What business are you in?

Photo courtesy of Morguefile user mconnors

Photo courtesy of Morguefile user mconnors

We just wrapped up Valentine’s Day weekend and I’m sure many establishments saw an uptick in volume. Certainly restaurants, weekend getaways and theaters (I mean live theater, the good kind) will see a pleasant seasonal bump for the month. Some business flows into certain holidays better than others. I can think of a couple hits and misses:

  • Hit
    A lot of blood drives coincide with Valentine’s Day to increase market recognition. Blood/heart/red seems to be a theme I’ve seen for the last several years and it flows (pun intended).
  • Hit
    More American fireworks vendors are supporting the Chinese New Year. It’s a cultural tradition and it’s popular in many parts of the world (but not as big in the U.S.). There is a complimentary feel to it.
  • Miss
    I saw an auto dealer try to jump on the Black Friday bandwagon by offering a no-profit unit the day after Thanksgiving. Buying a car the day after Thanksgiving? That just doesn’t sound right!
  • Miss
    Appliance sales on Valentine’s Day, Easter, or Mother’s Day are at best awkward. Nothing about saving 25% on a high efficiency washer relates to what I do on these three holidays.

Promotional efforts or new ventures are only successful if they’re meaningful and relevant. Good entrepreneurs know their market and will be able to produce. No gimmicks needed, no stretch of the imagination required to get my attention.

Sometimes it’s easy to think of ways to expand your offerings, reach new markets and ride the marketing wave of seasonality. But, before you jump on the St. Patrick’s Day bandwagon (I believe that’s the next major holiday coming up) consider this saying from Starbucks:

We’re not in the coffee business serving people, but in the people business serving coffee.

Keep people at the front of all that you do! When you understand the needs of your audience, it becomes obvious that the last thing they need is a cheesy 4th of July sales promo. Having good customer service that actually can help, competitive rates/prices, and empowered staff impacts the buying decision.

In a competitive market, many are trying similar approaches. You don’t need to do a Memorial Day event. You need to tie your core values to causes and events that are relevant. If it’s not meaningful to your audience then don’t bother. Remember what business you’re in and serve that audience. This is how a luxury car dealer in Iowa City was able to earn sales from the Chicago market by sponsoring a student association.

So how do you do this? Here are a few steps:

1. Talk to your front line people
These individuals hear the voice of your customers who vote with their dollars. Associates and front line managers will know the pain points.

2. Listen to your audience
Enthusiasts will post their ideas in online forums. You can gauge reception by reading posts. Likely these can be your biggest supporters. Subaru has a very loyal group of enthusiasts who created this one.

3.Listen to your competitors audience
Likely there is a reason they’re doing business elsewhere. They either know how
great your competitor is, haven’t heard how great you are, or know what you need
to improve.

Do you know a business that’s supported something you care about? Or is there another example of a business missing the mark? I’d love to learn about your experiences. Leave a comment below or reach out to the TDS Business Blog on Twitter or Facebook.

About Jason Mueller

Jason is a career and development coach, residing in south east Wisconsin. He has earned his Business Coaching certificate from UW-Milwaukee and worked with clients in business and career coaching at the UW-Milwaukee School of Continuing Education. Jason says he does everything with empathy, compassion and the client's best interests in mind. He’s found that he can do anything well by being genuine, useful, present and vulnerable. With a degree in religion, years in theater, experience in business, and a dry sense of humor Jason’s unconventional wisdom helps him connect the dots. You can find his website here or connect with him on Twitter and G+.

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One Response to What business are you in?

  1. Jason E. Mueller (@QuirkyOptimist) February 19, 2014 at 2:21 pm #

    Can anyone guess which movie the title for this blog post came from?

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