The Essence of Your Business

Experience facilitates sales. 

If you’re going to have a brick and mortar in a time of online shopping, it’s time to modify the way business has traditionally been done and evolve to meet the needs.

What’s the character of your business? I’m talking, you walk in the door-what do you feel? What’s the vibe? If you don’t know, and I mean know exactly, then you need to go back to square one. 

Square one.

The vibe. Now think about it, online sales are BOOMING. The future of retail is online. No need to get dressed, get in the car, fight crowds, stand in line. Nope. Now people can order whatever they want, whenever they want from the comfort of their own home. In fact, thanks to loads of data being utilized, websites now save your personal information so making a purchasing is literally as easy as clicking a button. No fuss. Who can compete with that? You can’t. 

So now what?

You differentiate.

People love the path of least resistance so eCommerce is perfect for impulse shopping and streamlining the process. However, people also love a good experience. Think social.

Social media is practically a necessity now. Facebook has become its own Google. We jump on this platform to search for products, people, businesses, and even the latest news. Social media has the power to influence consumers. Social media in itself is now in the eCommerce category because you can buy products and services but social media also displays what’s cool and happening cause, ya know-it’s social.

If your business is cool and happening, I’m sure it’s on a social media platform generating a buzz.

If you want to get people in your door and make the most out of the overhead you are paying for-you need that buzz. The experience is key. People may not visit your brick and mortar to purchase a specific product or service, but they will visit to see what’s new, experience what the buzz is about, and socialize.

You have to create an atmosphere that aligns with your brand. 

Think about how your space makes people feel. Do they feel cool? calm? excited? hungry?

What’s going on?

Lighting? Music? Smell? Temperature? Paint color? Is there seating to hang out? No seating so people keep moving along? Employees on the floor to answer questions? Self-service? Signage?

Your brand begins when people have a need. What’s the first thing consumers do when a need arises? More than likely they turn to Google or a friend for a suggestion.

Example: I need new tires. Google: Tires in Fayetteville, North Carolina. Several options pop up. Or, ask a friend, where should I get new tires? Friend more than likely has a suggestion they’ve used before and a personal testimony of why. Now, what makes the consumer follow through with that choice?

Typically, it comes down to:

  • Convenience
  • Experience

If it’s local, fulfills a need, the location and contact information are easy to find, pricing is easy to understand and reasonable, etc. The consumer will feel it’s a convenient option.

Experience comes with brand recognition. Even if the consumer hasn’t been to this place before, if they’ve seen the brand around and recognize it-they are more likely to choose it because they feel that its familiar and legitimate.

Now that the consumer has made a choice, your brand continues on through the product or service you offer. This includes what their EXPERIENCE is like when they walk through the door, what the employee is like that they interact with (and how they represent the business), the actual product or service itself, and even how the transaction is wrapped up (receipt, packaging, follow up). So when the consumer leaves your business, their experience encompasses your brand-from the time they considered you to after you hand them the receipt and even follow up with them to make sure they were satisfied.

Speaking of follow up, following up a sale with a question is a great way to remain relevant in a customer’s mind. Consider a question or conversation starter that’s relevant to what you’re offering. Example: I just got new tires-they may ask me, “Are you in need of an oil change soon?” and add on “If so, we’ve attached a coupon for you when you’re ready.” This follow up question and offer planted a seed in my mind so that when the need arises, I’ll think of them again and I may not turn to Google because I already have that experience in mind.

Repeat customers are crucial. Not just for profits sake but for expanding your customer base. If you have a repeat customer, they are more than likely spreading the word to their friends and family. Word of mouth is so important. After all, think about platforms like Facebook and Instagram…if you consider it, all of the information being spread on social media is word of mouth. “I like your shirt where did you get it?” “Looking for a good place to eat, any suggestions?” “I need new tires, where should I go?” …there are ample opportunities for businesses to receive marketing via word of mouth for free on these platforms.

Nowadays, everything is documented in the form of photos, videos, and status updates. Ensuring your customers are having a great experience interacting with your business is crucial.

As business owners, you train your customers to associate your brand with a certain feeling or idea. 

For example, Target. Now, the symbol of a Target has absolutely nothing to do with wicker storage baskets, DVDs, baby clothes, and trendy furniture. However, Target has trained the public to associate that symbol with retail. So now, when I see that red Target logo, I think of a one-stop shop for trendy, affordable items rather than something to aim at.

Target maintains a whimsical approach. Their ads are fun, family friendly, and they focus on solving everyday problems with products which shows convenience. They also utilize color as a way of brand recognition. If I see a red shopping cart I just flat out assume I’ve landed at Target. I know I’m not alone in that. 

Target has trained me to think positively about their brand. I’ve never had a bad experience at Target. They always accept anything I want to return and hand me my cash back. They just make my life easier. Target gets me. That right there is how they get you-the experience. Could I buy any of the things I buy at Target online? Yes. Do I want to avoid the physical location of Target? No. Why? Because I have fun at Target. They’ve created an environment where I’m not embarrassed if my kids have a tantrum, everything I need is there, and I’m entertained by their turnover of products. None of these factors is on accident, I can assure you of that.

So training your customers to associate your brand with a certain feeling or concept is important. You don’t want them to think “long lines” or “bad quality” when they see your logo. You want them to associate their GOOD experience with your logo, color scheme, and business name. People should be happy to go to your actual location. Think about what gets people in the door. What would get you in the door? 

I have much more to say on this topic but I’ll save my book for another time!  I could honestly talk ALL day about customer experience, branding, marketing, etc. I love watching the retail world evolve. It’s pretty awesome.

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