Thursday, March 20, 2008

Tip from the Archives...

I'm in a Cabin near Mammoth Cave Kentucky on vacation this week.

Lots of marketing lessons learned here. More on that in future tips.

In the meantime, here's a brushed up tip from the archives about a previous vacation:


My family just got back from a weeklong vacation in the middle of nowhere.

Actually, our cottage was in the middle of a lot of things. But we were surrounded by thousands of acres of nothing, but nature -- the Kickapoo Wilderness Reserve in Southwestern Wisconsin.

I'm now well-rested and a little more educated for my adventure.

One of the things I discovered about the smaller towns and cities around us was that they do marketing a little differently. I'll call it "nonmarketing".

For instance, we visited Wilton, Wisconsin, the heart of the famous Elroy-Sparta trail, the first rails to trails path in the U.S. It was "Wood Tick Days" in town, so we stopped at a shop called Almosta Store. (Funny name, funny owner)

The shop was having a "My Wife's Away Sale". The shop owner encouraged us to grab anything we like and he'd give us a deal on it -- as long as his wife didn't get back first. Then he just chatted with us about nothing in particular. He didn't try to sell us anything. He even had a table with free stuff on it he was giving away. Without the typical hype and pressure, shopping was more fun. We didn't feel we needed to keep our defenses up.

His wife appeared after a few moments, but he promised to honor any prices he had given us. We picked up a Father-Son set of "BITE ME - Wilton Wood Tick Days" T-Shirts and left smiling.

I don't often feel the same way shopping at corporate-owned chains here in Chicago.

Why? We trained salespeople to ask for the sale. In fact we've taught them to almost pester the customer demanding the sale. It puts a customer's defenses up and increases resistance.

The same is true for the advertising techniques that scream at us with loud colors, busy designs and "act now" offers.

Good advertising doesn't push you, it nudges you. Sometimes it just moves you with a laugh or a tear. It's as real and sincere as your best salesman.

So the next time you're in Wilton, Wisconsin (pop. 574) stop in the Almosta Store for a lesson in marketing and walk across the street to Gina's Pies Are Square for some good food and a lesson in merchandising. But I'll try to cover that some other time