Marketing Lessons from My Neighbor’s Yard Sale

by Ken Mueller on March 26, 2012 · 15 comments

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Photo542 300x225 Marketing Lessons from My Neighbors Yard SaleI 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?

 Marketing Lessons from My Neighbors Yard Sale
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15 comments
SmithDonovanInc
SmithDonovanInc

@C_Pappas @kmueller622 Great post! Marketing meets the real world!

ErinMFeldman
ErinMFeldman

@skypulsemedia I was hoping you'd be at today's radio show. @kmueller62 @hackmanj

Howie Goldfarb
Howie Goldfarb

OK I am late.

 

 @KenMueller you and I seriously think a lot alike. Do you how many times I have mentioned the sign in front of your brick and mortar or landing page online is often the most powerful force to draw business? How many successful cash flush smaller businesses do we know that just have great location, product, service and have no need to advertise never mind have a Facebook page or twitter account. Not saying those can't grow them even more.

 

And the rest of your points are full marketing/sales bible worth.

JackiRHayes
JackiRHayes

LOL, not feeling so bad about my neighbors now.  At least they provided you with a blog post.

kmueller62
kmueller62

@RachelStrella nah. different neighbors. and trust me, they have no idea i blog about them

kmueller62
kmueller62

@sobecreation thanks,and thanks for sharing!

BestRoofer
BestRoofer

Sounds like you had a fun weekend!  Funnier than going to the movies.  You could have sold tickets and popcorn.

RachelStrella
RachelStrella

@kmueller62 LOL! Sounds like they have no clue, period.

KenMueller
KenMueller moderator

 @BestRoofer Oh, it was definitely entertaining. I even have video of some of it, but I can't post that!

Howie Goldfarb
Howie Goldfarb

 @KenMueller you know very well take Facebook out of the equation and we rarely disagree. Gosh something to thank Mark Zuckerberg for LOL

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