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.

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