CEO Explains Why Crutchfield Will Weather the Economic Storm

Hat tip to Chad White’s Retail Email Blog for finding this email from Crutchfield’s CEO Bill Crutchfield, which is also available on the Crutchfield website.

As Chad puts it: “In light of Circuit City’s woes, Crutchfield wants to reassure their customers that they are well-positioned financially to survive the current recession—and therefore safe to shop at this holiday season. They have a pretty reassuring story to tell.”

Dear Valued Customer,

The international financial crisis is weighing heavily on all of us. As consumers, one factor that we all need to consider is the stability of the companies with whom we do business. In the current economic climate, many retailers will stumble and some will even fail. For that reason, I personally want to explain Crutchfield’s unique situation.

For many years, I have been concerned about the growing credit bubble. It was obvious to me that it was unsustainable and that an inevitable day of reckoning would come. To protect our customers, our employees, and my family from the disastrous consequences of a financial meltdown, I positioned Crutchfield to withstand the worst. We became very frugal with how we spent money. We did not pay outlandish executive salaries and bonuses. We did not build fancy facilities. We did not expand our retail store operations. And we did not buy other companies. Instead, we worked extremely hard to improve how we serve our customers, while we managed every aspect of our business with excellence. Furthermore, we paid off all our debt and accumulated cash reserves.

When shopping in times like these, you need to be certain that the retailer will be around to provide you with years of after-the-sale support. We know that you expect guarantees, warranties and promises of lifetime product support to be kept when you purchase with us – and I have positioned our company to deliver without compromise on all of these important elements. As retailers go, Crutchfield is a “Rock of Gibraltar.” We have no debt, a perfect credit rating and a legacy of fiscal prudence. Therefore, we will be around to serve you as we have served millions of customers for the past 34 years and throughout the last four recessions.

Purchasing from Crutchfield today means you are choosing a company that will help you use and enjoy your purchase now and in the future. I hope that you give Crutchfield a chance to exceed your expectations. I thank you for your time and, most importantly, for doing business with Crutchfield.

Bill Crutchfield,
Founder and CEO, Crutchfield Corporation

Essentially, Crutchfield’s value proposition (a compelling reason why someone should buy from you rather than the other guy) is the fulfillment of guarantees, warranties and post-sales support (and redemption of gift cards?) due to its stability as a going concern. A value proposition is not a slogan, tagline or statement like “34 years of helping people choose, use, and enjoy electronics.”

Now Crutchfield needs to find a way to communicate its value proposition on product pages — not only because a person is closer to making a buying decision but also because not everyone lands on your site on the home page or reads your emails.

Marketing Experiments has a great collection of resources to help you with your value propositions including an on-demand webinar. In these troubled economic times, it’s more important than ever to communicate your value proposition clearly (and understand what one is, and what one is not).

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8 Responses to “CEO Explains Why Crutchfield Will Weather the Economic Storm”

  1. Great post Linda and you are so right when you say:

    “Now Crutchfield needs to find a way to communicate its value proposition on product pages — not only because a person is closer to making a buying decision but also because not everyone lands on your site on the home page or reads your emails.”

    Messaging optimization – knowing what to say and when – is really what it’s all about. Dynamically changing messages as a visitor clicks through your site is critical in terms of creating relevance and ultimately earning consumer confidence. Understanding whether they are first time visitor or a repeat visitor is also important. First timers especially need to have confidence in your site and if they don’t feel it right away wherever they land, they’ll be gone! At Sitebrand we tackle this head on with our Segment&Serve personalization platform (http://www.sitebrand.com/products).

    How are others tackling the challenge?

  2. A very nice communication, but as Linda pointed out, it needs a presence on the product and landing pages as well.

    I would have suggested making a video of Mr. Crutchfield reading the letter, posted the video on the homepage linked to via icon from product pages.

  3. The letter is excellent, but the link to it could have been better. “An important message from Bill Crutchfield” is vague.

    It is, in fact, a very timely and relevant message. So why not give visitors a hint at its contents? Words to the effect of, “No Crisis at Crutchfield. Why we’ll always be here for ongoing support.”

    Similar links could also appear on the product pages.

  4. Or perhaps, “An important message regarding the financial crisis”

    Then visitors would KNOW the message was going to be timely and relevant…

  5. I’m a big fan of specificity in subject lines, etc., but it seems like there are real dangers in using a headline or CTA that specifically mentions the crisis. “There’s ‘No crisis at Crutchfield’? Why is that? Are people saying there’s a crisis? I heard there wasn’t a crisis at Lehman and look what happened.” People might start to draw conclusions before clicking through to the message–or worse, may draw conclusions and never clickthrough to the message. It’s a delicate thing to be sure.

  6. Chad,

    True enough, the link would have to be carefully worded for the reasons you mention. I just don’t think “an important message” is specific or compelling enough.

    I for one would assume the “important message” would be marketing fluff and wouldn’t bother.

  7. nwt says:

    This message caught my eye in the inbox too. Here were my thoughts..

    I think the occasional non-sales email can be cool. Especially a note from the top. I like how he explains how it’s important to choose who you purchase (peeps that will be around for a long time to service you) from and reasons Crutchfield is in a good position to be around for a long time.

    I don’t like how at the end it’s sort of a plea to purchase. This email’s informative and non-sales based, keep it just that, informative and non-salesy. The end was kinda weak.

    All in all I think it was 2/3’s smart, original, could’ve been a liiiittle better.

  8. [...] in late October, I blogged about Crutchfield CEO Bill Crutchfield’s open letter addressing the credit crunch and why Crutchfield is a safe place to shop. Embedded in the letter [...]

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