Thursday, July 21, 2011

How Not Feeding the Seagulls Can Increase Sales

On a recent trip to Panama City Beach in Florida I saw this sign, "Please...Don't Feed The Seagulls." It was posted near our restaurant table where we had a beautiful ocean view.

Guess what this sign made me think about? Yep- feeding the seagulls. I probably wouldn't have thought about throwing food out to the birds, but seeing the sign all of a sudden gave me the idea of feeding them!

And come to find out, I'm probably not the only one.

In his book, Buyology: Truth and Lies About Why We Buy, Martin Lindstrom introduces the concept of neuromarketing. Using brain scans scientists monitor brain responses to certain products and ads. In an extensive 3 year study he researched the effects of cigarette warning labels and anti-smoking ads on smokers' behavior. While smokers claimed that warning labels were effective in curbing their smoking habits, it was discovered that anti-smoking ads stimulated an area of the smokers' brains called the nucleus accumbens, also known as the "craving spot." In other words, cigarette warning labels didn't deter smoking. Instead the labels actually increased a smoker's physical craving to smoke and encouraged them to light up.

As a business trying to jazz up your sales Lindstrom's study tells me this:
  • What customers say they want isn't always what they really want.

  • A suggestion you make to a customer can have the opposite effect of what you intended.

  • Your customer may not truly know why he/she bought from you.

  • Focus groups and customer surveys may be a waste of time (gasp!)

Be mindful of what you are selling. Your customers do have choices - they can buy from you or someone else. However, it's up to you to decide what your services include and what your product offerings are. Allowing your customers to totally dictate how your product works or service is delivered can actually decrease your sales.

Saturday, July 09, 2011

What Shopping Malls Won't Tell You

I enjoyed being interviewed by Jonnelle Marte about my recent mall shopping experience a few weeks ago. The article is called 10 Things Shopping Malls Won't Tell You and was published in SmartMoney.

After reading her article it's hard to figure out what a shopping mall can do to generate more traffic. I've found that many times retail employees don't know much about the products in the store and sometimes don't really care to help me. So it's better for me to do my research online about what I'm buying and then take the next easiest step and just buy what I need online.

But I do feel nostalgic for the shopping malls of the 80's. It was fun to get dressed up with my girlfriends and go hang out for the day or take a mother/daughter trip to a mall a little out of the way.

My first job was at a retail store in the mall. I worked there all through high school and one summer during college. The mall was always busy and I took my job seriously. It was tiring being on your feet all day, dealing with customers of all types, having a boss that was burned out and then getting up the next day and doing the exact same thing. Seems like that may be how malls feel now - tired and worn out.

Thursday, July 07, 2011

What Tennis and Sales Have in Common

Last week I had the wonderful opportunity of attending the Wimbledon Tennis Championships in London, England. While on a family vacation we had a free day and decided to take the Tube (our version of the subway) to the tennis grounds just to walk around. Much to our surprise we were able to see players warming up and were able to watch a few junior matches and women's matches. Here's a picture of Andy Murray warming up that I snapped (just to prove I was really there!).

What impressed me the most was the intense focus the players had on what they were doing.
-- Making a sale takes focus and keeping your eye on the ball.

The players made every shot their best shot possible.
-- Making a sale requires knowing your product & what you have to offer so that every customer conversation helps to advance your position.

You can have all the tools to be a good tennis player (shoes, racquet, etc.) plus skill and athletic ability but no player can predict where each ball hit will go.
-- Making a sale requires preparing for the unexpected.

Players study their opponents strengths and weaknesses.
-- Making a sale is dependent on you knowing what you have to offer versus your competition.

If a player breaks the rules or is unsportsmanlike he loses the point.
-- Making a sale has unwritten rules of integrity and honesty. Break this rule and you'll pay the price in the form of unhappy customers, a bad public image and lost business.