Death by Marketing

Death by Marketing

By Sid Raisch

An Italian proverb reads, “He that deceives me once, it's his fault, but if twice, it’s my fault.” The question from this is, are you dangerously close to death by marketing?

The fastest way to put a bad business out of business is to advertise it to bring customers to see why they wouldn’t go back. The definition of a “bad business”, as defined by its former customers may not align with that of the owners, employees, and remaining customers. Expectations are at an all-time high and defining what a “good business” really is has become a moving target – and it’s completely in the eyes of the beholder.

If you’re spending money in hopes that new people will come and do business with you – don’t – until you’re sure they’ll WANT to come back. The pull of even the best of marketing won’t easily undo even one negative experience, or perception.

Chances are your place isn’t so bad. Or is it?  Getting people to show up the first time is relatively easy. Getting a past customer to return is much harder, even if they had no complaints. Is your place so remarkable that someone would go out of their way to return?

Let’s Get Real - What do your numbers show?

Is transaction count increasing? If your transaction count is increasing, will you sustain the growth? Is it growing because you’re getting more new customers than you’re losing on the other end? Is growth occurring because you are retaining more of your customers? Are the retained customers returning more frequently?  Unless I’ve spurred you on to know these details, I bet you can’t answer all but the first question, yet the others are so important.

I’m not going to waste your time this time of year, so please, just take this seriously – as in ACTUALLY DO these next five things. If you wait, you’ll waste another Spring where you could have made a difference, or at least measured that you didn’t.

Look Here First:

The place to start looking is where the vast majority of consumers begin – at their fingertips. Your website is now your front window. It’s your curb appeal before the consumer even gets in their car. They’ll abandon your website in a New York City minute – that’s fast! Next! We all move our fingertips rapidly in search of “what’s next” when a website disappoints. And we’re left with no good enough reason to go back there.

Warm up your Google data and see what’s happening on your website. How long do visitors stay on the first page they visit? What other pages do they visit, in order, and how long do they stay on each? How many pages do they visit in total? How long do they spend on your site?

Look at these numbers by the way visitors arrive to your site – did they put your URL directly in their browser window? Were they brought by a search for something on your site? Did they click on a referral link from another website?  Did they click through from your social media post? Is it a mystery why they came?

Look Here Second:

People don’t notice what doesn’t change, and often, they notice what does. Yogi Berra once said, “You can observe a lot by just watching.”  Take a look at your curb appeal. Go out next to the road where customers first see your store. Stand there and take a long look. Do you see any reason for someone who is just driving by and not looking for you to look over there?

Look Here Third:

Take a picture from where you stood and looked, and then look at the picture on a BIG screen. What do you see that you didn’t see just before you took the picture? Is it something good?

Look Here Fourth:

The first front window in an Open Aire store is the approach to the entrance to your store from the parking area. This is often called the “Decompression Zone”. It is where the person slows pace enough to actually see what’s there and take it in for a moment – if you give them space to do so.

Look here Fifth:

Bring the Windex, a razor scraper, and a roll of paper towels with you. Are your front door windows clean? Are there remnants of past association membership stickers? This may not seem all that important, but it is. What people don’t see when they look can be as important as what they do see. A window is supposed to be clean and clear – invisible – so the customer can see what you’re actually doing for them.

You were looking, and didn’t see this:

What we see is often not what really is there. We don’t know how bad, or how good things are - until we look into the numbers. Are customers coming back to the degree that we thought they were? What evidence do we have? The numbers don’t often align with the expectations we have about the return rate of customers. Using the information in the POS system can be of help, if the right data was captured. Do you have a way to find out how many new customers come into your store? Is the new customer count increasing month by month? Looking at the numbers that tell the story about how well your marketing and curb appeal are working is essential.

What percent of customers came back at least once each year? ___%. You don’t know this off the top of your head? Should you? How about we pause right here so you can go to your POS and figure it out? Oh, you didn’t capture data for that? Too bad - if you start now, you’ll be able to measure that next year.

Another Spring is a Terrible Thing to Waste

This world rotates around to Spring only once each year. Spring Fever is a powerful motivator. Add to the pull of Spring Fever even a lackluster invitation and you’re likely to pique the curiosity of people to check out whatever you invite them to come see – unless they have been there and done that and weren’t inspired enough to come again. Get real about building your business.


How can Sid Help?  He can help you with your "customer strategies" as you get ready for spring.

Sid Raisch
Cell: 937.302.0423
[email protected]

Sid Raisch is a leading consultant for small business growth, change, and results throughout the US for over 40 years.  He is a consultant to The Garden Center Group and has helped transform both national and local businesses in horticulture into valuable assets with programs that create change in culture, community and company.

Redefining the business future of retail for consumer horticulture by understanding how the end-to-end supply chain needs to be redirected is a skill that Sid has honed into an art.  Participating in international and national educational sessions provides Sid venues where he has a front row seat to see the creation of innovative business models.

REMEMBER: Your interaction (by phone and email) with Group Service Providers such as Robert Hendrickson, Steve Bailey, Sid Raisch, Jean Seawright, and John Kennedy are included in your retainer!


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