NSTORE’s March issue will include an article on the topic of where and how to find groups of customers who may be “hiding in plain sight.”
Real-life networking is a good place to start to find some of those elusive people, who for some reason have never had the good sense to just appear magically at your door, despite marketing efforts.
Social networking definitely helps break the ice, but there’s no substitution for making a good first impression face to face.
The important thing to remember, though, is to make that kind of contact genuine it has to be genuine. The group or the event ideally should be something you’re genuinely interested in.
Just as you tend to be best at selling something you’re especially enthusiastic about.
“Networking is important,” says Jim Alati, manager of Simmons Fine Jewelers in Boise, ID, “but it has to be something I enjoy doing as well. I’m a sports fanatic, I play ice hockey and I’m involved in a few ice hockey groups.”
So as a result of that interest, Alati regularly has contact with 300 similarly minded hockey fanatics. Inevitably, when one of those guys gets engaged or has an anniversary coming up, they naturally think about Jim and Simmons Fine Jewelry.
“I can’t tell you how many sales I’ve made,” Alati says. “But that’s the thing about networking. If you force someone to go they aren’t going to enjoy it or have much fun. So I tell people to find something you will enjoy doing.”
Your enthusiasm for a shared interest will make you the natural choice when they think about jewelry.
Kate Peterson of Performance Concepts says retailers too often discount the value of working within service groups or neighborhood groups. Networking groups that include members from a variety of professions and businesses – one in each category – also are helpful as a source of business and referrals.
And instead of waiting for new customers to come to you, think about how you can take the initiative.
“People open up a business, hang a sign and think everyone is going to show up,” Peterson says.
Maybe the key is to go to them.
Peterson shared the example of a woman who opened a grooming franchise in her neighborhood. As the owner of two large dogs, Peterson quickly became aware of the newcomer’s presence even before the place opened.
“She spent hours at the dog park,” Peterson recalls. “The way she went about it was absolutely genius, figuring out where her customers were, how to target them and how to become a part of their community, to focus on what’s important to them. Since she opened it takes weeks to get an appointment.”