Ray worked with B-2-B and Consumer clients throughout the world ... including USA, Canada, Mexico, Asia, the South Pacific, Europe, the Middle-East, Central & South America, Africa.

This website is a compilation of Ray's 10 years on the Web.

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Buyers "down under" love sweepstakes

News came to me during the spring of 2003
that L.V. Martin is no longer in the mail-order business.
Yet, this story still has a lesson in how to take care of customers.
As they still do that very well through their retail establishments.

Mail order is spectacular. Mail order gets customers to send money through the post. To someone they don't know and have never met. To buy something they've never touched or even seen. And then wait three weeks to get it!

This is how management at L.V. Martin and Son used to look at mail-order. And this is how they interpreted a large part of the 3.2 million marketplace in New Zealand viewed mail-order. They wanted to do something about it. And boy, did they!

L.V. Martin and Son customers. You only get on the L.V. Martin list when you buy from them by mail-order.

You might ask how you get to be a customer unless you already have a catalogue? Well obviously, there can be some pass-a-longs. But the people at L.V. Martin also do a lot of prospecting.

Visa has a special credit card catalogue in New Zealand. And several times a year the people at L.V. Martin do a special mailing only to the Visa credit card lists. It's not unusual for them to get as much as £1.25 million in sales off one issue of the catalogue sent to 450,000 card holders. They are successful!

To get people to buy from them on a repeated basis they've established a Preferred Custom Card. To let their customers know they care. They send personalized letters, and they answer every inquiry personally. If something is out of stock or there is a problem with a particular product they fix it, replace it, and always communicate with their customers.

The customers are a fairly broad selection from the mass marketplace. It is the "middle" market of New Zealand. L.V. Martin found out early on they must give people a reason to buy from them. And the reason they give was the exclusivity of price. A price that could not be obtained anywhere else.

They found that when they lost their exclusivity, their sales fell by as much as 80%.

They've also found that competitions work for them. Games and sweepstakes, completed by as many at 85% of all the split list mailings. Half receive a catalogue with a competition and half not. They get as much as 12% more product orders with the competition than without.

The average order is for these different items. The average value of each individual order is £30 and L.V. Martin offers a special gift on orders of at least four different items. It works as a lift letter . . . and sales go up.

They've also found that people who order over the phone spend 35% more per order than those who order through the mail, and they know that customers who ordered from their last catalogue will spend 4.5 times more than those who have not ordered for over a year. Customers who ordered from their last catalogue will spend 2.3 times more than those who only bought last year.

It's probably obvious to you by now that Neil Martin, the son of L. V. Martin and Son, also offers a strong guarantee. He puts it in writing. He puts it in writing with his picture. He puts it in writing with his picture and signature. In every catalogue and every communication in which a customer needs to know.

The guarantee goes like this: "I'll 'put it right'. It is my responsibility. If you have a problem and you seek my help and write to me, I'll 'put it right'."

They guarantee delivery in 11 days. Their average is considerably less than that... usually something like 6, 7, or 8. But Martin has the philosophy that if he guarantees it in 11 days and he delivers it in 10 he's a hero.

Martin also knows that the customers will wait if you tell them what's happening. So he has the customer care philosophy. It's not unlike the philosophy of Stew Leonard in the USA:

Rule #1: The customer is always right.
Rule #2: If the customer is ever wrong, re-read rule #1.
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