The hard part about marketing and advertising...In a previous post explaining the differences between marketing and advertising, we cleared up some of the confusion that gets business owners mixed up about what those words mean. Now we move on to part 2 and discuss what we mean when we want to distance marketing and advertising from selling. Selling is when money is given to your business by a consumer and, in exchange, you provide them with a product or service. It sounds simple enough, but it's actually the hardest task a business must face when it comes to having long-term success as a company.
What is selling and why is it hard?
Selling is everything else that happens after marketing and advertising have had their effect on your customer. And we mean everything. From the way your employees answer the phone, to what point of sale system your business uses, even the layout of your store. Whether online or in a brick-and-mortar retail store, your customers are immediately and irreparably forming an opinion about your marketing and advertising. M&A got them there and if your company doesn't deliver on a perceived promise that you made to them, they are gone; oftentimes for good!
There are a thousand big and little things that can be done to increase selling. The buying process has to be smooth, seamless, and able to work forwards and backwards. Every duck must be in its row and the customer needs to walk away with a big smile on their face. This is where an outside professional can do a lot of good for a business owner. See, business owners are pretty good at figuring out a decent marketing and advertising strategy. And it's not too hard or expensive to find someone who can give you some pointers if M&A is not your cup of tea.
But business owners are notoriously bad at spotting the selling mistakes. The little (and usually), simple things that eat away at the customer experience. A tell-tale sign of this is a business that has good sales, but very low repeat customers. The repeat customer is the easiest one to reel in. Since there are a lot of things that can be included under selling, it's too much to post in one article. But to give you an idea of what we are talking about, here are a few real-life stories about how businesses were able to out-sell their competitors:
- A hotel that makes it a point to clean the snow off of every single car in the parking lot no matter how much it snowed. Imagine the guests getting in their cars and passing by the cars at other hotels that had not gotten the same treatment.
- Making sure that all of the pens(or pencils) used at your establishment have ink (or are sharpened), work, and look the same.
- Make sure somebody (anybody) greets every person with a smile within seconds. We see so many customers at so many businesses left alone to their own devices so long it makes us sick!
- A restaurant that gives diners water, tea, or soda while they wait for a busy bartender to play catch-up
- A website owner that directs a user from an online ad directly to the relative product page. Unless you have a one-page website, your ad should NEVER go to your home page.
These are simple, low-cost things that other businesses have done to increase the sales experience. As stated earlier, there is too much involved in selling to cover here. We will touch on more detailed topics in the future. But we recommend you find someone who can, as an outsider, evaluate the customer experience. Most businesses are lacking in this area and it is something that business owners rarely have a pulse on. The most successful business owners we know are the ones that will readily admit they don't know everything about their business and are always trying to get feedback from others. We are all biased when it comes to our own management skills and the way we look at our companies...all of us are!