How To Do Great Marketing And Lose Clients

By Angelika Ilina

You could have a great location for your business. You could have a wide selection of quality products at reasonable prices. You could use effective direct response marketing tactics in your advertising campaigns. You could drive loads of prospective clients to your business as a result of your advertising. And you can ensure that they don’t return.

On a recent weekend I was hosting a dinner party for my family. I went to Whole Foods in Boulder to buy groceries, and decided to purchase wine at the Ace Wine & Spirits store next door. I have my other favorite liquor stores in Boulder, but Ace recently relocated to a nice 8,800 square feet space right next to one of the busiest grocery stores in Boulder. So, the new location is great for their business.

The roomier space allowed Ace to triple its wine selection, add larger coolers for beer, and create a bar for wine tastings. They even dropped “discount” from their name (formerly Ace Discount Liquor) after deciding to carry higher-end and organic wines, but still kept their prices competitive. So, they’ve got a large selection of great products at reasonable prices.

And they’ve been doing a good job of advertising their new location, their tasting hours, their expanding selection of wine and spirits, and their coupons. So, lured by their advertising and the convenience of their location, I went to buy a couple of bottles of wine.

I went to a clerk who was reading a magazine to ask what kind of wine he would recommend for my dish. He looked up with utter boredom on his face and said, “I have NO clue”! Shocked, I tried to make a joke, and then he said, “I don’t drink.” To which I replied sarcastically, “You work at a liquor store and you don’t drink?!” To which he replied, “It’s just a job.”

The second clerk overheard our conversation and was barely more helpful. He said sheepishly, “I think a lighter wine, like Pinot Noir.” But he didn’t point me to the Pinot Noir section nor showed me any specific bottles. Unbelievable! I suppose I expect clerks not to be reading magazines when customers are in the store. I expect them to be eager to help and to impress me with their knowledge of wines generally, and food & wine pairings specifically. I expect outstanding customer service.

But more importantly, I expect them to try to upsell something; oh, I don’t know, ask me about the occasion for the dinner and perhaps recommend a dessert wine or an aperitif. Needless to say, no one was interested in having me walk away satisfied and come back for more. And this is at a time when retail stores are complaining about dwindling profits, or worse, closing!

Which brings us to the point that you can generate quality leads only to lose them due to inadequate business processes and wrong people within the company. Like having employees who don’t care. Or sales people that can’t sell. Or owners who hesitate to spend money on employee training. In the end, the advertising campaign that lured me into the store was a waste of marketing dollars, as far as I’m concerned, because I’ll be shopping somewhere else.

The good news is, there are boundless opportunities during these tough economic times for “on-the-ball” companies who provide exceptional service to gain market share. There will be fewer competitors. And more potential quality employees to choose from. The cream will rise to the top.


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