flower Farming School Online: The Basics, Annual Crops, Marketing, and More! Annual registration opens in October each year for just 5 days, school starts November for 6 weeks.  

– Lisa Ziegler

Founder of The Gardener’s Workshop and Flower Farming School Online and the publisher of Farmer-Florist School Online and Florist School Online.  Award-winning Author of Vegetables Love Flowers and Cool Flowers. Watch Lisa’s Story and view her blog Field & Garden. Connect with Lisa on Facebook and Instagram!