04/26/2011 07:19 pm ET Updated Jun 25, 2011

Sheplers: 116-Year-Old Company Engages Customers to Select a Logo for New Apparel Line

THE PROBLEM: Consumers are distracted by all the competing messages and media clutter. How can you ensure that your offers and messages are relevant to them?

THE SOLUTION: Ask them for help and guidance! Trust the wisdom of their recommendations and requirements.

Many marketers would be resistant to the idea of trusting the guidance of customers for something as critical as a logo design. A happy exception is the legendary country and western apparel retailer Sheplers, which traces its history back further than a century, but recently launched a cutting-edge e-mail campaign to its customers that effectively turned them into marketing consultants!

Sheplers, it turns out, is launching a new independent clothing line: Gibson. Rather than simply announce the Gibson line, the retailer sent out this email:


Sheplers is developing a new line of men's and women's clothing and we need your input... VOTE NOW by clicking on your favorite logo below!

There follows, below those words, a collage consisting of four intriguing, very different, possible logos for the new Gibson line. Which one will Sheplers customers prefer? Only time will tell. Whichever it is, I have a feeling the marketer will begin the new clothing line with a major market advantage: It will be communicating with a base of advocates and evangelists... not just "selling" to a base of passive observers.

With its e-mail message, Sheplers made the bold decision to leverage the loyalty of its customers -- and turn them into valued partners. At the same time, it reinforced that loyalty by asking for input ... and showing respect for the customer's insights.

How can you leverage the loyalty of your customers? What opportunities to share feedback, offer ideas, or express their preferences can you offer customers via e-mail, social media, or research interviews?

Consumer empowerment is a reality. Customers expect input, interaction, and dialogue with their favored merchants and service providers. You can only be assured of providing what customers want by asking them for their guidance. Now more than ever, loyalty and customer engagement go hand in hand... and reinforce each other!


  • Use e-mail, social media, or telephone interviews to get guidance from your customers about your next big brand launch, special offer, messaging, or any other important initiative.
  • Be humble and trust the wisdom of your customers. The insights they provide will help you build deeper, more engaged relationships.

Ernan Roman is President of the marketing consultancy, Ernan Roman Direct Marketing.
Recognized as the industry pioneer who created three transformational methodologies: Integrated Direct Marketing, Opt-In Marketing, and Voice of Customer Relationship Research.

Clients include Microsoft, NBC Universal, Disney, Hewlett-Packard and IBM.

2010-12-08-ernan.jpgErnan was named to "B to B's Who's Who" as one of the "100 most influential people" in Business Marketing by Crain's B to B Magazine.

His fourth and latest book on marketing best practices is titled: Voice of the Customer Marketing: A Proven 5-Step Process to Create Customers Who Care, Spend, and Stay.

Ernan is also the co-author of "Opt-In Marketing: Increase Sales Exponentially with Consensual Marketing" and author of "Integrated Direct Marketing: The Cutting Edge Strategy for Synchronizing Advertising, Direct Mail, Telemarketing and Field Sales."