Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Bittersweet

I've just finished winnowing my database and mailing list. It's a little bit bittersweet, saying goodbye to old friends. But I was pleasantly surprised to see how many new friends had been added in just the last year too.

I try to clean up the list once a year, always in January. The fall and winter newsletters always have the largest response, so I send it out to as many folks as possible. But the spring newsletter, actually the whole season, is much smaller, so it's the best time to start fresh. Hopefully I didn't dump anyone who still really wants to be there. But I flip through each record, checking the date they last ordered, and if it was 5 years ago -- gone (unless I know them as show shoppers only or other special circumstances). If they just called to request a brochure, oh about three years ago, but never ordered, gone.

Since this is such a small business, in order to survive I have to keep a fairly tight ship. Mostly this whole newsletter thing is to stay in touch with people who mail order the soap. I like to communicate with the folks who regularly come to the shows too, but that's harder to do. I recognize so many faces at the shows, but I don't always know their names. If they pay with checks or credit cards, I sometimes can take a note, just for my own records, and update their file on the database. I like to keep track of my best customers and friends. It's not only good business, but it's more fun that way.

But I'm sure that I've lost somebody who really likes the newsletter. Please do call, email or let me know at the next show if you really like to get the letter but missed the spring one. I'm very happy to keep anyone on the list who waits anxiously by the mailbox to get the latest. Really, I do. It's flattering and it's not a big deal to buy a few more stamps.

What I dread the most is being a piece of junk mail. Tastes change and people move on. I realize that. I'm not offended. I do the same thing myself. So I hate continuing to bombard people's homes who just don't want to be bothered. Maybe they ordered once for a gift, but they don't use the stuff themselves. So for whatever reason - I don't need a full explanation - if you want to cut back on all the envelopes coming your way, please also drop me a line somehow. I'm pleased to accommodate your request.

Now that I've got the website listed on all the labels - heck, now that I've got the website really cooking, and this here bloggity blog too - I'm hoping there are enough ways for people to find me, find the products, order what they need, check out the calendar. It's no longer the same as when I just started out, and all I had was that funky little newsletter with a little copied order form and sketchy list of shows tucked inside. I felt like I was living in the shadows. But now . . . NOW I'm out there for everyone to seee.

So as familiar names were getting chucked, it was sad to realize that they haven't called since say 2001. Was it really that long ago? We were such pals for while, what happened? It was also a pleasant surprise to see all the new names of people who've just jumped on board. And realize how far this has really come. It's not just my acquaintances and my parent's friends who wanted to support my new endeavor. It's people from all over who have tried my products and want it just because it's good stuff. Yippee ki yay!

Alright, maybe it's all a little melodramatic. It's just housecleaning of a database for cripes sake. But you've got to take your moments somewhere.