The other day I opened up my email, and the subject line of one particular email I normally would have deleted caught my eye.

Importance of Being Helpful to your Customers in Business

Stauffers of Kissel Hill is a small, regional chain of grocery stores and garden centers. I’m on their email lists, but don’t often open what they send me, much like most of the other email lists for which I have signed up.

But the headline grabbed me. We were in for cold weather and frost that night, and they were giving me a heads up. Inside the email were tips on which plants needed to be protected and which could safely withstand the frost.

Put simply, they were being helpful.

Sure, they sell a lot of those plants, but they weren’t emailing me about their latest sale items, or telling me about any special deals.

They were just being helpful, giving me information I might need. Plus, at the bottom of the email, they encouraged me to contact them with any of my gardening related questions, with the promise that they’ll get back to me with an answer right away. Or, of course, I can visit one of their stores and talk to someone directly. If I fill out the online form, I’d get an answer within 24 hours.

No sales pitch. No special deals. Just useful information with the promise of being helpful.

This is why customer service is so important, not just in person, but online.

This is just one simple example of how a business can use its entire online presence (Facebook, Pinterest, videos, email, blog) to provide useful information, and while it might not seem like it, it’s an integral part of their overall marketing plan.

Remember: social media is really nothing more than word of mouth, which is usually the most effective form of marketing for most businesses. If you are helpful, and do right by your customers, they will talk about you and tell others.

And the beauty of being helpful is that it only takes a little bit of effort and won’t break the bank, while the rewards are innumerable.

How can you use your online presence to be helpful and provide your customers with the information they need?

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