It's Rutiz Family Farms-a small, organic fruit and vegetable farm in my town of San Luis Obispo, California. I learned about the farm from a fund-raising flyer my daughter brought home from school. For $180, the farm would send me a box of fresh fruit and vegetables via the school once a week for 10 weeks-for $250 they'd throw in fresh flowers. Great products, convenient service and a good cause. Thinking this was better than cookie dough or wrapping paper-and you parents know what I mean-I signed up.

To my surprise, I received a personalized e-mail newsletter from the farm's owner a few days before the first delivery. Not only did he tell me in advance what to expect in the coming week's box, but he included a number of recipes for preparing some of the more unusual items that would be in the box. Soon, new side dishes started appearing on our table, such as purple potatoes, baby artichokes, kale, fennel and olallieberries.

This small, family-owned business and its e-mail newsletter, was shaping, and I admit, drastically improving, what I was serving my family each and every evening. There are few consumer-business connections that are more personal, except maybe the connection between a client and her stylist, esthetician or nail tech.

E-mail Engagement
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To succeed in business over the next decade, you need to personally engage each of your clients and connect them personally to you and your brand. How? Start by thinking about how you can support the relationships your staff develop with your clients-not supersede them. Do you go around and personally welcome clients to the salon and comment on how fabulous they look when they leave? When you catch a staff member doing something great, do you compliment them in front of their peers and their guests? Could you, like my farmer friend, follow up the visit with a personalized e-mail that offers tips for maintaining their color investment or offers ideas on freshening up their look for Spring? Are you posting relevant, helpful, playful information on your website, Twitter and Facebook pages? Have you communicated to your guests who you are as a brand-is your mission and culture apparent?

When you engage clients and forge those personal connections to your brand, you solidify client loyalty to your business, boost service and product sales, attract new business and elevate your professionalism within your community.

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E-mail Engagement
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Stacey Soble has been involved in the conversation of salon business for 14 years-as a reporter, a consultant and as the editor in chief of SALON TODAY.

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