Imagine this scene if you will.
You enter a local bakery only to be greeted with that warm, doughy aroma of scones still baking in the back kitchen. That tantalizing smell wafts through your body like a loving embrace. You decide to linger awhile, peering through the glass counter at the variety of homemade treats behind. You tell yourself, “Those buttery fresh, hot buns shouldn’t be much longer”. Perfect to go with some freshly brewed coffee. “I think I’ll wait.” You notice the shop has fresh preserves for slathering on your freshly baked scone.
Feel that pang in your stomach? You can almost taste it, can’t you?
If only you could harness this same approach to your own business or service, you too could have people lining up at your door, to checkout or better yet, pre-pay for the coming attraction.
Some of the most successful enterprises in history have capitalized on the perception of anticipation, creating a buzz that has customers beating a path for repeated visits.
Let’s go back to a little company called Sears. Remember them? Back in the day, entire families anticipated the arrival of a new listing every month. When the fresh catalog arrived in the mail, parents and children clamored to get the first glimpse at what was new on offer. Until the internet came along, the Sears catalog was a mainstay for millions of households in North America, and it gave the company a definitive advantage over its competitors.
Amazon has certainly learned a lesson or two from the Sears model and taken the catalog format to a whole new level.
Network television made the art of anticipation a mainstay in episode programming. Remember the old Batman series? A first episode would depict the dynamic duo chasing down a new villain in Gotham, only to fall into his or her deviously designed trap by show’s end. That’s where the anticipation marketers kicked into high gear.
“Tune in next week”, the narrator told us, “Same Bat-time, Same Bat-channel.” That weekly repeated phrase not only hooked viewers in for another episode and the very statement became part of our vernacular. It remains a huge piece of television lore.
Can there be any greater example of anticipatory marketing than that commerce giant known as, Apple? Consider the massive line ups created in pre-pandemic times, by the release of a new version of the iPhone. Given the opportunity today, throngs of people would still stand in line for days just to be the first to get their hands on one. Gamers experience the same quiver of anticipation every time a new version gets released.
So, how did that happen?
The company kept telling us about it, teasing us about it, making the consumer anticipate its eventual arrival.
It’s not much more complicated than that.
Strategically leaked information about improvements and new features to the next generation iPhone put the anticipation buzz in the minds of consumers.
Can your business create a similar sort of anticipatory charged content? It certainly can, and you don’t need one of those ‘only found here’ kind of products.
All it takes sometimes is a different approach to displaying value to your customer. I mean, real value. It has been practiced for centuries with varying degrees of wild success.
Back in the mid-nineteen forties, there was a one-off, bargain department store in the city of Toronto called, Honest Ed’s. Owner Ed Mirvish had taken over his father’s small sporting goods store, but he struggled to survive in the growing competitive business. So, he found a way to create a shopping experience like no other. He became so successful throughout the store’s existence, that when its doors finally closed forever in 2016, Torontonians mourned the passing of an era.
Along with his cooky little newspaper advertisements which featured phrases like, “Honest Ed’s a nut, but look at all the ‘Cashew’ save!”, and “Honest Ed’s repulsive, but his bargains are appealing”, Mirvish took another old marketing trick to a new stratosphere.
Every day, when his store opened for business at noon, by the way, Mirvish provided a ridiculously priced commodity to the first one hundred customers to enter. Valued staples like a ten-pound bag of rice for a nickel, or a twenty-five cents, frozen turkey. brought line ups to his door daily.
People began lining up before 9 a.m. just to get one those loss-leader items. By the time a customer reached the cashout line at the other end of the building, they had picked up several more items at reasonable prices for purchase on their way. Years later, Ikea picked up on this concept to rousing success.
This goes far deeper than the concept of ‘impulse buying’. If you have ever been to a Las Vegas casino, you will know what I mean. Patrons are funneled through a maze of sensory bombardment just to get to the cashier at the far end.
For people in a working-class neighborhood, any opportunity to save the way they did at Honest Ed’s was a welcome boon to their bottom line. For many, this may be where we find ourselves again. As we slowly come out of our pandemic malaise, there will be no shortage of folks clamoring to save wherever they can.
You might be asking yourself, how can this work when huge retail chains are closing stores all over the country? But, as any spirited entrepreneur will tell you, there are opportunities here that come along only generational, if you’re lucky.
Many businesses starting up again in our changing environment can benefit from the pioneers of the past. Implementing these elements to omnichannel sales platforms will take a well-organized infrastructure to succeed.
Technology has never been more easily accessible to create new sales paths as I’ve mentioned before. Building quality website stores are made quickly and efficiently when an entrepreneur knows what they want. Finance ‘backend’ software applications have developed into hands-on, action-ready products that anyone can use with confidence.
As mentioned in a previous article of mine, a firm grasp on product movement will produce positive dividends for the well informed and organized retailer. When you know you can move a product at a reduced price quicker, your buying power for that inventory increases. Funneling your customers through sales channels with related product items highly visible is when your ‘buzz’ item pays off.
All we need now is a little creativity, solid planning, and a willingness to try new, (or old) sales techniques to draw customers back. Separating your business from the pack is has always been an exercise in standing out from the crowd. How you do it is, well, entirely up to you.
Stimulating a buzz of anticipation over your product or service has the potential to reap incalculable rewards. Are you ready to take a piece of the ordinary and turn it into a boon for your business?
Just food for thought.
Speaking of which, gotta go now.
My fresh, hot scones are ready.