By Terry L. Brock
Dateline: Oslo, Norway I’m in this splendid Scandinavian country having completed a few speeches the other day for clients. As I type this I’m getting ready to head out the door for a flight to London Heathrow and more presentations in England.
But something happened to me last night that I want to tell you about. It has probably happened to you as well somewhere along the way. It also has a great lesson for you and me in our businesses. But, I’m getting ahead of myself….
Yesterday I arrived in Oslo after speaking earlier in the week for a client on a cruise ship here. We took busses and taxis through the beautiful Norwegian countryside with lakes, rivers, mountains and gorgeous terrain to finally arrive back in Oslo. Once here, I got a lot accomplished on my Net connections making phone calls with Skype (great service!) and catching up on e-mail.
When it was time for dinner I wanted to head out to get a yummy Norwegian dinner like I had experienced before. I have to tell you that when I’m in a different country, I like to “go native” as much as possible. I like to eat the native food, drink the native drinks, speak as much of their language as I can, etc. So, when I went to the hotel desk and asked about Norwegian restaurants (I’m in the heart of Oslo), they assured me that I would find them.
This was the first mistake. A marketing-oriented Norwegian restaurant could have provided them with a “Special of the Week” for visiting tourists. This could have been a free Norwegian dessert with every meal. It could have been a discount on a special Norwegian meal. It could have been a vast number of things (“Extra troll with your meal”) but nothing was offered. Instead I was just directed to roam the streets.
How often do we miss the opportunity to increase sales simply because someone in our target market just didn’t know about us? How often do we miss a sale and not know about it? If some restaurant, almost any restaurant, had provided my hotel with coupons or specials or some extra motivating reason to try them, I would have gladly considered it and probably would have eaten my dinner there. Those restaurants within walking distance (there are plenty) could have worked out an arrangement with the hotel whereby every guest that purchases a meal means a free discount, meal, etc. for hotel staff. That way they have built their own “affiliate” program (to borrow a term from the Internet Marketing World) and had people working to promote them.
Now don’t get me wrong---there was nothing to complain about with the hotel. The Hotel Bristol where I am staying as I type this is a nice place and the staff exhibited that wonderfully cheerful Norwegian hospitality. I feel right at home. However, anticipating probable guest requests is a big part of hotel success. Anticipating your customers’ probable requests can help you capture those lost sales opportunities.
Sit down with your key people and think about the entire experience that a customer has with you. What is the process from encounter to pleasant closing? Where are the possible areas where you could provide something of value to them and generate further sales for yourself? Who are other associated businesses that could benefit from helping to make your customer happy? How could you partner with them for this joint venture so that both of you benefit and your customer is happier and more loyal? This is hard work to think it through, but it can be well worth it in the long run.
Well, I headed out into the night to enjoy the city of Oslo. I soon discovered that this Florida boy wasn’t ready for the chilling wind and cold of Oslo. Brrr! This is not Orlando! Yet, I loved the excitement of the city and all the new surroundings. I was really looking for a good, authentic Norwegian restaurant.
Most of the restaurants had wording in Norwegian (imagine that---Norwegian wording in Oslo! What a concept!) so I didn’t know what they were touting. I didn’t know the difference between one and another. Your customers go through a similar confusion when purchasing from you. They don’t know your industry. They don’t know the pitfalls. They don’t know what to look for. This is where you come in.
Education of the customer is critical. Someone needs to hold the customer by the hand and educate them why your business is better and why your products or services offer a decisive advantage over the others. This needs to be presented in a fun, entertaining and highly informative way. Most of all it has to be presented in a way that the customer finds pleasing and appealing.
So, Terry trudged on getting colder by the minute. I found myself jumping from time to time into music stores just to warm up a bit and see what selections they had. They had songs and movies much like stores I’ve seen in the States. And here is another missed sales opportunity. Not one store offered me anything related to the restaurants that were on the same block. They could have had a joint venture (“Buy this CD and get a discount at the restaurant next door.”) that compelled me to purchase from one of the many fine restaurants.
As I got hungrier and colder my dream of having a great Norwegian meal was being replaced by that gnawing hunger pang and increased the increased cold of the Arctic wind blowing.
Then I saw it. A little restaurant called “Oishi Sushi” came into view. If you know me, you know I love Japan, almost anything Japanese and particularly sushi! And I know that the Japanese word “Oishi” means delicious or tasty. Now remember, I’m the one that wants to have native food and drink when visiting another country. But the clever combination of a Japanese word that I knew (I knew the “secret meaning” of the restaurant) and a food that I love (sushi) added to the growing hunger pains and increased Scandinavian cold compelled me to head into a Japanese sushi restaurant in Oslo. And yes, the meal was quite tasty and satisfying. It was "Oishi!"
Don’t miss sales opportunities. Think of the experience that your customers typical go through. What are the confusions they have? What joint ventures are available to you to help them in unique, creative ways? Always think of new ways to please your customers and make them ecstatically happy! Then they won’t end up having “Sushi in Oslo” when it could have been real, authentic Norwegian food!
Terry Brock is a marketing coach who helps business owners market more effectively leveraging technology. He shows busy professionals how to squeeze more out of their busy days using the right rules and tools. He can be reached at 407-363-0505, by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or through his website at www.terrybrock.com.
Copyright © 2005, Terry Brock, All Rights Reserved Internationally. No portion may be reprinted or used in any way without prior written permission. Permission granted to Biz Journals to use in regular publication.