I witnessed a rather amazing sight the other day.
As I often do when the weather is nice, I was sitting out on my front porch, working. The neighbors a few doors down happened to be having a yard sale. Now understand, we live on a rather busy street. There’s a lot of traffic, but it’s often moving by rather quickly. We also are right near an intersection, so when there is a red light, the traffic stops and backs up in front of our house.
What I witnessed during this interesting little yard sale on a postage stamp front yard, was rather…humorous. And in that humor I found a few lessons on how not to market your business.
1. Proper signage – You need to find effective ways of marketing your brand. One small, tattered cardboard sign wrapped around a tree, featuring small unreadable lettering, isn’t gonna cut it. Plan your marketing strategy wisely. Location and messaging are important. Make your signage and marketing worthy of your products or services.
2. Truth in advertising – Be careful how you position your business. If you promise a BIG yard sale, it better be big. Granted, “big” is rather subjective, but this yard sale was decidedly not “big” by anyone’s standards. Be careful of superlatives; descriptors like “big”, “huge”, “best” can set you up for a fall if you don’t deliver.
3. Some aspects of business need to remain behind closed doors – Sure we talk about being authentic and transparent, but not everything needs to be done in public. For instance, if you need to reprimand your staff, don’t do it in front of customers. Or, for instance, if you want to teach your baby to say “Shut up, Stupid!” to the dog…over and over and over again, you might not want to do it on your porch in the middle of the yard sale. Just a thought.
4. Shouting is rarely an effective marketing tactic – Be careful what you do to try to bring customers in to your business. Shouting “Yo, Yardsale!” from the porch might not work very well. Which brings us to our next point…
5. Decorum and tact are important – It’s probably also not smart to pick specific people out to yell at them. When an older gentleman was riding by on a bike, the one woman yelled,
“Hey mister, does your girlfriend need some new shoes?”
You think that worked? And then as a guy sat in his car at the red light out front I heard,
“Hey, Yard sale!…Yeah. I’m talking to you!”
My favorite might have been when the guy in the red convertible drove by:
“Yard Sale! I know you see it! Don’t be too busy looking at your nice car!”
Oh, and frequent use of profanity might not be the best selling point.
6. Create an inviting environment – Your product and service might be the most important items, but the environment in which those things reside is also important. It’s probably not a good idea to be blaring a radio station where 75% of the music playing features auto-tune.
Oh, and it’s NEVER a good idea to crank it up and sing along at the top of your lungs when “Tonight, Tonight” by Hot Chella Rae, “Domino” by Jessi J., or “Party Rock Anthem” by LMFAO comes on. Sure, that might attract some sort of crowd, but is it really the crowd you want?
When it comes to bad music and auto-tune: just say no.
This was supposed to be a two-day yard sale, but business was bad the first day, and they never showed up for the second day. I’m surprised they didn’t try again, using some new tactics.
What tactics have you seen businesses use that seem to be counterproductive?
- Why Talking About Yourself is Bad Networking (allisondevelopmentgroup.com)
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- Conversation Isn’t Merely An Art Form; It’s A Business Strategy (v3im.com)
- SMBs Embracing Social Media At A Rapid Pace (v3im.com)
- It Isn’t Always About Getting New Customers. It’s About Keeping Them Too (thecontentcocktail.com)