We're treating our customers as human beings. Approaching your customers like a vending machine, where you're just trying to find the right button to push so the money comes out, is by far the most common approach you find in business. That isn't how you build a relationship with a person. Engaging a customer works exactly the same as every other human interaction. First you need them to notice you, and then to be interested in you, and then to engage with you. For some reason, the middle step gets ignored entirely most of the time, as if all of us, all of our products and stores and companies are inherently interesting and worthwhile. That all this is readily apparent to everyone who sees our banner ads and billboards. Where does this idea come from?
In a world without geographical boundaries, nobody is stuck going to your store just because they want the product you offer. They can go to any one of thousands of retailers all over the planet, and have their products delivered to their doorstep. They need a reason to find out who you are first, then a reason not to instantly dismiss you, and then you can get to the business of trying to sell them something. That is why we go out of our way to earn the attention of regular people within our target demographic, by offering them the main thing people look for on the internet, and that is good content.
Our website now ranks on page one for the phrase "country wedding venues", because of our content on the topic. By creating more and more useful content about relevant, product adjacent topics, we can get our name out, get traffic, and links as other sites link back to our work.
We go out of our way to produce the type of content that our potential customers need. One of our stores sells food carts. We created content on starting a mobile food business for our food cart retailer, and followed it up with a great sausage recipe. As we accumulate more and more good content on starting and running this type of project, food cart entrepreneurs will run into our website more than once as they are figuring out how to get started.
The point is for our websites to be a place where our potential customers can find information that they want, even when they aren't looking to buy our products at that moment. Eventually we want our target audience to run into us again and again as they are doing their research. That's the kind of thing that shows a customer that you understand their needs, which gives them confidence in the products you choose to sell.
And to do all that, we need to start by giving them something for nothing.