The other day I went in search of a thirtieth anniversary gift for my lovely wife.
The gift buying journey was an interesting exercise on how marketing hasn’t changed a lot over 30 years and it highlighted how many businesses are still wasting opportunities and pissing off prospective customers.
The two key steps in the process have remained unchanged:
30 years ago we would conduct our research by watching ads on TV, looking at printed catalogues, checking out ads in magazines and newspapers and we would even get on the phone to our mates to help fine tune our thinking.
Today we still use all the same research tools however we have a few extra to help us broaden our thinking. The internet and social media have sped up the process and given us easy access to a wider pool of options.
- Compare Value
30 years ago we would compare prices by getting in the phone then armed with a short list we would go into a store to compare quality and make the final decision. This is where the in-store customer service people would actually help you make the final decision.
Fast forward to today; we may still use the phone for pricing but may also rely on the stores website. While I buy many things online there are times I like to get a first-hand look and feel of the goods (especially gifts for my wife) before I hand over my hard-earned money.
Warning Rant Coming
My experience with this gift buying journey highlighted to me two key reasons why many retailers are struggling…and it’s not competition from the Internet
- Street Numbering
Retailers spend lots of money on advertising to get people into stores, trouble is many don’t even have the wits about them to have their street number on their shop front. I went looking for a retail outlet in Collins Street, Melbourne and there was not one shop in their block that had a street number on display.
Next time you’re out shopping check it out for yourself. Everywhere you go there are retailers who aren’t smart enough to make it easy for their customers to find them (not to mention the postie and emergency services).
- Customer Service
Many retailers may have staff with a Customer Service title but that’s where it ends.
Go into Myer or David Jones and try to get some decision-making help and watch the staff scurry off to hide behind the cash registers ready to take your money while hoping you don’t ask for help. No wonder these retailers are finding it tough in the market.
Some retailers have it worked out. Check out the likes of Apple and Uniqlo to see how a great customer experience can open wallets. Both these brands prove that the Internet can add value to customer relationships and drive traffic into stores.
Is Your Number Up?
When it comes to marketing and sales there is one thing that hasn’t changed over the past 30 years. Focus on getting the basics right and the risk of “your number coming up” reduces dramatically. In this case, make it easy for your customers to find you and look after them when they get there.
Ian Bosler is the founder of Intertype which provides a suite of integrated online and offline communications tools that are configured to help you stand out and get noticed.
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