Marketing 101: Horse, then cart, not the other way around

marketingI’m working with a client this week on a new fall marketing campaign, and in the course of our strategizing on what we need to do to get more customers in the doors, I find myself talking about things that have less to do with marketing than they do the core of how that particular business does business.

To wit:

  • Once a customer walks through the door, for instance, what do we do to make them want to stay and look around? If a new person attracted by our awesome marketing campaign to come in to see what we have to offer is confronted by empty shelves and less-than-helpful employees, we’ve wasted the dollars that we spent reaching out to them, because they’re not coming back.
  • What is our retention strategy? Even if a new customer has a pleasant experience the first time, we need to remind them during that first visit that we’d like them to come back. Sometimes that means simply saying to them at the cash register, Thanks, and please come back. For service-based businesses, we can enhance our ability to retain a new customer by gauging with the customer in an appropriate way for the business as to how we did at our first touch with them. If they’re happy, great news, we hope to be able to continue keeping you happy; and if not, then we can get a sense of what we might need to do to make the next experience positive for all involved, if they are willing to give us another try.
  • Do you know what you’re talking about? I can buy anything I need practically anywhere, in person or online. Service delivery also brings with it many options. Why do I go to your store, hire your service? In addition to location, appearance and friendliness, you need to make me feel like you’re at the least very knowledgeable about what you’re selling, product or service, and it would help if you’re as close to being expert-level. It’s not enough to simply be knowledgeable or expert-level; you have to be able to project your knowledge and expertise.

What does any of that – expertise, retention strategies, presentation – have to do with your marketing? It does you no good to spend thousands of dollars on a new website, TV and radio commercials, newspaper ads, Facebook and Google ad campaigns and other marketing materials and approaches if you’re attracting one-off customers.

Bottom line: the most clever of clever campaigns from the maddest of marketing mad men can’t paper over deficiencies that may be existing in your current operations. The horse, in other words, needs to go before the cart, or you’re throwing your marketing dollars away.

Chris Graham is the editor of Augusta Free Press and the president of Augusta Free Press LLC, a full-service website design, graphic design, video and audio production, search engine optimization, and advertising and marketing solutions firm based in Waynesboro, Va. More online at AFPBusiness.com


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