Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Take More Risks with Your Advertising

(Warning: this blog post contains math - lots of math. Proceed at your own risk)

Your traffic comes from three sources...

  • Repeat Customers
  • Referral Customers
  • Ad-Driven Customers

I was asked once to write down the percentage of customers I believe are Repeat Customers. I wrote down 60%. I guessed 25% for Referral Customers. That left only 15% of my traffic being Ad-Driven.

With such a small percentage of our business being driven by our ads, if I want to move the needle through advertising, I have to take some big risks.

Here is the math...

Assuming you have 10,000 customers a year and your percentages are similar to mine you have the following:

  • Repeat Customers = 6,000
  • Referral Customers = 2,500
  • Ad-Driven Customers = 1,500

A 10% increase in effectiveness of your ads would only net you an additional 150 customers, a modest 1.5% increase in your overall traffic.

If you want your advertising to make a difference you can see, you need a 100% increase in the effectiveness of your ads. Anything less and you would be better off spending that money on Customer Service training.

But since you're going to advertise anyway, you might as well climb way out on the limb where the fruit is.

To be effective, your ad campaign needs to drive another 1,500 new customers into your store. 1,500 new people. What can you say that will convince 1,500 people to take an action they haven't yet taken? You have to say something fascinating and interesting. You have to say something emotional and heartfelt. You have to say something memorable.

You have to craft a message so powerful that it moves the needle for 1,500 people. That takes some risk. Are you willing to risk insulting someone who most likely wouldn't be your customer anyway? Are you willing to say something that doesn't sound like anything else in any other ad anywhere? Are you willing to be open and honest about your shortcomings as well as your strengths?

The good news is that the math also works in your favor. If your ad campaign backfires or falls flat, you still have that 85% of Customer Service-driven traffic to keep you afloat. And 1,500 people is a mere pittance in a trade area of 150,000 people. You just need to convince 1% more of the population to shop with you to get 15% growth.

Say something powerful and the math will all work out.

-Phil Wrzesinski

PS You got the math. Here is the science... Download my free eBook Making Your Ads Memorable to learn four techniques that raise the power level of your ads.

Friday, May 16, 2014

Give Them Something to Talk About

Roy H. Williams told you that to get Word-of-Mouth you have to do one of three things...

  • Over-the-top Design
  • Over-the-top Customer Service
  • Over-the-top Generosity

This falls into that first category.

Huge kudos to Kristina Smith, who made all the signs (that's her in the photo). Notice that we positioned this so that when you take a photo of your kid next to it, you get the big Toy House sign in the background.

-Phil Wrzesinski

PS Roy says there are three, but I've discovered two more ways to get customers to talk about your business. Check out my free download Generating Word-of-Mouth.

PPS Yes, this is also a form of Branding. If you remember, two of our Core Values are Fun and Educational. Not only are the signs fun and interesting and whimsical, they also point in the right directions (almost) and they have miles on them.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Self Service is NOT Customer Service

The email read...

Hi Phil,

I noticed you missed our free webinar on Wednesday, How to Make Your Customers Fall in Love With Self-Service. No worries -- I know how busy this time of year can be!

Gee, sorry I missed that. NOT.

Why would I want to make my customers fall in love with self-service? Why would I want to train my customers to love what my competitors are already doing and have far deeper pockets to do it? Why would I want my customers to love NOT interacting with my highly-trained sales staff?

No one has ever gone out and bragged to their friends about how wonderful the self-service is at XYZ store. No one has ever said, "Boy, I can't wait to go back to that store. They have the best self-service."

You cannot create word-of-mouth advertising with self-service. You cannot win customer loyalty with self-service. You cannot grow your business through self-service. At its best, self-service is neutral. At its worst, a deterrent to sales.

So with all that said, if you really want to grow, sink some serious time and money into creating the best Full-Service shop you can. Take it two or three steps above the gum-chewing clerks at Wally-World. Take it to the Nordstrom's and Ritz-Carlton level. Do things that surprise and delight your customers. Go above and beyond their expectations.

Making your customers love Full-Service is a heck of a lot easier, more profitable, and more fun than trying to get them to love self-service.

-Phil Wrzesinski

PS Yes, there are times when self-service is good. But usually only when you're in a big discount store buying cheap commodity goods and don't want to wait for that the-world-sucks-and-I'm-underpaid-too-much-to-care cashier to ring you up. That's not your store, not your market. You don't even want to consider playing in that sandbox.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

The Kind of Reviews You Want Your Customers to Write

Yesterday's blog was an example of what not to do. Today is the kind of review you get when the front line staff knows how to make an experience wonderful...

"We're always impressed with customer service at the Toy House, but yesterday was over the top. Our family was there because our son was picking out a gift for our daughter’s birthday. He asked me about a ride-along horse which I told him was fine, and he raced off, I assumed, to tell my husband. The next thing I knew a Toy House employee was asking me if I was Ruby's mom. I said, yes, and she said that my son was asking if they could wrap the toy for his sister’s birthday. She wanted to know if it was okay, and they would go ahead, remove the tag, and wrap it for him, and we could pay when we were ready to go. I appreciated them taking the time to interact with my son (and tracking me down) instead of just brushing off his desires to get something for his sister. Thanks again, Toy House, for the continued hard work and great customer service!"   -Jen, Dec 2, 2013 (Toy House Facebook Page)

Every customer, no matter how big or small, deserves your utmost attention. When you learn to treat everyone as though they are world's best customer, you will find you have a lot more of the world's best customers in your store.

Your customers will get better when you do.

-Phil Wrzesinski

PS Work with your staff on this idea... How would you treat the next customer if you knew she had a credit card with no limit and eleven siblings? 

Friday, May 9, 2014

Your Front Line Staff is Selling You Short

I got this story from a fellow toy store owner who took her son to a different toy store and gave me permission to share her experience...

"My son had a doctor appointment yesterday that was really hard for him. I told him that we passed a toy store along the way and if he braved it, we would go there afterwards and pick up ANYTHING HE WANTED. Little sister could get a little something too, if she cheered him on and helped make him feel better.

After lots of tears and pain, I took him to the toy store as I promised. The one staff person working was very nice and greeted us. No other shoppers in the store. We had her full attention. I told her why we were there and what I had promised. Anything son wanted and "a little something" for daughter. When little sister kept bouncing a Crocodile Creek small ball, I suggested to her that maybe that could be her little something. The employee kindly interjected that it's $9, basically wanting me to know that it's not cheap. I told her that it was just fine. Then little sister went to a Melissa & Doug watering can and the employee said, "That one is 12.99." The employee kept asking me and my son what we were looking for as well. The thing is we weren't looking for anything. What we wanted was a magical/nice experience after a traumatic hard event, which is a very common reason for people to come to a toy store. I dropped 60 bucks but I really wasn't paying attention to money. I would have spent more but I feel like the employee was trying to save me money. That was nice but not so for the storeowner/business -- and it also did a disservice to me, in terms of the experience I wanted to provide my child."

How often do you think your own front line staff is selling from their own pocket book and making decisions about what a customer may or may not be able to afford?

How often do you think your own front line staff is more interested in getting the transaction over instead of making the trip magical and helping it last forever?

Here are some of the lessons in her own words that my friend is taking away for her own staff...

  1. "Little" means a lot of different things to different customers. When unsure, ask the customer what something little means when they say that.
  2. Customers aren't always "looking for something". Switch gears when they say they are not and LISTEN to why they are there.
  3. Get down to the level of the child when caregiver says "anything they want" and start showing them some cool stuff. Interact with them. You know what I wanted for my traumatized son? I wanted that experience like Julia Roberts got in "Pretty Woman" when Richard Gere brought her to the clothing store. I wanted to be able to remind him about that time he got to go to the toy store after the Doctor visit for the next time we have to do something really hard. 
  4. Join the team. "Hooray you did that brave thing. I'm so happy for you." "Wow did you really conquer that potty?"
Those are some mighty powerful lessons. I know her staff is going to rock it! Thanks, Katherine, for sharing.

-Phil Wrzesinski

PS You need to repeat this over and over and over to your front line people... ALWAYS assume your customer can afford anything she wants, until she tells you otherwise. Show her the Filet Mignon first.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Creating a Shareworthy Customer Service Culture

We all know Customer Service is our calling card. It is our path to success. It is the one thing where we can excel far greater than our competitors and kick their asses to the curb.

But how do you change the culture of your store to make Shareworthy Customer Service an every day event?

Tim Miles has a good starting point over on his blog. Make note of the Shareworthy events when they happen then try to deconstruct and learn from those events.

I want to take it a step further.

What gets measured and rewarded, improves.

Our Customer Service goal is smiley, happy people. Our marketing tag is, "We're here to make you smile!"

At every meeting we start with what I call the Smile Stories - the Shareworthy Customer Service events. By sharing those moments with each other and making a big deal of them, we make a point of reinforcing what is important to the business.

You can even take it a step further and offer fun prizes such as gift cards to local restaurants and gas cards to the staff who has the best story. Not only will you get more stories each month, you'll get a friendly competition of the staff each trying to out-shareworthy the other.

My staff keep notes for their smile stories. Some even keep notes for each other's smile stories and remind each other of stories they may have forgotten. The culture is all about smiles - making them and sharing them.

-Phil Wrzesinski

PS There is another huge benefit to starting your meeting off like that. Sharing your triumphs and victories first puts the staff into a much better frame of mind - less defensive and shutdown, much more open and listening - than the typical public flogging that most managers use to open meetings.

Monday, May 5, 2014

Features and Benefits Don't Close the Sale

If you're in sales, you've been taught Features and Benefits over and over. Show them the Feature and explain the Benefit they get from that feature.

It does this (feature)... so that you get this (benefit)...

Show them the F&B and you'll close the sale... Or not.

Probably not.

As Bob Phibbs, aka The Retail Doc, shows in this video, all F&B does is keep the customer in Analytical mode, gathering data before making a decision. You have to get past that mode if you want to close the sale. You have to get the customer into the frame of mind where she already sees herself as having made the purchase, where she already envisions herself using the product.

Roy H. Williams, aka The Wizard of Ads, teaches us in his book Wizard of Ads that people only do that which they have already seen themselves doing in their own mind. 

Assumptive selling is one way to get the picture into the customer's mind. Real estate agents use this all the time. "You said you like to entertain. Can you picture your friends sitting around the fireplace in this wonderful family room?"

A fellow baby store owner uses it in his sales pitch for convertible cribs. "Most people will buy two extra items to go with their crib - the toddler rail and the conversion kit. You'll need the conversion kit down the road when you create the full size bed. The toddler rail is optional but offers some great peace of mind. Would you like to buy both right now or just the conversion kit?"

You see how they have given the customer a choice? Not a buy/don't buy choice, but a buy-this-or-buy-that because we assume you're going to buy at least one thing. Their close rate on those conversion kits is through the roof.

In both examples you have the customer already envisioning buying and using the product. You've gone beyond analysis and into wonder. The 60-second training is to teach your staff to simply ask, "How do you plan on using this?" Get them envisioning the product in use and you're almost home.

Don't get me wrong. F&B are great. You still need to know them. Chances are, however, in this digital age your customers already know all the F&B before they get to the store. Your real job is to get past the data gathering and into envisioning the product in their possession. Do that and you'll close a lot more sales.

-Phil Wrzesinski

PS Your conversion rate goes up if you have first built a solid rapport and relationship with the customer. I have been working on that with my staff this year. You can read more about it in the post The Sales Process Broken Down.