I have seen more marketing blunders in the last week than I can remember in any 7 day period. It is stunning to me that no thought, no planning, and no strategy was put into trying to get people to spend money. I am not talking about the moldy old standard of a temporary sign at the side of the road and if you haven’t read “Sign Gnomes Are a Nuisance” please know that I hate those signs. Those tacky bits of advertising trash are not what I am talking about. They actually look good compared to the mess that I saw.
When you meet someone and they ask you what you do, do you mention your position in the company or what you sell? That is the difference in how people see you. I am all for selling, but trying to sell to everyone is a very bad idea. Trying to sell to someone you just met is the worst idea you can have.
If you haven’t realized that every part of your business is your advertising, please start thinking that way. I can tell you that great businesses that are billion dollar brands started that way. They may not be operating that way now (Starbucks) but, they started that way and gave meaning to what they were selling. Uniforms, placement of sales items, the layout of the store (online too!) and even the way your employees interact with customers is marketing.
Handwritten signs are for kindergarten!
How many handwritten signs look good? None. Stop doing that. I don’t care that you need customers and don’t have a budget for marketing. The neon green poster board with the black Sharpie is NOT the way to go. Put down the school project and walk away. No budget to get the word out means that you need to be creative. Pick up the phone and call a business that you can bring samples to. Don’t sell to them. Just be friendly. You will get more customers than that ugly sign would bring in and loyal customers too.
Jeans Friday is for offices
If I go to a store and I can’t tell if you work there or just got off a construction job, you are sending the wrong marketing message.It takes more than a name tag to make someone stand out as an expert in what you are selling.
I like to dress well. Even dressed down, I like to look good. One time when I was in Macy’s, I was mistaken for an employee and also fired by the store manager. A customer came up to me and asked me if I had a dress in a certain size. I said no. That dress would look horrible on me. She called me rude and yelled for a manager. I went on with my shopping and left her. Soon, I was approached by a man and that same crazy lady. She looked pissed and he was snarling at me. He asked if I had helped her and I honestly said no. She wanted me fired and he did just that. When I tried to tell him that I didn’t work there, he asked me to leave. I was in the process of buying a bunch (I hate shopping and I like to do it once and get it over with). His loss and my great story. If he couldn’t tell if I was an employee, then there is a BIG problem with what they think marketing is at Macy’s and anywhere else that allows employees to look like customers.
If I can’t find it, I can’t buy it
I mentioned Starbucks earlier. They use to plan their counter space as a marketing place and it worked. Customers waiting for a half-caff soy latte could add to the sale with the purchase of a CD. Now, I can’t tell if something is for sale, a sample, or just thrown there by the manager as an extension of her desk. How many places including convenience stores have so much jammed into a small space that you can’t find what you want, know what you are looking at, or are scared to touch it because you think it will make your hands sticky? If it is worth selling, it is worth selling well. Just because you have a flat space doesn’t mean you should cover it with more merchandise. Give customers a chance to breathe!
If I can’t get to it I can’t buy it
Just like cluttered counters, the worst thing you can do is make it tough for customers to get around your store to look at the merchandise. Macy’s is one of the worst. OK, I admit it, they are not alone. Go to any mall and you will see what I am talking about. How is this legal? Isn’t there a law about allowing space for wheelchairs to get through?? Target kicks Macy’s butt when it comes to being able to get what you want to buy. No, they don’t have all the designer styles, but I don’t have to put on my waders to tread through racks of clothes to find my size. Speaking of size, since the population is getting bigger, how on earth are they getting through narrow spaces to get anything? Take out a third of the racks and add more mirrors and chairs. The mirrors will help customers “see” themselves in the clothes. The chairs are for the poor husbands and boyfriends who get stuck waiting on wives and girlfriends. A nice shopping experience should be had by all.
There is more I can write about bad marketing and I am sure I will, but just start with these items and start building a brand…please! It isn’t one thing that makes a business fail. It is usually a slow slide to poor a message sent to customers that makes customers flee. Be a Bulldog and give you business some bite!