I was visiting a client who had a specialty retail store in a suburban strip mall. The strip mall had excellent anchor stores and the parking lots were always full, however my client was struggling to get people in her door.
I had been secretly shopping and assessing her store for the past thirty days and I was there to show her what I found. Something stood out to me during the thirty days of observation: her store doormat was impeccably clean every time I was there. I attributed this to either her team was fanatically obsessed with cleaning or the store had a traffic problem. Given the inside conditions, I assumed it was the ladder. The store was clean but not show room ready like the doormat suggested.
A location within a strip mall like this should have no shortage of foot traffic (customers coming in the door). You would think they would at least have people popping in to just look. If this client told me she had a problem increasing transaction count or average transaction value, I would have believed her, but what I was seeing was that there may be another problem at hand.
When I went in to meet with the client, the first thing I asked her was "You have a traffic problem, don't you." She confirmed it, that traffic had been declining. Thankfully she had a traffic counter and had good data showing the declining trend.
I let her tell me how she had been responding to declining traffic and her thought process seemed logical. Her and her team were focusing their efforts on pulling the strip mall traffic into her store, which one may think makes sense given the parking lots were always full. The problem with that strategy is that those customers weren't there for her. She needed to bring customers to her store that had a need or want for what she had. Dragging people into your business doesn't work because once you let go or they come off the hook, they're out. You will see it all summer, local stores giving away free hotdogs on their sidewalk. People will get their hotdog, take a gander, and bolt. Or they may buy a very small item. Spending dollars to make dimes, it doesn't work.
My client had a marketing problem. My client was struggling to promote and sell her products.
When I coach entrepreneurs without any marketing experience, I use the DOORMAT MARKETING technique. It's simple, easy to remember, and highly effective.
Let's break it down into door and mat.
Door - I teach entrepreneurs to think of their own store's door. Their goal is to attract customers to their door, not pull customers away from others' doors. The goal is to overwhelm their store with traffic that their doormats get dirty and worn down so quickly that they need to replace them. The more frequent the doormat replacements, the better off the store is. I teach entrepreneurs and Store Managers to look at their doormats and mentally picture having to replace them because they are so worn down. If they aren't ready to be replaced, they have more work to do.
Mat - Message Audience Technology
The three simple components to effective marketing is your message, your audience, and your technology. What do you want to say, to whom do you want to say it, and how do you want to say it.
People aren't visiting your store? Join every other retailer out there because you're in the same boat. Amazon and other online retailers are beating brick and mortar stores because they understand the three components above.
Their message - "You can buy whatever you want, from the convenience of your couch, and have it delivered tomorrow."
Their audience - Everyone with internet.
Their technology- The internet. More people are on the web than not. You see Amazon ads everywhere. How may fliers, newspaper ads, or commercials have you seen featuring Amazon?
What's your message? Really think about what you have to say to a prospective customer. To help with this, ask yourself the following questions: Why is my business important? What do we do differently than our competitors? Why do our current customers buy our product? What will a prospective customer gain from buying my product? What is the advantage of buying product today versus waiting to buy it later?
Who is your audience? Who do you think would be receptive to your message? Everyone with internet is applicable to Amazon because Amazon sells everything. If your business doesn't sell everything, you need to be more narrow in your target audience. Customer segmentation and customer journey mapping will help with this exercise.
What technology will you use to get your message out to your audience. If you knock on their door, you can guarantee getting in front of your customer but will it be a positive interaction. Direct mailers may be thrown away and Facebook ads may be overlooked. You need to understand your customer (and your budget) to make strong decisions. These can be costly decisions for the inexperienced but they need to be made.
Think doormat, think traffic. More traffic wears down doormats. Worn down doormats are a good thing and indicator of healthy traffic. It's important to note that an increase in traffic doesn't guarantee increase in revenue. You and your team need to have effective sales and customer experience strategies in place to ensure traffic is converted into dollars!
I have a client that ran with this idea so much that they have kept all the doormats they replaced. They write on the mat, with a sharpie marker, how many days the mat was used before being replaced. It has become a thing for them. They refer to the "green mat days" or talk about what they did during the "cute dog mat" time. A simple doormat to this client is the foundation for which a culture of performance and focus has been built on.
Take a look at your doormat and start asking yourself some questions.