Something to Remember You By: Coffee Break With Bill Hartmann Jr., Hartmann Electric Co.

Bill Hartmann Jr., president of Hartmann Electric, has developed a unique approach to reminder marketing.

On the bitterly cold and windy afternoon of Dec. 24, 1945, a Liberty ship packed with hundreds of troops returning from the war in Europe cut through frigid water and swirling snow as it passed the Statue of Liberty. Everyone on board pressed to gain a glimpse of that grand lady who so elegantly symbolized the principles and beliefs that had carried them through months of hardship and combat. These members of what has come to be called the Greatest Generation stood silently, some weeping, for those few passing minutes.

Onboard, Bill Hartmann Sr. captured the moment in a photograph, silhouetting the soldiers in the foreground as they stood struck by the realization they were on the threshold of their own country at last. A large, hand-painted sign adorned the base of the statue, proclaiming, “Welcome Home. Merry Christmas.”

Many years later, Hartmann came across that old snapshot. The priceless quality of what it portrayed inspired him to create an oil painting based on the photo and later to have Christmas cards printed with a reproduction. He mailed them to his customers. They raved in response.

Painting by Bill Hartmann Sr., based on a photo he took in December 1945, returning from the war in Europe.
Painting by Bill Hartmann Sr., based on a photo he took in December 1945, returning from the war in Europe.

We learned this story in a visit with Hartmann, who is president of Hartmann Electric in Elk Grove, Ill. Now, cards with the scene in the harbor are sent to Hartmann Electric customers to salute the Fourth of July.

The Christmas cards were perennially popular with customers. It sounds as though sending out “Happy Fourth of July” cards has also been a hit.

No doubt about it. Ever since we started sending out Fourth of July cards we have received more and more compliments. People love them.

This falls into the category of what we call “reminder marketing.” That’s the effort you make to ensure your customers remember who to call next time they need electrical service of any kind.

In the blizzard of promotional efforts of every kind in the 24/7 cyclone that can leave customers with the business-world equivalent of snow-blindness, advertising and marketing tactics that might have worked just a few years ago are ineffectual today. It gets harder and harder to get through to anyone. But these cards make it through!

We don’t doubt that these cards make a great impression. But, frankly, can you tell how long that impression lasts?

How well do our Fourth of July cards work toward reminder marketing? The best answer to that question comes from customers who, months later—yes, months later—remind us how much they appreciated receiving one.

You have to give some weight to the fact that the return address on the envelope is Hartmann Electric.

I’ll have to admit, that’s absolutely true. Our company does high-quality work. Our customers like how we perform for them. We enjoy this little opportunity to remind them that we’re here and we’re ready to come back and do it some more.

We hope you’ll put us on your mailing list for future editions of these special works of art.

Sure will, guys. Just give me your business cards.

About the Author

Andrew McCoy

Service and Maintenance Contributor

Andrew McCoy is the Preston and Catharine White Fellow and Department Head of the Department of Building Construction in the Myers-Lawson School of Construction at Virginia Tech. Contact him at apmccoy@vt.edu.

About the Author

Fred Sargent

Service and Maintenance Contributor

Fred Sargent is an electrical industry consultant focusing on service expertise. He can be reached at fred@sargent.com.

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