Teaching your customers
Doing more than just selling products or services
Experience shows the more an individual understands about the sport, the more they will participate. It is true for spectator sports as well as participation sports. It is true for hobbies and anything else where a person can spend their discretionary income.
This says the gateway to our customers spending more time enjoying archery, fishing and shooting, and their spending more money in our stores, can be found by our helping them to understand more about each of the sports in which we sell products.
The decision to teach our customers may be the easy one; the decision of how to teach requires more time. And the answer is, because of the wide variance in the age of our customers, we should choose multiple methods of teaching. Let’s divide the teaching opportunities into two categories; those which occur live, whether in the store or on location, and those which are print or online.
With the live teaching opportunity, you need someone your customers will consider to be an expert. This could be someone who works in your store. A representative from a manufacturer or wholesaler is always seen as an expert as they fulfill that description of, “someone from more than 50 miles away”.
The only word of caution comes from the 1964 Rock Hudson movie, “Man’s Favorite Sport”, in which he is a famous columnist and author on fishing, but does not actually know how to fish.
Another source of finding an expert is those individuals within your community who truly are experts at their sport. Bring them to your store, put them in a shirt and baseball cap with the name of your store on them, and you have an in-house expert. While many of these individuals like the glamorization of being the recognized expert, you can often avail your business of their skills by discounting prices on merchandise to them as well as making sure they are the first to get any new products.
Partnering with your wholesaler to take care of your local expert means your business is in position to get some great endorsements. If you can get the local media to quote your expert in any of their articles about the sport, you are going to find your business being the beneficiary of some great free press.
Having these educational opportunities in your store is a given, but you can also hold these on location. However, when having the school on location, you should find a way to take advantage of the opportunity to sell right then by having product with you while the customer is most anxious to buy. Handing them a flyer on what they can buy when they come back to the store can greatly decrease the return on investment.
Your portable store can be as simple as some folding tables and merchandise loaded into a trailer that you take to the location. With credit card processing as simple as an attachment to your cell phone, you have the opportunity to take your store anywhere.
The second opportunity for teaching is that of what you do outside of this live teaching. Working with the local media to be their outdoor expert, whether it be television, radio, newspaper or magazine, means that every time the information you share is seen in the media, your business is going to be recognized as the “go-to” experts.
And while we all know that our customers are far more educated today in our products than they were twenty years ago because of the Internet, this statement begs the question, “Are they seeing the information on your website?”
The wonderful aspect of the Internet is that it levels the playing field; to your customer the message from you can be as easily accessible as the message from Bass Pro Shops.
Of course, someone will say their message, (think YouTube videos or a blog) won’t be as professional as theirs, and therein lies your advantage. The winner in the customer’s mind is the message that is most memorable. This means you can be funny, corny, and even silly. As examples, look at the YouTube videos under the heading, “Will it Blend?”
It is a man selling $400 blenders; take a look at how many times his 150 plus videos have been seen. Those are memorable videos.
And while he is not selling products in the videos, look at Tim Allen’s Outdoor Man videos. Seeing his show as a real store, it is an individual who is the face of the business who is connecting with his customers.
You should not choose between the live and outside of live teaching; you should do both. Teaching is far more productive than advertisements in the media which are simply item and discounted price messages.
You can’t win with discounted prices, but you can win by connecting with your customers.