After the Honeymoon

By Mark Riffey

Recently, I stopped into a niche retail business for the very first time.

They’ve done a nice job with it. Hasn’t been open long, so some of the obvious things I’d suggest to make the place a real customer magnet weren’t in place yet.

I think they’ll get there over time.

What worries me most about my visit is that they did nothing to see that I’d return…

  • I wasn’t asked how I’d be using their product – and it’s a natural question in this store, not a nosy one.
  • I wasn’t offered additional information to take home that showed the other items they make.
  • I wasn’t asked to check out their Facebook page, which will someday be full of ways to use their product.
  • There was nothing telling me that other businesses in town use their product, so I could enjoy it there too.
  • There was nothing that included their website address – including the receipt or the product label.
  • I wasn’t asked if I’d like to be notified when they make special stuff.
  • I wasn’t asked to let them know how I liked their stuff by going to their site or Facebook page (which also doesn’t encourage this) or going old school by filling out a self-addressed postcard or picking up the phone.
  • I wasn’t given a coupon or “send-a-friend” promotion so that I could tell my friends about them if I liked their stuff (that’s also what the Facebook Like button is for).

Doing ALL these might be pushy. Doing NONE is a big mistake.

You may even think I’m being hard on them, but I’m nowhere near as hard on them as the market can be.

No Second Chances
People like Michael Vick and Martha Stewart get second chances.

New businesses rarely have that luxury.

During your business honeymoon, people will…

  • Visit your store even if they don’t need what you sell.
  • Tell their friends that they visited, even when they might not normally do so.
  • Click “Like” in Facebook just to give you a little push, when they might not ever use that button.
  • Cut you some slack for mistakes like untrained staff and other stuff that happens when you’re still trying to get all the kinks out.

When you operate a niche business, not everyone is going to decide to be your customer.

Yes…they decide.

When you serve a niche that satisfies peoples’ wants, they decide to become your customers, as if raising their hands and saying “me, me, me!”

Make the honeymoon last forever
It’s difficult to go out and find 100 new customers tomorrow when revenues are tight.

It’s a lot easier (and smarter) to earn just one new customer a week and do whatever it takes to keep them.

Think about it:

  • You love whatever you do so much that you quit your job to do it. That’s great.
  • You spent most of what’s left of your liquid retirement money to fund the business.
  • It cost more than you thought it would to get going, so you borrowed from your in-laws, your family and anyone else who would help.

After doing all that, please don’t tell me you’re going to ignore the very people who said “me,me,me” by letting them walk out the door as if they were in WalMart.

You probably didn’t like that job anyway, so please do these things so you don’t have to go back.

Want to learn more about Mark or ask him to write about a business, operations or marketing problem? See Mark’s site or contact him via email at mriffey at flatheadbeacon.com.