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How are you getting them back into the fold?

I can see fine without windows
Creative Commons License photo credit: Blyzz

A number of vendors that I used to do business with waste my time and theirs with their lame, cookie cutter attempts to get me to renew a subscription, update my software or renew some other sort of thing I use to have.

Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate the fact that they made the effort, but the effort made is usually so weak that it makes whatever is left of the relationship even weaker.

Sometimes I’m not interested anymore and I unsubscribe. Other times I just hit delete because for whatever reason, I’m just not ready to unsubscribe. I may be planning to buy sometime in the future, but not just yet…

One of the vendors who emails me like clockwork does so once a month to remind me that my subscription to their data, software and newsletter has lapsed. Sure, those emails are automated, but I don’t mind because 1) I’ve done business with them and 2) they don’t nag the crap out of me. I can depend on a single monthly email.

Keep in mind that these emails don’t LOOK automated, but I know they are. They look and are written like someone actually cared about what the email says – and that makes all the difference.

A Surprise

But today was different. Better.

I received this email from

Hi Mark,

It can sometimes be challenging to find a graceful way to give a gift. These days many people are suspicious or cynical. They’ve been jaded by so many nefarious schemes with hidden agendas. But in spite of all that, I am going to try to give you something anyway …something that is truly valuable and doesn’t have any strings attached.

Here goes.

You, as a past subscriber of Planet Ocean’s, raised your hand as someone with interest in ranking at the top of the Search Engines. I can only guess that you may still be interested. And assuming that you are, I am giving you a full and free membership to for the rest of the year — complete access through December 31st, 2009.

This gift is without strings or restrictions. It is simply a gift. You may download the most recent UnFair Advantage Book, gain access to all of the articles and expert reports, peruse the archives, use each and every one of the resources and test your site against your competitor’s by running it through our amazing tool, the Site Strength Indicator.

Now I hear you asking “why.”

We’ll it isn’t because we are desperate for members. On the contrary, ever since 1996, Planet Ocean has had a better year than the previous one — And this year is no exception. Our membership revenues have never been higher. 2009 has blessed us with our best year…in spite of all the so-called economic doom and gloom in the news lately.

I’m not bragging–exactly the opposite. I am humbled by our success and proud of our Planet Ocean people who have worked together to succeed in the face of challenge and adversity.

But most of all, I am thankful for having had you as a subscriber. And, this is a chance for me to give *you* something that is affordable for us and *could easily be more valuable than money* to you during what many are predicting to be a continuation of the challenges being faced all over the economic landscape.

Personally, I feel energized by the opportunities upon us. My 57 years of life experience have taught me that, in good times, anybody can succeed. But when the industry turns challenging, those of us with the best attitude, resources and information become the eagles who literally soar above the turmoil.

Hopefully you are already soaring like an eagle. And if not yet, then please allow me to put a little wind under your wings by gifting you with our researched information for ranking your business at the top. No strings attached, here is your login information for the October 09 issue of

(login and link left out)

Again – Thank you,

Stephen Mahaney – CEO/Founder
Planet Ocean
75-1027 Henry St. 111A #301 · Kailua-Kona HI 96740-3154
800-334-5662, 808-329-5700

Yeah, it’s kinda long (and it was formatted narrower since it was an email – just in case you were wondering), but it is a really smart email. Why?

First – His product doesn’t have an incremental cost, so it doesn’t matter if he gives it away to the *right people*. Giving it away to just anyone would be a waste of time and server resources. Giving it away for a short time to lapsed customers who already are familiar with the product and saw enough value to subscribe in the past is absolutely the right thing to do. No selling needed. Just lay the fly on the water, right out there in front of his nose and let Mr. Rainbow take a look at it. If there’s no trout there, what’s the point?

Second – He isn’t getting my subscription $ right now anyhow, so (thanks to the lack of incremental cost) he isn’t losing anything by giving me 70 days of his product. That presumably will give me a chance to check it out again and remember how much I got out of it before my subscription lapsed, was forgotten or whatever the situation was.

Third – Rather than just saying “Hey, we want you back cuz we *really* miss your money, here’s a bribe”, he provides the “Reason Why”. He tells a story about what provoked him to do this, weaves in the state of the economy, and it all makes sense.

Your turn

What are you doing to get your lapsed customers back into the fold?

If you’re a retailer, did you lose them after a return? I know darned well you have the point of sale data there to figure that out. Get it out and crunch it. Find out which customers haven’t been back since they asked for a refund, exchange, return or what not. Did they fail to return intentionally because their last experience was about as pleasant as a spoonful of cold bacon grease?

If you run a restaurant, did you lose them after a party booking? Or a regular visit? Your loyalty program data should be able to tell you when they last visited and your point of sale data will tell you what they last bought. Don’t have a loyalty program? All your point of sale data is on little order pads? Do I really have to go there?

If you sell a service, you should be able to figure out from your point of sale data what they last had serviced (or what service they bought). Same question re: loyalty program and point of sale data.

No matter what you do, you should be able to identify the lapsed customers.

With that in hand, how will you get their attention and show them the value they’re missing out on?

Either Stephen figured it out, or had someone help him do it. Doesn’t matter which way as long as it got done.