Selling to Tourists?

If you are like me, when you are on vacation you like to buy something that is special. There is something that is fun about finding that certain item and taking a little bit of vacation back home.

If you own a retail business, the mindset of the vacation shopper can be important to understand.

Many tourists are in town not to shop, but to see the sights.  It is common though to have some extra time.  “Down time”, where they are not on a tour, hiking, dining, or going to a show.  Instead of hanging out in their hotel room, they wander off into the nearby streets to look at the shops.

Shops that do well in tourist areas usually carry unique items.  They may be hand made in the local area, but not necessarily.  Most vacationers are looking for an item that they can not find at home.  If they could find it at home, they would just wait until they got there and then purchase it there.  Saves the packing and carrying.

Although the locals may look at your unique items for weeks or even years without buying, the tourist will tend to buy faster.  The local person figures that the item will still be there the next time they stop by.  The tourist knows that they will only be there a few days and that if they do not buy, they will not have another chance.

If you have your business in a tourist town, the location of the shop is important to look at. Are you near a hotel?  Is it easy to walk into your shop without having to find parking?  Are there other shops nearby, so that vacationers can have plenty of places to window shop, and then find that one unique thing they have to have?

What do you do if you are not in a popular tourist shopping area?  This is where your marketing gets creative.  You have to let the tourist know where you are and offer them some kind of incentive to come to your shop.  A discount coupon offered to hotel guests is powerful in having people seek you out.  It is also important to note that a physical card or flyer works better than the internet once the vacationer is at their destination.  It is right in front of them.  Searching on the internet will not have the same effect.

Just some things to think about for your retail shop.  Every market is different.  Every market requires a different approach.

Tele-classes – Are they for you?

In today’s internet centered world we are bombarded with opportunities to attend tele-classes.  You know, training that happens while you sit in front of your computer and you might be connected with thousands of people around the world.  It is a great method of reaching many, many more people than if you had to all be in the same place at the same time.

It is also a great way to provide training at a much reduced price.  After all, if you are reaching more people, you can afford to charge each of them less.  Your overhead is less than having to rent space somewhere.  You can even record the sessions, put them on CD’s or make them downloadable for a future product that you will offer.

Is giving tele-classes right for your business?  Do you have the type of business where you train people on a particular subject?  It could be nutrition, marketing, navigating the process of getting your kid into college, or whatever…  if you educate one on one or in a small group session, you may be able to take advantage of the tele-class model, thereby  reaching more people and also bringing in more income.

Build it and they will come -resizeWhat I have discovered is that just being able to put the class together and figuring out the technology needed to connect every one is not enough.  These tele-classes do not just happen.  People do not just show up because you have scheduled a class.

Filling the seats for you class requires marketing.  It requires internet marketing.  There is a method for all of this.  It isn’t rocket science, as we like to say, but it does require knowing the steps and being committed to doing them.  It means accepting failure along the way, making improvements and trying again.

If the idea of doing tele-classes inspires you so much you can hardly contain yourself, then you most likely have the motivation to learn and implement this new skill of marketing.  If the thought of the marketing process turns your stomach, then I would suggest that you think more before jumping into all of this.

Of course, you can hire someone to help you with a lot of the marketing, so YOU decide if you have the money to invest.

If tele-classes are not right for you and your business, that is alright.  Find what works for you and what motivates you to roll up your sleeves and make it happen.


Marketing – Your Path to Service

As a small business owner, it is not uncommon to let marketing throw you for a loop.  There are so many ways to get the word out there, how do you figure out which one is right for your business?

In the service business, prospects want to have an idea of what ymarketing path service 2our service is like before they buy.  In your marketing material and interactions you have the opportunity to give great value and let people get a flavor of what you bring to the table.  Since we can’t set up a stand in Costco to hand out samples for tasting, what are various ways you can do this?

Always make sure that your email newsletter or blog provide value.  This will give the reader an example of the topics your address and your style.  It also helps to keep the prospect on your list of interested parties and helps you to continue to have a relationship with them.  Even if your email is offering them an invitation to purchase something from you, make sure that the content helps them to see why this purchase would be of benefit to them.  By giving them good information, they can decide for themselves if it is a good fit or not.

Speeches or teleseminars are a great way to share information with people.  They get to see what you know, how you express it, and the kind of results you can provide through your service.  Don’t forget to make this a part of your marketing strategy by letting your audience know how to take the next step with you, should they feel inspired to do so.  Make it easy for them to sign up for a free consultation, your next webinar, or to get on your email list.

Remember that one of the greatest ways for you to give value is to actually engage a client.  If you properly market your services, the right client for you will recognize your value to them and they will sign up.  Marketing is not our enemy (even though we claim we don’t like it).  Marketing is the way we get to ultimately be of more service to more people.


Sight Unseen

Do you have a business where people buy your product or service before they actually see the final results?

There are many business in this category.  Think about it. Architects promise to design you a new home.  Doctors offer you a way to feel better.  Graphic designers promise a creative logo.  Life coaches help you to find your direction.  Website designers promise a website that attracts visitation.

In all of these situations, you do not really know what the outcome will look or feel like, yet you still have to choose who you want to do business with.  It is not as if we say to our doctor, “Listen, I am going to work with you for the next month.  Now, if you and I together can get rid of this funky rash, then I will pay you.  If it is still there, you are out of luck and I am moving on to someone else.”  We don’t say to our website designer, “Look, show me what you are going to design.  I will ask 2 other designers to do the same thing, and then I will pick which one of them I like the best and pay that designer.”

We choose who we are going to work with based on criteria other than the final results. What are some of the factors we use to choose a service professional?

What have they done in the past?

We like to see examples of past work.  Can they show us logos or websites they have designed?  Do they have testimonials that express the results that others have achieved by working with them?  This helps to build confidence in them as a professional.

Do I like them?

When working with a service professional we want to like the person.  We want to have an enjoyable experience, because it is usually a process.  This is not a one time ‘buy and fly’, but a relationship.  We are looking for someone with whom we resonate.

How is their customer service?

We call on the phone, we want someone to respond.  We have opportunities to interact with service professionals and their offices before we make the buying decision.  If we have trouble getting answers and courtesy from them before we buy, we will not choose them.

Did someone refer me to them?

A personal referral goes a long way in helping us to choose our provider.  If our friend had a good experience with them, we feel confident that we will too.  We can ask our friend lots of questions to find out the ‘real story’.

Are they hearing what I want?

Since we are hiring them on faith that the final product will reflect who we are, we want to make sure that they have heard us.  Were they listening when I was talking or were they talking while I was talking?  Did they ask about me, or did they just tell me about themselves and what they do?  Did they ask me probing questions?  Did they repeat back to me what they thought they heard?  We know when we are really being heard, so don’t try to fool us.

These are just some of the things that the consumer pays attention to, consciously or not, when choosing a service provider.  A good business manager will make sure that they are aware of the type of buying decision their prospects have in front of them and proactively help them to see their business in the best light.

Can you add to this list of decision making criteria?  Let me know.


Telemarketing – It Doesn’t Have To Be Annoying

Wouldn’t it be nice if your personal shopper called you at home to tell you about a sale that is going on at one of your favorite clothing stores? Apparently that is what a national chain of women’s clothing stores thought.  There is a basis of goodness in there, but unfortunately they have missed the mark.

Many an unsuspecting woman picks up the phone to hear the sales message and is then annoyed about the call.  Why would this be?  Why would she not be happy about hearing about a sales opportunity?


First of all, it is not her personal shopper that calls, but some unknown ‘fashion consultant’ (sales gal) who she never met before.

Second, what are they offering her?

A day where there is 25% off.  This store has 25% off coupons all of the time.  Why should she rush in?

A special evening event to save money?  Do women really like to go out at night to shop?  Do they want to be at a crowded event?  Do they want to be just one of many and actually not that special?

Maybe a notice of price reductions.  Ah, the clever shopper knows that these reductions are typically on out of season merchandise.

What might be a better way to connect with women who have shopped the store in the past?

Have the call be about the customer!  What might woman who shop in this store be looking for?


Personal service – believe it or not, many woman just hate to shop for clothing.  What if the caller said that they are there to offer a personal shopping experience.  They offer to help them to find clothing to suit their style.  They give their name and say, “Ask for me” or better yet, they offer to make an appointment … setting aside time just for them.  OK, now the shopper is starting to remember why they shop at this store instead of just shopping low price.

OK, so what if there is going to be a special evening event and the sales gal is trying to get people to come.  What can she tell the shopper?  How about, “You know what, contrary to popular belief, it is actually not that crowded at these events.  Evening is a quiet time to shop and I will have more time to dedicate to you.  In addition, you get to take advantage of the special sales that will only happen during that time.”  You will not get everyone to jump on it, but at least it tries to address concerns that the shoppers may have.  At the very least, they probably will not hang up on you or be rude.

Here is an idea.  Why not ask the shopper about their shopping experience from the past and see what they are actually looking for.  Then you can tailor the conversation to meet their needs.

Unfortunately, the management of this retail store has no idea whether or not these phone calls are working.  Because they do not address the customer needs, the shopper gets annoyed and can be either rude or just hang up.  The sales gals hate the task so much that they fabricate (lie about?) the number of calls made when asked.

It is not that tough to relate to your customers.   It may take a bit of careful ‘noodling’ (brainstorming) to clarify what they need and want, but it is worth it.


Bright Shiny Objects

iPhones, iPads, Google+, QR codes…. so many innovations that look so cool and exciting.  You see the demo and you are amazed at what new technology can do.  There are so many new ‘tools’ out there for us to consider.  How do we decided which are right for our business instead of just following the ‘bright shiny objects’ that are constantly appearing before us?

Some tools are used internally in our business and they help us to be more efficient, to interface with our suppliers or the government, or to gain information that gives us a competitive edge.  Other tools help us to interact with our customers and potential customers.  It seems like more than ever before we have been given a vast array of marketing tools aimed at staying in front of the customer and engaging them.

Before you can decide which marketing tools can help you, it is important to go back to the basics and to clearly know:

Who is my customer?

Not, who are all of my customers, but who is my ideal marketing customer?  If I try to market to everyone, then my message gets confusing and even my best potential customers will miss it.  You want to make sure that the technology that you choose will speak to the ideal client.

Where do I find my customers easily and in large numbers?

Where is my ideal client hanging out?  Facebook, email, Twitter, on their Blackberry or iPhone?  Do they watch TV or listen to the radio?  Do they sign up for teleseminars or webinars?  Will they come to free talks or business expos?  If you know where you can reach them, you will have a better idea of the technology used to communicate with them.

What technology do my customers use?

Now that I know who I want to target and where I can find them, the scope of technology choices becomes smaller.  If my target audience is young mothers, there is a pretty good bet that they are not hanging out on email.  They probably have a smart phone so an appropriate ‘app’ makes more sense.

If your target client is the over 60 crowd you may lose a lot of them if you are counting on them to have a smart phone (and know how to use it).  If you only want the over 60’s that have smart phones, then go for it and target that niche.

What would make me more responsive to my customer’s needs?

Do my customers want to sit at their desk and browse an online catalog or do they want to swipe their smart phone over a QR as they walk down the street to see what the special deal is?  It makes no sense to market to them with cutting edge technology if you can not deliver that same technology in the servicing of the customer.  If you market with ‘apps’ don’t make them go to email when they want to place or check an order.

Choosing the best technology to help you to market to your customers becomes simplified if you analyze your market first.  Instead of chasing all of the bright shiny objects that are flashing before us, knowing your ideal marketing client will save you time, money, and confusion.